SYMBOLIC MEANINGS OF EGYPT AND LEAVENING

It can be assumed that none of those who participated  in  the Exodus from Egypt, except perhaps Moses,  Aaron, Aaron's  sons,  and the priesthood, understood  the  symbolic  and prophetic  nature of the worship system that God had given  them. However,  God eventually revealed the meaning of his worship system and it rituals for his prophets and servants to record for future understanding and use.

It is also clear that most of the prophecies and symbolism of the Old  Testament could not be understood until after the advent  of Jesus  Christ  and  the  writings  of  the  New  Testament.   See Matt.13:11-14; 1.Cor.1:4-5; Col.1:25-27; Rom.16:25-26.

In order to discover the literal  and symbolic  meaning of the Festival of Unleavened Bread as it  pertains to the elect of God today, this study goes into detail about what has been written by  the  prophets and the apostles concerning the symbolic meaning of Egypt,  leavening, and unleavened bread,

EGYPT

The  nation  of Egypt and its people are  mentioned  over  700 times in scripture, and almost all prophetic and symbolic references to Egypt show it as an example  of  rebellion against God, bondage and slavery to sin, and the embodiment of sin.

While  instructing  the  Israelites to avoid  idolatry   and  the worship of heavenly bodies, Moses compares their suffering in Egypt  under its evil worship system to being in the fire  of  an iron smelting furnace, and he compares their deliverance to being pulled  out of that fire:

"And  lest you lift up your eyes to heaven, and when you see  the sun,  and the moon, and the stars, even all the host  of  heaven, and should be driven to worship them, and serve them. . . But the Lord has taken  you, and brought you forth out of the  iron  furnace, even  out of Egypt, to be to him a people of inheritance, as  you are this day" (Deut.4:19-20 KJV).

There are dozens of scriptures that give a detailed description of the future punishment and destruction of sinful people by fire.  Fire is the most destructive force known to man, because it can reduce physical things to their lowest form of existence, which is  pure energy. It is from this fire, which is the result of sin, that  the Israelites were delivered. See. Job 18:5-6; Mal.4:1-3; Rev.20:13-15; Lk.16:19-31.

Joshua 24:14

Before  Joshua died, he gathered the leaders and elders of  Israel and  reviewed  what God had done for them and warned  them  to leave the evil worship system of Egypt alone:

"Now  therefore  fear the Lord, and serve him  in  sincerity  and truth:  and  put away the gods which your fathers served  on  the other  side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve you the  Lord" (KJV). See also verses 1-13.

Here,  we  see that the gods which the Egyptians served were  the  same ones that led  the first humans into  great  wickedness and caused these people's destruction in the flood.

The Egyptians worshiped the natural and supernatural alike;  they were  a nation devoid of an understanding of the true God or  how to  worship  him. Therefore, Egypt was used by God  to symbolize idolatry, which is sin.

During  the 430 years that the children of Israel were in  Egypt, they  forgot the God of their forefathers and began  to  practice the  religion of Egypt. This became apparent when they made and worshiped the golden calf while Moses was on Mount Sinai  receiving God's laws.

Hosea 8:8-14 KJV

"Israel  is  swallowed up: now they are among the Gentiles  as  a vessel wherein is no pleasure. For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild  ass  alone by himself. . .Because Ephraim has  made  many altars  to sin, . . . I have written to him the great things of  my law,  but  they were counted as a strange thing.  They  sacrifice flesh  for the sacrifices of my offerings, and eat it;  but  the Lord accepts them not; now will he remember their iniquity,  and visit  their sins:  they  shall  return  to Egypt."  See  also Deut.28:15-68.

The  prophet Hosea was inspired to show that Israel's  unrighteous behavior  will return them to a condition of bondage and  slavery such as their forefathers experienced in Egypt. Here, we see Egypt used to symbolize the bondage and slavery of sin.

Sodom and Egypt

The apostle John's record of the revelation of Jesus Christ makes the symbolic and prophetic meaning of Egypt  crystal clear.

While speaking of God's two witnesses who will bring a close to the final chapters of this age of human rule, John records the following: "And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified" (Rev.11:8 Para.). See also Rev.18:4.

