(Updated Feb 26, 2017)
—– Original Message —–
Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 22:00
Subject: GREAT TO SEE YOU BOTH!
It was good to catch up with you both so soon again – another of God’s ‘God-incidences’ I think! You said something at one of our recent meetings that rang an immediate chord: that the Muslims have no father, whereas the father of the Arabs is Abraham/Ishmael. I have always understood that every Arab is a Muslim, whereas not every Muslim is an Arab. Could you enlighten me as to which nations are Arab (such as Egypt) as against those that are non-Arab Muslim (such as Iran)?
Finally, in the DVD of the Nachalat Yeshua fellowship that we saw at the Conference last month you mentioned that you use leavened bread at Communion to remind everyone that Jesus was our sin-bearer – our sin-offering. As I come from another persuasion, I wonder whether you would be willing to have an email dialogue with me on this subject? (Iron sharpening iron always seems a good idea!).
Blessings in Messiah,
From: Howard and Randi Bass
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 9:31 PM
Subject: Re: GREAT TO SEE YOU BOTH!
We’re glad you’re back safely. We had another air raid this evening, even though there is supposed to be a cease fire. It was very nice to see you and the others, and to spend some quality time with you all.
Here is a link to the Arabic nations: http://www.arab.de/arabinfo/league.htm
Here is one to Muslim nations: http://arabicpaper.tripod.com/country.html
Egypt is not actually an ‘Arab’ country, being descendant from Ham, but they are Arabized through language and culture, mostly Islamic.
I’ll try my best to dialogue with you over the leavened bread. It’s really very interesting; I wish we could do it face-to-face.
At 03:29 PM 18-03-12 +0000, you wrote:
Dear Howard, many thanks for your prompt reply re: Arabs & Muslims. As Muslims don’t appear to have Abraham as their father, who are their ancestors?
It’s a great pity we can’t meet face to face to have a discussion, but I guess that email is next most convenient! Re: Using leavened bread for communion: I cannot see any Scriptural warrant for this anywhere, but I can think of a host of objections! – and I list them for your consideration:
— Jesus used unleavened bread at the Last Supper/first Communion; as Christians, surely we should follow His lead and His example
— Scripture never asks us to remember Jesus as a sin offering; rather, we are to remember Him (eg, Matthew 26 vv 26-29 & 1 Corinthians 11 vv 23-26)
— I can’t imagine a worse emblem to signify Christ’s sinless purity than leaven, which is always a symbol of pride and sin because it ‘puffs up.’
— This is like a parable of our times in Britain; almost all churches now use leavened bread for communion. As you will be aware, there is an ‘echo’ of the 7 parables of Matthew13 inthe 7 letters of John, and in exactly the same order. In parable number 4, the woman (false religion) mixes leaven (false teaching and hypocrisy) with the 3 bowls of meal (God’s word). In the 4th letter of John, the woman (Jezebel) brings false teaching and sexual immorality (leaven) into the church. Interestingly, the 3 bowls neatly represent the 3 strands of Christianity: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism – and each contains leaven.
I’d be most interested in your comments, Blessings to you all in Beersheva, R.
From: Howard & Randi Bass
Sent: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 9:25 PM
Subject: Re: Leavened vs Unleavened Bread for Communion
Thanks for your questions, which I also had to wrestle with for myself about 30 years ago regarding the Lord’s Supper. But first of all, concerning the Muslims: Islam is a faith, not a people, even though historically most of the Muslims have been Arabs, and most Arabs Muslims. But we know that during the beginnings of the Church, there were Arabs who became Christian, and these are mentioned in the New Testament. The Coptic Christians in Egypt were there long before the Islamic conquest. Today, Islam is making great inroads into other people groups; so ancestrally, it depends on each person and their ethnicity. In any case, Islam is not of the faith of Abraham, for nor is their God. Even the demons know that there is one God, and they tremble at the truth of who He is.
