Seven Days of Unleavened Bread

Numbers 28  •  25 min. read  •  grade level: 6
(Exodus 12:8-20, 34-39; Num. 28)
We have seen already the truth connected with the deliverance of Israel from Egypt in the early part of Ex. 12, which relates to the taking of the life of the lamb, and the putting of the blood upon the lintel and the two side-posts of the door. The importance of all this, however, is so far-reaching that I venture to travel over the ground again a little more in detail. It is of the deepest possible moment for every soul to see that this is the basis of all God's dealings with Israel. The blood upon the lintel is what you may call the groundwork of Israel's relationship with God. Although we may get a great deal else that is instructive here, still it is of the last importance to see that there was but one basis of relationship with God, and that is the blood of the lamb offered in Egypt. In the very spot where they had been slaves, there the work of another was accomplished by which God was able, in righteousness, to bring His people out of Egypt, and bring them into the land.
Get clearly in your minds that the passover and the feast of unleavened bread are two distinct things. The passover is Christ's work. The unleavened bread is connected with your walk. And the two things are
as distinct as possible, though they are coupled and go together. " In the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover of Jehovah. And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten" (Num. 28:16, 17). And in the New Testament we have " Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast" (1 Cor. 5:7, 8). In both these scriptures they are distinct. There is no doubt that the lamb is a figure of Christ, and I am equally certain that the unleavened bread is Christ. Israel was under the shelter of the blood of the lamb, and the angel of Jehovah passed over them. This is the Passover; but then they had a journey to go, and they were to eat of the lamb roast with fire, and unleavened bread, to strengthen them for it.
For us this sets forth that as a guilty sinner I take shelter under the Blood of Christ, our Passover. And then I feed upon the lamb roast with fire, and the unleavened bread, and this brings me into a suited condition for the journey by connecting the heart's affections with all that Christ passed through. Nothing could more strikingly prefigure the sufferings of Christ on the cross, under the judgment of God, than this expression, " the lamb roast with fire!" He passed through the fire of God's judgment. They were to eat it with unleavened bread-setting forth the unleavened perfection of Christ-and with bitter herbs.
You cannot eat " the Lamb roast with fire " without entering into the wonderful truth of the sufferings and sorrows of Christ. God would always have us remember these. If your heart is not in the power of the Spirit of God, practically feeding thus on Christ, you will get cold and formal. Many, many times over in this old Book God put Israel in remembrance of the passover. Year by year He brought it before them. They were to eat it on the fourteenth day of the first month every year. I quite admit they did not do it. They did it in Egypt, and then once in the wilderness, and then in the land. They were careless.
We too have the opportunity, as the seven days roll by, of having our souls afresh reminded of the sufferings of Christ every recurring first day of the week. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Then comes, " Therefore let us keep the feast." This is a week of holy blessed enjoyment of Christ, feeding on Christ. And what we are feeding on very soon tells upon us. If I am not feeding on Christ, it will be something else. It must be Christ. Unleavened bread, that is Christ. Bitter. herbs speak of what we were, and had done. I do not doubt the Spirit of God brings to our souls the sense, it was our sins that brought Him down into death. People sometimes say, Oh, we are past all that. Past that? Ah, my dear friend, you can scarce mean what you say! It is not a question of a person always thinking of his sins. God forbid. What we have always brought before us is Christ as a sweet savor to God
Num. 28 shows us what filled up those seven days of unleavened bread. There was the presenting to God daily, every day in perfect number, that which was the sweet savor of Christ in the burnt offerings, although there was not lacking the sin offering on any one day. God never leaves that out. God would never let us forget it. He will always keep fresh in the soul what we were and where we were, and out of what we have been delivered. And although we are brought into the fellowship of the Father and the Son-that is the delight that God has in His blessed Son-yet He will never let us forget where we were, and what it cost Him to deliver us out of it. It keeps the soul lowly and humble. Our hearts are naturally so full of levity and lightness that we are apt to forget what we were. Not that that is what is to occupy the soul. No. The Israelites were to cat the lamb roast with fire, with unleavened bread, and bitter herbs.
And then remark, " Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire." How careful God is to keep fresh in the soul the sense of the sufferings of Christ. The lamb roast with fire typifies these. If you read the New Testament carefully you will be struck by the frequency with which the Spirit of God speaks of the sufferings of Christ. He suffered. Christ must needs suffer. You search out how frequently, when speaking of the death of the Lord Jesus, the Holy Ghost brings in " the sufferings of Christ." That is the word the Spirit of God presses on our souls. The 22nd, the 69th, the 88th, and the 102nd Psalm are all full of the deep inward experiences of the Lord, when He suffered on the cross. You get the figures in the Pentateuch, the facts in the gospels, Christ's feelings in the Psalms, and the lovely fruits in the epistles.
