The First Annual High Sabbath of the Biblical Year
“And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the Passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians” (Num. 33:3).
The Exodus begins twenty-four Hours after Passover. The Israelites went out from Egypt on the night after the Passover, they went out on the fifteenth of Aviv.
This first annual High Sabbath is a memorial of the Exodus. It represents God’s people leaving the world—completely coming out of sin. This memorial of the Exodus is a representation of our own being set free from slavery to sin; thus it is a “night to be much observed” (Ex. 12:40-42)!
Having now applied the shed blood of Christ at Passover, we are set completely free from slavery to sin; we are no longer held in sin’s bonds and chains.
“Even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed to the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt: this is the night of the Lord to be observed” (Ex. 12:42).
The night they came out of Egypt (fifteenth of Aviv, the first Biblical month) is a special joyous celebration for Christians—for being set free from slavery to sin!
The “Night to Be Much Observed (celebrated)” is the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and what are called the Days of Unleavened Bread (Ex. 12:14).
The Feast encompasses a span of seven days (Ex. 12:15), initiated by this special evening commemorating the flight and freedom from Egypt (sin) for God’s People.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread entails eating unleavened bread only—no leaven— for a period of seven days, with High Sabbaths on the first and last day (Ex. 12:15-16).
To understand what God has orchestrated though these days, we will look into the history of the first week of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt; their deliverance that came after four hundred and thirty years as strangers in that land (Ex. 12:41).
Of course God has very specific special illustrations borne-out by these holy occassions that He has ordained forever.
Ordained Forever Before the Old Covenant
The Days of Unleavened Bread are a period of time, bookended by two high day Sabbaths.
Exodus 12:17 is translated thus in the Fenton translation: “consequently keep this period as an everlasting institution.”
This period is established forever.
This is before the ceremonial Law of Moses had been given or written; before God even proposed the Old Covenant.
The whole period of time is included. And, this instruction in the Word of God was given before the Law was given at Sinai. This fact alone indicates that the Holydays, including the seven days of unleavened bread, are binding today and forever.
What the Law of Moses, or the Old Covenant, did not bring or institute, they cannot take away!
Ex. 12:17 reiterates the fact that this Feast is to commemorate their departure from Egypt—as an everlasting ordinance. Passover equally is ordained forever. Ex. 12:21 references the Passover again; and Ex. 12:24 also establishes it forever.
Purpose of the Days of Unleavened Bread
Let us understand the full significance of this. Why did God ordain these feast days? What is His great Purpose?
“Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt” (Ex. 13:3).
“Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and the seventh day shall be a Feast unto the Eternal… This is done because of that which the Eternal did” (a memorial) “and it shall be for a sign (a miraculous proof of identity) for thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes” (Ex. 13:6-10).
What is God’s purpose?
” . . . that the Lord’s law may be in thy mouth . . . Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance . . .” (Ex. 13:9-10).
As we have seen, Passover pictures the death of Christ for the remission of sins that are past (Rom. 3:25).
Our past sins are forgiven when we apply His blood.
Yet do we realize that acceptance of His blood does not give license to continue in sin?
Should we just stop with past sins forgiven, yet have no change in our lives?
Let us grasp the significance of God’s purpose, and what the knowledge of the truth is for faithful Christians today (Heb. 10:26).
Of Repentance, Overcoming and Faith
We are still flesh beings. We all still suffer temptations. Sin has held us in its clutches. We have been slaves to sin, held in its power. We are powerless to deliver ourselves from it! We have been in bondage to sin.
Through God’s illustration let us understand the complete meaning.
The meaning—the symbolism—is not complete with Passover alone. Passover pictures the acceptance of Christ’s Blood for the remission of past sins. It pictures the crucified Christ—revealing the price He would pay, and has paid—for our sins.
Yet should we leave Christ symbolically hanging on the cross?
The seven days of unleavened bread following Passover, picture to us the complete putting away of sin: the keeping of the Commandments of God! John informs us that “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4) and the Psalms tell us that “all Thy commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172). Please also read John 14:15; 15:10 and 1 John 5:3.
To what extent does God expect us to put away sin? Not partially, but completely! Leaven is a type of sin. As leaven puffs up so does sin. Seven is God’s number symbolizing completeness. We are to follow the Passover with seven days of unleavened bread (Ex. 13:6; 23:15).
After our past sins are forgiven, these days picture the life and work of the risen Christ—who ascended to the throne of God where He is now actively at work in our behalf as our high priest, cleansing us of sin—delivering us completely from its power!
To observe Passover alone, and then fail to observe the seven days of unleavened bread, means, in the symbolism, to accept Christ’s blood, and then to continue in sin. To wrongly say, as many do, that the Law is done away, we are under grace (meaning license) to continue in sin!
The seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread picture the keeping of the Commandments of God, which is another way of saying putting away sin.
The world’s false religious hierarchy and Babylonian system will accept the mark of the beast in their right hand and their forehead (Rev. 13:17). Yet God’s Church is to have a different identifier, God’s sign, in our right hands and in our foreheads.