As for the bread of communion, let me preface all this with a bit of personal testimony, and as I mentioned, this goes back to 1982 over this issue. When I was first saved and born-again in Feb. 1981, my first reactions were as a Jewish person, seeing everything through ‘Jewish eyes’. I thought that the Gentile Christians had taken things from us, or had done things ‘not Jewish’, and that this was why so many Jews felt that there was nothing of Christianity for us AS Jews. Then the Lord began to open the eyes of my understanding that God is bigger than doing everything ‘Jewishly’. In the parable of Jesus in Mt 21, He told the religious leaders that because we threw Him out of His own vineyard, God would give it to other vinedressers who would render to Him the fruits in their seasons. In other words, the Gentiles would take on some major responsibility for the things of God, and, being from every nation and ethnic group, things would not ‘look’ Jewish, or even be Jewish. The gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek, but is something new — a mystery now revealed — for anyone and for all, from God, in Christ. Gentile believers are being brought not into the Law, but into the living hope of the New Covenant, which is not a renewed covenant, but a new and better one. (Heb 8:6) “Melchizedek, King of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor (Purchaser) of Heaven and Earth. . . .’” (Gen 14:18-19)
But when it comes to the communion, I thought, at least that is ‘ours‘: it was instituted at a Passover; the bread, I was sure, was matza (unleavened); leaven represents sin, and Yeshua was the perfect, sinless Man and Lamb of God to be the perfect and final sacrifice for sin and sins. I asked a Baptist missionary in Israel, why do some Christians use leavened bread? His answer was simply that we are under grace, and that it doesn’t matter. That may be true, as long as the substance is preached, but this answer does not satisfy someone seeking to know the why of the things of God, and of symbols He chooses to use. (Col 2:16-17) God does things for a reason, just as immersion better ‘tells the story’ of someone who has died, been buried, and rises from the dead with and in Messiah better than sprinkling does. Symbols can provide great visual aids for our understanding, such as the bread and cup of Communion. We really do have to be born-again by the Holy Spirit through repentance and faith in the gospel, and continually learn what it is to reckon our old man as dead, and that we are alive unto God as a new creation. As Paul said, the world is crucified to him, and he to the world. This would also include his own culture if it conflicts with the newness of life, and our new identity that we are in Christ. The Law and the Prophets point to something greater and better, not only in Christ Himself, but also through Him.
I know you know all these things, R; I just want you to know that I take these things seriously, too, and the Word and Holy Spirit of God together set me free by the truth of who Jesus Christ is, and now He has also set me free from ‘religion’, or from simply accepting traditions handed down by ‘the fathers’, sometimes without any understanding of what or why they might be. On the other hand, something like Sunday worship, which I believe is of the Lord, is right, but, again, often without much understanding from the Law given to Israel why it is so for believers in Jesus! (Lev 23:9-14) Whatever we believe must be shown from the written Word of God to be so.
I was reading a book that a brother in Beer Sheva gave me to read back in 1982, a book whose name I can not remember. The reason he let me read this book was not for what I came away with. In the book, the author was referencing ‘sources’ from the 1st century, according to him — both Jewish and Roman sources. One of the things he mentioned was that part of the opposition to Jesus was that He taught His disciples to eat leavened bread on Passover. I couldn’t believe it! What I did, though, was ask the Lord if this could possibly be! Because as a Jew, this was the last vestige of something that was ours that the Gentiles couldn’t take away! (As a sideline to this: some years later, I was wanting to share this with another Jewish believer, who is a teacher and an influential person and one who is regarded as prophetic; but once I said that “I think the Lord has shown me . . .”, he did not want to hear anymore. His reason? How could the Jewish people accept the gospel if this were true? That was a very revealing answer about his own way of understanding the implications of the gospel. But what this shows is how something so simple can shake our very sense of truth or identity. And that was what also prompted my reaction to what I had read, and of my inquiring cry to the Lord, and also of your own instinctive reaction.)
The answer I received from the Lord — and what justifies it all for me — was simply, “Check the Word”. He turned me to the Scriptures, both Old and New. And He opened up a whole new vista of ‘gospel truth’, and how it also affects the one new man reality, and the priesthood of all believers. This remembrance ordinance which the Lord left us, and the symbols He chose to use, are radical and revolutionary on the one hand concerning the substance, and ‘don’t matter’ as to use,on the other.
