The Seven Feasts of Israel – Unleavened Bread
Andrew Giles in Blessington, Ireland
December 23, 2007
In the Bible, the Feast of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are referred to almost as if they were interchangeable. Likewise, when we ourselves talk about the three feasts, we talk about Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. When we mention Passover, we know that, in fact, we are talking about a feast period, which encompassed a whole week.
Passover, itself, happened in a moment in time; the moment when the Lamb was slain in Egypt and the Angel of Death passed over. That, perhaps, may have spanned a six-hour period, maybe a little more, between the moment the lamb was being slain with the blood being painted on the doorposts and lintel and the moment when the Lord passed through Egypt and killed the firstborn.
In the institution of Passover, Passover was a day. It was followed by a week long feast called the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was a seven day period of feasting; a seven day Holy week. It started and concluded with an Holy Convocation and in the middle of that, there was additionally another feast.
When we read about the Feast of Unleavened Bread, it is not always immediately clear whether the scriptures are talking about the Passover Day or the whole of this feast period. You just have to think about it and look at what the scriptures are saying to get this clear.
Jewish days started at 6 o’clock in the evening and ended at 6 o’clock the following evening. The Day of Passover is the 14th day of Abib in the Hebrew calendar. The Hebrews had their own names for the months and the month that was made the first month of the year, at the time of the exodus, was the month ‘Abib’. There was another name ‘Nisan’ given to this month, after the exile in Babylon, which was based on the Chaldean name for it. You will see that in the scriptures, Passover could be on the 14th day of Abib or the 14th day of Nisan. It refers to the same day. The Feast of Unleavened Bread would follow on immediately after Passover and go on through to the 21st of Abib or Nisan.
This, of course, had its roots in what happened to Israel and the instructions that were given to Israel. Let’s read the account together and find, as we read these verses, the real burden of God in establishing this feast; it seems to be clear:
14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever (this is referring to the Day of Passover).
15 Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.
17 And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt; therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.
18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even(I believe this would be at the end of the 14th day and the beginning of the 15th day), ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.
19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.
20 Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.
What do you think God is really saying is important about the Feast of Unleavened Bread? Eat no leaven!
In verse 15, it says that you must not eat it and you have to clean it out of your houses; there is a warning that if you don’t, you will be cut off. In verse 17, it says you observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In verse 18, it says you must not eat it. In verse 19, it says you must clean it out of your houses and there’s a warning again that you will be cut off. In verse 20, it says twice you must not eat it. There are seven commands and two warnings in those five verses. The seven commands are very clear, ‘No leaven’!
God is very strong on this! He is not saying, “This is a very nice idea I had.” It’s a very strict command; “No leaven in the houses for this seven day feast!”
The people of Israel had been instructed to choose a lamb for each house on the 10th day of Abib, so from the 10th to the evening of the 14th, they had been checking the lamb to see if there were any blemishes. The lamb was chosen and under observation from the 10th to the 14th; the lamb was being examined during this time.
Then, in verse 6, it says that the lamb was to be killed ‘in the evening’, or, literally, “between the evenings.” There are different thoughts as to what “between the evenings” means in the Hebrew language. The predominant view is that it’s when the sun starts to go down—probably about 3 p.m.—that’s when the lamb would have been slain (on the 14th of Abib).
It takes a little while for a lamb to be slain, to get it ready and to cook it, so they would have been eating the Passover lamb somewhere around 6 p.m., which would be the very beginning of the 15th day of Abib.
Then we are told, at midnight, the Angel of Death smote the firstborn of Egypt. We can read that in:
Exodus 12:29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.
So at midnight, there was not a house in all of Egypt where somebody had not died, but in all the houses where there was blood on the door, it was the lamb that had died. Everywhere there was blood. Everywhere somebody had died. The Lord smote at midnight and He passed over if there was blood on the door; the lamb was taken as a substitute sacrifice.
Let’s continue reading:
30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.
31 And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said.
32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.
33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.
34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.
35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment:
And they left and they journeyed to Succoth. So, after midnight—in the hours of the 15th day of Abib, they left Egypt. Since there were 600,000 men and possibly 2 or 2 ½ million people altogether, I don’t suppose that they just did it one minute, but it would have been a process that went through the night, from midnight onwards.
