Mystery of Mysteries
What Are the Two Loaves
Presented on Pentecost?
On the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot, or Pentecost, two
loaves of leavened bread are presented to the LORD
for the people of Israel. What do they represent?
Does the "leaven" represent "sin," and the two loaves
the Old and New Testament churches of God, as some
claim? Or is there an altogether different and much
more awesome meaning involved?
William F. Dankenbring
In the book of Leviticus we read of a mysterious ritual performed by the high priest on the high holy day of Pentecost. To properly understand this ritual, and its symbolism and meaning, we must go back and understand what led up to it -- for Pentecost is really the "eighth day" or completion of the Feast of the Passover, which begins in the spring of the year, with the sacrifice of the Passover lamb on Nisan 14, the Passover dinner of the roasted lamb on Nisan 15, which begins the "Feast of Unleavened Bread."
The Waving of the Omer
On the second day of the Feast, Nisan 16, the high priest was to "wave the sheaf [an omer of barley, about 5.1 pints, containing about 53,000 individual grains of barley] before the LORD to be accepted for you [the people of Israel as a nation]: on the morrow after the sabbath [Nisan 15, the first Holy Sabbath of Unleavened Bread] the priest shall wave it. And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD" (Lev.23:11-12).
Notice! This omer, or "wave sheaf" offering, was accompanied by the sacrifice of a lamb "without blemish." This lamb of course represented Christ, who died for our sins, giving Himself as a complete burnt offering to God. Therefore, this wave sheaf did not and could not have also represented Christ -- that would be repetitive and meaningless. The wave sheaf represented the "first fruits" of the spring harvest -- and God says that the Church is the "firstfruits" of the harvest of the world to the LORD (see James 1:18; Rev.14::1-4; 7:1-17; Rom.8:22-23). Notice that the general harvest cannot take place until after the "firstfruits" is harvested!
But God does not accept the wave sheaf offering unless it is accompanied by the sacrifice of a lamb without blemish -- symbolizing Christ the Lamb of God! Our acceptance by the Father is predicated on the works of Christ, who atoned for ours sins, thereby making us acceptable in the eyes of the Father! As Paul wrote, 'Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have ACCESS by faith into this grace wherein we now stand" (Rom.5:1-2).
The omer represents the "firstfruits" of the Church being accepted by the Father! This omer was waved before the Lord for 49 days -- 7 X 7 -- until "Pentecost," the final spring festival which completes the Passover Season. Even as the seven-day Festival of Tabernacles in the fall is completed by the Festival of "Shemini Atzaret" or "The Eighth Day," so the seven days of Passover and Unleavened Bread are completed by the "eighth day" of Pentecost!
In both cases, the number "eight" is very significant. "Eight" is the number of "new beginnings." The "eighth" day of the week, "Sunday," is the first day of the next week, following the last day -- or Sabbath -- of the preceding week. Thus it begins a new week. With the eight souls aboard the Ark in Noah's time, God Himself began a new world. Even so, Pentecost, the eighth day of Passover, both completes the picture of Passover, and itself constitutes a new beginning in God's Plan!
The Days of Unleavened Bread
To understand this picture, remember that God's Plan begins with Passover, the first holy day of the year. Passover represents our "sins" being "passed over" and forgiven, through the blood of Christ, our Passover (I Cor.5:7). It represents our coming out of this world, of sin, and following Christ. The seven days of unleavened bread picture eating the bread of "affliction," and suffering, humbling of our selves, and getting rid of every vestige of sin in our lives and keeping sin out of our lives. During this Feast, "leaven" pictures "sin" or that which "causes sin." As Paul said, "Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump" (I Cor.5:6-7). In this passage he is referring directly to the sin of the man who had sexual relations with his father's wife (v.1-2) and the church permitting him to continue fellowshipping, though he had not repented. This sort of thing could soon contaminate the entire church Paul warned, and the man had to be disciplined and put out until there were definite fruits of repentance.