Another interesting ‘happenstance’ occurred during my studies: I happened to pick up a National Geographic magazine (not exactly a magazine with any vested interest in the truths of God), with an article about the historic split between the western Roman Catholic Church and the eastern Greek/Russian Orthodox Church back around the 5th century. One of the reasons, apart from Papal authority, was over whether the Holy Spirit was given by the Father and the Son, or only by the Father. (It’s pretty clear from the Scriptures, and, here, the RCC got that one right! Jn 14:16,26) Another reason was over the bread of communion: apparently leavened bread had been used, until the RCC decided and decreed that it must be unleavened. It is interesting to note that the crucifix is the ‘symbol’ of the RCC — with Jesus still on the cross slain, not yet buried nor risen from the dead — and, therefore, there is no justification for the ungodly sinner through faith in their system (much like rabbinic Judaism and every other religion), which is only so for those who believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. He is no longer dead, but alive forevermore! And so the sinner can be judicially acquitted of murdering or killing or of consenting to His death through faith in the good news!
A curious thing: wine was used by the Lord at the Last Passover, and is considered acceptable doctrinally by many churches and Messianic congregations for the Lord’s Supper. Grape juice is an alternative, being of the fruit of the vine. At the first Passover, when the Israelis were delivered from hard slavery in Egypt, neither wine nor grape juice was part of that feast. And, according to the instructions given us in Lev 23, with all of the appointed times/’holidays’ of YHVH, the emphasis is on eating unleavened bread (matza), but nothing about drinking wine. Following the Passover, looking prophetically, once the first-fruits wave offering had been offered on the day after the Sabbath (i.e., Sonday, the first day of the week) after coming into the land which the Lord was giving to the children and people of Israel, then they could use wine and eat [regular bread] (lechem). This was during the Passover week. When Jesus was walking with the two disciples on the way to Emmaus after His resurrection (first-fruits from the dead) on the day after the Sabbath of that Passover week (i.e., Sonday), their eyes were opened when He blessed and broke bread (artos in Greek; lechem in all Hebrew translations normally used). Then “they knew Him, and He vanished from their sight”. (Lk 24) Wine is fermented; it is leavened. Nothing leavened was permitted under the Law during the Passover and Unleavened Bread week. (It is interesting that the same Greek word for bread is used in the account of the Last Supper, and in that of the meal with the two disciples in Emmaus. Had the Last Supper been the night before Passover, as some believe — and therefore leavened bread would have been “permissible” — then surely we would think that the word used in the account of Emmaus would have specified unleavened bread, since it was during the Passover/Unleavened Bread week.)
The words for wine and for new wine/grape juice are different in both languages, just as in English. The words for regular bread and for unleavened bread are, too. It is here that my search in ‘checking the Word’ began: what word was used for bread in the Greek in the New Testament wherever the Lord’s Supper was the subject, or the Passover week; when was the word for unleavened bread used, and in what context; how were these words translated into English and Hebrew; how were the Hebrew words for regular bread and for unleavened bread used in the Old Testament? What I found was astounding, and full of grace and truth, and a proof to me of the verbal inspiration of “all Scripture”. I already knew that the root word for bread/lechem in Hebrew has to do with warfare, conflict (lamed-chet-mem); what I found out is that the Greek word for bread, artos, means to expiate: through the sacrificial atoning death of Jesus Christ for sin and our sins, God has removed/taken away/expiated the struggle for survival which every man since the Fall has inherited and come up against — only to die in defeat at the end — and has taken away the futility and vanity of life for the believer . The first of the use of the word lechem in the Bible is found in Gen 3:19, in connection with God’s punishment for Adam’s disobedience: he would have to struggle to eat bread (also used for food in general; see Mt 6:11). Jesus, the second and the last Adam, fought the ultimate battle and struggle from the onslaught of the enemy, and when He knew that by being crucified for our sins, He would be separated from God, His Father, while bearing all of our guilt and punishment. And by His obedience and His victory in this warfare, we receive living bread to eat, having received peace and acceptance with God!