They came to the following night, which would be the 16th day of Abib, and they stayed at Succoth, which is a word that means “booths”; God is declaring the end from the beginning.
That is the way I think it worked through what happened in Egypt and the first Passover. The days of the 15th, 16th, 17th, and thereafter are days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The 15th Day of Abib was an Holy Convocation; not all of them were Holy Convocations. Convocation means “a calling together”. As they left Egypt, they spoiled the Egyptians; they became enriched by the things that were poured out on them. So, there is the plan in that time.
(**Please refer now to the last page (Page 23) that is a picture of a chart.**)
I want to now correlate what happened in Jesus’ life during these same days and same month that the Israelites celebrated the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Generally, I don’t think there is very much dispute about what I have spoken about thus far, but where some people would disagree would be that I believe the original Passover Day, the 14th day of Abib, occurred from 6 p.m. on a Tuesday until 6 p.m. on a Wednesday. I believe then the 15th day of Abib was from 6 p.m., Wednesday, until 6 p.m., Thursday; the 16th of Abib was from 6 p.m. on Thursday to 6 p.m. on Friday; the 17th day was from 6 p.m. on Friday until 6 p.m. on Saturday; and the 18th day of Abib was from 6 p.m., Sunday until 6 p.m. on a Monday, etc.
You will know that traditionally, people have said that Jesus died on Friday and rose on Sunday; that is definitely wrong. There is no way whatsoever that idea ties in with the scriptures. Where scholars, and those who have looked carefully at their Bibles, would disagree is to whether Jesus died on a Wednesday or on a Thursday.
I had calculated before I found out what anybody else said and from my studies of the scriptures, I consider that Jesus died on Wednesday, the 14th day of Abib, the day of Passover. I have to tell you that there are great Bible scholars who would not agree with this. I can show you my scriptures and I can work it through with you, but if you want to differ, or if you find people who differ, that is fine. I am doing this to establish something that I think is quite exciting for us.
God had said that this weeklong feast—the Day of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread—were to be kept in the place that He should appoint; in the place that He should choose to set His name.
Jesus had been staying at Bethany with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. When He came to eat the Passover, He could not eat it at Bethany because the law required that it should be eaten in the place that the Lord should choose and that place was Jerusalem. So, Jesus told His disciples to go into Jerusalem; He gave them instructions and told them how to find the room where He had chosen to keep the Passover. I think that Jesus and His disciples kept the Passover sometime in the evening (after 6 p.m.) of Tuesday, the 14th day of Abib. The Day of Passover was 24 hours long. There was no law against observing the Passover meal at any time within the Day of Passover.
You know the story of the Passover there and how it instituted what we call “The Lord’s Supper” with the eating of the bread and the wine. We know that it was a Passover meal because the disciples had said to Jesus, “Where do You want to keep the Passover?” Jesus had told them it had to be in this place in Jerusalem, not in Bethany, but in Jerusalem.
After they had kept the Passover meal and Judas Iscariot went out, the book of John says the disciples thought it was because he was going to get some things for the feast. All the Jews would have been going out to stock up in preparation for the feast. There was still time to get things because the Holy Convocation didn’t start until 6 p.m. on the 15th day of Abib, on a Wednesday. Passover was a day of getting things done before the Feast started; it was a preparation day; it was not a Sabbath day.
So Judas had gone out and left them and Jesus and the other disciples went to Gethsemane. We know that Gethsemane was a night experience. Jesus went into Gethsemane sometime between 6 p.m. and midnight on the 14th day of Abib (Tuesday).
In the night while Jesus was in Gethsemane, the disciples fell asleep and Jesus went to them and woke them up then went back and prayed, then went back to them and woke them up again, and went back and prayed more, then went back to them again and said, ‘Sleep on now.’ Jesus was arrested sometime in the night there; we do not know the exact hour, but we do know that it was nighttime. Judas came and he gave Him the kiss.
During the night as well, Jesus is taken to the High Priest and He is questioned because the Lamb is still to be examined on 14th Abib to fulfill the prophetic type. Jesus goes in before Annas and Caiaphas, the High Priests who were related to each other. They had both been High Priests in turn and it was really quite a “family thing”. Jesus is accused by them and they finally had to get the false witnesses.
