The Bread of Affliction

3You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life. Deuteronomy 16:3

33And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.” 34So the people took their dough before it was leavened, having their kneading bowls bound up in their clothes on their shoulders. 39And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared provisions for themselves. Exodus 12:33-34,39

The Bread of Affliction

The unleavened bread is called the bread of affliction in the Old Testament. This is the very bread that Jesus had in His hands when He said, “This is My body which is given for you ….”(Luke 22:19) It was called the bread of affliction because the Hebrews came out of Egypt in haste. Making such an abrupt change was affliction to their souls. Imagine having to pickup and leave town for good, in just a few days. Making this sudden change would be quite disruptive and uncomfortable. This would certainly be affliction to one’s soul.

The Hebrew’s coming out of Egypt is a picture of the Christians coming out of their sin. Coming out of sin is also an affliction to our souls. Making a change in one’s lifestyle is disruptive and uncomfortable because people are used to doing things a certain way. Initially, there is often some pain to being delivered from sin. Although deliverance from sin almost always involves some initial pain, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. The delivered believer is glad he suffered through the initial pain to get to a higher level of living.

I can remember when I gave up my TV addiction. I knew that I was a free person because of Jesus’ death. I knew that I did not have to live my life tethered to the TV set. But when I canceled my cable subscription (which also included regular network programming in our neighborhood), I went through a few weeks of periodic affliction and pain. I would go to the TV and turn it on, knowing that it didn’t work. But, the habit of going to it for comfort was compelling. Taking the TV habit out of my life left a hole in my soul. That TV was part of my life. Making this abrupt change was initially affliction to my soul.

After a few weeks or a month, I was already filling the hole with something else. The Holy Spirit was using me to write the first part of this book. Imagine, I could have logged several hundred hours on the TV and had nothing to show for it. Instead, I have an important word written on the bread of the Lord’s Supper. I don’t need to tell you how glad I am that I weathered the initial affliction and pain.

It should be noted that the bread of affliction is not just referring to the affliction that Jesus suffered for us. This affliction is something that we share with Jesus; i.e., we share in His sufferings. This is different from the situation with the Passover lamb.

The Passover lamb was slain for the Hebrews. This is a picture of the truth of substitution, where Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. Here, the Passover lamb suffered all the pain. The Hebrews didn’t have to suffer death. The lamb suffered for them.

With the bread of affliction, on the other hand, the Hebrews were the ones eating the bread to commemorate the pain that they suffered by coming out of Egypt in haste. This is a picture of the New Testament truth where a believer has been crucified with Christ and therefore has to endure the pain of coming out of sin and selfishness.

We should also make the distinction between the bitter herbs eaten with the Passover lamb and the bread of affliction. The bitter herbs were eaten so that the Hebrews would remember the bitter bondage of living in Egypt under Pharaoh. On the other hand, they ate the unleavened bread (bread of affliction) to remember the pain of leaving Egypt in haste.

The chastisement of the Lord also relates to the bread of affliction or the bread of the Lord’s Supper.

5And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

7If] you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:5-11

Notice in the above scripture that Sonship requires chastisement (Hebrews 12:8). If a person sins, even willfully sins, and does not get chastised by the Lord, this might be a sign that that person is not a son and is not saved.

Jesus died to set us free from every sin problem we have. Therefore we are entitled to as much deliverance as we truly want. Nobody on the earth today genuinely wants to be delivered from every sin that they have. Everyone has at least some well hidden sins that they and most others cannot see. Everyone has some areas of weakness that they just don’t see as sin.

Thus, God must chastise His sons and daughters in order to get their attention and to give them a “want to” in certain areas of sin.

I personally was tolerating too much of a fascination for spectator sports, i.e., NBA basketball, NFL football, Major league baseball, etc. Although, it was becoming idolatry, I just didn’t see it as a problem.

Nevertheless, God had a different perspective. Through some rather severe chastisement, I finally developed a “want to” or desire to rid myself from all of these distractions and affections. I had to eat the bread of affliction and make some hard choices. Now, in hindsight, I’m glad that I did. With this idolatry out of my life, things are going better for me and I’m getting more done. I’m experiencing the “….peaceful fruit of righteousness….”(Hebrews 12:11)

Again, we see the familiar pattern. Embrace and be trained by the chastening of the Lord, and then experience the peaceful fruit of righteousness. The goal of dying to self is right living or practical righteousness.

Some would say that God doesn’t use circumstances and events to chastise us, He only uses His word to correct us. But, how many kids have you raised that always respond to reason and words? How many two and three year olds do you know who always respond to logic and reason? All children need chastisement, and this includes God’s children. Loving and responsible parents are diligent to spank their kids when necessary. How much more so is this true of our heavenly Father?