EXTERMINATE THE LEAVEN AND NEVER LACK SALT! A brief look at The Feast of Unleavened Bread

Shabbat Shalom to you all, how good and pleasant it is for us to be here together, to worship our Redeemer, King and Saviour, in Spirit and in Truth, aměn! I just a couple of days we will all be preparing for the Feast of Matzot/Unleavened Bread, and we will be coming together at the end of the 14th day of this month and celebrate Pěsaḥ together as we will enjoy the great Feast, beginning at sunset on the 14th, which marks the beginning of the 15th of the 1st month and the beginning of Matzot/Unleavened Bread. Each year, as we draw closer to this week long Feast, we find ourselves doing a lot of key preparations in ensuring that we keep this Feast with great joy, in accordance to the clear instructions given to us in Scripture. There seems to always be the various debates or views that arise in respect to what must be done and what must not be done, and so tonight I want us to consider what the Scripture tells us and get clarity in understanding the simplicity of the Truth, without the ‘leaven’ of traditions that have often skewed interpretations that have led to mixed understandings. This Feast of Pěsaḥ and Matzot teaches us many vital life lessons, of which we can learn what we are to get rid of in our lives, as well as what we are to ensure is never lacking in our lives, and therefore  be able to draw near to our Master with a true heart in completeness of belief, having our hearts sprinkled from a wicked conscience and our bodies washed with clean water. In a message tonight called, “EXTERMINATE THE LEAVEN AND NEVER LACK SALT!”, may we be fervently seeking to please our Master and Elohim, יהושע Messiah!

On the evening of the 15th we will have our Pěsaḥ (Passover) Meal with Unleavened Bread and will keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread for 7 days, of which during that week we will also celebrate the Feast of First fruits/Bikkurim which is on the day after the Sabbath, being the first day of the week where יהושע offered up the First Fruit offering of the Harvest of souls unto the Father. As we consider what we do in preparation for this Feast, and how it speaks to us, not only physically or literally but also spiritually and metaphorically, let us do so with a rejoicing heart, in great celebration of the redeeming work of יהושע Messiah for our lives.

Shemoth/Exodus 12:14-17 “And this day shall become to you a remembrance. And you shall celebrate it as a festival to יהוה throughout your generations – celebrate it as a festival, an everlasting law. 15 ‘Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. Indeed on the first day you cause leaven to cease from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that being shall be cut off from Yisra’ĕl. 16 ‘And on the first day is a set-apart gathering, and on the seventh day you have a set-apart gathering. No work at all is done on them, only that which is eaten by every being, that alone is prepared by you. 17 ‘And you shall guard the Festival of Matzot, for on this same day I brought your divisions out of the land of Mitsrayim. And you shall guard this day throughout your generations, an everlasting law.

There are a number of key elements that stand out here in this passage I have just read, and first off we need to realise that it is a ‘remembrance’ – which is the Hebrew word זִכָּרוֹןzikkaronH2146 meaning ‘memorial, commemoration or remembrance’ and comes from the root word זָכַרzaḵarH2142 which means ‘to remember, or be mindful, or bring to remembrance’.

There is NO WAY that we, as set apart and chosen people of Elohim, must neglect to remember to Keep His Feasts!!! They should be in the forefront of our thinking, constantly remembering to guard and keep ALL His Appointed Times – for His Feasts also help us to continually be reminded of His Mighty work of redemption that He has brought us through His own Blood, and a clear reminder that He is coming again to fetch His ready Bride, that He has called out, cleansed and clothed with righteousness!!!

When יהושע Messiah had His last meal with His taught ones He told them, when taking the cup and bread, that they were to do this in ‘remembrance’ of Him, which Sha’ul also reminds us of in Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 11:23-25, showing us how this lines up with Shemoth/Exodus 12:14 with the instruction that this day shall become a remembrance. This has both the meaning of how it is a day that must be continually remembered, as well as how it would become a remembrance to us; for when Messiah was impaled and shed His Blood for us, this day became an everlasting remembrance, a continued remembrance of how we proclaim His death until He comes again!