He has given us justification and peace and the living hope of everlasting life through the victory on the cross by the Lord over sin, the devil, and death! The inspired use of language in the New Testament fulfills the types and Messianic hopes of the Old! (I am sure there is much more of such examples that the Holy Spirit has shown others.) Unleavened bread in the Old Testament is called ‘bread of affliction‘ because of the haste of leaving Egypt (Dt 16:3) There is no reference here to recall sin, but the haste of leaving, and of not having time for the dough to leaven. (Ex 12:34) They were being delivered and driven out, and the affliction which they suffered as slaves was remembered as well as the affliction of not having tasty bread to eat! Whereas in the New Testament, Yeshua has said that He is the Bread of Life, and the Living Bread that one may eat of and not die. This living bread is His flesh, which He gives for the life of the world. (Jn 6:48-51) People will wait hours in bread lines when they are hungry to receive some loaf of bread, which is not so for some unleavened bread: Jesus is the Staff of Life, and we who know Him give thanks every time we eat bread.
Every Friday evening in Jewish homes around the world, there is the family meal ushering in the Sabbath. On the table — which in Jewish tradition has become an altar, in the absence of the Templewith its Shewbread — is wine and two leavened loaves of challa, a special bread loaf especially for the Sabbath. The loaves represent, in the Jewish understanding, the House of Israel and the House of Jacob, and replaces the Shewbread. (Lev 23:16-17) There is also salt and two candle sticks. The wife says a blessing to welcome the Sabbath Queen. Who is the King/Lord of the Sabbath? Who is His Queen, the Bride? Yeshua tells His disciples — us — that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He has personalized and internalized the symbols to Himself and to His Body, the Church. Every week Jewish people, without knowing it, are remembering the Creator of the Universe, and the Savior, who gave Himself as the sacrifice for our redemption — none other than Jesus whom we pierced and who has left His Church the very emblems which, in the sovereignty of God, has been given as a witness to the whole House of Israel! Jewish families are acting as if they are priests, eating the Shewbread, representing all the 12 tribes of Israel, each week; Christians are priests, and have the priestly privilege to eat the bread of the Presence/ the bread of the Faces/ the Bread of God, remembering Him who embodies Israel, and who gave Himself as the High Priest of a different order than under the Law once and for all to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself — for both Jews and Gentiles. (Heb 7 – 9)
From this basic and straight-forward beginning to ‘check the Word’, everything else began to open up, with much enlightenment and revelation with respect to what I had not seen before — partly due to ignorance, partly due to prejudice, and partly due to conditioning. And I have to say, R, it was like being born-again again, it was so life-changing! It set me free from thinking that some truth of God had to be Jewish in thinking, or that the traditions of the Church ought to all be Jewish if it were really based on the Torah that was ‘ours’; when, in truth, it is His, and He is moving on, and the Holy Spirit is leading us into all truth, all based upon the written Word of God, glorifying the Son and the Father. Again, the gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek: “But I make known to you, Brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught, but [I received it] through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Gal 1:11-12) “Where is the wise? Where the scribe? Where the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews ask for a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks folly, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1Cor 20-25)
The Communion is for the Church during this present age: we remember the Lord’s death until He comes, when He returns in great power and glory apart from sin. Israel will not celebrate it during the Millennial Kingdom (but she will the Passover, with unleavened bread), nor will the saints in glory who are ruling and reigning with Christ. It is all about remembering Jesus, and it focuses on His death, not His life. (1Cor 11:23-26, 27-30) In His death, He who knew no sin, had no sin, did no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. His death on the cross was the victory over Satan. He bore the full punishment due us from the Father. The remembrance of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper has everything to do with His death, for this is what brought to an end the power of the devil and of sin in any who believe, and ushered in a new covenant of God with Israel and any Gentile or Jewish person who comes to God now through repentance and faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior — the Messiah, Son of the Living God.