At the same time in that same night (Tuesday), interestingly, there were a few other things going on; Pilate’s wife had a dream. That was the night she had her dream. She said to Pilate later on, “Don’t touch this Man! I’ve been warned about Him in a dream!” But Pilate had been woken up in the middle of the night because the Priests brought Jesus to Him. The trial of Jesus took place both before the Sanhedrin and before Pilate.
At 6 a.m. (this is now Wednesday, but still the 14th Day of Abib—remember that the Jewish day begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 6 p.m. the following day; John 19:14 is the reference), Pilate said, “Take Him away and crucify Him!” Another thing that happened about this time was the cock crowed. You know what happened there; that was Peter’s moment of shame. So at 6 a.m., Jesus was condemned, on the 14th day of Abib. At 9 a.m., He was crucified. The Bible says that quite specifically, ‘it was the third hour’.
Incidentally, if you look up that ‘sixth hour’ in John 19 verse 14, John is using the Roman calendar and not the Jewish calendar. He says it was at the sixth hour; that means it was at 6 a.m. as it is with our calendar. John is not using the ‘third hour’ and the ‘sixth hour’ according to the Jewish calendar. When he says ‘sixth hour’, he means 6 a.m.
At the ‘third hour’ of the day, using the Jewish calendar (Mark 15:25), Jesus was crucified at 9 a.m. Then at midday (noon in the Roman calendar and the sixth hour of the Jewish calendar), found in Matthew 27:45, darkness covered the land until the ninth hour (in the Jewish calendar and 3 p.m. in our calendar or the Roman calendar). At about this ninth hour (3 p.m.), Jesus died (Matthew 27:46) and it was Wednesday, the 14th day of Abib—the preparation day (John 19:31) for the Holy Convocation, which was to be held from 6 p.m. on Wednesday, the 15th day of Abib, until 6 p.m. on Thursday.
Jesus dying at this time exactly corresponds to the lamb being slain “between the evenings” in the prophesy of the Passover back in Egypt.
John says that His last words were, ‘It is finished!’ Jesus died at 3 p.m. and there is to be a Holy day that will begin at 6 p.m., during which you cannot do all sorts of things; it is an Holy Convocation. There were three hours to get the body down from the cross. The body of Jesus was hanging there and the Jews did not want it there on the cross on a holy day, so Joseph of Arimathaea—‘at even’ the Bible says, it was just coming up close to 6 p.m.—went to see Pilate and said, “Can we take the body of Jesus and bury it?”
At about 6 p.m., on Wednesday, before the Holy day (Convocation) started, Jesus’ body was buried. This would be at the end of the 14th day of Abib and the beginning of the 15th day of Abib.
Jesus body was in the tomb from the beginning of the 15th day of Abib (6 p.m. Wednesday) through sometime between the end of the 17th day of Abib (6 p.m. Saturday) and the 18th day of Abib (midnight Sunday).
Matthew 12:40 ‘For as Jonas (that is Jonah) was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’
I think that means Jesus has to be in the tomb three days and three nights. From 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 p.m. Thursday is one day. From 6 p.m. Thursday to 6 p.m. Friday is two days. From 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday is three days. That is three days and three nights in the tomb.
Very early in the morning of the first day of the week, which is Sunday, He appears to His disciples and to Mary. He fulfills what He said about three days and three nights in the tomb. I wanted to establish all of this first of all and we are going to come back to this.
As we read in Exodus chapter 12, we discovered very clearly that the emphasis the Lord had concerning the Feast of Unleavened Bread was that there should be absolutely no leaven anywhere in the houses and none eaten; no leaven at all for this seven day period.
If there was leaven found, the people who were responsible for the leaven were cut off from Israel. It does not say that they were stoned; you know that sometimes punishments were given to Israel and there were people killed. If God’s law had wanted to say that there were to be people stoned, it would have said there were people to be stoned! But it does not say that; it says they are to be cut off from Israel.
We have a story in 1 Corinthians chapter 5 about an incident of fornication that happened in the Corinthian church. Paul is dealing with this; in so doing he talks about leaven bread and unleavened bread. He makes some statements about unleavened bread that I think are helpful for our understanding.