Secondly, we are to ‘celebrate it as a festival to יהוה’!!! You cannot remember this feast without CELEBRATING it!!! The Hebrew word translated as ‘celebrate’ is the verb חָגַג ḥagag – Strong’s H2287 which means, to make a pilgrimage, keep a pilgrimage, celebrate a feast, observe a feast, dance’, and the Hebrew root word translated as ‘festival’ is the noun  חַג ḥag – Strong’s H2282 which means, a festival, feast, sacrifice, festival gathering, solemnity, which comes from the root verb חָגַג ḥagag! We are to חָגַג ḥagag a חַג ḥag, so to speak! The word solemnity means, a solemn event or occasion, formal or ceremonious observance of an occasion or event.

This Feast is a formal observance of this event, done so with great joy, and even dancing!!!

It is also a ‘solemn event’, reminding us that this is not just some regular meeting, but a formal occasion that calls for our utmost respect, attention and reverent observance; and this is what all His Feast are for us! Understanding this should cause us to make sure that we give the proper respect and commitment to all of the Feasts of יהוה. This means that we should never make excuses not to perform them or be absent from attending them, as well as making sure that we are always punctual with our complete observance. Many people will never miss a business meeting or even a social with their colleagues and friends, yet will often shrug off the need to show proper respect for gathering when called to. Let us be reminded how we are to treat His Feasts with the utmost respect and joyful reverence, for these are our ‘scheduled meetings’ with our Master and Redeemer!

This is an everlasting law –not a burdensome law – as we are commanded to have a great feast! For seven days we are to eat ‘unleavened bread’ – this is a command! And the Hebrew root word translated as ‘unleavened bread’ is מַצָּה matstsah –Strong’s H4682. Bread without leaven – what I want to look at a little more closely, is what we are commanded to get rid of. We are told that we are to cause leaven to cease from our houses, and here the Hebrew root word translated as the ‘leaven’ we are to cause to cease is שְׂאֹר se’or – Strong’s H7603 – ‘leaven, swelling by fermentation’ and comes from the word שָׁאַר sha’ar – Strong’s H7604 which means, ‘to remain, left over and to swell up’. שְׂאֹר se’or is that which causes fermentation or leavening. שְׂאֹר se’or, in the ancient times, it was understood as being the left over batch of old dough that had been left long enough for fermentation to be reached, and sometimes is called sourdough or yeast.

This remaining old fermented left over would be added to new batch of dough to assist in the bread making process. שְׂאֹר se’or is not limited to bread alone, but generally refers to that which causes fermentation, and once added to a product it becomes ‘leavened’. We are commanded to not consume that which is leavened,  which is the Hebrew noun חָמֵץ ḥamets – Strong’s H2557 which means, that which is leavened, which comes from the primitive root verb חָמֵץ ḥamets – Strong’s H2556 – which means, ‘to be sour or leavened, or that which is leavened’. חָמֵץ ḥamets is not the leaven itself, but rather that which had been leavened, and is typically understood as bread that has been leavened. What is worth taking note of however, is that the root word translated as ‘vinegar’ is derived from the verb חָמֵץ ḥamets – Strong’s H2556, and that is the Hebrew noun that is spelt the same, but has different vowel pointings חֹמֶץ ḥomets – Strong’s H2558, which is a clear indication for us that ‘vinegar’ is something that should be removed from our homes during Matzot. It is no coincidence that this word is closely related, as it pictures for us the great work of our Master, who removed the bitterness of sin!

Tehillah/Psalm 69:21 “And they gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

This verse in Tehillim was a prophetic wording of that which would be done to the Master when he was on the stake, as we see in:

Yoḥanan/John 19:29 “A bowl of sour wine stood there, and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and held it to His mouth.

