EATING of UNLEAVENED BREAD
The festival of eating unleavened bread for seven days is picturing coming out of sin, as well as putting on righteousness.
Leaven (the upper picture (Below) signifies what we put out and the bottom one signifies what we are putting in! A short Bible study of TCOGMSO)
As the editor, I personally began to learn truth from the Bible at an early age; (later teens) and that there are so many things to be learned! I soon learned it takes years of diligent study and research, to arrive at a deeper meaning and understanding than one gets from a surface reading of Scripture, on many subjects. This can change ones perspective of some passage when the deeper and more hidden truth begins to emerge. We must learn to lay aside our own assumptions and begin to believe the word of God, when it begins to become clearer. That fact alone warrants the constant study into Scripture for that possible nugget of truth that may have been missed—but we should NEVER study to discount the veracity of what is very obvious and clear—only to try and understand it better. I have also learned over the years that it is even more difficult to practice righteousness by overcoming sins! That takes the constant guidance and help of the Spirit of God. For us to assume any religious leaders, even COG leaders and ministers always know what they are talking about is being very naïve and somewhat short-sighted! That can quickly result in one becoming a follower of men only. 1 Cor.11:1 “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (KJV) This is something HWA used and repeated often. Ministers are only human as well and can make mistakes just like the rest of God’s called and chosen ones sometimes do, but when and where the path is clear (after much study) and the leader is following the guidelines of Scriptural revelation and being honest with those Scriptures, we can safely follow. (Acts 17:11-12) Sometimes however and much too often today—people, even the younger ministry, just follow whatever the leadership of their particular organization says. This has happened to many and shows in the history of the COG falling away from truth, over and over down through time.
HWA, I believe was called by God, became a spirit led person, an apostle of Jesus Christ by ordination and what I consider to have been the leading individual of the time frame of the COG called Philadelphia. (6th letter-Rev.3) He was used to restore truth to the COG the previous era did not have a clear understanding of. That said, I also came to understand very quickly that he was not perfect—but then again he admitted that himself to the whole Church. He always said to the public—“don’t believe me, believe what your Bible says”! That always seemed to me like a good, sound-minded approach. We need to apply that to this present subject of eating UNLB. However, even HWA had become misdirected in using the simple words of Scripture at times; a clear one was when it came to counting for Pentecost. If he had just stuck to the wording on the counting—“And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; (see V.11) seven Sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD”. (Lev 23:15-16-KJV)
So he had to reverse himself and the COG teaching of counting to Pentecost, after many years of it being wrong, but it was finally corrected and we can have it right today. Also around that same time frame another church doctrine was being looked into, which was the teaching on Divorce and re-marriage. That also was reversed after many years of heartache and grief for several families. Those changes came in 1974. During this same time frame, the COG also had another long standing policy or “doctrine” of the eating of UNLB and that doctrine remained in tack, was never largely questioned that I can find any evidence of until Laodicea began to emerge, under a new administration put over the ministry (Early 1980’s) and that man eventually became the pastor general of WCG.
That is what this Bible study on the “eating of unleavened bread” is about and why I wanted to give you this background before we get into the Scriptures. There are now differing opinions and teachings on this subject and it is my opinion that the doctrine on eating UNLB every day, which was established decades ago under HWA was and still is correct! (Some say HWA did not teach that we had to eat it every day of the festival, which I have found no solid evidence of; even if that were true, it does not mean he was right and I would still want to lean toward what the Scriptures say instead of following the ideas of men!) The change did not come until liberalism began to water down the established truth of the clear Scriptures. The overall mindset to a more liberal approach began to creep in during the late 60’s and into the 70’s with some in the ministry, which was rebuked by HWA. But it began to subtly show itself again under the Tkach administration, as noted above, even before MR. Armstrong’s death.
There is a lot more history to this than can be brought out here, but the point is and in my opinion from my own research, the man who would bring back liberalism of doctrines at the rise of Laodicea (then all out apostasy in the COG a few years afterward) had been ordained an evangelist and placed over the ministry, in the office of church administration. The shift in doctrine or policy on the eating of unleavened began (Through the PGR that I am aware of) with Tkach newly established in that office, as is revealed in this study. Later the man (Joe Tkach Sr.) was to be appointed Pastor General. With that in mind, let us examine the Scriptures that deal with the command to eat unleavened bread, the focus of this study. Let us begin our study with Lev.23 and this question;
MUST WE EAT UNLB EVERY DAY OF THE SEVEN DAY FESTIVAL?
(What does your bible say and can you understand its simple words?)