"Leaven," in God's sight, also represents "false teachings," and false doctrines. Jesus Christ told the disciples, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" (Matt.16:6). At first the disciples thought He was warning them about literal bread (v.7), but when Jesus perceived their lack of understanding, He reproved them and said, "How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." Matthew then records, "Then understood they how that
he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, BUT OF THE DOCTRINE of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" (v.11-12). False teaching, or doctrine, that leads people into SIN in God's sight, is an evil form of spiritual LEAVEN!
Therefore, when we put out "leaven" during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we are also to put out every form of false and sinful TEACHING and false DOCTRINE that leads people to stumble, disobey God's Law in its fullness, and which therefore renders them contaminated, filthy, and unworthy and unsuitable for the Kingdom of God!
Old Testament Type of Baptism and Trials
But now notice. The final day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the seventh day, is the day when Israel passed through the Red Sea, according to Jewish tradition -- the day, in other words, when they finally completely "came out of Egypt." As long as they were still in the Sinai peninsula, they were still in Egyptian occupied territory. But when they crossed the Red Sea into Arabia, they left Egypt behind them! This took a mighty miracle of God, for their deliverance to be complete. It began at Passover, and continued through the miracle of the Red Sea.
Paul tells us this crossing was a type of our Christian baptism, and our coming completely out of "sin" by being baptized! He writes, "Moreover, brethren . . . all our fathers were under the cloud [of God's protection], and all passed through the SEA; and were ALL BAPTIZED unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat [food]; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ" (I Cor.10:1-4).
This, however, was when their trials began in earnest. After this great deliverance from Egypt, a type of "sin," they now found themselves in a desert, a wilderness, and in a place where the water was bitter and undrinkable (Exo.15:22-27), and God began "testing" them. A month after Passover, they again murmured and complained against Moses and Aaron, saying they brought them into the wilderness to kill them with hunger (Exo.16:1-3). They had no faith in God. But God then gave them "manna from heaven" to satisfy their needs for food (all of Exodus 16).
They later rebelled again at Massah and Meribah, "contention and strife," because there was no water (Exo.17:1-7). Soon after this incident, they were attacked by the Amalekites in the desert, a bloodthirsty Turkish tribe, and had to fight against them (Ex.17:8-16).
All these trials and tests symbolized the many trials and tests that come in the lives of true Christians who are called of God, and strive to obey Him in this wicked world, filled with temptations, strife, problems, crises, and hard times. But these things are for our spiritual good. God said to Israel, and this applies to us as well, in spiritual anti-type:
"And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these
forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was
in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
"And he HUMBLED THEE, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna
. . . that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by
EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDETH OUT OF THE MOUTH OF THE LORD
DOTH MAN LIVE" (Deut.8:2-3).
Going through all these trials brought the people of Israel to the Mountain of God, or Mount Sinai, in the third month, Sivan, on the first day of the month (Exodus 19:1). "On the third new moon [first day of Sivan] after the Israelites had gone forth from the land of Egypt, on that very day, they entered the wilderness of Sinai" (Ex.19:1, Tanakh). They encamped before the Mountain. On the next day Moses went up to meet with God (v.3). On Sivan 3, Moses relayed God's words and message to the Israelites (v.7), and the people agreed to obey God. On Sivan 4, Moses went back up to relay the people's acceptance to God (v.7-8).
The Wedding at Mount Sinai
Then God said to Moses, "Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, and BE READY against the THIRD DAY: for the THIRD DAY the LORD will COME DOWN IN THE SIGHT OF ALL THE PEOPLE upon Mount Sinai" (Exo.19:10-11).
Now remember, this was all a TYPE, written down for OUR admonition and instruction, Rom.15:4; I Cor.10:11). This "march through the wilderness" was a TYPE of the Christian life! This journey brought ancient Israel face-to-face with GOD. On Sivan 4, then, He told Israel to get ready for the third day. He came down on the Mountain top on the third day -- wo we count from Sivan 4, 5, and then come to Sivan 6 -- the day He would come down! This was exactly 50 days from Nisan 16 -- the day of the wave sheaf offering -- 49 days plus 1, or 7 X 7 days (they were to count seven full weeks), and then the 50th day, which was Pentecost, or Shavuot!
