Chag haMatzah 2004
Part 2: Unleavened
and Leavened Bread
Sabbath Day Sermon, Sunday 4 April 2004
Click here for Part 1
"So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to Yahweh throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat -- that only may be prepared by you. So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance" (Ex 12:14-18, NKJV).
I welcome you to this special Sabbath in the Name of Yah'shua our Messiah in preparation for the Feast of Unleavened Bread which begins this evening at sundown. Today we are celebrating Passover, the chief symbol of which is lamb's blood, but this evening we shall be celebrating the week long observance Chag haMatzah, the symbol of which is unleavened bread. In these two symbols we have the chief ingredients of the Lord's Supper.
Chag haMatzah begins with a ceremony called Bedikat haMetz which literally translated means 'the search for leaven'. The day before Passover a major cleaning of our homes took place in which all leaven was searched for and removed because in the Old Covenant leaven or yeast is symbolic of sin. In this simple ceremony we are given a graphic illustration. Cleaning a whole house is not light work. Moreover, looking for leaven can be very difficult. For example, cookie or biscuit crumbs are made with leaven! Think of all the places where food crumbs containing leaven might lodge themselves especially when there are children in the house. When we teach our children to get on their hands and knees, joining with the adults looking for such things, it may, to the unenlightened, seem a crazy thing to do! Who cares about a few crumbs?
But that isn't the point. Our houses in the New Covenant represent our physical bodies and one of the most important commandments we have been given is to rid ourselves of sin! That commandment is inclusive of all sin, and not just certain categories of sin. In the literal application of Chag haMatzah, we are to ask the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) to reveal to us all the sin areas of our lives so that we can identify them, repent of them, stop sinning, and invoke the Passover blood to cleanse us of sin's affects, including the stain of guilt. This revelation comes from knowing Torah, and that means searching the scriptures diligently to know whether we are right with Yahweh or not. It means also examining the life of Yah'shua (Jesus) to see whether we are imitating His example or not. And finally, it means having a spiritual relationship with the Father and coming to know His will by personal revelation.
As I have underlined many times before, though, without the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) the scriptures will remain dead to us and we will end up living a purely ritualistic, ceremonial and legalistic religion which does not have the power to save. It is for this reason, after this festival is over, we wait 50 days until Shavu'ot, or Pentecost, which celebrates the anointing of the first believers with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). Please note the sequence of the festivals: Pesach > Chag haMastzah > Yom haBikkurim > Shavu'ot. Passover is a recognition that we need the blood covering to be delivered from bondage, Unleavened Bread that we have to actively work to get sin out of our lives, Firstfruits that there will be an initial result and evidence of our faith, and Pentecost the need to be guided and empowered by the Ruach (Spirit) until we have reached the fullness.
In the ceremonial collecting of leaven in our homes called Bedikat haMetz we collect all the leaven and then burn it. What this graphic symbol teaches us is that sin can't just be shoved aside - it has to be totally destroyed as a condition for fully entering the Kingdom of Heaven. And the only fire that can do that is the power of Yahweh through the resurrection furnace of Yah'shua (Jesus).
Last week I asked you to consider why we both celebrate Pesach once a year and the Lord's Supper weekly. Into this 'pot' I want to place some other considerations for you. At Passover we eat only unleavened bread, for leaven represents 'sin' here. However, when Yah'shua (Jesus) describes the Kingdom of Heaven, He describes it as leavened bread, using an illustration of a woman adding yeast to dough (Mt.13:33ff). He also describes Himself as "the bread of life", that is, living bread, or bread with yeast (Jn.6:48-51) and that we can only be sustained in our lives by regularly partaking of this bread. This bread is called lechem in Hebrew and was the bread eaten at mealtimes. It is to be distinguished from paneem or shewbread and challah which is used at festival time and on the Sabbath.
When Yah'shua (Jesus) inaugurated the Last Supper it was at a regular Pesach ceremony using unleavened bread. We use unleavened bread in our Lord's Supper commemoration to represent the fact that Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Lamb of Elohim (God) who is without sin. Partaking of the bread and wine which are His body and blood, having purged ourselves of sin through a daily spiritual Bedikat haMetz, enables us to enter into the presence of our Heavenly Father, Yahweh-Elohim!
"Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest (the Holy of Holies in the Temple) by the blood of Yah'shua (Jesus), by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of Elohim (God), let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Heb.10:19-25, NKJV).
