It is interesting to note how often God uses physical things to teach us spiritual lessons. In the Passover ceremony, we eat bread and drink a small amount of wine—real, physical bread and wine. These are consumed as symbols pointing us toward one of the most profound spiritual truths in the Bible—the fact that Christ died for our sins. Unleavened Bread is a whole week of being reminded of spiritual principles through physical actions. During the Feast of Tabernacles, we live (physically) in “temporary dwellings” to learn lessons about the coming Kingdom of God. And God’s word contains instructions to do all of the above. (See 1 Corinthians 11:27-29; Exodus 12:14 ff; Leviticus 23:34 ff, for just a few of the origins and/or applications.)
As parents, we seek ways to help our children understand and appreciate the Holy Days by using the same principle. We make the time memorable and enjoyable with gifts, special foods, and traditions. When my children were young, I came across a practice associated with Unleavened Bread that is used by some Jewish families. For very small children it was fun and exciting, and it went something like this: You strategically place some rather large bread crumbs in a few places in the house. Then you give the child or children a large feather and a wooden spoon. You accompany them with a lit candle and have them search for the crumbs. (It is obviously better to do this at night). The children locate the crumbs and sweep them on to the spoon thereby learning to help with the deleavening process. It is with the help of such games that the Jews have kept their traditions alive, and we can also use physical means to begin to instill some of the rudimentary principles of God’s way.
With the Days of Unleavened Bread, it must seem quite odd to those outside the Church that this group of “religious” people eat no leavened products for a week. But we realize that there are tremendous lessons to be learned by doing so. We understand that leavening is a symbol for sin in our lives—during this seven-day period—and consequently needs to be put out. (See 1 Corinthians 5:8.) We learn things about sin even in the deleavening process on the run-up to the actual Days themselves. When we start looking for leavening, we see how all-pervasive it is in the world—indeed in our own lives! We can also begin to realize how difficult it can be to “get rid of it”—just like sin. We find leavening in places that we would never have suspected before—as we will with sin as well when we begin analyzing ourselves.
In the past, not everyone has found it easy to strike a proper balance between the physical deleavening of our homes and the “getting out” of sin in our lives. Suffice it to say that the spiritual aspect is, of course, the more important, but the physical should not be looked upon as unimportant—else why would God have told us to do it. Done properly and with balanced diligence, the physical will invariably lead us to more spiritual understanding.
We should all be encouraged by observing the Days of Unleavened Bread and very thankful that our loving Father has given us the opportunity to learn more about Him and His way through them. The deleavening process has been an important lead up to the actual observance of the seven-day period. Let us be careful to remember the spiritual principles which it has taught us and carry them forward through this week and beyond.