Appreciating the value of His death, we then stand in wonder at the life which He lived, how He came into the world through the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life proving that He is God with us, enduring every temptation known to man without ever falling to any, for there was nothing in Him which Satan could succeed in getting a hold. He is the second Adam, and the last. Being the perfect sinless Lamb of God, He alone is worthy and adequate to be the necessary perfect and all-encompassing sacrifice to put away sin and to redeem sinners. Passover/Unleavened Bread being a seven-day feast, it is suggestive of the truth that the atoning death of Jesus was and is sufficient to cover all of history — before Christ, and after the Lord’s death and resurrection — for the salvation of sinners: the Lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world. Once a sinner (“leavened”) has been delivered from the sin of the world, he is to stop sinning — to cease from putting ‘more leaven’ into his life, and is to live a new life of righteousness (“unleavened”) unto God in the power of the Holy Spirit. (1Cor 5:6-8)
At the Lord’s Supper, in corporate communion with the blood and the body of Messiah, we remember and celebrate the blessedness of a finished work on the cross, which is the foundation and guarantee for the eternal purposes of God which He purposed before the foundation of the world, but only manifested it in the coming of the Lord into the world and in His victorious death and resurrection. (1Pt 1:18-21; Rev 13:8) Such is the love of God!
Just as all of the appointed times of YHVH point to and are fulfilled in Jesus, so are all of the sacrifices required in the Law fulfilled in the crucifixion of the Lord:
–the whole burnt offering — Yeshua gave His whole being to God in sacrifice — both in His life and in His death on the cross — and was ‘burned up in full’ as He suffered the wrath of God and the separation from His Father when He bore our sins upon Himself on the cross;
–the meal/grain offering — Yeshua lived a pure, sinless, uncorrupted life; the only perfect Man. No blood sacrifice was ever needed for Him. No grain offering, or any offering by any Israeli under the Law could be offered with leaven or with honey. (Lev 2:11) Yet, the Scriptures lead us onward, which we will see.;
–the sin offering — Jesus bore the sinfulness of our nature, and the sin of the whole world in its contrariness to God;
–the trespass/guilt offering — Jesus bore our guilt, uncleanness, and shame for our sins. We are saved by grace, and are [justified] sinners till the end through faith.;
–the peace offering — On the basis of the other sacrifices — and on Jesus’ one comprehensive sacrificial death — we have peace with God, with ourselves, and with others. Only of the peace offering could both the priest and the sinner eat, and if a thank offering, it also included leaven along with the unleavened bread. (Lev 7:11-14). The Lord’s Supper is the remembrance of all that Jesus has accomplished unto God and for us in His sacrificial atoning death. At the last supper, He, the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, shared with His sinful apostles in anticipation of the peace He was making for them, and leaving with them. He gave them the bread and the wine, looking ahead to His death, and leaving His ‘flesh’ and His ‘blood’ which He, the Lamb of God, gave on the altar of sacrifice, and which the priests of the New Covenant — redeemed sinners — could share in, just as we can as priests share in what is also represented by the bread — the shewbread.
As mentioned, the Law permitted no leaven (or honey) to be burned in any offering to the LORD by fire. However, in Lev 23:17, where YHVH is telling Moses about Shavuot/the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost, He is requiring two loaves of fine flour, baked with leaven, as firstfruits to Him. Many Christians have understood the two loaves as representing Israel and the Gentile nations. We all have sin still in us; thus the leaven. The sacrifice has been accepted, but as long as we are in this body in this creation, there is sin in every person, whether saved or not. Pentecost marks the beginning of the “Church Age”, and God has brought as equals into His covenantal purposes both Jewish people and Gentiles from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. And He wants those who have accepted the Passover and entered into the good of it, and into the rest which God has given in bringing us into the “Promised Land”, to remember this with a new grain offering during this age until Christ comes again. (Lev 23:16) We are the grain offering, as we offer our bodies a living sacrifice in a life consecrated to God, priests holy to the Lord. In being brought out of Egypt with its sin (leaven) by the power of God on our behalf, and judgment against His and our enemies (Ex 6:6), we are to leave hastily, and not put any more of Egypt into us – nor go back there again (Num 14:3;Dt 17:16; Lk 9:62) — but rather live a new life of holiness and righteousness (unleavened) unto our Savior God. (Lev 18:3)
The Lord’s Supper is in fulfillment of this new meal offering, and is for all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Passover, and as their Savior from inward sinfulness and outward sins. We are saved by grace, but we must always recognize that we are sinners who, at the very least, fall short of the glory of God. This will be so until the redemption of our bodies in the resurrection. “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?! Therefore purge out the old leaven (speaking of our sinfulness, not of bread), that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened (made righteous through faith in Him who became sin/leavened). For indeed Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened (no word for bread here) of sincerity and truth.” (1Cor 5:6-8)
I pray and hope that this is helpful, R. I apologize if I have gone on too long, or did not answer your questions in a direct manner. If you have any more questions, or if I can maybe clarify something, please let me know.
