Kept By all of the New Testament Church
It is faithfully recorded in the New Testament that the Church, long after the crucifixion, was keeping these Holydays. “We sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread” (Acts 20:6). Paul and companions plainly observed the Days of Unleavened Bread at Philippi. The Holy Spirit would not have inspired such words—unless saying that the Days of Unleavened Bread still existed.
“Then were the days of unleavened bread” (Acts 12:3). Why would God say this, if those days had ceased to exist in His sight? It is not blind Judaizers, ignorant of what was abolished, making this statement. It is God through the Holy Spirit. This was years after the crucifixion. The Days of Unleavened Bread still existed, or the He would not have inspired “Then were the days of unleavened bread.”
“I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem” (Acts 18:21). The Word of God records that “sailing was now dangerous, because the fast (Day of Atonement) was now already past” (Acts 27:9). As his manner was, Paul reasoned from the Scriptures on the Sabbaths, primarily to the Gentiles (Acts 17:2, 18:6-11).
Nothing had changed in the spiritual manner that God was to be worshipped; for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).
Reading the New Testament reveals that the Commandments of God, including the times that He has sanctified and set-apart and made holy, have not changed.
The only “change” is that the spiritual dimension of God’s law is brought to life by Christ—and thus it is that Christians are held to a higher standard, with greater rewards, than the Old Covenant (John 1:17, Mat. 5:22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44, Heb. 8:6).
God is working to fulfill His own purpose in our lives (Rom. 8:28, Eph. 1:11, 2 Tit. 1:9).
Spiritual Understanding via Obedience
The illustration and the meaning presented by these Holy occasions is limitless and ever reflective—as is the Word of God itself. Those who have kept these Annual Sabbaths in faithful obedience year by year have seen the fruits and the benefits presented to them in their relationship with the Father and with their Savior, and have seen the blessing of understanding the Plan and Purpose of God and how to fulfill life according to God’s will.
Through the Feast of Unleavened Bread we reaffirm many vital Truths regarding Salvation –
- Leaven, which represents our sins, must be removed completely. Repent is the first word of the Gospel (Mat. 3:2; 4:17).
- Regarding forgiveness—only via the sacrifice of Christ are we set free (1 Cor. 10:16; Rom. 5:10; Eph. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:19).
- Through redemption—we have liberty to worship Him in Spirit and Truth (Heb. 9:14; Rom. 8:21; Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 2:16).
- We pursue His Path into the wilderness away from society to purely worship Him (Mark 10:29-30; John 15:19; Rev. 18:4).
- He provides guidance and protection by day and night, He is faithful at all times (Psalm 28:7; Luke 1:68-79; Heb. 13:5).
- We eat unleavened bread, meaning pure unadulterated Truth, the Holy Law of God (1 Cor. 5:6-7;1 Pet. 2:2; 1 Tim. 2:15).
- The seven day period depicts earnestly wholly removing sin—putting on righteousness (Mat. 12:33, Eph. 4:15, 24; 6:14).
- After being set free from sin we are pursued by the adversary; and yet we are protected (John 16:33; 1 Pet. 5:8-9; Jas. 4:7).
- When all is hopeless God opens a path to safety; via the Red Sea they crossed on dry land (Mat. 8:26; 1 Cor. 1:27, 10:13).
- As a type ”All were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and the sea” (I Cor. 10:1-4; Jer. 31:33; Mark 16:16; Rom. 2:29, 6:4).
Baptism is meaningfully analogous in the New Covenant, to what circumcision was in the Old Covenant. The New Covenant is no longer a physical covenant with only physical promises; it is now a spiritual Covenant with eternal promises.
As a result of realizing and recognizing we are in a state of helplessness (dead, due to our sins—and with the death penalty hanging over our head) we realize that we cannot rely on our own “righteousness” or any physical claim of inheritance.
Only through Christ’s sacrifice can we be forgiven; and only through Christ living within us can we fulfill God’s will.
By dying with Christ—and by being raised in newness of life (not our own, but Christ in us)—we are now finally truly ALIVE, and have now entered into the pathway of eternal life (2 Cor. 1:9; 3:5, Gal. 2:20).
