Part 5: Famine to Feast
I'm over famine. I'm glad we covered the topic in our last post so that we can now move on to feasting. Over a year ago I wanted more of God. It was a desperate, needy kind of desire. The cravings I had for bread, the love I had for carbs, the hangry-ness I felt when famished, all parallel spiritual hunger when we need more of God's presence. I opened my bible to review Jesus being our living bread only to find I need a refresher on a first century Jew's understanding of Jesus being our "living bread."
That led to a Bible concordance search of the word "bread," and I was shocked to find that my beloved bread was found over 300+ times. And I've been feasting the revelations from that season of study for months.
Maybe you're hungry for more of God or suffering with spiritual hanger, or maybe you're so famished it's hard to imagine a reality when you feel satisfied again in God. I'm certain that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your study of the Feast of Unleavened Bread today might be the spiritual appetizer you need to feast again on God's abiding presence. Thirty times bread is mentioned in the book of Exodus (depending on the translation you are reading) and most of them refer to the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
You see, God rescued the Israelites from slavery, oppression, powerlessness, abuse, ridicule, and grueling manual labor during the Exodus from Egypt. And then he told them to celebrate their deliverance and remember their escape and rescue for the rest of time with annual feasts. He commanded them to eat, drink, and remember their lives had been forever changed. I love this about God.
"The Jewish world of Jesus' day buzzed with speculation. Their great traditions told the story of the childless nomad Abraham, called by God to start a family through which the world would be rescued. This people would learn firsthand what rescue meant, since they would be enslaved in Egypt before being delivered by God in the Passover. God himself would lead them through the Red Sea, through years of wandering in the desert, until they finally inherited their promised land. That event (the exodus) remained central to Jewish life and thought. It shaped, and continues to shape, how Jews saw and see the world. It speaks of the one true God making himself known in power, defeating the powers of evil, and rescuing his people. It speaks of what, in later scriptures, came to be called the kingdom of God." N. T. Wright, Simply Good News.
As I reviewed Exodus 12, I was surprised to find that God instituted the Feast of Unleavened Bread before the Exodus even happened. I mean, I must have known that, but it really jumped out to me in my studies. I also found it amusing to re-read that the Israelites escaped Egypt in such a hurry they had to bring the unbaked unleavened dough they had been preparing for the feast with them to bake on the road. In their case, that meant sojourning with an estimated 1 million others by foot to make camps along the way and start a fire to bake the unleavened bread. They left with the dough on their backs quite literally. Priorities, people. Here's God's instructions to the Jewish people to commemorate and memorialize the day they left Egypt...
Exodus 13:6-9 "For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders. You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt."
Leaven is yeast, and yeast symbolized sin. It's appropriate for God to ask his people to remember and celebrate their freedom from Egyptian tyrants with a radical expression of their otherness, their set-apartness, their inclusion into God's kingdom, and their exclusion from the sin that marked Egypt. Unleavened bread became the symbol of their new way of life, their freedom, and this feast the permanent annual week to remember what the Lord did for them.
We too need an exodus from the sin in our lives and so God provided Jesus our living bread to meet our need. To relieve our spiritual famine, to fill our souls like full bellies, and to be satisfied in God's presence.
“Jesus, the unleavened bread of God from Heaven, took on all the leaven of sin and was buried on the same day the Jews had been celebrating the feast for centuries. What the Jews had been portraying in the Feast of Unleavened Bread was a visual aid pointing them to Messiah Jesus who had come and fulfilled in His flesh the reality pictured by the feast. While the Jewish people were removing the physical leaven from their houses, Jesus removed the spiritual leaven of sin from our house—this is, our life.” Richard Booker, Jesus in the Feasts of Israel
It got me thinking about the timing. God's people prepared for a feast to celebrate deliverance that they had not yet experienced. My brain cannot compute. I live in outcome flow charts, imaginary possible conversations, budget contingencies, damage control concepts, and ministry triage conversations.
The Holy Spirit of God spoke to me today and said, "Kat, prepare your heart to feast, to celebrate something I have not yet done for you." And I quickly replied with sarcasm, "A lot of good the feast preparing will do if my hopes get dashed."
I'm not setting a table or preparing the food or writing up a grocery list for something not yet on the books, color coded in my goo cal. But is that not the life of the Christian? To prepare for our future hope and live now as we see God make all things new?
We forebode joy in anticipation that God will fail us or our loved ones will fail us, or worst of all, we will fail ourselves. I wonder if the lesson for us today is to throw the unbaked bread on our backs and join our fellow sojourners for our wilderness wanderings with faith-- that we will stop and bake that bread, we will feast and celebrate God's faithfulness.
I'm not comfortable preparing for a feast to celebrate God's future deliverance in my life because I'm not used to feasting in general or trusting God specifically. Everything in moderation is my safety net, including hope.
With tender care, God reminded me that the week of celebration--the seven days of the Unleavened Bread feast--was a fast from leaven. To feast was to fast. Mind blown. God's richest provisions will always involve the removal of sin in our lives.
In an age where I can barely survive 24 hours without social media, it's hard to imagine seven days without anything that makes my life easier or tastier. And yet to savor God's provisions for us, in Christ, we must resist the temptation for sin. For the Israelites, fasting from leaven was to feast on God's goodness, and so for Christians to fast from sin is to feast on God's provisions.
I'm scared to ask but...Lord, what do you need to remove in my life so that I can savor your presence?
In a season of great spiritual hunger, I started to follow the breadcrumb trail through the sacred scriptures to find the most satisfying bread for our soul: Jesus.
This led to an obsession with the 300+ times “bread” is mentioned in the holy scriptures, and you’re reading the results, a 16 part bible study: I.Love.Carbs.
Let's break bread together. You could start from the beginning here & be sure to sign up to get the latest blog post delivered right to your inbox >>>>>