Here we are able to see a clear picture of the removal of the last of the ‘leavened/soured’ product, representing our sin and lawlessness, as after this we see in the next verse the clear words of Messiah declaring that the cleansing has been done, as He Himself had caused leaven to cease, before the great Feast:

Yoḥanan/John 19:30 “So when יהושע took the sour wine He said, “It has been accomplished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

The Greek word used here for ‘sour wine’ is ὄξος oxos – Strong’s G3690 and is the word that is used in the LXX (Septuagint – Greek translation of the Tanak) as the equivalent for the Hebrew word ḥomets – Strong’s H2558.

What is worth noting at this time is the notion that many have, in saying that alcoholic wine is something that is permitted during Pěsaḥ and Matzot. In Hebrew there are 3 words that are used in referring to wine or grape juice, which is either fermented or unfermented. The Hebrew word that is typically translated as ‘new wine’ is תִּירוֹשׁ tiyrosh – Strong’s H8492 which means, fresh or new wine, grape juice, must. ‘Must’ is the expressed juice of fruit, especially grapes, or is understood as being the pulp and skins of crushed grapes, hence this word תִּירוֹשׁ tiyrosh is understood as fresh grape juice that has just been squeezed out! The word that is translated more frequently as ‘wine’ is the Hebrew root word יַיִן yayin – Strong’s H3196 which means, banquet, wine, grape. While most assume that ‘yayin’ is used exclusively in reference to fermented grape juice or alcoholic wine, we need to realise that there are many references in Scripture where this word can also be understood as being grape juice. While there are many examples I could mention, I will just highlight a couple, to show that ‘yayin’ can refer interchangeably to both fermented and unfermented grape juice. Here are a couple of examples of verses where the word ‘yayin’ is used, yet when looking at the context, needs to be understood as meaning fresh grape juice and not a fermented alcoholic drink.

Yeshayahu/Isaiah 16:10 “Gladness is taken away, and joy from the orchard; in the vineyards there is no singing, nor shouting; No treaders tread out wine in their presses; I have made their acclamation cease.

The context of this passage relates to Elohim’s judgement upon Mo’aḇ for their pride, and part of this judgement is in the removal of gladness and joy from the orchards and vineyards.

Here we are told that there is no singing or rejoicing and that there are no treaders to tread out the wine in their presses! While ‘yayin’ is used here, it is clear that this reference is referring to that which is tread out in the press, which is grapes – hence there will be no grape juice. Some may argue that this is a poetic imagery of allowing the grape juice or ‘yayin’ to become alcoholic.

We see a similar passage in:

Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 48:33 “Joy and gladness have been taken away from the orchard and from the land of Mo’aḇ. And I have made wine to cease from the winepresses. No one treads with shouting – the shouting is no shouting!

 Once again we are given the imagery of the treading of grapes to cease!

In another clear example of ‘yayin’ not meaning an alcoholic beverage is seen in:

Ěḵah/Lamentations 2:11-12My eyes are spent with tears, My inward parts ferment, My bile has been poured on the ground Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, As children and the infants languish In the streets of the city. 12 They say to their mothers, “Where is grain and wine?” As they languish like the wounded In the streets of the city, As their life is poured out in their mothers’ bosom.

Once again the word יַיִן yayin is used here and translated as ‘wine’, yet we need to look at who it is who is asking for this. In verse 11 we see how the children and infants languish in the streets! Infants – that is small babies and toddlers! The children and infants say to their mothers – ‘where is grain and wine?’. We need to understand the clear context here – there is absolutely no way that a child or infant is going to ask their mother for alcoholic wine!!!

While there are many other references I could make, I simply wanted to highlight that we can in no way limit the Hebrew word יַיִן yayin as that which refers only to a fermented grape juice or alcoholic wine, but that while it certainly does refer to this in many instances, it can also be rendered as the simple reference to fresh or unfermented grape juice.

The 3rd Hebrew word that we find in Scripture that is used in connection with wine or strong fermented drink is שֵׁכָר sheḵar – Strong’s H7941 which means, intoxicating drink, liquor, string drink, which comes from the root verb שָׁכַר shaḵar – Strong’s H7937 which means, to be or become drunk, drunken, make yourself drunk.

