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Summary: Festival of Unleavened Bread - Observance and Spiritual Significance...

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Festival of Unleavened Bread - Observance and Spiritual Significance

One common Jewish family tradition in preparing for Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread was for the wife to thoroughly clean the house and then intentionally sprinkle leavened (with yeast) breadcrumbs throughout. Later the leaven were swept up and collectively burned outside.Another tradition is that the wife would perform the process as mentioned above, and then the father would take the children, along with a candle, a wooden spoon, a feather, and a piece of linen cloth, and search for the pieces of leavened bread. This act would typically be performed in the evening, and when the leaven is found, the father sets the candle down by the leaven and lays the wooden spoon next to it. The feather is then used to sweep the leaven onto the spoon. Without touching the leaven, the father then takes these items and wraps them inside the cloth, and casts them outside of the house. The next morning the articles would be gathered from the outside and then burned in a fire (typically at the synagogue).

In the Holy Scripture, leaven symbolizes error or evil (sinful actions) because it is the substance that causes the fermentation and souring of the bread (Matthew 16:6; Mark 8:15).

Christ stated: “Beware of the leaven” meaning beware the false doctrine of the Pharisees and the leaders of their time.

In the above practices, we are cleansing the leaven (sin) from our homes by sweeping it away. The spoon also represents the Messianic fulfillment by way of Christ dying on the cross (wood) and thus taking away our sins. The cloth would be His burial shroud and the burning of the articles is both representative of Christ’s decent into hell prior to His ascending into Heaven, and the symbolic ritual of purification through fire.

The apostle Paul also warned the Church at Corinth that:

“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?”

(I Corinthians 5:6 KJV).

In this account, Paul was simply saying that if sin goes unchecked, it will permeate and infect everything and everyone around them.

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The FEAST of FIRSTFRUITS

The third feast of the spring occurs on the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 16) and is called the Feast of Firstfruits or “Bikkurim”. Barley, which is the first crop to be planted in winter, is beginning to ripen for its spring harvest. The first sheaf or “Firstfruits” of this harvest is then cut and, in a carefully prescribed ceremony, is presented to the Lord as an offering. The Lord’s acceptance of the Firstfruits is a pledge on His part and covenant for a full harvest to come (Leviticus 23:10-11).

Historical Significance

The Firstfruits offering is part of the Lord’s divine covenant. It was established to convey to Him the first yield of our increase and likewise bestow upon us His promise for provision and prosperity in the coming year (Proverbs 3:9-10).

In the early stages of the Christian church, major doctrinal errors began to creep into their teachings. Most notable, were some people at the Church in Corinth who had begun to spread the false Hellenistic belief called gnosticism. Gnosticism rejects the concept of a physical resurrection; therefore it rejects the physical resurrection of Christ. Fortunately, the apostle Paul addressed this issue in his letters to the Corinthians. The Gnostics said that there is no bodily resurrection, only immortality of the soul. Paul then responded, if there is no bodily resurrection, then Christ was not actually raised from the dead. The implications of the Gnostic’s statement would have had a devastating effect.

Paul corrected this situation when he issued a triumphant response to combat their erroneous statement in his first letter to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 15:12-20), thus clarifying that through His resurrection, Christ was the ordained "Firstfruits" of the church and therefore had established the New Covenant with the Lord God.

Firstfruits - Festival Observance and Spiritual Significance

Like the other spring festivals, the Feast of Firstfruits was established on the Jewish religious year, being based on the lunar calendar to coincide with their growing season and harvest on the 14th day of the Hebrew month Nisan. The Firstfruits offering was typically given as a type of "agricultural tithe" from the first part of the harvest by the Hebrews.

When the Lord God accepts the Firstfruits offering, it becomes the guarantee of His covenant that the rest of the season will indeed provide a bountiful harvest and be prosperous.

Today, in many modern observances, it has come to represent the Firstfruits of our increase (income) at the beginning of the year and is an offering to likewise request the Lord's blessing for a prosperous coming season in the year.

UNLEAVENED BREAD

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