1. Passover week in Israel continues: The Feast of Unleavened Bread
“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed, Messiah (Christ), our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”
(I Corinthians 5:7-8).
Today (Monday) is the 3rd day of Passover Week—or, as it is Biblically known, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For weeks before the beginning of Passover, many Jewish families have been busy with Passover-cleaning (a bit like “spring cleaning” in the west!). During the last week, the focus narrowed down to the Biblical instruction, “no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory for seven days.” (Deut. 16:4). During those last days, one might see in many places round Jerusalem—in fields, even on street corners—small fires set up by observant Jews. These served as posts to which last remnants of hametz (leavening agents or food containing them) might be brought to be disposed of. All in preparation for the beginning Friday evening of the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Hebrew: Chag- Matzot).
For seven days, in observant homes and restaurants there is no bread made with yeast. A growing number of “breads” without yeast are now available. And there are many recipes for cooking or baking with matza meal, void of rising agents. But there is no regular bread. In Jerusalem, most stores have placed paper screens over the sections containing yeast—so that for a week it will not “be seen.” And bakeries, pizza-parlours and falafel stands using pita pocket-bread have simply closed down for the week.
For some it may come as a surprise to discover that the Scriptures actually have quite a lot more to say regarding observance of the “Week of Matzoh” than they do regarding the evening of “Passover” itself. When grouped with Shavuot (Pentecost) and Succot (Tabernacles) as one of the major festivals requiring annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem, this one, instead of being called “Passover”, is always referred to as the “Feast of Unleavened Bread” (Exodus 23:14-15; Exodus 34:18-22; Deut. 16:16; II Chron. 8:13). Passover was one evening, the Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts an entire week. All leaven (hametz) was to be cleaned out of the house. For all of this week, God’s people were to eat a different kind of bread!
Throughout the year, Israel is free to eat normal bread. However, in order to make it rise, that requires that a separate “life” be added to the dough. But that life-agent will not last for long on its own. Once yeast has become old, we say that it is “dead.” The “life” placed into normal bread is a life which must eventually die.
For one “complete” week out of the year, Israel was to eat bread which did not have this “outside life” added to it. There is a picture here: “Man (Hebrew: “the Adam”) does not live by bread alone, but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD” (Deut. 8.3). From the Father would come forth “Living Bread”…to provide us with heavenly life for every day of our week! This “Living Bread” does not have any temporary, foreign, dying life in it! His name is Yeshua (“YHWH is Salvation”)—and He is Life! He was actually came into the world in Beit-Lehem (Hebrew: “House of Bread”). He called Himself the “Bread of God” sent down by the Father to give life to the world. And He promised that whoever partakes of this bread will live forever (John 6:34-33, 58).
* That as Israel progresses through these seven days of “Unleavened Bread”—she will receive heavenly illumination, that a hunger will awaken within her for the Bread which came down from Heaven.
* For the illumination of the Holy Spirit to grant understanding of His Word which was read around seder tables last Friday evening: that throughout the week Israel will be pointed towards the Lamb who was slain for our salvation from sin, to the Bread of Heaven who was bodily raised from the dead, providing eternal life for all who will believe.
* God’s Shalom and Divine Protection over Israel and her borders throughout this week, when children are out of school and much of Israel is enjoying a holiday.
This past weekend, on Passover day itself, the terrorist organization Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, forced its citizens into a massive demonstration along the border fence separating Gaza from Israel. Although billed as a peaceful demonstration, it was most certainly not planned as such. Violence broke out immediately, with militant elements hurling Molotov cocktails, stones, metal slingshot projectiles and in some cases using firearms at Israeli troops guarding the border. In the course of the day, some 17 were killed (a majority being identified as militants) and many were injured, although by no means so many as the number put out for propaganda purposes to the media. Scorning the lives of their citizens, the organizers even sent little children up to the fence, and released highly edited videos, including one purporting to show Israeli troops shooting a demonstrator in the back. Israel has known for days of the careful planning for this demonstration, and its purpose.
Unsurprisingly, the Israeli protection of its borders immediately resulted in an emergency meeting being called in the UN regarding the Israeli “massacre”—with the Secretary General calling for an independent investigation into the loss of life. Hamas has declared the demonstrations will continue until the anniversary of Israel’s statehood, and that they have other “surprises” planned (A part of Hamas’ charter still calls for the annihilation of the “Zionist” presence in Palestine).
Please pray for the God who has promised “Violence [Hebrew: hamas] will not be heard again in your land, nor devastation or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls salvation, and your gates praise” (Isaiah 60:18) to quiet the violence on Israel’s border with Gaza (and her northern border with Hezbollah). Pray for mercy over the millions in bondage to a violent and Godless regime in Gaza…that the “Strong Man” there will fall, the curse of violence will be broken, and they will be shown the Way to life, hope and peace with Israel (Zechariah 9:5-7). Pray for vigilance, wisdom, integrity, and where possible, compassion in the soldiers of Israel charged with guarding their borders.
PRAY THAT ISRAEL WILL EXPERIENCE THE PEACE AND JOY OF THE LORD AS THEY CONTINUE THROUGH THIS COMING FRIDAY TO CELEBRATE HIS DELIVERANCE AND PROVISION DURING THE FESTIVAL OF UNLEAVENED BREAD!