As we know, the city of Sodom was completely erased from the  face of the earth because of the great sinfulness of its occupants. Sodom and Egypt are shown together as being symbolic of evil. Because  both  Sodom and Egypt are used to  picture  the  spiritual decadence  of  Jerusalem at the end of this age, it can be assumed that both are symbolic of a totally sinful condition.

Egypt Symbolic of Sin

Understanding that Egypt is spoken of prophetically and  symbolically as sin is very important to understanding the many  scriptures that concern coming out of sin and remaining free  from the bondage and slavery of sin.

LEAVENING

Blood Sacrifices and Leavening

God gave very clear instructions that no leavened bread or  leavening products were to be offered with the blood sacrifices.  The only exception to this rule was the two loaves of leavened  bread that God commanded to be presented to him on the Feast of  Weeks (Pentecost). However, this leavened bread was not burnt  on the  altar, it was  offered as one person would offer a  gift  to another,  and it was then given to the priests to  eat  with  their meals. See Lev.23:15-20.

Bread of Affliction

"You  shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days  shall  you eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for you  came forth out of the land of  Egypt in haste: that you  may remember the day when you came forth out of the land all the days of your life" (Deut.16:3 Para.).

Unleavened  bread was also a symbolic reminder of the  pain and  agony that the Israelites endured in Egypt and how  quickly they  had to leave Egypt.

The Wickedness of Israel

"When  I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity  of  Ephraim was  discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for  they  commit falsehood;  and  the  thief comes in, and the  troop of robbers spoils  without.  And  they consider not in their  heart  that  I remember  all their wickedness: now their own doings  have  beset them  about; they are before my face. They make the king glad  in their  wickedness, and the princes with their lies. They are  all adulterers  as an oven heated by the baker, who ceases  from  the raising after he has kneaded the dough until it be leavened" (Hos.7:1-4 KJV).

Leavening is symbolic of the great wickedness that permeated  the whole nation of Israel, from its general population to its national leaders.

Attitude of Rebellion

Amos chapter 4 contains God's rebuke to Israel for their attitude of rebellion against him and his law. Amos records that one of the reasons God will pour out his wrath upon  Israel is that they symbolically offer  him sacrifices with leaven in them.

"Come to Beth-el, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply  transgression;  and bring your sacrifices every morning, and  your  tithes every  three  years: And offer a sacrifice of  thanksgiving with leaven" (Am.4:4-5 Para.). This same rebuke is also found in the Book of Malachi:

"A son honors his father, and a servant his master: if I then  be a  father, where is my honor? and if I be a master, where  is  my fear?  says  the Lord of hosts to you O priest  that  despise my name. And you say wherein have we despised your name? You  offer polluted  bread upon my altar; and say Wherein have  we  polluted you? In that you say, the table of the Lord is contemptible" (Mal.1:6-7 KJV).

False Teachings and Hypocrisy

In a warning for his disciples to be on their guard against the lies of the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus uses the word  'yeast' as symbolic of false teachings:

"Be careful . . .. Be on your guard against the yeast of the  Pharisees  and of the Sadducees. They [the disciples] discussed this  among  themselves and  said, "It is because we didn't bring any bread."   Aware  of their  discussion,  Jesus asked, You of little faith, why  are  you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still  not understand?. . ..  How  is it you don't understand  that  I  was  not talking about your bread? But be on your guard against the  yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Then they understood that  he was  not telling them to guard against the yeast used  in  bread, but   against  the  teaching  of  the Pharisees  and   Sadducees" (Matt.16:5-12 NIV). See also Mk.8:15-21.

In Luke's account of this warning to the disciples, leavening products are seen as symbolic of false teachings and hypocrisy:

"Be  on  your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees  which  is hypocrisy" (Lk.12:1 NIV).

In his warning to the Galatian church about  the false teachings concerning circumcision, Paul says that, "A little leaven leavens  the whole lump" (Gal.6:9 Para.).

Leavening  agents like yeast are not evil;  they are  just  symbolic of something that is very invasive and  prolific. Jesus uses leaven in his example of  the  growth  and expansion  of  the Kingdom of God (Matt.13:33). He also uses it as a symbol of the expansion of sin in a  person's  life (Matt.13:38; Lk.13:21; Matt.16:6;11-12). In Paul's writings   and in most  of the prophetic scriptures of the Old Testament, leavening is used as an example  of  sin  and  the increase of sin  in a  person's life (1.Cor.5:6; Gal.5:9).