"And it came to pass on the THIRD DAY in the morning, that there were thunders
and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet
exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. . . .
"And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon
it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole
mountain quaked greatly. . . . And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the
top of the mount . . ." (Exo.19:16-20).
This was a very important event. What happened on this Day? On this Day God gave Israel His LAW, His Torah (Exodus 20-23). He took "Israel" as His "bride" -- the Old Covenant was a MARRIAGE contract (Jer.3:1-6, 14). God made His "vows," to protect, safeguard, prosper, and bless His "bride," if they obeyed His voice; and they said, in effect, "I do" (Exo.19:4-6; 24:7-8).
After this "wedding" ceremony, a wedding "Feast" was held:
"Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders
of Israel [the number "70" is a type and represents the "70" nations of mankind,
ultimately]: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were
a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clear-
ness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they
SAW GOD, and did EAT AND DRINK" (Exodus 24:9-11).
This awesome event was, therefore, a tremendous picture of the Christian life of baptism, overcoming, coming out of sin, and enduring to the end, till we meet Christ at His return from heaven. We won't meet Him at Mount Sinai, of course, but our destination is an entirely different mountain -- Mount Zion, and the Kingdom of God!
The Mountain of God
As Christians, of course, we don't come to Mount Sinai. Our "wilderness trek" through this world and its scorpions, snakes, temptations, and desert-like conditions, brings us to an altogether different "mountain" -- the holy mountain of the "Mountain of God" -- the KINGDOM OF GOD! As Paul wrote:
"For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with
fire, nor unto blackness and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet,
and the voice of words . . . But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of
the living God, the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM . . . To the general
CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge
of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect' (Hebrews 12:18-23).
Our spiritual trek and Odyssey through life brings us to the Kingdom of God! The Old Testament wedding of Israel to God at Mount Sinai was a TYPE of the SECOND COMING OF CHRIST THE MESSIAH -- YESHUA HA-MOSHIACH when He is going to "marry" His Bride, the Church!
When we were called of God, we were given the terms and conditions of the New Covenant, to marry Christ as our Husband, and serve and obey Him. We accepted that New Covenant and betrothal at our Baptism. Now we are in the process of purifying ourselves, and overcoming sin, temptation and this world, while we are waiting for our Groom, Christ, to return from heaven and take us as His bride!
This story is all depicted in the amazing book of Song of Solomon. The "Groom" in this story pictures Christ the Messiah; the virgin daughter who longs and pines away for him, and misses him dearly, pictures the Church, the Bride of Christ! Notice how the bride longs for her missing husband:
"By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I
found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the
broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found
him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw
ye him whom my soul loveth? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I
found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until
I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that con-
ceived me" (Song of Solomon 3:1-4).
In a similar passage we read of the troubles and trials the bride suffers, as she awaits the return of her Husband, and His Coming:
"I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my
fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. I opened to
my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul
failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but
he gave me no answer. The watchmen that went about the city found me, they
smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from
me" (Song of Solomon 5:5-7).
Who are the "watchmen" that abuse and mistreat the virgin bride of Christ, those who are part of the true Church? The word has a duality in meaning: it can refer to civic leaders and government officials who persecute the woman; but it is also a term used of ministers of God, "watchmen," who are appointed to warn the people of danger and to protect them (Ezek.3:17; 33:1-6, 7). Unfortunately, God warns that many of His "shepherds" in the last days are no-account, worthless, and fraudulent misfits in the ministry, who will be held accountable by Him for mistreating, abusing, and cruelly ruling over His flock (Ezek.34:1-5), and scattering them to the winds, and He will judge the flock itself, and the headstrong sheep and butting rams, and between the "fat" and the "lean" (Ezek.34:10-23).
As members of the spiritual Church of God, we must undergo many trials and troubles and tests before we can qualify and enter the kingdom of God! Many will seek to enter in, and will not be able. They won't endure, they won't be willing to give up all to follow Christ, they seek comfort and security and the friendship of other people and groups of people, rather than the return of the True Shepherd from Heaven, the One who ought to be the "One True Love" of our life, as our Husband, Christ!