These Feast days (the first of which is a memorial picturing deliverance from sin) become signs in our right hand and forehead; as God’s holy sign, in order that we shall keep His commandments (Ex. 13:9). These days denote keeping God’s commandments!
The forehead is the seat of the intellect and symbolizes acceptance, our thoughts. The right hand symbolizes work, our actions.
We have this sign of God in our forehead by accepting this truth about Christ’s sacrifice memorialized in the Passover, and by being set free from slavery to sin; completely putting sin away, represented by the Holydays and Days of Unleavened Bread.
By remembering to keep them in the manner which God has ordained (the action of obedience), we exhibit the action that He identifies as a sign upon our right hand. We have God’s mark in our forehead and right hand through faithful obedience.
Not only is the weekly Sabbath God’s sign (Ex. 31:12-17) but annual Sabbaths are signs as well (Ex. 13:9-10).
The Perfect Picture Throughout
These days are truly representative of this part of God’s plan of redemption. As we keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we carefully endeavor to remove leaven from our homes before the Days of Unleavened Bread begin.
Yet, nonetheless, most of us have found or discovered some form of leavened bread during the days of unleavened bread, either “hiding” behind something in our home, or “lurking” in some cupboard or our refrigerator, etc.
Of course, we put the discovered leaven out of our homes immediately! How true to life is this picture? How often, after we think we have put away sin, we discover hidden sins or habits we did not know we had, or thought that we had overcome?
Sin must be put away . . . We must be repentant and overcoming as soon as our sins are recognized or are discovered!
But the symbolism doesn’t end there! The children of Israel started out of Egypt the night of the fifteenth of Aviv, willingly, on their own. We must, willingly, of our own accord, start out from sin as soon as we accept the Blood of Christ. We must also willingly exhibit initiative and act accordingly. Not coerced or pushed, but willingly follow Christ’s example and footsteps.
While Israel was in Egypt they were Pharaoh’s slaves, helpless and powerless under his taskmasters; as the sinner is in the power of the devil. When Israel applied the Blood of the lamb, God acted. As a result the Israelites were completely set free.
When covered by Christ’s Blood, God acts, and the Devil must release us.
As the Israelites went out with a high hand (Num. 33:3) in great jubilation and rejoicing over their deliverance from bondage; equally does the newly-begotten Christian start out his or her Christian life in overwhelming blissful happiness and joy!
But what happened? Pharaoh immediately began to pursue after them with soldiers in 600 chariots (Ex. 14:5).
They didn’t get far until Pharaoh pursued them. Egypt is a type of sin. Pharaoh pictures Satan. The army–Satan’s demons.
So, likewise the Devil immediately pursues after the newly called children of God, with his demons. Sadly, often new and inexperienced Christians find themselves in the depths of discouragement, even tempted to give up and quit following God.
When the Israelites saw this great army pursuing them, they lost their courage (Ex. 14:10). Fear came over them. They began to grumble and complain. They saw it was impossible for them to get away from Pharaoh and his powerful army.
They were helpless . . .
And so it is with us . . .
Our Strength Not Sufficient!
Notice the message of God to them through Moses: “. . . Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD . . . for the Egyptians . . . ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you . . .” (Ex. 14:13-14).
How incredibly awesome this promise of God is!
Helpless, we are told to “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” He shall fight for us. We cannot conquer Satan—but God can—and He will! It is the risen Christ, our High Priest, Who cleanses us, sanctifies us, delivers us and will never leave us nor forsake us! (Heb. 4:14-15; 7:26; 8:11, 2 Co. 7:1, 1 Jo. 1:9, Heb. 2:11; 9:13-14, Rom. 11:26, Gal. 1:4, 2 Pet. 2:9, Heb. 13:5)
We cannot keep the commandments in our own power and strength.
But Christ in us can keep them! We rely on Him—in faith (Phil. 4:13).
The angel that went ahead, showing the way, now goes behind—getting between them and their enemies—protecting them. God parts the waters of the Red Sea “…the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left” (Ex. 14:19-22).
In Isaiah 55:1 and John 7:37-39, waters are a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
Living waters of God are a wall to us on our right hand and on our left; making and guiding us in the true path, protecting us in it.
But when Pharaoh and his army attempted to follow after Israel in this divinely created path—these same waters then completely covered them, exactly as the Holy Spirit covers and removes our sins. And the Israelites saw them no more!
What an awesome and meaningful illustration! God completely covers and washes away—He completely removes—our sins!
No Mandatory Sacrifices Originally
The Feast of Unleavened Bread, as well as Passover, were ordained and established forever—prior to the Old Covenant.
Let us be consistent about this. Opponents say these are “in the law of Moses” and are therefore done away. Yet the truth is that they existed before the Law of Moses, and they are carried over into the New Testament (1 Cor. 5:7-8, Acts 18:21; 20:6).
They are binding for Christians today.
Originally there were no sacrifices, no meat and drink ordinances, held on these days (Jer. 7:22-23).