God gave very specific instructions that no leavened bread or leavening  products  were to be offered with  a  blood  sacrifice (Ex.23:18; 34:25; Lev.2:11), and it is  clear  from  many scriptures that nothing  impure may be offered  to  God; therefore, logic tells us that leavened  bread must be symbolic of  sin.

UNLEAVENED BREAD

Prior  to the Exodus Passover, the only scriptural  references  to unleavened bread are the accounts of Abraham having Sarah prepare unleavened  cakes  to serve the Lord and the two angles  as  they were  on  their way to Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen.18:1-7),  and  the account  of  Lot serving the two angels of God  unleavened  bread with their meal (Gen.19:1-3).

There is little doubt that both Abraham and Lot could have served leavened bread to their guests if they wanted to, but both chose to have  bread without leavening prepared and served.

The  account  concerning Abraham does  not  specifically  mention unleavened  bread, but the account concerning Lot  does  state that unleavened bread was served. What does this mean? After studying this subject further, it  becomes apparent that these first two accounts of unleavened bread are a part of the symbolism that pertains to purity,   righteousness, and things that are holy to God.

There  is  no doubt that the Israelites had  leavened  bread  and leavened  products in their homes before the sacrifice  of  the Passover  lamb.  It is also clear that they were told  to  remove these products  from their homes before the sacrifice  of  the Passover lamb.

The Passover Bread

When  Moses gave the instructions to sacrifice and eat the  Passover lamb he also gave instructions that unleavened bread  should be eaten with it:

"And  they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with  fire, and  unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall  eat  it" (Ex.12:8 KJV) See also Num.9:5-11.

"You  shall therefore sacrifice the Passover to the  Lord  your God, of the flock of the herd, in the place which the Lord  shall choose  to  place his name. You shall eat no leavened  bread with it;" (Deut.16:2-3 KJV).

God gave very specific instructions  concerning the eating of the Passover lamb with bread:

All Leavening Left in Egypt

"The people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs  being bound up in their clothes upon their  shoulders" (Ex.12:34 KJV).

"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" (Ex.12:39 KJV).

The  prophetic  and symbolic lesson of leaving products that contained leavening in Egypt is that, in order to walk with God, come  under his  protection, and receive his blessings, one must get rid of sin and replace it with righteousness.

Christ the Unleavened Bread

We  know from the writings in the New Testament that the  unleavened  bread  to be eaten during the Passover of  the  gospel  age represents  Jesus Christ's sinless body as the Passover lamb of God.

Because the unleavened bread of the Passover during the gospel  age represents   the purity and sinlessness of Christ, it  seems logical  that  the  unleavened bread eaten  during  the  original Passover also represents purity and sinlessness.

Jesus the Bread From Heaven

The  Creator God who became Jesus Christ gave the  Israelites  of the Exodus bread from heaven (manna) to help sustain their lives. This same being, while in human form, called himself the bread that was sent by the Father to give eternal life:

"Our  fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is  written,  he gave  them  bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus  said  to  them, Truly,  truly, I say to you, Moses gave you not that  bread from heaven; but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the  bread of God is he which comes down from heaven,  and  gives life to the world" (Jn.6:31-33 KJV).

"I am the bread of Life" (Jn.6:48).

Unleavened bread is always  symbolic  of righteousness  and it is always associated with things that are holy, clean, and pure.

LESSONS AND PARALLELS BETWEEN THE PAST AND PRESENT

There are several parallels between the physical salvation of the children  of Israel through the sacrificial blood of the lamb, the Festival  of  Unleavened Bread, and the spiritual salvation of humanity through the blood of Jesus Christ (the Lamb of God). In this study, analogies will be drawn between the events  and  instructions that surrounded the first Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and the way to salvation as shown in the New Testament.

The Calling of Sons

As  God spoke to Moses of his intent to free the  Israelites,  he told Moses that they were his first-born sons (Ex.4:22-23).  God considered the Israelites to be  his  children even before they were released from Egypt and before they made a promise to obey him through a formal covenant.

Just as the Creator God had already determined that the Israelites  were  to be his sons before he called them  out  of  Egypt, those who accept the Father's call to salvation (Jn.6:44, 65) under the terms  and conditions of the New Covenant are also already  considered to be his sons. See our study paper on predestination.