Baptism (immersion) depicts being buried (with Christ), and then being raised up (resurrected), in newness of LIFE!
Baptism is a required ordinance for entering into the New Covenant, and New Relationship, with God and Christ.
(See the article All About Water Baptism)
The Word of God vs. Traditions of Men
There is a common tradition that the Israelites killed the lamb between noon and sunset the fourteenth, or at about 3PM, near the END of the day; then ate it the night of the fifteenth. Thus, some claim that is when Passover was eaten, and that is when we should take it today.
This same tradition claims that they then went out of Egypt the SAME NIGHT they partook of the Passover.
We should remember what Christ said of the tradition of the Pharisees and scribes (Mark 7:9).
This common theory and tradition does not hold water in view of all the Scriptures and the narrative of Exodus 12.
1. The Passover was sacrificed in the evening—at the beginning of the fourteenth day of the first month (Exodus 12:6).
2. The Israelites ate the lamb that night and were not permitted to leave their houses at all that night (Exodus 12:8-13).
3. They remained in their own houses, in the land of Goshen, until long after the death angel passed (Ex. 12:22-23, 29).
4. Whatever of the Passover roasted lamb remained uneaten until the morning they were to burn with fire (Exodus 12:10).
5. They then (in daylight) went to their Egyptian neighbors and ’borrowed’ from them and spoiled them (Exodus 12:31-36).
6. They did not leave Egypt until the fourteenth had ended—on the night of the fifteenth of Aviv (Num. 33:3, Lev. 23:5-6).
Another common “tradition” is to call Passover one of the days of unleavened bread (because leaven was put out of their houses during the fourteenth day, before it ended, and before the fifteenth began). By this “reckoning,” eight days are referred to as Days of Unleavened Bread; and the entire time called by the general name “Passover.”
The problem with men’s traditions, is that they generally don’t square with the Word of God. The Word of God shows that there are seven days of Unleavened Bread (Ex. 12:15; 13:6-7; 23:15; 34:18, Lev. 23:6, Num. 28:17, Deut. 16:3). Passover itself is a set day and event—on the fourteenth of Aviv.
It has also become common today to refer to the ordinance of Passover as “the Lord’s Supper;” though the ONLY Scriptural reference is 1 Cor. 11:20, which says: “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.”
Passover is not eating a supper. It is a holy sacrament. It is a solemn observance.
Conversely, the night of the Feast is a night to be much observed (Ex. 12:42). The fifteenth day is a Feast by ordinance forever.
“Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread…the first day…the seventh day…shall be an holy convocation to you” (Ex. 12:15-16).
A holy convocation is a religious assembly, for the purpose of worship. The Sabbath is a holy convocation, as is the fifteenth and the twenty-first day of Aviv. Our presence in assembling before God is commanded under His power and authority.
A primary difference between Passover and the Feast is that Passover is a solemn reminder of the penalty for sin—the price that Christ paid in our place—while the Feast is a joyous celebration of our freedom, being set free from enslavement to our sins!
One More Lesson
There is another vital lesson we should realize and understand from this illustration that God provides for us year by year.
Once Israel had passed through the Red Sea, they were no longer being pursued by their enemies. Their adversary was thoroughly defeated. Yet, what happened right after they sang their praises to the Lord? “Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur…three days in the wilderness, and found no water” (Ex. 15:21-22).
Much could be said about the reason that they found no water; yet most important is what God again did for them, and what His revealed purpose is. “ . . . when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter (note: Marah means bitter) . . . And the people murmured against Moses, saying, what shall we drink?” (Ex. 15:23-24)
True to form, as they did throughout the Exodus, the people of God bitterly complained about their circumstances.
As Christians, we are told to “Do all things without murmurings and disputings,” without grumbling or bickering (Phil. 2:14).
Do we have the nature or character to fulfill that requirement?
Even after we have seen miraculous intervention in our own lives—do we wholly faithfully trust Him with our lives?