Let the figure of all this in the types speak to us. You eat the lamb roast with fire. Do not tamper with His death, but have in your soul the sense of what it cost Christ as He went through the fire of God's wrath. God tested Him. We are to eat " his head, with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof." How beautiful. Eat the head. What does it mean? Oh, beloved friends, the head is all the intelligence of Christ. Look at the wonderful intelligence that marked the ways of Christ. It says in the gospels, and " Jesus therefore knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth." He knew all, and yet He went. Eat the head. And then the legs. Oh, feed upon His intelligent devotedness to God, as well as on the beautiful walk of the blessed Lord Jesus Christ. The varied presentation of these details in the four gospels makes their diligent study a necessity as well as a delight, and the results of this attention are unspeakably precious, beloved friends, for the soul: we get not merely that which meets our need, but the heart delights to trace the ways of the Lord Jesus.
And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord's passover." That is a pilgrim character. " Shoes on your feet," ready to go. That is, there were -certain moral features that were to mark them, and are to mark us. While thus eating the blood was outside, as a token that no judgment could ever touch them. And there they were inside the house feeding on " the lamb roast with fire." They recognized God's judgment was on the lamb.
But more. They must eat unleavened bread for seven days (ver. 15). Now you might ask me, What is the application of this. We must not allow any leaven in our hearts, our lives, our words, or our ways. Leaven is always the symbol of that which is evil. He who allows it, " That soul shall be cut off from Israel.' Does that mean that he shall die? For an Israelite it did; for us it means that one is cut off from communion with God first, and next, if unrepentant, from the fellowship of the saints, and most surely from being in the enjoyment of that which God would give our souls. Now let every young Christian be quite clear about this. You know that Christ has formed a link between your soul and God, that nothing can ever touch it. You have been born of God, and washed in the blood of His dear Son, and you are a child of God, and nothing, by His infinite grace, can break that link. But a foolish thought allowed will hinder communion. The very smallest bit of leaven breaks the link of communion, and I am out of the current of the working of the Spirit of God.
Now we know very well that the blessed normal work of the Spirit of God is to bring Christ before our hearts. If something has come in that has broken this tender link of communion between the Lord and our souls, the Spirit of God makes the soul conscious thereof. There comes in a cloud. I must get back and find what was the hindrance, judge it, and then all is right. Nothing can break the link that grace has formed, as a matter of eternal life. But a very small thing can snap the link of communion, and rob the soul of the joy and divine delight that God would give us by His Spirit. Therefore you see the immense importance of the unleavened bread-" the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." If I allow a little bit of bitterness about a saint to exist, or grant to my tongue the liberty of a little evil speaking, do not let me dream of communion. I am out of it.
Leaven during the seven days was intolerable to God, and therefore, there is no doubt, that when the passover came round, it was a most necessary and important thing that the master of every house should search it from top to bottom-from attic to cellar-to be quite sure that there was not a crumb of leavened bread in the house. A few crumbs were quite enough to bring in the judgment of the Lord. I think it is very important to ponder this, and to clearly understand why the house was to be swept.
We should not be the worse of what I shall call a new broom. They are reputed to sweep clean. I think, beloved friends, it is a good thing when I get a new broom in to sweep out everything that is not of Christ. Because if you allow leaven to remain in your life and ways you are necessarily cut off from communion. It does not mean that you are not going to heaven, but that you will be out of the liberty and power of the Spirit. And what will be the result? There will be individual deadness and lifelessness, and our assemblies will be dead and lifeless also. We are not keeping the feast. If we were there would be nothing but Christ. It is easy to tell when a. brother has been keeping the feast of unleavened bread. He has nothing but Christ for me. If I meet a Christian and he has only some tittle-tattle, I shall get spoiled, and vice versa. You know, beloved friends, you cannot touch pitch without being defiled Every time I meet you I shall either help you Christ-ward, or I shall hinder you. On the other hand, you will either help or hinder me. The point is, what am I feeding on? God give us to keep this feast.
It is very interesting to see the way in which the Scripture presents it. I am just going to show you one or two verses. "And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this self-same day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever" (Ex. 12:17). How emphatic God is! Again, " Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land " (ver. 19). There was to be no leaven in their houses at that time. For us, you know, it means the whole pathway. I find myself occupied with the death of Christ, as on Lord's Day morning, I am feeding on the passover. Very well, the Lord says, Go and keep the feast of unleavened bread for seven days: and then I find myself there again on the next Lord's Day morning, and so on, and on. It really means this, that the whole of the pathway of the Church down here is a time when there is nothing but the unleavened bread to be fed upon by those who compose that Church.