The Sacrifice

Israel  was  instructed to sacrifice a lamb and place  its  blood upon  their  houses  for  protection against  the  destroyer (Ex.12:12-13).  Only after they had complied with God's  instructions concerning  the lamb's blood were they protected  from  the destroyer.

Prior  to  the Father's call to salvation, each  individual  is  in bondage  and slavery to sin and under the death penalty for  the violation  of God's law, unless their sins are forgiven. It is only through the atoning power of the  sacrificial blood  of Christ  that the power of sin over a person's life can  be destroyed and a person can be set free from the death penalty.

Just Before Coming Out of Egypt

After the lamb was sacrificed and the Israelites had accepted the protection  offered through its blood, they were to roast it  and eat it with unleavened bread. This is the first  eating  of unleavened bread during the days of Unleavened Bread.

It is important to note that this commanded eating of  unleavened bread  was before Israel's release from Egypt. The  eating  of this  bread with the lamb was in preparation for their  departure from Egypt  and the covenant agreement that they  would make  with  God in the wilderness. Symbolically, the Israelites were sinless (unleavened) and worthy of protection from the destroyer.

The eating of the bread and lamb was also prophetic and  symbolic of the new Passover ritual in which unleavened bread is eaten  as a  symbol of the sinless body of Christ  (Lk.22:26; 1.Cor.11:23-24).

Under the New Covenant, a person may only partake of the  Passover symbols after they have:

Just  as the Israelites were protected from the destroyer  and  set  free from Egypt (symbolic sin) because they  followed  God's instructions  pertaining to the sacrifice and eating of the  lamb and the unleavened bread,  those who are called to salvation are also set free  from sin because they follow God's instructions  pertaining to  the sacrifice of Christ and the putting away of sin  (leavening).

Leaving Egypt

"The people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs  being bound up in their clothes upon their  shoulders" (Ex.12:34 KJV).

"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" (Ex.12:39 KJV).

The Israelites left Egypt (symbolic sin) without leavened bread (symbolic sin). The primary reason that they  did not bring leavened bread with them is that the  day they left was the first day of the Festival of Unleavened  Bread. However, the symbolism is unmistakable; the  Israelites were symbolically sinless and righteous  (unleavened) because of the blood of the sacrificial lamb. They symbolically left  the evil worship system and practices (leavening)  of Egypt (sin) behind them forever by bringing only  unleavened  bread (symbolic of righteousness) on their journey  to  the promised land (symbolic of the Kingdom of God).

Just  as  the Israelites were required to leave  Egypt  (sin)  in order to serve God, anyone who desires to follow God must also leave their former sinful (leavened) lifestyle behind as they  journey toward the goal of immortality in the Family of God.

After Being Released From Egypt

After  being  released  from the slavery  and  bondage  of  Egypt (symbolic sin) by the mighty power of God, the Israelites were instructed to continue  to  eat unleavened bread for seven full  days. Further instructions  show that, if any of them did not comply with this law,  they were  to be cut off from the nation of Israel, which  meant  they would also be cut off from God.

Both Egypt and leavening are used to symbolize sin. Unleavened  bread is used to represent the sinless and  righteous nature  of  Jesus  Christ as a part of the  Passover  during  the gospel age.

With the understanding of the symbolic meaning of Egypt,  leavening,  and unleavened bread, it can be safely assumed that the  reason unleavened  bread must be eaten for seven  days  during  the feast of Unleavened Bread has to do with being sinless and righteous:

SUMMARY

This study has covered the following symbolic meanings,  lessons,  and parallels:

The putting away of all leavened bread and leavening products  by the  Israelites  was symbolic of breaking  the cycle of  sin  and making a new beginning as a nation faithful to the  Lord.  The Israelites  did not put away leaven in order to be redeemed; they put it away because they were already redeemed by and through the  sacrificial lamb. This same principal applies to all those who have been  redeemed throughout the ages—salvation is by grace, not by works (Eph.2:8-9).

The  unleavened bread also pointed toward the time when God  would make a new agreement with national Israel and the rest of humanity. Under the new agreement,  unleavened bread is to be eaten as a reminder that  those  under this agreement have put away sin and must remain  sinless before God the Father and Jesus Christ. See Rom.6:1-16; 1.Cor.5:6-8; Jn.3:6-10.

By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w48