God bless you,
At 09:53 PM 01-04-12 +0100, you wrote:
Dear Howard, Greetings in the lovely Name of Jesus! Sorry to have taken so long getting back to you,.
Thank you the information on Islam very interesting and thank you for your trouble in explaining things in such a deep and comprehensive way.
I have a few thoughts from your email:
— I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say that “Whatever we believe must be shown from the written word”. However, despite your comprehensive study of this subject, I still cannot see from Scripture anywhere that tells us that communion is with leavened bread.
— You mentioned that one source suggested that Jesus used leavened bread at Passover; this surely is pure conjecture. In addition, and if it were so, then Jesus would have broken the Law, since anyone eating unleavened bread at Passover/Feast of Unleavened bread would be cut off from Israel (Exodus 12 v 15). Again, I see nothing in Scripture that suggests that the annual Passover celebrations were any different (in terms of unleavened bread) from the original Passover; and Jesus’ Last Passover Supper elements of bread and wine were the basis for His first communion service.
— You quote the RCC as a source of information; as an apostate church whose doctrines generally contradict Scripture (salvation by works, etc). Personally, I would give no credence to the RCC.
— You state that wine is leavened and nothing leavened was permitted at Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. However that’s not entirely correct; let me explain. There are a small number of people who are allergic to leaven and cannot eat leavened bread or drink low alcohol drinks such as cider and beer, because of the traces of leaven. Wine is of a totally different character, because wine contains no leaven; wine is of course made by adding leaven but, as the pure wine is formed, the much higher alcohol level destroys the leaven, which totally separates out and falls to the bottom as dregs. When the pure wine is decanted, it contains not one cell of yeast, and can be safely drunk by those who are allergic to yeast. In like manner to the pure wine, the blood of Jesus destroys every sin to which it is applied by confession and repentance.
— The Shavuot bread, as you pointed out, is with leaven, confirming that humankind is hard-wired with Adam’s DNA! It is interesting that the 2 loaves represent the firstfruit of Jews and Gentiles in God’s kingdom. Arnold Fruchtenbaum noted that, traditionally, these 2 loaves were even baked in separate ovens. James (1 v 18) picks up on this when he says, “We are a kind of firstfruits.” I was amazed to discover a type” of the Jew and Gentile entering God’s kingdom in the 2 from the original exodus that enteredCanaan: Joshua and Caleb; because although Joshua was a Jew, Caleb wasn’t: he was a Gentile. His father, Jephunneh, was a Kennizite, and the Kennizites were a pagan Canaanite tribe; I was amazed to discover that Caleb is Hebrew for dog”, and dog” is a derogatory name for a Gentile.
Blessings to you, Randi & the family, and hope that our paths cross again; I rather think they will!
It is the wisdom of God that two men who love Him and His Word can see it differently on a very relevant topic! Praise the Lord that we are saved by grace through faith, and not by our own understanding!
Just to comment on your comments, since it helps me better cover the objections in any future use of what I believe to be correct, despite the difficulties:
1. As I wrote, when I questioned the Lord about the matter that was actually shocking to my sensibilities, He told me to “check the Word”; that is, the Scriptures. In first of all looking up all the uses in critical places where the Hebrew and Greek word for ‘unleavened bread’ was used, and all the uses in critical places where the original languages used common, or leavened bread, it was both eye-opening and convincing enough to go on from there in prayer and study. The Holy Spirit is very precise in the choice of words and language. Sometimes we ignore the significance; other times we simply do not know that it is significant. In a similar vein, as you write in your excellent booklet, “You have to understand the type or symbol, otherwise the Scriptures remain opaque.”
