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The Search for Leaven
The Law of God
the traditions of man
For centuries, even millennia, most all of those who have thought to keep the Biblical requirement of putting away all leaven out of their houses in order to properly keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread have done so at the direction of the rabbis (men), rather than according to God's own decree. That is, the man-evolved tradition is for people to search their homes on the evening following the 13th of Abib (Nisan). This is the night part (the beginning) of the 14th, a full day before the night portion of the 15th, which is the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the traditional time for the eating of the Passover.
God's command is actually different than man's tradition, as we read in Exodus 12:15, to wit:
"Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses ..."
The word "even" as used in this verse does not mean evening – sundown (Strong's # 6153) – but, rather, "surely; hence (by limitation) only: – also, in any wise, at least, but, certainly, even, howbeit, nevertheless, notwithstanding, only, save, surely of a surety, truly, verily, + wherefore, yet (but)." Strong's # 389.
Other translations sustain this position.
"even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses." American Standard Version
"... on the very first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses." Darby's Translation
"Indeed, on the first day you shall cause leaven to cease from your houses." Green's Literal Translation
"... on the first day you shall put away leaven out of your houses." Revised Standard Version
"... only in the first day ye cause leaven to cease out of your houses" Young's Literal Translation
Surely there could be no condemnation of one making a preliminary search for leaven on the evening following the 13th of Abib, provided that one does not ignore the direct command to "put away leaven out of your houses" on "the first day" – the night following the 14th.
The following comparison should help clarify the matter. Remember, Biblically speaking a day begins with the going down of the sun (the night).
For those who understand that all of the typical provisions of the feasts were "shadows of things to come," these questions are asked:
What is the antitype of the search for leaven?
Did Christ do a search for leaven, in antitype, on the first day of the last Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread He kept?
As it is the spiritual aspects of the feasts and their ordinances that is of prime importance, let us review this aspect of "leaven." We know that, in the context of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, leaven is symbolical of something undesirable. Jesus defined leaven (in its negative aspect) as "the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" (Matthew 16:12); and "hypocrisy" (Luke 12:1). Paul defines it also as "malice and wickedness" (1 Corinthians 5:8). Did Jesus make a search for such things on the first day of "the Feast of Unleavened Bread . . ., which is called the Passover?" Luke 22:1. Yes. Or else said matter never received its antitypical fulfillment at His first coming.
It was the act of washing the disciples' feet, and the following departure of Judas which fulfilled the type of putting the leaven out of the house on the first day of the feast, and became a prototype of the same in the Christian era. Ellen White mentions a few of the leaven-like attributes that the disciples were carrying in the houses of their hearts (and, thus, in their literal houses) that needed to be removed before they were ready to keep the Passover. Please see the chapter of The Desire of Ages entitled, A Servant of Servants. You will see that the disciples were all puffed up (leavened) with false theories and thoughts of self-advancement.
As Judas was not able to separate himself from his puffed up ideas, he, himself, became the embodiment of the sins which leaven symbolized, and, therefore, had to be put out of the house "on the first day of the feast," which he was. Can you, brothers and sisters, honestly deny the validity of this. If so, what type was Jesus' footwashing fulfilling? Also, what cleansing of the houses did the search for leaven typify if it was not the cleansing of the hearts and the congregation?
This position is further strengthened by viewing the typical eating of unleavened bread in context with Paul's statement regarding a spiritual aspect of such. That is, he states that in keeping the feast (Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread) we should do so "with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." After Christ washed the disciples feet, all except Judas were as ready as they could be to keep the feast in "sincerity and truth." Though they were not aware of it, that self-examination they went through at the time of the footwashing actually prepared them to accept Christ's death.
Because of them seeing Jesus taking the lowly position of servant, while their hearts were puffed up with false ideas of kingly pomp and pride, and self advancement, the eleven were humbled in their ambitions. Therefore, they were prepared and enabled to examine their own preconceived ideas concerning the mission of Christ during the time of his sufferings, death, and time in the grave, and through His resurrection.
Judas, on the other hand, was so insulted by Jesus' humility, and so clung to his private opinions of what Christ should be and should do that he shortly thereafter murdered himself because he could not bear the thought that his opinion was wrong. He could not bear to see the results of his stubborn (puffed up, leavened) heart.
Also, the firstborn of apostate Israelites were cut off when they met with Judas on that Passover night and he told them where they could find Jesus. When they took actions on their evil plans, their fate was sealed. The same was true of Judas. His leavened heart was put out of the house on that night.
Therefore, a true antitypical search for leaven involves all that a proper footwashing on the 1st day of the feast embraces. While it would be a beneficial thing to clear all matters necessary on the night of the 13th (or even before that — on the 10th, the time for setting aside the Passover Lamb), the man-made custom does not displace the search on the 1st day (the night of the 15th). The unleavened bread of the feast is a symbol only. So the higher search and cleansing must be the point of focus.