The Exciting Anticipation of the Coming of Christ
When Christ returns, we will meet Him when He descends from heaven, in the air (I Thess.4:14-17). He will then come down to this earth, bringing us with Him and millions of angels (Rev.19:11-14). He will descend to the Mount of Olives, the very mountain from which He arose into heaven in 30 A.D. (Acts 1:4-12; Zech.14:4).
When He comes, Paul writes, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruption must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (I Cor.15:52-53).
As the Church of God, we have been preparing, waiting, longing for the return of our espoused divine "Husband." We were each betrothed to Him, when we were baptized, and received the Holy Spirit, as a Present at our betrothal. That Spirit is preparing us, shaping us, forming us into His very character and spiritual likeness (Gal.4:19; Rom.13:14; II Pet.1:4; I John 3:2-3). We are being purified, purged, cleansed, washed "with water by the word, that he might present it to himself, a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be HOLY and without blemish" -- like He is, a
perfect Bride for a perfect Groom! (Eph.5:24-27).
Christ proved His love for His Church so much that He willingly died, gave His life, that He might "rescue this damsel in distress" and make her His own! How much do we love Him, our Master, our Lord, our Ishi -- that is, "Husband" in the Hebrew language -- our "Man"! Adam was called "man," or Ish, and since Eve was brought forth from Adam, he named her Isha, or "woman" (Gen.2:23, marginal reading). The term Ishi literally means "My husband"!
When we became Christians, at baptism, and when we received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 5:32), we became betrothed to Christ. In the custom of the Jewish people, as with Anglo-Saxon and Israelitish people, normally, there is first betrothal, and then the wedding, several weeks, months, or years later.
The Bridal Custom of the Jews
In the ancient custom of the Jews, the groom would leave after the betrothal, and prepare a house or home for his bride and not return to get her, and complete the wedding, until it was finished! The groom might be anxious to see it finished, and be in such a rush to "get married," that he might be tempted to rush the construction, and take a few "short cuts." Therefore, it was the Father of the groom who would supervise the construction and give the final "OK" as to when the house was finished -- that is, the Father would set the "wedding date" -- the date of the wedding would be his final decision to make!
This is undoubtedly related to the reason Christ said of His second coming for His Bride, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matt.24:36). "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, nor the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father" (Mark 13:32).
The Greatest Wedding of All Time
When Christ returns to this earth, however, the final wedding will take place! We read of that stupendous, marvelous, exciting event:
"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for THE MARRIAGE
OF THE LAMB IS COME, AND HIS WIFE HATH MADE HERSELF
READY. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen,
clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith
unto me, Write, BLESSED are they which are called unto the MARRIAGE
SUPPER OF THE LAMB" (Rev.19:7-9).
Let's get the picture, then. In this scenario, Passover pictures the beginning of the Christian life; the last day of Unleavened Bread, when Israel went through the Red Sea, pictures the time of baptism and really coming "out of this world" and being separated and sanctified unto God and Christ, our "betrothal"; the passage through the wilderness pictures the Christian life of trials, tests, and overcoming and developing godly, righteous spiritual character, while the Groom is departed and waiting in Heaven, building our "Mansion" and our positions and "rooms" or "abodes" in the New Jerusalem. Jesus said,
"Let not your hearts be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my
Father's HOUSE are many MANSIONS [Greek, mole, meaning "residence, staying
place, mansion, abode, dwelling place"]: if it were not so, I would have told you. I
go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:1-2).
So Christ went to heaven, where He is in charge of preparing our abodes and rooms in the Heavenly Jerusalem -- our places in His Kingdom! He went on:
"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN, and receive you
unto myself; that where I am, ye may be also" (v.3).
Where will our abode be, our position, our residence, as it were, as the "firstfruits" of God's Kingdom? John describes our future in Revelation, the future of the Bride of Christ:
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth
were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw THE HOLY CITY,
NEW JERUSALEM, COMING DOWN FROM GOD out of heaven, PREPARED
AS A BRIDE adorned for her husband" (Rev.21:1-2).
