Q: Exodus 12:18, among other Scriptures, commands us to eat unleavened bread for seven days. Is this command still valid today? If so, how is it to be applied?


A: The command in Exodus 12:18 is an essential part of the annual seven day celebration of the Days of Unleavened Bread. As we fully explain in our new booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days,” these annual Feast days are still to be kept today.

Numerous Scriptures tell us to remove, during these seven days, leavened bread from our houses, and not to eat leavened bread. At the same time, we are told to eat unleavened bread during these days. Biblical passages containing this command can be found in Exodus 12:15-20; 13:7; 23:15; 34:18; Leviticus 23:6; Numbers 28:17; and Deuteronomy 16:3, 8. We also read that the Days of Unleavened Bread will be kept in the Millennium (Ezekiel 45:21). Further, Paul upholds the ongoing validity of God’s command to keep these days, explaining at the same time the accompanying symbolism, in 1 Corinthians 5:8, “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

Bible commentaries tell us that the Hebrew and Greek words for “unleavened bread,” that is, “matstah” and “azumos,” describe “anything unleavened.” At the same time, the Hebrew word “chamets,” translated, “leavened bread,” is defined by commentaries as “anything leavened.” Although this might be technically correct, we must not overlook that the Israelites, when obeying God’s command, ate unleavened CAKES (Exodus 12:39, Compare, too, Deuteronomy 16:3, which is to be translated as “unleavened cakes.”).

The Worldwide Church of God has taken a differentiated view point over the years as to whether it is a sin to not eat unleavened bread on each of the seven Days of Unleavened Bread.

In a Question and Answer section of the Good News in March of 1981, it is stated, “Instead of eating leavened bread, we have the positive command to eat unleavened bread (Ex. 13:56). We may also eat unleavened pies and cereals together with all the meats, drinks, fruits and vegetables we normally consume.”

In a Ministudy, published in the Good News in March of 1983, we read, “The Israelites were not merely to expunge all leavening and leavened foods from their property. That would have only symbolized putting away sin. They were commanded to eat unleavened bread during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This act of eating unleavened bread symbolizes the opposite of sin — obedience to God.”

In an article, titled, “How Leaven Pictures Sin,” published in the Good News of March 1984, a slightly modified position was taken: “Instead of eating these leavened foods, replace them with unleavened products (Ex 12:15, 19-20, Lev. 23:6). These include matzos, hardtrack and a number of flatbreads… Whenever you eat bread during these days, it should be unleavened.”

In the Ambassador Bible Correspondence Course, Lesson 26, copyright 1986, the above-stated position was even further modified, as follows:

“However, it is not required of every person to eat unleavened bread every day of this festival. Some people rarely eat any type of bread. There may be reasons why someone may not want or be able to eat bread every day of the Feast. Some few might even find it necessary to fast for a day or two during the Feast. But whatever bread and other flour products are eaten during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they must be unleavened.”

After careful consideration, study and prayer, it is the position of the Church of the Eternal God, based on the clear Scriptural commands, that we are to eat unleavened bread every day of the Feast, barring emergencies or other extraordinary circumstances. It is not a sufficient excuse, however, not to eat unleavened bread because one just does not want to do so. However, if an emergency situation comes up during the Feast, prompting an individual to fast on one of the seven days, it would not be sinful to do so. Another exception would apply for people who have been advised by their physicians, because of an unusual medical condition, not to eat any kind of bread. Likewise, in areas where people have no or only very difficult access to unleavened bread, they should try to the best of their abilities to obtain unleavened bread for the Festival. God looks at the heart. Someone who has tried hard, but still could not obtain unleavened bread, will not be condemned by God for this lack of availability, as may be the case in some parts of the world.

As a general rule, however, we are to replace leavened bread with unleavened bread, since we are to replace sin with righteousness. Even those who normally don’t eat bread should still eat a little bit of unleavened bread every day during the Days of Unleavened Bread (in addition to their normal food which must not contain leavened products of any kind), to remind them of the symbolism conveyed during this Feast.

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