Now listen carefully here! The flesh of Messiah is the veil in the Temple which separates us from the Holy of Holies, the presence of Yahweh. When Yah'shua (Jesus) died, the veil of that Temple in Jerusalem was torn in two. The death of Yah'shua (Jesus) means that we can now cross into the Holy of Holies, which previously only the High Priest could do once a year at Yom Kippur. We enter the Holy of Holies by means of the blood but we cannot cross that veil without the body of Yah'shua (Jesus), which was torn for us. To participate in the Body of Christ means we have to first perform a Bedikat haMetz on ourselves - a search for the leaven of sin, and when we have found it, we have to bring it to the fire of purification to be burned.
Believers talk much about the blood of the Lamb but not so much about the Body except in a symbolic or allegorical form. They forget the Chag haMatzah element. Appealing to the blood of atonement, which cleanses by grace alone, appeals to the lazy soul because it involves doing nothing - but as this festival teaches us, it is not enough - there must first be a purification of our bodies if we are to actually stand in the presence of Yahweh and commune! And to do that, we must cross into the Holy of Holies, through that torn veil which is the torn body of Christ, having first removed the leaven of sin out of our lives. And that is why in the Lord's Supper we use unleavened bread. There is no access to life until death has first been removed. Life and death cannot coexist. Heaven and hell cannot be in the same place. And this cleansing of our temples is so important that we are commanded to partake of the Lord's Supper "often" (1 Cor.10:25-26) - it is not a single annual celebration as so many Messianics, Jehovah's Witnesses and others observe. Passover is a family event - the Lord's Supper is for you as an individual to get right with Yahweh.
What of the symbol of leavened bread or challah/lechem which Yah'shua (Jesus) uses as an illustration of the Kingdom of Heaven? Are we to eat this in any ceremonial context? And the answer is, yes, we are. We are to eat it at Fellowship Meals which are also known as Love Feasts or Agapé Meals. These are ordinary meals which believers who have partaken in the Lord's Supper share together to represent intimate fellowship with Yah'shua (Jesus) and thus their membership of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. It is another kind of communion. Thus in the New Covenant we have three types of meal and two types of bread:
1. The annual Pesach (Passover) and Chag haMatazah celebrations with unleavened bread;
2. The weekly Lord's Supper (Eucharist) every Friday evening on the Sabbath with unleavened bread; and
3. The daily Fellowship or Agapé meals with leavened 'fellowship bread' (challah or lechem).
The fellowship meal is usually the evening meal such as the one which the resurrected Messiah celebrated with the two disciples who were walking along the road to Emmaus (Lk.24):
"Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight" (Luke 24:30-32, NKJV).
We must not miss the prophetic significance of this. This is an intimate occasion, one of knowing, the kind that is also expressed in the marriage relationship. Their eyes were opened when He blessed and broke the lechem bread, for they knew then that they were partaking of their resurrected Lord! The Fellowship Meal is a marriage meal - it anticipates the Wedding Feast of the Lamb in heaven with all the redeemed. This the meal at which Yah'shua (Jesus) ceases to be just our Master but also becomes our allegorical Husband (Hos.2:16). It is also the meal, we learn from the Emmaus experience, which opens our eyes so that we can see and know our Lord personally and intimately.
In the use of the symbol of bread we are shown the process from alpha- to omega-salvation. Children first learn of the principles of salvation by partaking of the annual Passover and eating unleavened bread for a week. At some point in their lives, however, they must make a personal commitment to the Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus) and by being baptised and partaking of the weekly Lord's Supper. But that is not the end either, for we read:
"And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising Elohim (God) and having favor with all the people. And the Yahweh added to the church daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:40-47, NKJV).
From this passage we learn that several things were going on in the early Messianic Community (Church) every day of the week: (1) they were walking in the apostles' doctrine, that is, the Word of Elohim; (2) they were praying; (3) they were breaking bread; (4) they were of one mind in the temple; (5) they were breaking bread from house to house; (6) they were eating together with gladness and with simplicity of heart; (6) they were praising Yahweh; and (7) they were highly regarded by all people. To this we may add that (8) signs and wonders were being performed through the apostles causing everyone to fear Yahweh; and (9) they held all things in common.