The TWO LOAVES of Pentecost!
After the Israelites were "counting the omer" for 49 days, from the day after Passover till Pentecost -- that is, from Nisan 16 through Sivan 5 -- on the 50th day, called the "Feast of Firstfruits," "Feast of Weeks," Shavuot, or "Pentecost," the high priest performed an unusual, once-only ceremony. The real significance of this ceremony has never been understood. Or, it has been completely misunderstood!
We read in Leviticus 23, in the Jewish Tanakh (Old Testament):
"And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering -- the day
after the sabbath -- you shall count off seven weeks [count each day as it passes,
as, "Day 1 of the omer," "Day 2 of the omer," "Day 3 of the omer," etc.]. They
must be complete [complete weeks, not partial weeks]: you must count until the
day after the seventh week -- fifty days; then you are to bring an offering of NEW
GRAIN to the LORD. You shall bring from your settlements TWO LOAVES OF BREAD AS AN ELEVATION OFFERING [wave offering]; each shall be made
of two tenths of a measure of CHOICE FLOUR, BAKED AFTER LEAVENING,
AS FIRST FRUITS to the LORD" (Lev.23:15-17).
These two loaves are leavened bread. They are "the bread of the first-fruits" (Lev.23:20). They "shall be HOLY to the LORD, for the priest" (same verse).
Now it is commonly interpreted by some that these two loaves represent the church of God, Old and New Testament churches, and that the leavening in them represents "SIN." But is this the real explanation of this "leavened bread"? Does leaven ALWAYS represent "sin" in the Scriptures?
The answer to that question is a resounding NO, absolutely not! There are, bakers will tell you, two different kinds of "leaven" -- good leaven, and bad leaven. Jesus alluded to the good type of leaven in His parable about the woman who put leaven in her dough, until the whole batch was leavened. He said:
"The kingdom of heaven is LIKE UNTO LEAVEN, which a woman took, and
hid in three measures of meal, TILL THE WHOLE WAS LEAVENED" (Matt.
"Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? IT IS LIKE LEAVEN, which
a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the WHOLE WAS
LEAVENED" (Luke 13:20-21).
Notice! Leaven is compared to the Holy Spirit, which is put within God's people, and changes their corrupt human nature into the wonderful, holy, righteous nature of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God -- the nature of God (II Pet.1:4). God's Spirit works within us like leaven, but it turns and changes our nature and character into that which is good, sweet-smelling, and wonderful in God's sight! It is compared to leaven which is put into flour dough, and which changes that dough, causing it to rise up, and when it is formed into loaves of bread and baked, the delicious aroma wafts throughout the kitchen or house, and it is a fortunate woman who can keep the hordes of hungry hands and salivating mouths away from that newly fresh-baked bread!
The Amazing Truth about "Leaven"
Bakers will tell you that spores of living plants called yeast fill the air, and are a natural leavening agent. There are thousands of kinds of yeast, and it is referred to as "wild yeast." If it gets into your flour dough, then the product will be ruined -- unfit for human consumption. It causes the flavor to be bad, and ruins the final bread.
But, on the other hand, carefully cultivated baker's yeast, which has been nurtured and protected from infection by wild strains, is used by bakers to bake the wonderful, delicious, good bread that they sell. They protect their good baker's yeast very carefully, so it doesn't become contaminated and spoiled. Says A Treatise on Baking:
"One of the greatest treasures possessed by the yeast manufacturer of today
is his choice strain of seed yeast, particularly selected and cultivated in order
to develop hardiness and uniformity. . .
"This seed yeast is placed in a carefully prepared food which is in the form of
a rich extract, made from raw materials of the highest quality, just as seed corn
is planted in fertile soil. The quality and strength of yeast depends primarily on
its culture" (p.45).
The yeast must be carefully cared for, protected and nurtured, with absolute cleanliness and uniform temperature control to prevent "the invasion of wild and undesirable yeasts and bacteria."