2. It may be ‘conjecture’ that suggested that Jesus used leavened bread at Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread. But it was this very claim that startled me to ask the Lord if it could possibly be so, since it was so contrary to my preconceptions and understanding, not only of the Passover requirements, but of the symbol of leaven as ‘sin’.
As for being ‘cut off from Israel’ for eating leavened bread during Passover week (Ex 12:15), that is exactly what Israel has done to Jesus and to His disciples: claim that we are no longer part of Israel. The priests were the only ones who could eat the leavened Shewbread (and there is no basis for the claims of some that that bread was unleavened; see also 1Sam 21:6; Mt 12:3-4), and there is no stipulation in the Law that the Shewbread was to be made differently during Passover. The tribe of Levi represented Israel, but were not reckoned in the census of Israel, for they belonged to YHVH God in a more personal and direct way. (Num 1:47-49; 2:33)
According to the New Testament, in the Letter to the Hebrews, the Law is necessarily changed because the priesthood has been changed. Among other changes are those concerning clean and unclean meats. According to the Law (Lev 11), to eat unclean food (not kosher) was an abomination, and made one abominable to YHVH, becoming unclean/defiled. Yet in the Gospels, and further brought out in Acts and the Epistles, we are told that Jesus made all foods clean (Mk 7:14-20): clean animal meat was already clean, needing no ‘cleansing or purifying’; therefore, it was the unclean food which He added to the liberty for the Jewish believer (and for the Gentile believers) to eat. What a social barrier Jesus broke down which put enmity between the Jew and non-Jew! The disciples of Jesus “turned the world upside down” — including the Jewish world!
3. The RCC was not a source of information; simply that in a historical article in the National Geographic on the split between the Western and Eastern churches, the RCC began to use unleavened wafers after centuries of leavened bread traditionally used by Christians. Besides that, God will even use unbelievers and apostates to unintentionally instruct us (although intentionally on God’s part): it was an unclean bird, the raven, that brought food to Elijah while he rested in the desert of Beer Sheva on his flight from Jezebel.
4. It is very interesting what you say about the wine: just as Jesus became sin on the cross for us, yet that sin was completely removed from Him as the darkness again became light, and He cried out victorious with a loud voice, “It is finished!” And the Lord will visibly return again a second time to those who eagerly wait for Him, apart from sin, for salvation. (Heb 9:28) From the human side, we leaven/ferment wine; it is made with leaven. We murdered the Righteous One, shedding innocent blood; it is God who removes our guilt and shame in His remarkable wisdom, again as a parable for us to learn from of His kingdom ways: there is power in the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The Lord has left us a witness that we must still admit that we have sin in us, and that we still sin, as we take the leavened bread in faith that Jesus’ death has ultimately removed sin from us completely, which will be realized only in the resurrection.
5. We are a first-fruits, not only of the grace of God making Jew and Gentile equal in His sight; but even more so as the making of the one loaf (1Cor 10:17), representing the one new man in Christ, the one Body of Messiah, the new priesthood, the Bride of the Lamb. Israel is never referred to as the Body of Messiah, nor is Yeshua ever called the King of the Church. He is the King of Israel, but the Head of the Church, which is His body — a far more vital union than merely being His ‘people’.
Thank-you, R, for prompting these stimulating thoughts and discussions with you. And I certainly look forward to being with you again.
All praise and glory to God, and to the Lamb upon the Throne!
Date: Wed, 04 Apr 2012 22:07:55 +0100
Subject: Re: Leavened vs Unleavened Bread for Communion
Dear Howard, Greetings in the lovely Name of the Lord! Thank you both for the speed and depth of your reply. I see where you are coming from but don’t accept your position. What is fantastic is that we both have that unity in Messiah; and although we may not agree each other’s positions, we can disagree without being disagreeable! I look upon it as iron sharpening iron. I’ve attached some notes I made about Passover recently and would be interested in your comments.
I asked K for his views on our discussion and will forward a copy to you as soon as I’ve sent this. May the Lord richly bless you in His land. Blessings, R
Sent: Monday, April 02, 2012 3:32 PM
Subject: Re: Leavened vs Unleavened Bread for Communion
It is true that one of the more minor issues dividing Rome from Greek Othodoxy is that Rome uses unleavened & Greece uses leavened bread in their masses. I do not know that from the Roman end it was due to a decree from theVatican, altho I do know that theVatican changed the decrees of the Council of Jerusalem to allow the eating of blood, whereas the Eastern Orthodox still keep that decree.