“…and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet” (Ex. 15:25). Jesus Christ is our intercessor today (Rom. 8:34, Heb. 3:1). Prayer is how we approach Him; how we beseech God’s help.
Yet notice that God did not simply heal the waters, but they had to take action, and cast the tree (cut down, perhaps ground or milled) into the waters in order for the waters to be made sweet. Work, effort, was required. And what does the Scripture say? “There he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them” (Ex.15:25).
God then goes on to instruct His people that “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee” (Ex. 15:26).
What an amazing promise—when we faithfully believe and obey, living in true faith. God is faithfully, our Divine Healer!
Note that now, though we are completely free from the external adversary—we still have our own human nature, and we still have trials, for we are within God’s hands, and He tries and proves us. In other words, there is a purpose being worked out in our lives—and God has a desire for the work of His hands (Isa. 64:8, Eph. 2:10, Tit. 3:8).
We are ultimately (to be) being fashioned in His image and His likeness (Rom. 8:29). The evident unspoken truth is that God desires faithful character and characteristics in His people. We are still in the process of being created—spiritually!
And now, what finally happens when Israel has fulfilled the second Annual High Sabbath and has kept the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread? “. . . they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters” (Ex. 15:27).
Israel, God’s people, had water and shade here at Elim. We’ve seen that water is representative of the Holy Spirit. Rest, peace, are symbolic of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. This encampment is clearly God’s holy blessing!
We have Provision to meet our needs and sustain us, even a resting place, when we obey Him. God blesses our obedience.
Much Revealed by a Few Days
With just an overview of the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread we have seen numerous illustrations showing how God operates. We’ve seen much about how He works with His people, and how He protects and provides for His people.
We also see a contrast between what the world believes (its traditions) and what the Word of God says (what the Truth really is).
Passover, Christ’s shed blood for our forgiveness, is the very beginning of our Salvation (not the end, but the beginning).
We must be willing to step out into the wilderness to truly worship God and fulfill His will (We must willingly faithfully act).
After newly begotten children of God are freed from slavery, an enemy still fiercely pursues (We rely upon Christ in faith).
God fights for us and wins battles we would not be able to of our own limited “strength” (He is ever faithful to protect us).
Trusting God yields miraculous immersion into Him, His path, His Spirit covering and guiding (it is His life in us that saves us).
Even when in God’s hands alone, He tries and tests us to help us to truly learn His way of life (We are His workmanship).
When we obey His holy Word He provides abundant resources to meet our needs (there are spiritual benefits for obedience).
There are many Truths presented though these examples “written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). The Word of God is limitless in the depth of meaning, inspiration and revelation it imparts to the willing believer who seeks and accepts what God reveals through His Holy Word (Mat. 7:7).
These lessons that were written for our learning and admonition are spiritual in nature (Rom. 7:14; 15:4, 1 Cor. 10:1-11).
The calling out of the Israelites, and the freeing of them from slavery in Egypt, was all done by God’s election (Rom. 11:28-29). And yet—through the unbelief of Israel—the promises of God are now extended to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:7, 25-29; 15:8-9).
God’s whole plan of salvation, and the spiritual purpose for human life, are revealed in these ancient words (Mat. 25:34). Yet this world is essentially falling apart. Most today experience the futility of life apart from the true living God (Eph. 2:12).
Meaning and purpose come to light through living that way of Life—given for our own good (Deut. 5:29, 10:12-21; Jer. 28:11). Inspiration and spiritual blessings that come via obedience to the Word of God are experienced by those who answer “yes” to God’s calling in their life (Rom. 11:29, 1 Cor. 26-31, Eph. 1:18; 4:4, Phil. 3:14, 2 Th. 1:11, 2 Tim. 1:9, Heb. 3:1, 2 Pet. 1:10).
May God provide all wisdom and strength to uphold His called children through this darkness, that we may live according to His perfect holy will, and that we may finally inherit His boundless eternal blessing (Mark 10:29-30, John 3:14-17, Acts 26:18).
* Outline of Event Timelines During Exodus Week / Unleavened Bread
God’s people finally left Egypt after exactly 430 years (Ex. 12:41).