This aspect of the second annual festival, (Passover being the first) the Festival of Unleavened Bread, is not readily grasped by the liberal mind, as it pertains to us Spiritually. For those not in the COG, perhaps it would be good to remember a point of Scriptural knowledge seen in Leviticus 23:2-4: "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. 3 'Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. 4 'These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.” [ See also Numbers 28:1 & 16-25]
Notice, the passage quoted above says these feasts are the FEASTS OF THE LORD. That means they were not started by man, (Moses did not determine them or the dates, nor did the Jews later on.) but by the Lord and He is the one giving these instructions to Moses, who wrote them down for us today. God has set the time for this festival, (See Parallels-Calendar for more) not any man nor is it in the hands of man to change what God has set in order for the keeping of the festivals. This study focuses on the command from God to determine if we should, under normal circumstances—eat UNLB every day, according to what is written in the word of God. What the Tkach administration introduced into the COG was a liberal mind set on this subject that has affected many in the COG from then on, even in the ministry today. Note these two quotes; (some emphasis are mine)
Before Tkach was over CAD, 1971— church publication — “We should all see to it that we do eat some unleavened bread during each of the seven Days of Unleavened Bread. Remember that is a positive command. By ‘eating the bread of affliction’ we are reminded of our having been in bondage to sin, from which we are now delivered.” (Those assumed to be converted)
Now after Tkach, this came in March; then again in April, 1982 PGR— “Question: Exodus 13:7 states that unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days. Does this mean that we must eat unleavened bread on each day of this Feast? (Please note the contrast with Scripture and previous COG teaching)
“Answer: It is not required to eat unleavened bread for seven days. This instruction means that whenever bread is eaten during this Festival it is to be unleavened. It does not mean unleavened bread must be eaten each day” (p. 2).
I hope you can begin to see the total shift in mind and attitude away from simple belief and obedience of Scriptural wording! (for example; Lev 23:6—“seven days you must eat unleavened bread”. (This appears as a command in the KJV & NKJV, without the watering down approach.)
This was an attempt to subtly strike directly at the veracity of not only the COG teaching of the past on this subject, but also contradicts what the word of God reveals repeatedly! The COG had this right under HWA but the subtlety and cleverness of Satan the devil was beginning to work in the COG even BEFORE the new administration and later in using the guise of “UNITY” in the ministry! (Note Eph.4:14 in your Bible.) This was seemingly & subtly slipped right under the nose of HWA and it worked! The subtle watering down of doctrine had successfully begun! Remember this is a seven day festival in which God uses the #7 for completion, picturing obedience to God and putting away sin. He also uses this number (Weekly & annually) for perfection! (7 annual festivals—7 annual Holy Days picturing His complete & perfect plan) So let us put our focus fully on what the Scriptures reveal on this subject of EATING UNLEAVENED BREAD during this seven day festival, as if we are just learning this for the first time and God is speaking directly to us as He was to Moses for all Israel. For you and me to just decide we do not have to eat the UNLB for seven days—no unforeseen or emergency circumstances to prevent it—perhaps even deciding (again, no emergency or immediate need) one wants to fast for a day or more during this time; when we are commanded to “eat” IS an attitude of disobedience to this command! That IS SIN or an attitude of rejecting a command from God! (1John 3:4)
What does the Bible really say concerning this question of eating the unleavened bread every day? Is it specific or just a general statement for the entire festival period?
The Bible instructs that God’s people are to eat unleavened bread for 7 days. However, Scripture also requires that unleavened bread be eaten at the Passover ceremony, because it represents Christ’s sinless life and body, as our sacrifice. (1Cor.5:7-last part) The seven days immediately following the 14th of Nissan (Passover) require that all leaven was to be removed by sunset ending the 14th. (V.7 below) All true Christians who participate properly not only keep the entire feast, but show they too want to have a sinless life by eating some unleavened bread each of the seven days, just as the Bible & COG (used to) teach. The COG used to teach this is a Command, but now some ministers tend to get bent out of shape if someone repeats that teaching today, even when the Bible clearly indicates it.
(Definitions of the key words in bold type below should help verify this truth further – but I will be thorough, using the NKJ unless otherwise noted. I hope you will examine every Scripture in your own Bible along with this study.)
Exo.13:6-7 ["Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread,] and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 7 ["Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days.] And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters.”
When reading the above Scriptures, it should be noted that the words are specific and they are also seven words! (Note and count the [bracketed] seven words as you move forward in this study) The seven days of eating Unleavened Bread, is clearly (To me, anyway) a command of God as well as an annual reminder in this festival that we must be striving to put sin completely out of our lives as true Christians. We cannot take a break or skip some days of trying to live as Christians, even though some do forget and practice that. To do so is actual evidence one is not (at that point) being led by the Holy Spirit; it actually is the “fruit of their doings” (Jer.17:10) that we must all strive to come out of.
So are these two places above the only ones that are this specific? Please continue on with the study.
Are there other places this is recorded with these specific seven words?
Leviticus 23:6 “And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; [seven days you must eat unleavened bread.] Again we see these seven words with what seems to be a command, as first noted above.
Ex 12:15 [Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.] On the first day you shall remove** leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.” NKJV
Here we should note Exo.13:7 above and that this verse (15) should be translated **“shall have removed”. We saw above the COG used to teach this was a Command and I have underlined and bolded what appears to be that very Command. I have personally been reprimanded by the ministry during Laodicea at times and know others have as well, for saying these very words are a Command to the congregations I have spoken to. This is a clear compromise with truth, in my opinion and is a very lukewarm attempt to water down this seemingly clear truth.