1 Corinthians 5:1-6
1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
6 Your glorying is not good. (He has said in verse 2 that they are puffed up; they are very proud of the state of the church.) Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
This one man, who has committed fornication, is having an effect on the whole lump of dough, which represents the church there in Corinth. Similarly when we see Achan who took the gold and the Babylonish garment, when they were at Jericho, and they were told that it was devoted to the Lord, then the next battle that they go out to fight, the whole nation lost the battle even though it was only one man who had committed the sin! We are part of the lump! We are a lump of dough together! What each one of us does, does affect the whole. We are linked! We are a body! If we are as a body, when one member gets an infection—does something evil—the whole lump is affected by it because God has brought us to be one body.
1 Corinthians 5:6-7
6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:
So Paul is saying, this Passover Day is Christ! This is the Lord Jesus Christ! As you look at it, of course, it is! Look how much the Passover Day in Egypt correlates with Jesus paying the price for us! Passover is all about Jesus; He is our Passover!
1 Corinthians 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast (Paul is talking about the Feast of Unleavened Bread here), not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
So Paul says we don’t want to keep the Feast with the old leaven—and he is referring to the fornication that the man is in who should have been subject to church discipline and taken out of the church. What should not happen is that you swing right over the other way and deal with him with malice and wickedness and start to be nasty with him, to get vengeance on him.
Paul is coming against them pretty hard; he is bursting the “bubble” of their puffed “up-ness”. He said, “Look, this should not be this way!” They could all turn around and point the finger to this man and start to be nasty with him. Paul is saying that they don’t keep the Feast that way, either.
What we need to do is keep the Feast with unleavened bread and as we can clearly see, we are the lump—we are the dough! Paul is saying that inside that, which is the church, there needs to be purity.
You could do a study and go through the scriptures and look at the different times that the word “leaven” is used, particularly in the New Testament. You will see that it refers to the doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees; it refers to the problems that the Galatians had when they were in legalism; we have it here in 1 Corinthians where it is talking about sin. The uses of the word “leaven” are different; it means doctrine, legalism, and downright sin.
We find that because leaven has many different natures—there are many different ways it is described in the Bible—what leaven really represents is evil. Anything that is different from the holy, perfect nature of our God and anything that is corrupting that nature in us at all, is leaven.
We have been brought to a Feast where the absolute command is seven times repeated, in Exodus 12 and other places as well, there is to be no leaven. We find that leaven can be false doctrine; leaven can be legalism; leaven can be sin; leaven can be anything that corrupts.
We say, “Hold on a minute God! How ever are we going to keep this Feast? If the Feast requires this level of purity—if it’s a Feast of Unleavened Bread—how, Lord, can I ever keep the Feast that You have required me to keep? I’m not that clean; I’m not that pure; I’ve got more problems than this; Lord, You have called me to do something that is impossible for me!” Well, of course, He has not.
Jesus said when He came to earth, ‘I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.’ He said that He was going to give His body as Bread for the life of the world.
When you and I came to our Passover experience, what happened was the Lord Jesus Christ opened up for us a new and totally incorrupt life; He gave us new life in the Spirit. He said, ‘I have come that you might have life!’ The life that Jesus gives is an unleavened life!
You know that we have two distinct natures inside of us. From the very beginning, God separated the light from the darkness; He called the light, “day” and the darkness He called, “night”; He separated them. You read in Genesis 1 that separation and division are right there throughout the act of creation.
Although we are used to having dusk, morning, sunrise and there seems to be a gradual thing about it, actually in God’s eyes, light is light and darkness is darkness. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. The new life that Jesus gave to us when He died on the cross is a complete, perfect, whole, unleavened life and you cannot corrupt it.
But if you choose to have leaven in your life—if you are not willing to have your life searched out for the leaven that is in it—what will happen is that you will be cut off from the life of Christ.
Remember what was happening in Egypt if they didn’t get the leaven out of the house? They would be cut off! This means that—here we are, we are one body together; I believe the life of the Lord is in our midst, but if we do those things that we know we should not be doing; go to those places that we know we should not be going to; read those things that we know we should not be reading; all the things that are against what the Holy Spirit is saying to us, we are cut off from the life that Jesus Christ bought for us at so great a price.
