Unleavened Bread and Works

Each year in the run up to the Feast of Unleavened Bread I am surprised by finding leaven (or food in general) in some odd place in the house (or car). I am also convinced that we have a large number of dishes whose sole purpose is to be cleaned annually.

Isn’t it interesting to note how much food is used to illustrate God’s will? He commanded us to find all the leavening in our homes and put it out every year and leavening in this context represents sin. The oven and refrigerator are the places where it is concentrated and our country has a “larger” problem with consumption in general. If we are depressed or angry, we eat or drink. If we are celebrating, we eat AND drink. Day to day in western society we can treat ourselves to the most delectable food imaginable. We take the access to food, clean water, and drink for granted, but in ancient times and in many places of the world today, they are considered luxuries. To us, luxury isn’t even just having food, but  a computer, a wide screen TV, and a cell phone. Heck, we have to have the latest computers, phones, and televisions in order to consider ourselves in luxury (of course, I am speaking of society as a whole). For the Feast of Unleavened Bread to be more applicable to us, perhaps it would be called the Feast of Having to Write a Letter With a Pen and Paper or the Feast of Having to Use a Land Line Telephone.

In the ancient Hebrew culture, having clean water was difficult. This is why the wells in the Old Testament were named and so important. It is also why wars were fought as clans desired to live in lands with ample access to water for drink and irrigation. Having a supply of bread was difficult, too, since they lacked any type of preservatives. In order for the Hebrew to have soft bread, the bread had to have time to rise and be baked every couple of days. This signified peace and security. If one was able to have soft, leavened bread, then it is safe to assume one was not under siege, one’s crops were adequately watered, and one’s storehouse was safe. This is one reason Yahweh orders His family to eat unleavened bread for seven days; to remember being under siege in Egypt and having to leave in haste.

After the Exodus the Hebrews were not permitted to eat leavened bread for forty years. When they crossed the Jordan, as recorded in Joshua 5, most of them got their first taste of bread ever. And that bread was unleavened. In order for them to enjoy leavened bread, they had to earn it. They had to fight for it and remain obedient. They had to maintain their faith in the One who led them in the wilderness, because when they thought they could do it on their own, He allowed them to get beaten. People on the run don’t get to make leavened bread.

So, as we observe the commanded Feast of the Lord, let’s continue to count our blessings. Let’s remember that seven days of unleavened bread signifies our inability to do it on our own. We live in peace and security because Yahweh wants us to live this way. We have a luxurious lifestyle, in general and in historical context, because He allows it. He is the Provider, we are His children, and we are blessed by our faith, not by our works.