These days were not instituted for the purpose of the sacrifices as some have wrongly supposed.
These holydays are not only foreshadows—they are memorials (Ex. 12:14; 13:9). Other Feasts are also referred to as memorials (Lev. 23:24). The weekly Sabbath itself became a memorial of creation when God rested on the seventh day—setting an example for us and setting aside a day to remind us (to help us remember) that He is the Great Creator.
The Sabbath also existed before the Law of Moses. It is holy unto the lord before the Mosaic Law came (Gen. 2:1-3, Ex. 20:9-11).
When the Law of Moses came, with its sacrificial system, its meat and drink ordinances, these sacrifices and meat and drink offerings were instituted temporarily—until Christ—to be held, some daily, some on the weekly Sabbath, some on the first day of each month, some on each of the annual Holydays.
Sacrifices and meat and drink offerings instituted on the Holydays are found also on the weekly Sabbath. The same chapters in the Law of Moses adding them to the Holydays also add these sacrifices to each common work day of the week.
Sunday proponents argue that these sacrifices do away with the Sabbath. That is incorrect—for the Sabbath existed before the sacrifices were added. The same is also true of the Holydays; they were established before the temporary Law of Moses.
This is a simple truth. The Sacrificial System cannot annul that which it did not create or initiate. Commandments that were inaugurated independently from the Sacrificial System cannot be annulled by the temporary status of the Sacrificial System.
The Sacrificial System itself was added after the Israelites demonstrated that they would not obey God. When Moses came down from the mountain the first time, finding the Israelites in rebellion against God—he broke those tablets of stone—the Ten Commandments (Ex. 32:19).
Then the second time that Moses went up to the mount—necessitated by their SIN (Gal. 3:19), he returned again with the Ten Commandments—and also now with the revealed blueprints to build the Tabernacle, with the Priestly garments, and the obligatory Sacrificial System; which was a tutor designed to bring Israel to Christ (Ex. 34:28-30; Ex. 35, Gal. 3:19; 23-25).
That which was temporary cannot annul that which is ordained forever (Ex. 12:14; 23:15; 34:18, Lev. 23:41, 1 Cor. 5:8).
The meat and drink offerings, which were typical and temporary, are now done away (Heb. 9:20). But the seven weekdays, the weekly Sabbath, the first day of each month and the annual Sabbaths are not done away.
The sacrifices, “added because of transgressions” ’til the seed should come; are now no longer required (Gal. 3:19-25). But the days on which they were performed were not added with the sacrificial Law of Moses—and they did not go with it.
None of those whose hearts are for Almighty God and His Truth will deny these simple truths (Jer. 17:9, Rom. 8:7).
These are binding forever! They reveal God’s Plan of Salvation. As the Sabbath is a memorial, Holydays are also memorials.
Commanded in the New Testament
Remember Num. 28:76-17: “In the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of the Lord. And in the fifteenth day of this month is the Feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten.” The Feast was not the fourteenth—but the fifteenth.
The lamb was slain on the fourteenth (Passover). The Passover, the fourteenth day, is also the preparation day for the Feast (Mat. 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, John 19:14).
Notice Mat. 26:5. The Jews, conspiring to kill Jesus said: “Not on the Feast Day, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
They hastened so they could take and kill Him the day before the Feast (Mark 14:2). Note: “some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the Feast” (John 13:29).
These texts also reveal the Feast was the day after Passover—after the Crucifixion. Old and New Testament both affirm this. Are these days are still valid and binding for Christians by New Testament authority as well as by Old Testament command?
There is a New Testament command to keep these Holydays and Feast more direct than those for the weekly Sabbath!
Carefully read I Cor. 5:7-8. Churches have applied this to the Passover. Notice that it does not say nor apply to Passover at all! Let us prayerfully see what it does say: “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the Feast.”
Notice it. Because Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed, therefore let us of the New Testament dispensation—because Christ had died—keep what? Not only the Passover which is on the fourteenth of Aviv—but let us keep the Feast—which ls the fifteenth day of the first month! The High Sabbath of John 19:31! The annual Holyday and Feast of Unleavened Bread!
The whole Feast includes all seven days of unleavened bread, including the second High Sabbath the twenty-first of Aviv. One cannot escape this if we are yielded to the Word of God! It is recorded in the New Testament in very plain language!
Do we, like early Christians, earnestly “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Mat. 6:33)? Do we put aside vain and false traditions and “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2)? Do we truly seek to do the will of God, to abide in true doctrine (John 7:17)? Do we truly love God (1 John 5:2-3, Rev. 14:12)? Are we faithful, to be of those who “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3)?
Because Christ was crucified, therefore let us keep the Feast!
Christ died for our sins—bearing the penalty for our sins.
Let us therefore embark on the journey of faithful obedience to our Lord and Savior.
Let us put sin out of our lives and fulfill His holy will, keeping His Commandments, given for our own good (Deut. 5:29) for they are the way of Life (Mat. 19:17, Rev. 22:14)!