Are there any more places with these “seven word” phrases? Do any specifically say this is a Command, even though it appears to be anyway?
Ex 23:15 “You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread [(you shall eat unleavened bread seven days], as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); NKJV
Ex 34:18 "The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. [Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread], as I commanded you, in the appointed time of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt.” NKJV
It does not get any clearer than this, in my opinion! Both of these first state we are to keep the feast, (Which should be understood as a command.) but it is only after stating the seven words connected to eating it for seven days with “you shall” again repeated, that God then saw fit to have Moses re-iterate “as I commanded you”—so here we see the command for keeping the feast along with “seven days you shall eat unleavened bread” and the “as I commanded you”! It seems that God wanted to make sure beyond a doubt what He intended—but we have people even in the COG today who will ignore this or try and reason around it, teaching others they can skip a day if desired. Some have even used the excuse of fasting during those days. However, unless there is a tragic situation or an extreme emergency—no one should deliberately choose to fast when they are commanded to eat unleavened bread. Those in the COG should be reminded every year the days are coming so brethren can prepare appropriately. There is no real excuse for being caught off guard as to when these Holy Days come up.
However there may be from time to time occur some unexpected circumstances that may keep a person from eating unleavened bread every day. God looks on the heart. It would not count as sin for an individual to miss a day of eating unleavened bread because something happens completely out of his/her control. But the obvious clear intent is that any who are able should strive to do so in a spirit of obedience and that should be what the COG teaches today. That is what it taught in the past and what these Scriptures all indicate. There are still some of the more zealous brethren, in some of these scattered groups, who will obey this command of Scripture and ignore those who falsely teach that you do not have to eat it every day. Many others will fall right into the lukewarm and compromising spirit and disobey, totally missing the spiritual intent of these seven days, simply because some minister or even a whole organization says it is okay.
Now remember, I asked you to take note and count the times for these seven words, put in brackets. If your count matches mine, there are six of those above, so let us conclude the study with the seventh one.
It is found in Num. 28:17 “And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: [seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten.]” KJV
There are actually THREE components (if you have noticed) in every one of these seven places of seven words, if anyone cares to go that deeply into this and break it down. (#1 a definite time frame given-(seven days)- #2 a Command,(You Shall or You Must) then #3 the subject matter of the command; eating UNLB bread. There is not one passage that suggests the meaning is for a person to only “eat unleavened bread sometime during seven days”—but if that is what God meant, it would have been worded that way—at least somewhere! We need to also remember that bread was an everyday food staple for the Israelites. This is not something they would just choose to skip, as some might do today—omitting bread for a day. There is another command for the feast in general and it does not mention seven days, so perhaps we should read it before concluding. Ex 12:17 “So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance.” (NKJ) That is clearly a COMMAND!
Reflecting on what these Scriptures reveal, who in their right mind and really wanting to please God by striving for that righteous sinless character, would determine that God does not mean what He says on this subject and through these clear words! Can we not clearly see it is repeated these seven times and saying the same thing in various ways by using only seven words? Does that help us to see that God had a purpose in using these seven word phrases because He meant exactly what He was saying? In my opinion, it would only be someone who has no regard for the specific instructions of God’s Word; one who would also lead others into this kind of deliberate watering down of a command from God. (Rev.12:9 & 2Cor,4:4) I have observed over the years that those who are prone to reject certain truths or water them down to favor their own ideas or wants, also find it hard to understand many other points of truth properly, using their own interpretation for them as well. Then they teach their own understanding as a method of “clarifying” truth. At best, that is the liberal or lukewarm spirit of Laodicea working in this last era of the COG! For those who may be teaching deceptive things in ignorance, because that is what their leaders have taught them, I hope they will awaken to repentance before it is too late, and begin to believe their Bibles. (Rev.3:19) HWA wrote in his book, the Incredible Human Potential, © 1978, page 80-hardback-commemorative edition; “It is the duty of Christ’s true ministers (and how few today), to protect the begotten but yet unborn saints from false doctrines and from false ministers.” That is even more appropriate for our time today than when he wrote it—but how few (as he said) are still that dedicated to holding fast to truth?! This watering down of true doctrines will continue until Christ returns and only the zealous and repentant of Laodicea, as noted above, or the remnant of Philadelphians who hold fast, (Rev.3:11) will be able to enter the Kingdom of God! Is YOUR attitude one of willing obedience to the commands of God, or is it to try and find a way around being obedient when you want to, for your own selfish purpose?
I conclude this short study with this;
2 Tim 3:12-15 (ASV) “Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (13) But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (14) But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. (15) And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” May God help you be committed to truth and hold that fast (Rev.3:11) as the time for Christ’s return approaches!
(Editor for TCOGMSO)