Why Do We as Messianic Jews Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread? 

The simple answer to why Messianic Jews celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread is in Exodus 12. Verse 17 says, “You are to observe the festival of matzah, for on this very day I brought your divisions out of the land of Egypt. Therefore, you are to observe this day from generation to generation by a perpetual regulation.” 

Perpetual means enduring forever, everlasting. We therefore know this is not a temporary regulation of ancient times, but a feast to be continued from generation to generation. Beyond just walking in obedience to this instruction, there is more to tell in why it is important and beneficial to celebrate this Feast of the L-RD. 

The Backdrop 

Torah Observant Messianic Believers often receive many questions that start with the words “Why do you…?” with regard to things written in the “Old Testament” also known as the Hebrew Scriptures. Sometimes, it is a question of curiosity and understanding. Other times, it is a question seeking challenge or debate. 

In the latter case, often there is a huge misconception that following the laws in the Hebrew Scriptures are done out of “legalism” or unnecessary obedience to laws that are null and void. Some believers may even think Torah Observant Believers are performing works through the laws for salvation. This is not so.    

When a Torah Observant Messianic Jewish Believer’s heart is in right understanding of salvation in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) and His instruction, obedience is followed through because of salvation and the love held for the Father. 

Yeshua the Messiah said in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my Commandments.” Those commandments are understood to be His Father’s complete instructions cover to cover in the Hebrew Scriptures. It was the only Scripture written at the time of Messiah Yeshua’s ministry. This instruction was perfectly followed by Messiah Yeshua in His life on earth as our example. Paul says in Romans 3:31, “Do we then nullify Torah by faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish Torah.” 

It is through these questions “Why do you…?” that I am personally led to listen anew to what the Father’s Spirit tells me about His instructions and how I may share. The questioning also reminds me of something very important, to always have an answer for what I believe. This comes through study and meditation in prayer. 

The culture of the Messianic Jewish Synagogue is to personally study, ask questions, and reason with one another, even with the leadership. Iron sharpens iron, right? We should study to present ourselves before Elohim perfectly, a laborer who is not ashamed, one who correctly announces the Word of Truth. See 2 Timothy 2:15, AENT. 

Unleavened Bread in Scripture 

In Exodus 12:14-20, we see HaShem giving the instruction for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. We see for seven days we are to eat unleavened bread and there is to be no leaven in our houses. This commandment starts on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month (of the religious calendar) and ends on the evening of the twenty-first day. The first and seventh day of Unleavened Bread is to be a holy assembly, and both of these days are Sabbaths when no work is to be done. 

Logically, the leaven must be used up before this feast starts. It is customary on the day before Passover, which is on the fourteen day of the first month, to do a final search in the home for leaven. While the Scripture tells us what to do, the practices of how these things were done are often gleaned from the passing down of oral traditions. There are multiple sources that contain the rituals and customs of the Israelites, such as the Talmud, rabbinical commentaries, and historical and modern publications. 

We see in Luke 22:7-8, it says, “And the day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread arrived during which there was the custom that the Paskha[Passover Lamb] be slaughtered.  And Y’shua [Jesus] sent Keefa [Peter] and Yochanan [John] and said to them, ‘Go. Prepare the Paskha for us that we may eat.’ ” ([ ] translation added) 

Our Messiah Yeshua clearly practiced the commands of His Father and He fulfilled the Feast of Unleavened Bread in His sinless life (leaven representing sin). Having fulfilled the Feast does not mean it has ended. As stated, this ordinance is instituted from generation to generation forever, first in remembrance of our redemption from Egypt, and then in its fulfillment from sin and death through Messiah Yeshua’s atoning sacrifice on the tree. 

We see the consistency of how the customs are passed from generation to generation as we read in Luke 22:14, Messiah Yeshua “reclined” at the table during the last supper with His disciples. Still today at the Passover Seder, throughout the entire Jewish community, we recline at the table. Messiah Yeshua knew and followed the Jewish customs of practice with His people even beyond what we see written. 

His plan, His Way 

From the beginning of time, the Creator, HaShem, put things in order for those He knew would become His people and He would be their G-D. Before mankind was created and well before the laws were given at Mt. Sinai, HaShem put the lights in the sky for signs and seasons, days and years. The detailed signs of His appointed times and seasons were set for Him to meet up with His people. They were designed to keep His children in fellowship and relationship with Him. And in these feasts, we see the Creator’s foreknowledge of His redemptive plan of sending His Son, Yeshua the Messiah. 

In modern days, the term Messianic Jewish means a Jewish person who has come to faith in the Messiah Yeshua for salvation. This is the commonality between Messianic Jews and Christians, believing the Messiah has come and will come again. However, as if Messiah Yeshua came and denied His background and created a new religion, some will say, “Faith and salvation in Jesus is all we need. We don’t need the Jewish stuff of the Old Testament. That was for ancient Israel.” 

Hence, the questioning, “Why do you..?” 

Let’s remember, salvation is of the Jews, that is the Messiah Yeshua.  Without His atonement for our sin, we couldn’t even approach the Father. Yes, salvation in Yeshua the Messiah is important. 

We’ve heard the “plan of salvation” story most often in Christian circles as follows: The Father gave His only Son that we may have life and have it eternally with Him. We repent of our sin, believe that He died in our place for our sins as the Sacrificial Lamb; we trust in Him through faith and agree to make Him Savior of our lives. 

And? 

In turn, we follow Him and His teachings in the Bible. 

But can you … if you do not understand them as they were given? 

A believer lacking understanding of the culture and laws of the Jewish faith is like an American moving to London, England, and driving on the right side of the road. Yes, you have your license and know some mechanics of how to drive, but you will only get so far before you realize you are not flowing with the order of the laws of the kingdom of which you now belong. 