Now then, see the way in which the Spirit of God brings this truth out, because if you are really wanting to follow the Word of God, it is wonderful how God will help you. When we come down to the very fact of Israel's going out of Egypt that night, we see that they were hurried out with their bread unleavened. " And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders " (ver. 34). I think there was no opportunity of its being leavened. " And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual " (ver. 39). There is a wonderful little side-light here. " It was not leavened because they were thrust out of Egypt...." I think what God gives us here is this, that if they had not been in such a hurry the leaven might have got in. I will help them to start right, says God. And therefore they were hurried out in such rapidity that they did not get any time to fail in obedience. I will help them, at least, to keep My word for once in their history, says God.
Oh, it is beautiful to see the tenderness of conscience in a young soul when first converted. I quite admit it is not established in grace, but it feels it has such a treasure, such a prize, and it trembles lest it should lose it. I remember hearing a Christian say once, " When I was first converted, I declare I was afraid of my own shadow, for fear that something should come in between my soul and Christ." Tenderness of conscience and exercise of soul really come with the feeding on the unleavened bread. It is the heart delighting in Christ, and feeding on Christ. There is a response to the little light that it has. It desires to follow the mind of the Lord.
I think it is interesting to see how God thus helped Israel to keep His command as regards the unleavened bread, a command immediately repeated in the thirteenth chapter, which speaks of their separation, and their being set apart to God: " And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten " (13:3). In my relation to the Church, the family, or the world, is there anything that is not like Christ? It must go. It is very simple. I do not want to escape the edge of the truth. Do you? You see Christ is everything to God, and He should be everything to us. We are in this world to exhibit Christ.
Remember this. " Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters. And thou shalt show thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt " (vers. 7, 8). Look at the reason given for eating unleavened bread; it is the response of affection, ' This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt." You are not keeping this feast of unleavened bread in order to get saved, no-that is all clear, and secured by the death of Christ-but you are keeping this feast that you might be in the enjoyment of that which is yours. Because, beloved friends, while grace gives me a good conscience by the blood of the Lamb, it is by a tender holy walk that I keep that good conscience.
Now pass on to Ex. 23 There we read: " Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year. Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt; and none shall appear before me empty)" (vers. 14, 15). " And none shall appear before me empty." Is not that striking? How am I to appear? With my hands full of Christ, the detail of which, I believe, we shall find given us in Num. 28; 29 You will do well to ponder these chapters.
Now just look at the sixteenth chapter of Deuteronomy. "Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the Lord thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which- the Lord shall choose to place his name there. Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it: seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life. And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coasts seven days; neither shall there anything of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning. Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee: but at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in,, there thou shalt sacrifice the pass-over at even, at the going clown of the sun, at the season that thou earnest forth out of Egypt. And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place-which the Lord thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents. Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work therein " (vers. 1-8). Note particularly verse 2. Bear that in mind. It is not the place that I choose. There is only one spot, and God chooses it. Query, Am I worshipping in the spot of God's choice, or am I following my own will in this? Observe also verse 3. " The bread of affliction " is a new character given to the unleavened bread. It is a new point, not to be disregarded. It is affliction to nature, it is not a thing I like. It is not what pleases me. It is the bread of affliction, and I am to eat it all the days of my life. Let me never forget this.
Further, nothing of the passover was to remain till the morning. What is the meaning of that? Whatever they could not partake of must be burnt with fire. The death of Christ is infinitely precious to God, it all goes up as a sweet savor to Him. What I fail to apprehend God appreciates. The present moment of our soul's history with God is a most serious one, because our capacity becomes fixed here. Therefore we must go on, and grow by the truth. But mark, it must be Christ, in all His fullness, and all His grace, that our souls feed upon.
God is careful to say that Israel might sacrifice only " at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in." This is a very great principle, beloved friends, as true now as in Israel's day. The Name of the Lord Jesus is the only gathering center to-day, and the saint who gathers not simply in that Name, will lack the profound enjoyment of Christ that our God would have our souls taste.
Now let us turn to the twenty-eighth chapter of Numbers, and we shall see what occupies the seven days. " And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, My offering, and my bread for my sacrifices made by fire, for a sweet savor unto me, shall ye observe to offer unto me in their due season" (vers. 1, 2). And you may say, What is the meaning of that? These two chapters (28 and 29) give us what God calls " My bread." They do not present what Christ is for us, or what Christ did for us, although it is quite true that in these two chapters the sin-offering comes in no less than thirteen times, but it only comes in by the way. The sin-offering is not the point here. It is what Christ is to God. It is Christ in all the sweet savor and fragrance of His life, and in the devotedness of His death, going up to God. It is all God-ward, and is, so to speak, Christ presented to God as His bread in the official sacrifices. They were to be careful to offer unto Jehovah in their appointed seasons that which formed His bread of the sacrifices.