1. “The children of Israel removed from Rameses, and pitched in Succoth” (Num. 33:5). Succoth was the first encampment after leaving Rameses “on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the Passover” (Num. 33:3).
From Succoth, they were told that they should “encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea” (Ex. 14:2).
This was also to incite Pharaoh to pursue after them, thinking they were entrapped by the wilderness (Ex. 14:3-4).
2. Numbers records for us that “they departed from Succoth, and pitched in Etham, which is in the edge of the wilderness (Num. 33:6). This now the second encampment.
3. From there, they “removed from Etham, and turned again unto Pihahiroth, which is before Baalzephon: and they pitched before Migdol (Num. 33:7). This now, the third encampment.
At this point they are now situated “by the sea” (Ex. 14:2). This is the third night (third encampment) after their departure from Rameses (now the eighteenth of Aviv).
“And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them. And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night (Ex. 14:19-20)
They were pursued by Pharaoh up until the third night. “And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left (Exodus 14:21-22).
“And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians” (Ex. 14:24). This would now be the morning portion of the eighteenth of Aviv—now halfway through the Days of Unleavened Bread.
“So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water (Ex. 15:22). Three days from the eighteenth of Aviv would bring them to the twenty-first—or the last High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread.
This is where they encountered the waters of Marah (Ex. 15:23-26, Num. 33:8).
There are debates from scholars and those of divergent opinions that the Israelites could not have made the trip to the Red Sea in three days. There are many varied opinions of what constitutes Succoth, Etham, Migdol, Pihahiroth and Baalzephon as Israel left Egypt and departed into the wilderness on the way to the Red Sea.
The debate about this is broad, with endless ideas about their route and encampments.
This brief summary is not meant to debate the locations of the camps, nor the path to the Red Sea, nor identify the point of Red Sea crossing. While there likely is value in identifying the correct route; far too many writers redefine Biblical words and historical sites trying to create a narrative to propose their own interpretation.
Critics often add longer timeframes and more camps than the Bible specifies; authors redefine which sea is referred to and what/where the crossing site is. This occurs because seeking to identify Red Sea crossing sites that meet the Biblical narrative can yield distances around 200 miles—an average over 60 miles per day!
Indeed this would be a miraculous pace. Yet it may seem somewhat less impossible when one recalls that for generations they had been slaves in Egypt, accustomed to extremely hard, arduous work every day. Tacitus records that the Roman army, under Nero, retreated 60 miles in a single day.
Of numerous texts where God reminds Israel that HE brought them out of the land of Egypt, He mentions that He did so “…with great power and a stretched out arm” (2Ki. 17:36); “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself” (Ex. 19:4).
Since they left at night and likely traveled through all of the next day (about 24 hours of travel), they likely made exceptional progress on that first day’s journey. It is apparent that Pharaoh and his Army had to pursue Israel in haste and in fury in the effort to overtake them “beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon” (Ex. 14:9), “by the sea.”
The point of this summary is simply to comply with the Biblical text and the meaning that it conveys.
This Biblical narrative stands wholly on its own merit. The intent is not to add to nor take away from it.
These Scriptures are recognized in their original autographs as a segment of the infallible Word of God.
Where Do We Go From Here
We have taken the first steps on our journey of essential Christian experience (Psalm 111:10; 119:100, Prov. 1:7).
We have begun—but we have only just begun. How do we actually arrive at our destination? Only with God’s guidance and help—by understanding and living according to His purpose (Psa. 25:9; 31:3; 32:8; 48:14; 73:24-26, Luke 1:78-79, John 16:13).
An incomprehensible price has been paid in our place. The shame, the ignominy, the pain, the blood . . . and the death. The very life of the innocent and perfect Son of God. How could God have given any more to redeem our own life?
God commands us to put sin away and put on righteousness; because as He is holy, we are to become holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16). He does not want us to continue to do what made it necessary for His Son to die in the first place (Rom. 6:1-18, Heb. 10:26-29).