The seed yeast multiplies by a process known as "budding," which takes place very rapidly under proper conditions. In each yeast factory, countless millions of yeast plants are grown every hour. Each crop is separated, cooled, filtered, pressed, cut, wrapped, refrigerated, and marketed. "The modern yeast manufacturer exercises extreme care to avoid the invasion of foreign organisms in bakers' yeast for he realizes that purity of yeast is a factor of utmost importance to the baker" (p.48). Yeast is judged by its hardiness, consistency and feel, taste and odor, and its appearance.
Yeast is a living organism, and its enzymes must be working and active to bring about the change in dough that causes fermentation. Yeast contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats, mineral matter, enzymes, vitamins, and moisture, in the form of "hundreds of complex compounds, formed in the yeast plants during their development and growth by the mysterious workings of nature." Yeast contains vitamins B and G, essential food factors without which the human body could not live. Yeast is one of the richest sources of these vital food factors.
What does yeast do in dough? "Yeast raises and conditions the dough batch, or in other words converts the inert, heavy mass of dough into a light, porous, elastic product which, when baked, is appetizing, easily digestible and nutritious. Yeast itself also adds definite food value to the loaf. Without yeast, bread and other yeast-raised products as we know them today would not be possible. Planary fermentation brought about by the action of the yeast represents the LIFE PROCESS OF THE DOUGH, and upon this the creation of bread depends. Because of its fundamental and indispensable function in the production of leavened bread, yeast has been rightly termed the Soul of Bread" (A Treatise on Baking, p.51).
It should be obvious, then, that there is both good and bad "yeast" or "leaven." During the Feast of Unleavened Bread we are to only eat unleavened or "bread of affliction." The yeast of Egypt, also, we could conclude, symbolizes the "wild yeast" of this world, that floats in the air, invisible, but harmful and deleterious.
God, of course, abhors and hates sin. Wisdom personified says, "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate" (Prov.8:13). Because of rampant sin and wild behavior, God destroyed the world before the flood (Gen.6-7). The apostle Paul wrote, "The wages of sin is DEATH" (Rom.6:23). Jesus Christ warned that unless we repent of sin, and stop sinning, we will "perish" (Luke 13:1-5). We are to put out of our lives the wild yeast, and wicked influences of this world, Satan the devil, and our human nature.
"I am the Bread of Life"
However, God does not condemn yeast itself, at all. Throughout the year, we eat leavened bread, and enjoy it. Christ said, "I am the BREAD OF LIFE" (John 6:35, 48). He is the "bread that came down from heaven" (John 6:32-33, 50-51). The Greek word for "bread" here is artos and is used for a raised loaf of leavened bread --normal, natural, regular BREAD! When the Scriptures speak of unleavened bread, the Greek word used is azumos. It means "unleavened."
Christ is the ARTOS -- THE RAISED, LEAVENED, PERFECT BREAD THAT BRINGS ETERNAL LIFE! He compares Himself to a delicious loaf of raised leavened Bread!
Interestingly, the apostle Paul says that the Church of God is "the body of Christ." Paul writes, "For we being MANY are ONE BREAD, AND ONE BODY: for we are all partakers of that ONE BREAD" (I Cor.10:17). He added, "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?" (I Cor.6:15). Notice! We, the Church of God, are called "ONE BREAD"! And, Christ Himself is called, in Scripture, "THE BREAD OF LIFE"!
Paul added, "For by one Spirit are we baptized into ONE BODY, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free;
and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For THE BODY is not one member, but many" (I Cor.12:13-14). He goes on, "Now ye are the BODY OF CHRIST, and members in particular" (v.27).
We are therefore one body, and partake of one bread, and so we are in God's sight like a beautiful Loaf of BREAD. Christ, also, is a Perfect, beautiful Loaf of BREAD. Do you see? This pictures the Groom, Christ, and the Bride, His Church! Each of us is compared to a LOAF OF BREAD!
Now we should begin to see the real, true symbolism of the TWO LOAVES OF LEAVENED BREAD presented before God the Father on Pentecost, the Day of the Wedding of the Church and Christ! At the end of our Christian lives, when Christ returns, we will be glorified and changed into His spiritual likeness (Phil.3:21) with glorious spiritual bodies. Pentecost pictures the wedding of Christ and the Church. The Two Loaves "are the firstfruits unto the LORD" (Lev.23:17). The "bread of the firstfruits" is a "wave offering before the LORD," God the Father (Lev.23:20).
