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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

December 13, 2017

Exodus  23:14-16

  1. Verses 14-15. The day after Passover begins the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread, with a Holy Day (Sabbath) on the first and last day (7 days). This is around the first of the springtime season during the barley harvest. As with Passover, Jesus is seen in this feast too. For seven days, the people were to consume unleavened bread. Leaven/yeast is a symbol of sin in the bible. This unleavened bread is a picture of the sinless Christ. Jesus is the sacrifice of the Passover that takes away the sin, and Jesus is the unleavened bread that we consume that replaces the sin that has been taken from us. We keep this festival now in Christ by eating “the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8). The week-long Festival of Unleavened Bread was closely associated with the Passover, since it started on the 15th, right after the Passover lambs were killed. Leaven (yeast) was to be removed on the first day (verse 15), and no leaven was to be in the homes for seven days (verse 19). Sacred assemblies were held on the first and seventh days, and ordinary work was forbidden on those days, except for food preparation. It was “a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.” Even foreigners had to abide by the rules (verse 19). Flat, unleavened bread (matzos) was the only bread allowed for this week. The night of the 15th became a commemoration of the escape from Egypt (verses 17, 42, 13:3). Deuteronomy 16:3-8 repeated the regulations and indicated that the Passover lamb was sacrificed on the evening of the first day of unleavened bread (verse 4b). The unleavened bread was a reminder that the Israelites left Egypt in haste (verse 3); they did not have time to put yeast in their dough and let it rise (Exodus 12:34).

  2. Verse 16a. Associated with the Festival of Unleavened Bread was the Festival of First fruits/waving the first fruits, the first part of the spring grain harvest. Before any new grain could be eaten, some grain had to be waved before God, with lamb, grain, oil and wine offerings (Leviticus 23:10-14). This ceremony involved the priests, and there was little for the people to do. It was not a Sabbath or a sacred assembly. Fifty days after the wave sheaf offering, at the end of the grain harvest, was the festival now known as Pentecost (a Greek word meaning fiftieth), which was a sacred assembly, a day on which regular work was forbidden (verses 15-21). Leavened loaves were to be offered with animals, grain and drink offerings—“a lasting ordinance for generations to come, wherever you live.”

  3. Verse 16b. The Feast of Tabernacles: The autumn harvest festival was the third main festival season. The first day of the seven-day festival was a sacred assembly on which regular work was forbidden. The people were to collect fruit, palm fronds and leafy branches, and live in crude shelters for seven days. It was a lasting ordinance for all “native-born Israelites,” reminding them of the Exodus from Egypt. The festival was to be kept at a central site, and it was a time for joy and celebration that included Gentiles who lived among the Israelites. Every seventh year, in the sabbatical year in which crops were not harvested and slaves were released, the law was to be read publicly during this festival. In those years, it would have been a festival of liberation rather than a harvest festival. After the Passover (symbolizing Christ sacrifice), the Feast of Unleavened bread (accepting Jesus as your bread of life), and the Feast of First fruits (symbolizing our resurrection with Christ 1 Cor 15:23), then we have the Feast of Tabernacles (symbolizing our abiding in God--Matthew 1:23).

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