You cannot live in darkness and light at the same time; it’s one or the other. You cannot live in Christ and in Adam at the same time; it’s one or the other. You cannot live in the Spirit and the flesh at the same time; it’s one or the other. If you choose Christ, you are living in unleavened life.
Now you say, “OK, this is a Feast. Great! It’s lovely to have a feast; I like feasts!” The world seems to love feasts. The Lord is inviting us to a feast; what’s on the menu? Unleavened bread.
Have you ever tasted unleavened bread? It’s a little bit like a Jacob’s Cream Cracker, which by itself isn’t that exciting. Just imagine people shopping for a feast and having their trolleys or carts filled with nothing but Jacob’s Cream Crackers and nothing else; it wouldn’t be very exciting! You would say, “Wow, this is really boring.”
Do you know why the life of Jesus Christ sometimes appears to be so boring? It is because you are not living it. Paul said, ‘The life I now live’. Paul said, “I have lived an old life; I have had a pre-Jesus life, but I live a new life now!” The life that Jesus has given us is for living!
In Malachi, God has a case against His people, particularly against the priests, because they said, “What a weariness this is!” as they ‘snuff’ at the things of God—that means they “pooh-poohed” them—they “made light of” the things of God. They say, “I don’t want to give myself wholly to this! It’s too boring to be a Christian!” And God says, “Just hold on a minute! The problem is not with Me; the problem is with you. You have polluted the table of the Lord; it’s your problem; you haven’t made things clean.” God said, ‘For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, My name shall be great among the Gentiles.’ He says, “You might not think much about this, but I tell you, My name is still going to be exalted!”
We are a people who have been ‘called out of darkness into His marvelous light’! His marvelous light is not a geographical location; it’s not going up into some sort of space rocket and finding some special location. It is His life that you choose to live in; His life that was made possible by Jesus’ death on the cross! It is the place that you and I are called to live—‘out of darkness and into His marvelous light’!
If you think that ‘marvelous light’ is boring, you have a different view of it from God. This is a feast for the new man; it is not a feast for the flesh. The reason that anybody might think that Christianity is boring is because they want to live in the flesh. The flesh man certainly finds that life in Spirit can be rather trying, but don’t you think the opposite is also true; that if we walk in the flesh, the Spirit man says, “This is trying”; because the life in the flesh and the life in the Spirit are contrary to one another!
We have a new life that Jesus has bought for us. If the leaven has got to go in order for us to really enjoy the full dimension of this life, what do you think we might be praying? What do you think we might be asking God to do? I think the answer is very clear. David had the answer in Psalm 139, he said, ‘Search me, O God!’
On the day before the Feast of Unleavened Bread, sometime on 14th Abib, the Hebrew father—the priest in the house—would light a candle. We can just imagine that he would go around the house with the woman and children in tow and look under the bed and look in the cupboards and of course there was no leaven there, unless the wife had been mischievous and put yeast in all the corners of the house. He was performing an act to show that he was serious about getting the leaven out of his house and if he found any, it would be burned; it would have been taken out of the house ‘between the evenings’ on 14th Abib – just at the time when Jesus was dying. Remember that the Passover was roast with fire; it was Jesus dying on the cross; the leaven went at the same time.
I am not sure that I am very good with a candle looking for leaven. When I see leaven, I’m not always sure that it’s leaven and I’m not always sure when I find that it’s leaven that I want to get rid of it! David had a very good idea; he said, “Let not me be the father in my house; let God be the Father who searches for leaven in my life!” You know the verse, it is:
Psalm 139:23 ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:’
The scripture says, ‘The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?’ There is One who does know it! So, David says,
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
There is a dare for you. I dare you to pray it; because if you are going to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread and really, really enjoy this Feast, it’s going to be leaven-free. This is black and white. God is calling us to a life in The Light. He is requiring of us a life in The Light of the Candle of His Spirit.
The first thing about this Feast, above all things, is that it is leaven-free. Jesus was providing for us new life, which is sin-free. ‘Sin shall not have dominion over you’, Paul said. We do not have to sin. Surely one of the distinguishing features of what the Lord has given us to share amongst others, and to know ourselves, in this flow of the Spirit, is that you do not have to sin anymore. That was ‘old covenant’, but Jesus has brought in a ‘better covenant’. The covenant that Jesus brought in, is ‘sin can be taken away’—not just guilt , but sin can be taken away! We have the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk in His new life!