God is perfect, God is right, God is just, God is true; His desire is for us to become like Him (Mat. 5:48. Rom 6:22, 1 Pet. 1:15-16).
But why then did He create us with such a horribly flawed nature (Job. 5:7, Jer. 17:9, Rom. 7:5)?
Some ask, why couldn’t He have created us differently (Rom. 9:20)? Why require such work and effort for us to fellowship with Him—for doesn’t He already have untold numbers of angels to keep Him company and to perform His holy purpose?
Or does He? And can they?
God’s Word reveals that one-third of the angels rebelled against Him (Rev. 12:3-4, 7, Isa. 14:12-15, Ezek. 28:13-15, John 8:44). The serpent, Satan, was already in the garden to lie and deceive (Gen 3:1-5, Rev. 12:9). He was already the adversary of God.
Angels were created as spirit beings, immortal, not subject to death (Ps. 104:4)—created perfect (Ezek. 28:15) yet many did not stay that way (Jude 1:6). Conversely, humans are created mortal—of flesh and blood—wholly subject to death (Gen 3:19). And we are so very far from perfect (Jer. 17:9, Rom. 7:5).
What is the reason, the purpose, that God created us imperfect and mortal, subject to death? And unable to determine our own fate? “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23).
Divine Purpose for Human Life
An explanation, or description, of our human state of existence is outlined by the Apostle Paul in Rom. 7:5 — Rom. 8:39. There is much within the Word of God that reveals what life is really all about; yet as the Scripture says of itself: “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isa. 28:10).
God has had a purpose, a plan, in place from the beginning of creation (Eph. 1:4, 9-12, Heb. 4:3, 1 Pet. 1:20, 1 John 3:7-10). Even angels look to the Church, to the revelation given God’s elect, to understand His divine purpose (Eph. 3:8-21, 1 Pet. 1:12).
How can it be, that lowly human beings could have a Purpose, that even angels of God look into and desire to understand?
What purpose could lowly human beings have, so meaningful that even angels of God do not understand—but want to? With our pathetic, lowly, flawed nature and existence, what could we possibly have to offer that could be of any value?
But then, it isn’t ourselves; it isn’t our own works or our own value; it is what God does in and through us—what we become!
There are aspects of human life that angels have never experienced—and never will. Marriage, pro-creation (children and family), are unique experiences bound to our human existence. These relationships, these profound experiences in life, are ordained of and by God according to His divine purpose for human kind (Mat. 19:5, Mark 10:7, Eph. 5:31-32).
This whole human experience is designed to prepare us for something infinitely greater. These unique human experiences show to us, and help prepare us for, what God desires for us spiritually—and eternally (Jer. 29:11-13, Eph. 3:14-19).
We are called, by inheritance, and by oneness through the Holy Spirit, to be born into God’s Family. Though Christ dwelling within us—by His Holy Spirit revealing truth to us and empowering us throughout our life—we are being transformed into His image and His likeness—spiritually (Gen. 1:26, Rom. 8:28-29).
We are incomplete without God’s Spirit (Luke 24:49, John 14:17-18; 14:20-21; 15:26; 16:13, Acts 1:8, Eph. 3:19; 4:13, Col. 2:9-12).
We are called to choose right over wrong. Good over evil. Even to the extent of overcoming our own selves—our own natures (Deut. 30:19). We cannot do this of ourselves; we truly must rely on God, in faith, for His miraculous intervention.
In a very real sense, we are called to do the exact opposite of what Satan and the demons did. We are called to become ONE with Almighty God. To be ONE with our Lord and Savior, and to be ONE with our Father in heaven (John 17:11, 21-23).
We are called to fulfill an ultimate intimate relationship with God that even holy angels cannot fulfil or experience!
Therefore, as we have begun this journey with Christ and with the Father, let us walk on to perfection and to the complete fulfillment of His holy will in our lives (Rom. 12:2, Phil. 3:13-15, Heb. 6:1, Jas. 1:2-5).
As we look toward the next great event in God’s holy plan—let us, with anticipation, see what God now has in store for us— as His called children of His own household (Eph. 2:19-22).