What is also interesting to take note of is that nowhere in Scripture is any reference made to the Cup that the Master took when He had His Last Meal with His taught ones as being alcoholic. In fact there is no mention of any wine or grape Juice, yet we understand that the grape juice, or understood as the ‘blood of the grapes’, refers to the Blood of Messiah.

We partake of the Cup by drinking ‘grape juice’ in remembrance of His Blood that was shed for us, and we realise that He Himself has taken away the שְׂאֹר se’or – that which causes fermentation, when He took the ‘sour wine’ and then said it is finished!

Coming back therefore to the Feast of Pěsaḥ and Matzot, we find clear reference to making sure that we too cause שְׂאֹר se’or to cease from our homes, and this includes that which causes bread to rise or ferment, as well as any vinegar or sour wine! In the passage of Shemoth/Exodus 12:15 that we read, the instruction is clear, “you cause leaven to cease from your houses”. The Hebrew word that is translated as the phrase’ cause to cease’ is שָׁבַת shaḇath  – Strong’s H7673 which means, to cease, desist, rest, observe, observe the rest, put an end, and here it is written in the ‘hiphil’ verb tense, which expresses a causative action can be understood as meaning, to cease or put an end to, remove, exterminate, destroy, cause to desist from. We are therefore commanded, in a manner of speaking, to ‘EXTERMINATE THE LEAVEN’!!! While we do this practical application, we realise that in the practical observance of this command, we are reminded of how we are to rid ourselves of much leaven that can cause us to become full of pride and sin, which we need to cleanse ourselves of:

Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 5:7-8 “Therefore cleanse out the old leaven, so that you are a new lump, as you are unleavened. For also Messiah our Passover was offered for us. 8 So then let us observe the festival, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The Greek word for ‘leaven’ is ζύμη zumē – Strong’s G2219 and is the Greek word used in the LXX (Septuagint – Greek translation of the Tanak) as the equivalent to the Hebrew word שְׂאֹר se’or, and it is this ‘old leaven’ that we are to cleanse out and cause to cease from our dwellings. This Hebrew word שָׁבַת shaḇath  – Strong’s H7673, meaning, cause to cease, exterminate is also used in the hiphil tense in another passage of Scripture which I feel is pertinent to this teaching tonight:

Wayyiqra/Leviticus 2:13 “And season with salt every offering of your grain offering, and do not allow the salt of the covenant of your Elohim to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you bring salt.

 The phrase, ‘to be lacking’ is translated from this Hebrew word שָׁבַת shaḇath  – Strong’s H7673, and so here we see a very vital lesson being given to us at this time of the year! While we are to exterminate the leaven, we must never lack salt! All your offerings you bring with salt! Romiyim/Romans 12:1 tells us that we are to offer up our bodies as a living offering, set-apart and well pleasing to Elohim for this is our reasonable worship. Having said that, it is clear then that if we are to be an offering, living that is, unto יהוה, then we too are to be salted – for all offerings must have salt!

The grain offering in the Hebrew is known as מִנְחָה minḥah – Strong’s H4503 and means, ‘a gift, tribute, meal offering, present. This is a picture of something that a bride brings to please her husband! There is no blood in this offering and therefore does not  represent atonement for sin, however it does still represent the one bringing it and is symbolic of the work of our hands, as it is prepared by the one bringing the offering. Once we accept the atoning work of Messiah, we must not stop there, but must rather continue daily in bringing Him our all as we recognise clearly that what we do daily does count.

Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt becomes tasteless, how shall it be seasoned? For it is no longer of any use but to be thrown out and to be trodden down by men.

Marqos (Mark) 9:49-50 “For everyone shall be seasoned with fire, and every offering shall be seasoned with salt. 50 “Salt is good, but if the salt becomes tasteless, how shall you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace among one another.