At the time that Jesus was buried, which was around 6 p.m., Wednesday, the end of the 14th day of Abib and the beginning of the 15th day of Abib, the Feast of Unleavened Bread started. The first part of the Feast of Unleavened Bread—the first 3 or 3 ½ days up to when He appeared to His disciples—the first half of the Feast week, we find Jesus’ body was in the tomb. What was Jesus doing? What was Jesus doing during all that time? We are getting into uncharted territory here; you don’t buy books in the Christian bookshop on this, so you test what I am saying. I am very happy for you to talk with me and say with me, “Andrew, I think you have missed this scripture” or whatever, but we’ll see what the scripture says:
1 Peter 3:18-19
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
I really don’t want to get into talking about the flood which Peter mentions here, but here we have Jesus ‘put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the Spirit’. I was interested as I read that; I thought, “I wonder if Peter means: He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the Spirit three days later?” I thought that Peter wouldn’t use the phrase ‘quickened in the Spirit’ if he meant resurrected in the body, so that really isn’t the answer; although indeed He was going to be raised from the dead by the power of the Father, and that was a quickening—a bringing back to life. He was put to death in the flesh and He was quickened in the Spirit and this actually means to me that these happened both at the same time!
I don’t have very many commentaries, but I pulled out the one that I have and looked up this verse. It said that these two things were simultaneous; it was exactly the thought that had occurred to me. I was greatly encouraged because commentaries do not normally encourage me that much, but this one did; I liked what he had to say.
I think at this moment when Jesus died, He was put to death in the flesh by the hands of wicked men; He was slain and at that moment, the moment of His death, he became so alive in the Spirit! His body went into the tomb, but Jesus went about business!
It talks about some of His business here. It says He went preaching. I think He got a good attentive audience—a captive audience! He went preaching; I think they listened really well! They had a few reasons to listen well. They had had a nasty experience; they didn’t listen to the last preacher that they had heard (Noah), so maybe they decided they would listen to this preacher!
At the moment that Jesus died, I think something started to happen. Let’s take a look. We are talking about a Feast time for us corresponding to some things that Jesus is doing in the Spirit. I feel these two things are happening simultaneously in the calendar.
There are some who feel that children are born innocent; but then there are some who have actually had children!
14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
I think this is talking about the natural body; I think it’s also talking about Jesus; I think it’s also talking about the Church—the body of Christ; all are fearfully and wonderfully made.
15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought (or embroidered in various colors) in the lowest parts of the earth.
Where were you made? We were made in the ‘lowest parts of the earth’. You see, when we were born, we were not born innocent; we were born depraved. We were born in Adam and ‘as in Adam, all die’; we inherited a nature and a propensity to sin; we inherited a tendency to do those things, by nature, which are evil. We were not brought into this world as lovely, innocent, little charming, sweet-smelling babies, but we were born in the lowest parts of the earth; that’s where we were made! We were actually born depraved! It takes a little while—maybe a week—before it becomes really manifested in a baby. That is the nature of the beast; it is ‘curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth’.
Ephesians 4:8 ‘Wherefore he saith, When he (that’s Christ) ascended up on high, (Now remember when Jesus appeared to Mary, He said, ‘Touch Me not, for I have not yet ascended.’ We think of the ascension as being what happened on the mountaintop outside of Jerusalem 40 days later, but actually Jesus does not describe that as His ascension; that is His return to the Father. His ascension that He describes happened just after the resurrection.) he led captivity captive and he gave gifts unto men.’
He led captivity captive. When He ascended on High, on Sunday, on 18th Abib, —when He returned to the Father—He led captivity captive. The Greek really means, “He took a multitude of captives out of captivity and into His captivity.”
Where have we been held captive? We have been held captive in the lowest parts of the earth! We were held in a nature where we could not help sinning! We were in bondage to sin and to death! Sin had dominion over us at that time, but when Jesus was in the tomb, He was releasing captives; He was taking people who had no help or hope because they could not avoid sinning! That is where the world is!