These laws or instructions are for your benefit and protection. They keep you and the other drivers safe and help you achieve your goal of where you are going. You are productive and functioning in a way that benefits all those around you. You can safely carry others in your vehicle who do not have their license without injuring them. This is accomplished because you understand the left side of the road is where you are to be in this kingdom. 

It is the same with our salvation. We have it and the freedom that comes with it, but how will we walk it out in His way, the way that will produce growth and bear fruit? If we don’t understand the instructions or like the rules of the road, we will be more inclined to make up our own. Yes, that’s where the doctrines and extra traditions of men come into the body of believers. Churches have them just as much as any orthodox religion. Look around. There are thousands of religions for just such a reason. 

It all comes back to one King and L-RD over all. What is His way, His truth, and His life? He is who we answer to, His Word. We cannot say but the pastor said, the rabbi said, the minister said, the priest said, the church doctrine said. What have you done with the knowledge of My Son, is what I imagine the L-RD will say. 

His Spiritual Lessons in the Feast of Unleavened Bread… 

Yeshua the Messiah is the center of every Feast of the L-RD. Four of the seven, Messiah Yeshua  has fulfilled: Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, First Fruits (the Resurrection) and Shavuot (Pentecost). But, even so, the L-RD, G-D, says that Israel is to continue to celebrate the L-RD’s Feasts forever. It is at His appointed times when He says He will meet with us. 

We know from the Hebrew Scriptures that the Feast of Unleavened Bread starts on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month and lasts seven days. In the Netzarim Writings (New Covenant), we see that leaven (yeast) which is commanded to be removed from the house represents sin. The correlation is clear that we are to get the leaven of sin out of our lives and homes and strive to live as Messiah Yeshua did, without sin. A small amount of leaven leavens the whole lump of dough and just the same, a small amount of sin can affect all areas of our life. 

Prior to the Feast of Unleavened Bread, leavened products are used up, sold, or otherwise disposed of out of the house. In the Jewish home, the mother cleans the kitchen of all remaining leaven. This means the oven, cabinets, refrigerator, toaster, and every appliance where leavened products/bread have been.  

The final search for leaven is done by the father along with the children. They search by candlelight with a feather and wooden spoon for any hidden leaven before the Feast. Any hidden leaven found is swept onto the spoon, wrapped up, and burned the next morning outside. 

In preparing for this feast, we are reminded of the Lamb of G-D, Messiah Yeshua, who was without sin and died for our sin. Like a kernel of wheat fallen to the ground, having died, been buried, and rose again. 

Secondly, it is a time where we reflect during our cleaning. It reminds us to allow the L-RD to search out our hearts to find any sin that needs to be removed. 

The process of cleaning the kitchen takes hours and during that time when we reflect on what we are doing symbolically, we are drawn into prayer. We are meeting G-D at His appointed time. We are focused on Him and His ability to cleanse us as we repent of our sins. 

Many people will say, oh, I wish I was more disciplined to read a devotional every day or read the Bible every day. Believers will easily admit that when they are away from the community of believers or out of the habit of reading the Word, they will slip into not walking righteously. 

This is why the appointed seasons and associated traditions are so beautiful and beneficial for us. Not only does G-D point to His redemption plan, but the cycles of the Feasts and festivals consciously and physically draw us unto Him. It keeps our relationship active and healthy with Him and the community of believers. 

Most importantly, our community gathering is with the promised presence of the Father. We see His Son before us and His Spirit ministers to us. Meeting as a community when He says to be there identifies us as His children and bonds us together as one with Him. 

Messiah Yeshua in Oral Traditions 

The L-RD put much meaning in all of the Feasts and even in the traditions, old and new; we see the symbolism of the Messiah. A tradition in and of itself is not a wrong thing to do when in falls in line with Scripture and brings us to focus on the L-RD. 

For example, as the feather sweeps the last of the crumbs unto the wooden spoon, we are reminded how the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and that sin is swept unto the wooden tree where Messiah Yeshua suffered and died for our sins. When these crumbs are burned it reminds us that our sins are blotted out, not to be remembered anymore. 

How beautiful is it to have reminders of all that the Messiah Yeshua means to us in the doing of these commands and practices. The care to be taken is to have a heart and love for the L-RD in doing these things as unto Him, not just for strict ritual practice with an unchanged heart. 

In Loving Submission 

So, as I clean out the toaster, I see a crumb in the crevice of the metal. I think, ahh, I can’t get that one, I’ll just leave it.

Immediately, the L-RD says to me, that is like the small sin in your life that you think, eh, that one is not so important to get rid of. Indeed, it is small and yet it can leaven the whole lump. 

Perhaps, the holiday seemed to come in quickly and when I look around, I realize I have more leavened products than expected. There’s no time to use it all, so I think maybe…hmmm, I will just hide them in that cabinet and not open it.

I know that voice is coming… 

The L-RD says, that is like the sin you keep hidden in a closet, the room in your heart you won’t let me cleanse. 

Ouch, L-RD! You win. 

As I submit to cleaning each part of the kitchen and my focus is on the Father, He continues to teach and show me areas that I need to clean. So, is it enough to remember that the Feast is about Messiah Yeshua being the Unleavened Bread and put away its practice? 

I think not, for what a blessing it is to practice the fullness of the season so that that time is not missed with the L-RD. He blesses us with instruction that benefits our relationship with Him and our walk with our brothers and sisters in the L-RD. In it all, He brings unity to the community as He cleanses His bride. 

We celebrate the Feasts because we love HIM and desire to draw near to HIM.