Luqas (Luke) 14:34-35 “The salt is good, but if the salt becomes tasteless, with what shall it be seasoned? 35 “It is not fit for land, nor for manure, they throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

In the passages we have just read we see the words of יהושע speaking of salt; In Mattithyahu it is at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount; In Marqos it is joined immediately to not causing offense or others to sin and in Luqas it is supplemented to a series of sayings regarding the conditions for discipleship. In other words it is clear that salt carries with it significant meaning in our lives being offered up as a daily living offering. But why salt, what is it about salt that gives the offerings as being acceptable and carrying such depth of meaning?

In the offerings salt was used as a preservative to typify the eternal nature of the ‘Covenant of Salt’ existing between יהוה and Yisra’ĕl. The term “covenant of salt” refers to an everlasting ordinance, and is a figurative form of expression founded upon the conservative property of salt which keeps meat from corruption.

The context of יהושע’s words in calling us the ‘salt of the earth’ was linked to persecution, for יהושע tells us that we are the salt of the earth straight after telling us how blessed we are when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake and for the sake of His Name. It is the very persecutions and trials that will ‘grind’ us or rather ‘pulverise’ us to becoming effective salt that can be used. If we undergo the grinding process of His Word – Living obediently to it in a disobedient world, we must put in to practice straight away that which we learn and discover or else the purpose will be lost; and Yaʽaqoḇ tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds, as it matures us. If we complain instead, sadly the salt of the Word being worked out in us will be wasted!

With Salt being a reference to the everlasting ordinances, we are able to see how being ‘seasoned with salt’, gives a clear picture of us being a people who walk according to the Covenants of promise that we have been grafted in to by the Blood of Messiah. When we realise that we are to ‘never lack salt’ we must understand that we are to be a people who never stray from the Covenants of which we are an integral part of; and therefore we walk according to the Renewed Covenant that יהוה has written upon our hearts! Ensuring that we walk in and stay in the Covenant, through our complete loving obedience to His commands, so that our words will be words that are seasoned with salt and we shall be able to boldly answer those who ask us about the hope/expectation that we have in our Master, יהושע Messiah!

Qolasim/Colossians 4:6 “Let your word always be with favour, seasoned with salt, so that you know how you ought to answer each one.

Our words can only be seasoned with salt when our actions are in line with true obedience to the Torah of Elohim!

As we all prepare for this up and coming Feast of Pěsaḥ and Matzot, may we be a people who EXTERMINATE THE LEAVEN AND NEVER LACK SALT! This we can do when we walk in total set-apartness and recognise that we are to be rid of old leaven, that is the old teachings of falsehood and traditions of man, and allow His Blood and His Word to cleanse us and set us apart for good use, aměn! As we rid ourselves of the old leaven, and we do not get poisoned with the leaven or false teachings of the Pharisees, and are never lacking salt, then we make ourselves available to be permeated with the ‘good leaven’ that Messiah speaks of, when He tells us what He can compare the reign of Elohim to:

Luqas/Luke 13:21 “It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour until it was all leavened.

I find this an interesting parable in itself, as we can see the poetic imagery of the 3 measures being a  reference to the ‘3 times a year’ that men would go to Yerushalayim, describing those who diligently and joyfully guard to keep all the Feasts of יהוה, for when we do this we shall be leavened with His Good Word, and equipped for His Reign. Exterminating the leaven of the old ways of falsehood and lies, and never lacking salt by being a daily living sacrifice will cause us to be filled with the good and incorruptible Word!

Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 1:22-25 “Now that you have cleansed your lives in obeying the truth through the Spirit to unfeigned brotherly love, love one another fervently with a clean heart, 23 having been born again – not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible – through the living Word of Elohim, which remains forever, 24 because “All flesh is as grass, and all the esteem of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, 25 but the Word of Elohim remains forever.” And this is the Word, announced as Good News to you.

As we eagerly look forward to this Feast of Pěsaḥ and Matzot, let us make sure that we all:

EXTERMINATE THE LEAVEN AND NEVER LACK SALT!

יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and show you favour; יהוה lift up His face to you and give you Shalom!