It is no surprise that people who are normal, respectable people, in certain circumstances, can turn into people who do genocide and the most horrible things! They sit in courts afterwards, like Nuremburg after the concentration camps were ended and that sort of thing, and the judges blame the people—they execute them, which is the right and proper thing to do—but, all the people who were the judges would have done exactly the same, because it is in the heart! We were formed in the lowest parts of the earth!
Where was Jesus? He was in the tomb, active! He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the Spirit; so in the Spirit, He goes down into the prison house that is in the lowest parts of the earth and He takes out of there a multitude of captives—of people—who say, “I’d rather be a captive to the Lord Jesus Christ than held captive in the bondage of sin and death. Hallelujah!
Ephesians 4:9 ‘Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?’
Before He ascended to the Father, when He said to Mary, “Don’t touch Me; I haven’t ascended, yet”; before He ascended, He went into the lower parts of the earth. In what state was He? He was quickened in the Spirit when He did it; He was alive in the Spirit!
Up until this moment in time, Satan had thought he was winning this. Jesus was made a public spectacle on the cross—an open show. When Jesus hung on the cross, He triumphed over Satan and Satan was now made the laughing stock. There’s a lovely phrase in the Bible, “His hand pierced the fleeing serpent.” That was what was happening here. The serpent was suddenly fleeing; the tables were turned, unexpectedly as far as the powers of darkness were concerned.
Jesus went down there in the power of the Spirit and Satan was defeated because Jesus was innocent! There was nothing there that could hold Him! So the serpent flees, but His hand pierced him. Whose hand? The pierced hand of Jesus pierced the serpent! As prophecy had long before declared, the head of the serpent was bruised.
Here we are; we are trophies. We are evidence that what Jesus did in the Spirit, really worked! Here is a people who have now become captive to the Lord Jesus Christ rather than captive to the law of sin and death—if we keep the Feast.
If we do not keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but we live in leaven, we are no longer examples of the work of Jesus Christ; we are actually examples that Jesus Christ could not do it and so we crucify again the Son of God and make a shame of Him; where in fact, we are meant to be making a shame of the serpent.
Let’s go to the book of Isaiah. This is addressed to the servant of the Lord in whom God’s soul delighteth, so I think this is talking about the Lord Jesus Christ.
6 I the Lord have called thee (that is His servant) in righteousness, and will hold thine hand , and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
Here is a people; here we are in the lowest parts of the earth; Jesus comes and He opens the prison door and the light shines in for the first time because it’s been a prison house of darkness! He opens the door; He is the Light! He stands there in the door, His light shines in, and He says, “Will you come and follow Me?” And there is a people who say, “Yes! We’d love to come and follow You!” Jesus says, “There is a condition to this. You become My captives instead.”
His captivity is different from the law of sin and death; His captivity is a voluntary one. He does not hold you captive against your will. That’s an unusual form of captivity. His captivity is a captivity with the door open. So that at anytime that we want, we can go back into the leaven and stop keeping the Feast.
It’s no wonder they call this an Holy Convocation. Just think of what is happening this day! Think of what is happening to you and me this day. He goes down in the power of the Spirit into the prison that held every man captive all their life and He starts to bring them out and offer them new life.
What three days these were! I find it hard to even imagine what the feelings must have been in the serpent at this time. Can you think of how Satan felt when he realized God had been so clever and he had walked right into the trap? Here Satan was thinking that this was the end of Jesus and he finds now that captives are just pouring out of his prisons.
Let’s go to Isaiah 61:1, which Jesus said applied to Him when He read this scripture in the synagogue.
1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me (He was quickened in the Spirit); because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (The year when the Lord will accept you. Three times in the year, they had to keep the feasts; it was the acceptable year of the Lord.), and the day of vengeance of our God (He pierces the fleeing serpent); to comfort all that mourn;
So He says that these feasts are to be kept in Jerusalem. Why in Jerusalem? Because that is where the company of people is, whom the Lord Jesus Christ has taken captive. He brought us out and brought us together. We were all in a fellowship of darkness. Do you know that you can have fellowship in darkness? We were in a fellowship of darkness, but now we are light in the Lord and we have fellowship in the Light!