It is also true that artos (artoV) is the normal Gk word for bread. There is also a word, azymos (azumoV) which means unleavened. However I am not sure we should put too much weight on that. I think it unlikely that Jesus would have used leavened bread at Passover, indeed I would doubt it profoundly.
However I remember hearing from a Jewish believer that the Friday night kiddush with challa (which is of course leavened) bread and wine is regarded as a weekly mini-passover, just as the Lord’s Day is a weekly reminder of the resurrection. So they would be doing the mini-passover with leavened bread.
I can’t say that I would view the use of leavened bread as a liberation from the bondage of the Law. It seems to me legalistic to insist that we must eat leavened bread at the Lord’s Supper.
Far be it from me to enter into an argument with Howard. However I do feel “at home” with the use of matzah at communion & to me it eloquently speaks of the sinlessness of Jesus.
Hope that is enough to be going on with.
5 Apr 2012 11:41am
Thanks, R and K, for this worthwhile discussion. And to be sure, there is no legalism here: I will use whatever is given. I have met some who have refused to take communion over the choice of bread! The last time that happened in another setting, the love of God had them change the bread so that the brother and sister would participate. (Legalism is not gracious, from whichever side it comes.)
As I mentioned in the initial response, it is not the type that we focus on, but the substance, who is Christ. The symbols mainly help us see and tell the story of the glory of the Lord! It is not so much liberation from the bondage of the Law for me, but from the religion of rabbinic thought from which I came that conditions everyone to think ‘Jewishly’, just as Roman Catholics really think that all Christians need to return to their papal authority, despites its obvious fallibility. I say sometimes that I was born Jew-ish, and born-again a Jew!
Blessings to you all as you celebrate Jesus in His death and resurrection. The Living Bread of Life rose!
Your own comments do show that there is historic precedent for the leavened bread; and the Jewish witness on Friday nights is also something which I have paid attention to, looking to that day when their eyes will be open to see Who He Is of whom they celebrate each and every Sabbath evening!
As for “putting too much weight” on the inspired exactitude of Scriptural words for ‘leavened’ and ‘unleavened’: does not Paul do that when writing of “seed” and not “seeds” to prove that it is Messiah/Christ who is the intended Inheritor, through Whom all who believe in Him will inherit all that God has promised? Why do evangelicals emphasize ‘immersing’ rather than ‘sprinkling’ when we “baptize”? Would that be considered legalistic? Why do those who believe in God’s faithfulness to His covenants cut withIsraeland David insist that “Israel” meansIsrael, and not the Church? We interpret these things this way because we do believe that the Word of God means what He says, and He says what He means!
The Lord’s Supper now of the New Covenant brings our focus and attention on our Redeemer and Savior in His sacrificial death to die in our place for our transgressions and our iniquities. The perfect, sinless Creator came to us and identified Himself with us, taking on the likeness of sinful flesh – even to becoming sin for us on the cross, and an accursed scapegoat (as perhaps symbolized by the unleavened bread of affliction)! This great humiliation and affliction to bear our guilt (Is 53:10), which is His ‘greatest’ glory, is what we will forever remember. Perhaps in Melchizedek, and in the bread and wine which he served Abraham to celebrate the victory over his enemies with the help of God Most High, Yeshua referred to Abraham seeing His day, and rejoiced and was glad. (Jn 8:56)
The types and symbols of the bread and the wine are given to better see, but they are not the main thing, for theKingdomofGodis not food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. It is Messiah/Christ, who is the substance of these ‘visual aids’, whom we honor and worship. Yeshua/Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who manifested Himself as the meek and lowly Lamb of God who was slain (slaughtered), and rose from the dead, alive forevermore! Amazing love! How can it be?!
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the night in which He was betrayed, took bread (artos); and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner also the cup, after having supped, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me’. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you announce the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1Cor 11:23-26)
Enjoy celebrating the risen Lord in all His glory,