Two Loaves, Two Families, Two Commandments, One Admonition and a
Whole Lot of Yeast!
It’s Shavuot! The pivotal Feast in YHWH”S feast cycle. Why pivotal? As we look to the menorah to gain a visual on this feast, this feast is represented by the center branch. It is the central feast of the seven. As such, it is the fulcrum, the branch that supports all the other branches. Without it, no menorah. Without this Feast the previous three and subsequent three feasts would have no meaning. This central branch represents Ruach YHWH, the Spirit of God, without Him, we do not exist. Without this central branch all the other Spirits of Adonai have no significance. The Spirit of wisdom (Chokmah), of understanding (Binah), of Counsel (Etzah), Power (Gvurah), Knowledge (Daat), and of reverence (Yirat), would be meaningless. YHWH Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things (Acts 17:23). It is by His spirit that He contends with man, sustains man, and gives us His feasts. It is a sacred, set apart time, this, His Feast of Weeks or Shavuot. This is the central Holy Day in our Feast Season as declared by the Almighty.
Why this emphasis on this feast holding central position in Yah’s feast cycle? As we progress from one feast to another and work our way through the yearly cycle as directed by our great Elohim, there is are ultimately two eternal truths that sustain our journey, not only in the feast cycle but also in our daily lives; His Commands and His Spirit. Both of those are memorialized on this feast, the giving of the Law on Sinai and the giving of The Spirit in Jerusalem. These two events also capture the redemptive work of our great Elohim. At Sinai 3000 of our forefathers perished due to their rebellion against The Almighty and in Jerusalem, 3000 were added to the congregation upon the giving of the Ruach.
Shavuot is the second of the three pilgrimage feasts: Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot. These pilgrimage feasts build community as men travelled to Jerusalem to observe them.
One of the names for Shavuot is atzeret shel pesach or conclusion of Passover. At face value this seems like an oxymoron. How can a feast that calls for the preparation of two loaves of bread baked with yeast conclude a feast that calls for the complete removal of all yeast from our homes? That seems illogical. Yet here again, we see the redemptive work of our great Elohim.
Yeast symbolizes sin. We are commanded to remove sin from our lives and to be Holy as our Elohim is holy. At the beginning of the biblical year we are commanded to start fresh and as a reminder to live a clean life in the coming year, we are commanded to have no yeast found within our borders. This ushers in the week of unleavened bread. As we observe Peseach and understand that our messiah is represented in the Passover lamb, one without blemish, we begin to see the view of our redemption come into focus. Then during the week of hag hamatzot, we observe the feast of Yom ha Bikkurim, the feast of the wave sheath, or the day of First fruits. Here the view of our redemption becomes clearer as we see our sinless, unblemished Messiah, sacrificed, buried, and now resurrected! He ascends and presents Himself to the Father as the perfect offering and the first fruits of those redeemed from the dead. Our sinless Messiah is appropriately represented in this observance of yom ha bikkuim during the feast of unleavened bread. Now for the rest of the story and the conclusion of the matter.
From here we are commanded to count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord. 17 You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the Lord. 20 The priest shall then wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering with two lambs before the Lord; they are to be holy to the Lord for the priest. 21 On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations. (Leviticus 23)
So now we are commanded to bake bread with leaven, this being the only time leaven is allowed in an offering. Why now? Why for this feast, the concluding feast of Peasach? For starters, these are not small loaves.
An Ephah = 10 omers = 5.9 galons or 22 liters. An omer therefore is one-tenth ephah or 2.2 liters. Accordingly, two-tenths of an ephah = 2 omers = 2.2 liters, or 4.6 quarts. 1 quart = 4 cups, 4.6 quarts = 18 cups = roughly 9.3 pounds per loaf!
As in anything our Great God does, this is a pictorial representation of His redemptive work among His people. He promised Father Abraham innumerable descendants. As plenteous as the stars in the sky, the fish in the sea, and the grains of sand on the sea shore. These loaves represent His people. We are “yeasty,” yet redeemed by His great outstretched arm. And two loaves to represent a number of truths.
Our father has two families as noted in Jeremiah 33:24, they are further identified as the house of Israel and the House of Judah in Jeremiah 31:31.
It’s interesting to note that in Hosea the house of Israel, also known as Ephraim, is identified as a cake. Cakes have yeast. The prophet noted that Ephraim mixes himself with the nations; Ephraim has become a cake not turned. (Hosea 7:8). I think our term is a cake half baked. It means Ephraim is not right in the head, and how well we know this!
So, is it possible that the primary meaning of these two loaves rests in the fact that they represent a sinful, fallen, and rebellious people who have been redeemed and restored to the glory their Father desires for them, through the redemptive work of their spotless Lamb of God, Y’shua Messiah? This is the story of Unleavened Bread, Yom ha Bikkuirm and Shavuot. What a glorious story it is! These loaves represent our two freedoms, on Passover we celebrate physical freedom and on Shavuot, spiritual freedom. Both freedoms birthed and rooted in Yahweh.
But there’s more in this festival of twos!
The number 2 represents union and division. (Like the word cleave which can be used to represent two opposite conditions).
In terms of union, Y’shua sent His disciples out two by two, a union of minds and purpose. In marriage, two become one flesh. In terms of division: “a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1.8). “No one can serve two masters” (Mat 6.24).
Man has two natures, one in conflict with the other (Rom 7.14-25). For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
Two writings of Yah. First on tablets of stone (notice there were two of them) and then on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31). This indeed is the New Covenant as it reads: “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart, I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
As a prophetic picture of the separation that would come to the united house of Israel, Jacob divided his family into two companies, camps, bands when travelling to meet Esau. (Gen 32).
Think of the following in sets of two: the kindness and severity of God (Rom 11:22). Two sinful sisters (Eze 23), two branches (Rom 11), two sticks (Eze 37) two witnesses (Rev 11). Two visitations of Messiah. Two fires on two different mountains (Mount Sinai & Mount Zion) The sight of the glory of The LORD was like a consuming fire on top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel (Ex24:17). When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. (Acts 2:1-3).
These two loaves serve as a As a summarization of the law and prophets as we read in Matthew 22:36-40, a lawyer, asked Him (Y’shua) a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
And it is upon this summarization that the greatest admonition, the greatest command rests if you will. Love. Because we are yeasty, living in a yeast borne environment, we, I, do not know how to love. Yet praise our great Elohim that He, through His Messiah, has shown us what it means to love. It is written: in 1 Cor 13, Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly (does not dishonor others); it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not keep a record of wrongs, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.