All this was done in Jerusalem, at 'church headquarters', as it were. What this passage describes is not only the full power of the Gospel but also the lifestyle of the first believers. This was daily worship, not once a week. They were having fellowship meals every day with leavened bread. Bread, representing the resurrected body of Christ, is thus seen to be a daily partaking, and everyone's house is a miniature temple of Yahweh.
Now none of this fullness is possible if there is any chametz of sin in our bodies. This kind of wholeness and power is not possible until the temple of every soul has been thoroughly cleansed. And that is why every year we have Chag haMatzah and why we laboriously clean our homes out looking for leaven. And it is laborious, and every member of the family is supposed to be involved - it isn't just the housewives who are supposed to do this! And moreover, it must be done with enthusiasm because of the goal in mind.
Now cleansing the soul of sin is, it has to be admitted, grueling. It isn't easy, it isn't fun. But then neither was the atonement of Yah'shua (Jesus). It was grueling for Him, it was painful for Him, it cost Him His life. So why did He do it?
"... Yah'shua (Jesus), the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb.12:2, NKJV).
Now I am going to suggest to you that nobody in this international fellowship of NCCG is ever going to be a successful overcomer until Yah'shua (Jesus) has revealed to them, by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), the joy that has been set before us. And whence comes that joy? That joy comes in the spiritual rebirth which is represented by partaking of the weekly Lord's Supper. That joy comes from our alpha-salvation experience in meeting the resurrected Messiah for ourselves. Without that it is impossible to "go on to perfection" (Heb.6:1). Those who are nominal Christians, never having been baptised in the Ruach (Spirit), can neither move on, endure the privations of Christian sufferings, overcome successfully, nor attain perfection, because without the joy of that initial salvation experience, they will have no compelling reason to do so. One who is not immersed in spiritual fire can never see why. And when the first bit of opposition comes, they are the first to turn tail and flee.
Chag haMatzah is your opportunity to come to Yahweh and ask Him to reveal His Son to you personally. It is your opportunity to see the joy of the Kingdom of Heaven which will motivate you to overcome all your carnal tendencies. Yah'shua (Jesus) said to Nicodemus:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of Elohim (God)" (John 3:3, NKJV).
Yahweh doesn't ask you to sacrifice yourself for something you cannot see or understand. You must know what it is that, for those of us who have seen, is so joyful - the same joy that drove Yah'shua (Jesus) willingly to the cruel Cross. You have to have joy to endure suffering. You have to have joy to make it all worth it.
Though this year may seem like any of the other Festivals of Unleavened Bread that we have celebrated before, it isn't. This year, Chag haMatzah 2004, is unlike all the previous ones. And the reason is that this year Satan is trying to start what we know as the 'Great Tribulation'. He has the whole infrastructure set up, just as the nazis did when they took power in 1933. Every major city in the world has a Satanist council of 13 high-ranking devil-worshippers to take over the reigns of government. He has tried before, to be sure, and each time Yahweh has stopped him through His intercessors, though he has come one step closer to his goal of world dictatorship through his antichrist this time. I am firmly convinced, however, that this is not yet the time. There are people yet to be saved out of the world system. The end-time cities of refuge have yet to be built. Then Yahweh will permit this to happen and Satan will enjoy his last seven years of freedom before being imprisoned.
Many Christians naïvely believe that all they have to do is sit back and Yahweh will take care of everything. Yes, it is true, Yahweh will take care of everything, but He never works without revealing to, and involving, His people. We are the instruments of His salvation. These, however, are not ordinary times. The world is on the brink of a Satanist dictatorship and the only way to survive it, once we have done our parts as witnesses and saviours on Mount Zion, is to gather to cities of refuge. And to gather there, you must first be purged of sin. Why? Because these are holy places into which no unclean thing can pass. These places are to be supernaturally protected. They are to be as the City of Enoch was in olden times. Those who are lawless and who will not overcome will not enter them but perish in the great end-time slaughter outside.
Therefore, brethren and sisters, I want you to have this mind on this Chag haMatzah. Get right with Yahweh, search diligently for sin areas and bring them to the cross. Struggle until you have overcome. Present yourself a living sacrifice to Him. And if you have never known Him, get on your knees and personally invite Him into your heart, surrendering the sovereignty of your life to Him. Then make a public confession and be baptised and watch your life change! Watch your joy and confidence grow!
I will speak to you again at Yom haBikkurim. May Yahweh bless and sanctify you, leading you down that narrow path, which few find, that leads to eternal life. Amen.
Click here for Part 3
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