And now we will look at the seasons. First of all you have the general arrangement of what was to be daily (28:3-8), weekly (vers. 9, 10), and monthly (vers. 11-15). And then come the seven annual feasts of which the passover was the first. It was on the fourteenth day of the first month; and on the fifteenth day we come to the feast of unleavened bread (vers. 17-25). This is what the apostle refers to, when he says, " Let us keep the feast..." (1 Cor. 5:8). What a wonderful thing to think that the Church is seen before God unleavened, as in Christ. Therefore evil was to be judged: " Put away from among yourselves that wicked person," was the command (1 Cor. 5:13). They could have no fellowship with one walking in sin. He was cut off from the privileges of the assembly. How long are we to keep the feast? Seven days. All those seven days you practically present Christ before God.
" In the first day shall be a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work " (ver. 18). Your soul is in liberty before God. That is the first thing. Nothing legal. There is no " I must be so and so." It is quite true that you are not what you ought to be, but Christ is all in this feast. " I ought to be holy, and devoted, and earnest, and fervent, and worshipful, and rejoicing." Quite true, you ought to be, but I will tell you something else, while you are trying to be all these, you are not happy. Why? Because you are beginning your seven days with a bit of " servile work." No, no, that won't do. You must get first into the liberty of the grace of God. The apostle well says to the Galatians, " Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." The yoke of bondage is what " I ought to be," and many a dear young convert is under that yoke, and in great bondage. You bring God His bread, and you will be what you should be. It is God feeding on all that Christ was in His life, and in His death, and in the springs of His being here.
In the nineteenth verse, " the burnt offering," gives you His death. In the twentieth verse, " the meat offering," gives you His life. It is, so to speak, our presenting before God all the blessedness of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is delighting in Christ, keeping the company of Christ, waving Christ before God, every day of the seven. We must not come empty. What a difference between my coming up empty, to get something for myself, and my coming up full, to present Christ, and wave Christ before God. Anybody can see the difference.
In verse 22, " And one goat for a sin offering to make an atonement for you," God beautifully brings in that which connects itself with the death of Christ for us. He knows very well how our souls are prone to circle round ourselves, so He presents the one goat, but observe, one goat will do to meet the question of what we have been, while " two young bullocks, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year" present the fullness of Christ as the burnt offering.
The point here is not Christ meeting our case, but it is God glorified, and Christ filling the heart of God with joy, and He is saying to you and me, That is what you have to bring to Me. You begin next Lord's Day morning with Christ for God; go to work on Monday, but don't take off your first-day suit on Monday morning. In the history of your soul, you have every day to go over the same ground. It is to be Christ on the first day, and Christ all the week, and Christ on the seventh; for of it we again read, " And on the seventh day ye shall have an holy convocation (the assembly): ye shall do no servile work " (ver. 25). How much do we bring of Christ to God in our closets and our homes, as well as in the assembly? That is the question. The week begins with the liberty of Christ, and it closes with the liberty of Christ. Really my heart is charmed with this week of unleavened bread. It is feeding on Christ, and nothing but Christ. And I am sure, beloved friends, if we do this it will give tone to the assembly. Oh, you say, The brothers are very dry. Are the sisters full of Christ? Come now. Is there much sap about the sisters? You may say, The brothers are very dry. Yes. Be it so, but how much do we help each other? That is the point. Do not let us forget it.
When we come to the assembly of the saints we are each like a person coming into a dark room, and every person brings in a candle. If the wick is well trimmed, it will give a big light, but if not, or has " a waster" in it, the light is dim, and others will say, He has a candle, but there is not much light about it. Each saint not walking with God comes into the meeting like this, and hinders rather than helps it. God give us to be like well-trimmed lights by His grace. And I am sure if we feed upon Christ, and our hearts are occupied only with Christ, there will be for God that which the Spirit labors to produce, the fragrance, the perfumes, and the glories of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has given us all His love, and now He gives us the opportunity of presenting to Him that which is His bread. May we know how to answer to such grace.
Jesus, of Thee we ne'er would tire:
The new and living food
Can satisfy our heart's desire,
And life is in Thy blood.
If such the happy midnight song
Our prisoned spirits raise,
What are the joys that cause, ere long,
Eternal bursts of praise.
To look within and see no stain-
Abroad no curse to trace;
To shed no tears, to feel no pain,
But see Thee face to face.
To find each hope of glory gained,
Fulfilled each precious word;
And fully all to have attained
The image of our Lord.
For this, we're pressing onward still,
And in this hope would be
More subject to the Father's will-
E'en now much more like Thee.