Evil and arrogant, the Egyptians refused to bow to the God of Israel. One-by-one, the Omnipotent Living God poured out His judgment and wrath. Ten plagues. The Egyptian’s crops were destroyed. Their dreams were dashed. Their pagan gods were dethroned. Finally, the tenth plague brought death.
On the morning following the miraculous Passover, “the Egyptians pressured the people in order to send them quickly out of the country, for they said, ‘We’re all going to die!’ So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls wrapped up in their clothes on their shoulders” (Exodus 12:33-34, CSB). Later, “the people baked the dough they had brought out of Egypt into unleavened loaves, since it had no yeast; for when they were driven out of Egypt, they could not delay and had not prepared provisions for themselves” (Exodus 12:39, CSB). To remind all future generations of their miraculous emancipation, God instituted another annual holy-day, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. “For seven days you are to eat unleavened bread ... the bread of hardship — because you left the land of Egypt in a hurry — so that you may remember for the rest of your life the day you left the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 16:3, CSB).
“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them... These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the LORD’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread’ ” (Leviticus 23:1-8, ESV). The Feast of Unleavened Bread was the second of Israel’s seven annual feasts and festivals. It was a seven-day event, beginning the day after Passover.
Leaven is symbolic of sin. It is the agent that causes fermentation. Jesus said, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6, CSB). Paul taught that a little evil or a little false teaching can permeate and infect everything in one’s life, or the fellowship of the church (I Corinthians 5:6).
As the Israelites observed Passover, they celebrated their freedom, bought with the precious blood of the Lamb! On the following day, when they gathered for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they celebrated God’s perfect provision for life. They had turned their backs on Egypt’s oppression. As they commemorated the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they renewed their commitment to obediently and faithfully following their God toward their future home.
In The Feasts of the Lord, Marvin Rosenthal writes, “I can remember vividly, how, when I was a young boy, my orthodox Jewish grandmother, in preparations for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, would meticulously go through the house sprinkling bread crumbs at difficult-to-get-to-places in literally every room in the house. Then, armed with only a broom and a dustpan, she would march through the house sweeping the leaven (which she herself had recently scattered throughout the house). She would sweep the crumbs into the dustpan, and then take it out of the house, and burn it.”
Symbolically, the faithful ancient Hebrews (and modern orthodox Jews) removed the leaven from their belongings. In fact, they obeyed and worshiped a Merciful God who set them free, forgave their sin, and removed their guilt and shame.
Do we need a broom and dustpan?