Now we have already seen that we, the Church, is the "firstfruits" to God. But Christ also is "become the FIRSTFRUITS of them that slept" (I Cor.15:20). Paul speaks of "Christ THE FIRSTFRUITS" (v.23). The Greek literally means "Firstfruit." Christ is the "first" of the "firstfruits."
Therefore, now we can put together the picture and solve the puzzle and mystery of the "Two Leavened Loaves" of Bread presented and waved before the Father on Pentecost! The one loaf represents Christ in His fullness -- the Perfect "Bread of LIFE." The other loaf represents the Church of God, -- the Bride of Christ -- brought to perfection through trial and testing!
The first Loaf represents the Groom, on this "wedding day." The second Loaf represents the "Bride," at this wedding ceremony, which takes place when Christ returns!
The leaven which causes these loaves to reach their fullness of perfection is the Holy Spirit of God within them, the Spirit of grace, supplication, love and power (II Tim.1:6-7; Heb.10:29; Eph.6:18). God's Spirit works like leaven within us to change us into the image of God in character and true holiness!
Therefore, the mystery is solved! The two loaves of "challah" or fellowship bread, presented before the LORD on Pentecost, represent the Bride and Groom, Jesus Christ and the Bride, the Church of God! In modern weddings in the western world, it is traditional to have "wedding cake." On it often are two cute little figures, of a bride and groom. The cake symbolizes their union, their oneness, their "unity." Similarly, the two loaves of bread presented before the LORD as the central event on the day of Pentecost, around which everything else revolves and on which every thing else depends, represent Christ and the Church, the Bride and Groom, at their wedding, which in
symbolism is pictured by Pentecost -- the high holy day called "The Feast of Firstfruits." The Feast of Pentecost itself pictures beautifully Christ, the first of the firstfruits, and the Church, the Bride, which constitutes the balance of the "first-fruits"!
The Story of Ruth
It is very interesting -- and significant -- that on Pentecost each year, the Jewish people read the book of Ruth, in the Old Testament. The book of Ruth, of course, is a "love story."
Ruth is a hapless Moabitess who marries a Jewish man who emigrates to Moab with his father, mother, and brother, during a terrible famine. The father dies, and the two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, marry Moabitish women, Ruth and Orpah. They lived in Moab about ten years, and the two men die, leaving their wives as widows. Ruth's mother-in-law, Naomi, receives news that the famine in Israel is over, so she decides to return to her own people. Ruth loves her mother-in-law deeply and refuses to leave her when she returns to Israel. Naomi cautions her that life will be tough, that she has no more sons for Ruth to marry, and that she will not likely find a mate in Israel (Ruth 12:11-13). Ruth's response reaches the depths of true conversion. She says:
"Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou
goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people,
and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD
do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me" (Ruth 1:16-17).
As the story unfolds, Ruth gleans in the fields of Boaz, a mighty man of wealth. He sees her, knows she has an excellent reputation, as a faithful and loving daughter to Naomi, and promises that so long as she gleans in his fields he will protect her. He later took her to be his wife. Boaz was a very wealthy and righteous man who was much older than Ruth. Boaz, whose name means "Strength," according to the Septuagint, and also means "swiftness," in the Hebrew, is clearly a type of Christ, and Ruth is a type of the Church! According to the Targum, Boaz was "Absan the judge; he is Boaz the Just, on account of whose righteousness the people of the house of Israel were redeemed from the hand of their enemies; and at whose supplication the famine departed from the land of Israel."
It is fitting, therefore, for the story of Ruth to be read at the Feast of Pentecost, which pictures the Wedding of Christ and the Church! Ruth prepared herself. She was ready. But what about us? Are we getting ready, preparing for the Great Wedding Day that is coming soon?
"Behold, the Bridegroom cometh!" (Matt.25:6).