If we want to have fellowship in the Light, there is only one way we will have fellowship in the Light and that is by walking in the Light. If we choose instead in our lives to go to the wrong places, to read the wrong things—you know all the things that the Holy Spirit can prompt you about—to have criticism, to be unsubmissive, to have pride, to have anger; if we choose to let those things lodge in our lives, we are negating the work that Jesus did here. We are saying, “I prefer to be in darkness rather than in the Light.” We are not keeping this feast.
If we don’t keep the feast and we are not having fellowship, we are cut off from Israel. You can still come to church while you are cut off from Israel. The man, who was in fornication with his father’s wife in Corinth, was still going to church. You can still go to church and Paul said, “It shouldn’t be this way.” You know perfectly well that we can put on a wonderful act; we can stand and sing and do all the actions, but actually inside, we are cut off from the commonwealth of Israel, so we need to keep a clean house.
I like this bit here, too. Do you know that we “spoiled” Egypt? When I was dead in trespasses and sins, I used my body to serve sin. When I came out of Egypt, I am able to use my members as instruments of righteousness. Something that the enemy has held in his captivity has come out free; I’ve taken it out. I have a mind; if I choose to keep my mind in the Light and the things that Jesus has appointed for it, I take something that was in darkness and held captive out of Egypt and I bring it out into the company of the redeemed. I “spoil” Egypt by taking my mind out of things that I should not be thinking about.
My worldly goods—when I don’t know the Lord and I am not walking in His ways, I use my worldly goods to serve myself. But when I love Him, I use them to serve Him and His people; I take these worldly goods out of the control of Egypt and they come under the control of the Holy Spirit—my days, my time, my energy.
I come out of Egypt and I come out rich; richer than I ever was in Egypt because what I am made for, is for the Light; God made me for Himself. All that I am and all that I have, works so much better in the Light than in darkness.
A guilty conscience is wretched. I think a guilty conscience is a recipe for an early death; I think it’s a recipe for mental disorders. Don’t let leaven be in your life; this is a Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Referring back to Exodus 12:15, where God said, ‘Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread.’ I want to establish what seven days mean. What does the number seven speak of? It is a spiritual number. Perfection; completion; fulfillment; and one of the ways I like to understand the number seven is “all that there is”. If something is complete, it is “all that there is”.
Because of the burial of Jesus; I can give myself to Him in a new captivity; not a captivity that I knew before, I am in something new. And He says, “I want you to keep this Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days. So it’s for seven days; that is “all that there is”. All that there is of my life from the moment that my new life started, is intended by God to be unleavened.
God does not intend that we should have the experience, which is so common amongst Christians, that is up and down, and up and down, and up and down. People think this is normal. Watchman Nee discovered it a long time ago and wrote about it in “The Normal Christian Life”. The normal Christian life is not what people live. The normal Christian does not live the normal Christian life. The normal Christian life is not a roller coaster experience. The normal Christian life is walking in the Spirit. It is the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
God intends this Feast to last for seven days, which means “all the time that there is”. The last day of this feast was another day of Holy Convocation. The end of your faith and the end of my faith—the goal and the purpose of it—is this final Holy Convocation, which we call by another word, “resurrection”!
That is the end of this! We want to be a people who on the seventh day are called into—convocated into—a resurrection, which the Bible calls ‘the First Resurrection’. This Feast is meant to start today and go on to the First Resurrection, after which you will keep it anyway because you will be incorruptible.
So what God challenges us with, as we look at this feast, is, ‘Am I willing to let Him find all the leaven in my life and take it out?’ When He points leaven out to me, am I willing to let go of it? It was a command to Israel that they should keep these Feasts. It’s a cinch to keep the Passover because it does not require anything of me. But the Feast of Unleavened Bread requires me to be captive to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I do have the choice, if I want it, to live in the lowest parts of the earth, in darkness, enjoying myself. Some of us have tasted that enjoyment and concluded that, after a while, it isn’t really all that great. Alternatively, we can live eating Unleavened Bread in the life of Christ for the rest of our lives and then come into the First Resurrection and the great, final Holy Convocation and hear Him say, ‘Well done.’
Paul says to the church in Corinth as they were dealing with this man, “Let us keep the Feast; not with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Are we sincere when we say we want to follow Jesus? Is that the truth? Are we willing to let Him search us and know our hearts? Are we willing to let Him try us and know our thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in us and lead us in the way everlasting?
**Chart is included on the following page (23)**