It took 10 long plagues to convince the Egyptians to stop abusing God’s people, but in an instant, in the middle of the night, suddenly there was no more doubt. Before the sun could even rise on the body of his firstborn son, Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and spoke the words they had been asking him to speak all this time: “Go, serve the Lord as you have said.” The rest of the Egyptians knocked on their neighbors' doors, still stained by blood, begging them to leave quickly, because if they waited even a few moments later the Egyptians were convinced they would all be dead. The Israelites obeyed this last order from their slave drivers and left before they even had time to leaven their dough (Exodus 12:33-34).
This great day of freedom would be remembered by generation after generation of God’s people by a Passover meal free of all leaven, for they left with “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” (Exodus 12:39).
Later, the unleavened bread would symbolize more than just the haste with which they left Egypt, but also the sin they left behind. 1 Corinthians 5:8 says, “Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” God freed His people not only to find freedom from slavery and tyranny, but freedom from the wickedness of Egyptian society as well. God freed them to become a unique community, set apart from the rest of the world.
When the Israelites they left quickly, with no time to bring any of the old vestiges of their time in Egypt. God was going to restore them to be a holy people and that required them to shed the traditions the Egyptians had given them. When we follow Jesus, we should look to the exodus and learn from this example. God is ready to free us to live a new life, but we should leave the old behind with haste, so quickly that we don’t have time to pack and take the leaven of sin with us.