And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. Exodus 12:11-14
Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. 1 Corinthians 5:7
This Friday, at sunset, begins passover. It is known as פֶּסַח pesach, which comes from “pretermission, that is, exemption; used. . .of the Jewish Passover (the festival of the victim), passover (offering).”
The weeks preceding pesach are spent in much house cleaning in search for bread crumbs. It is quite an activity in which all members of each household are involved—young to old. I hadn’t realized Christians from some denominations also follow this part of the Law, too.
What does leaven symbolize? It has long been thought of as a metaphor for sin. Just as we’ve spoken of, before communion, we search ourselves looking for any sin in our lives. Passover and Resurrection Day are forever linked to communion. Y’shuaJesus is the Lamb of G-d—the Lamb slain whose blood covers us, keeping us from the Angel of Death. We celebrate communion to remember Y’shuaJesus, that His body and blood were given for us. It seems appropriate that we should, before Resurrection Day, which also called by the pagen name of Easter, search for bread crumbs containing leaven, not only in our lives but throughout our homes.
While this is all good, I wonder if there is a deeper meaning to leaven than that of sin only. In Luke 13:21 Y’shuaJesus says of the Kingdom of Heaven: “It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” I read that many reconcile this as being the one time in a hundred where leaven isn’t a metaphor for sin. Yet it just doesn’t seem reasonable to me. Matthew Henry comments on Luke 13:21: “You expect [the Kingdom of Heaven] will make its way by external means, by subduing nations and vanquishing armies, though it shall work like leaven, silently and insensibly, and without any force or violence. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump; so the doctrine of Christ will strangely diffuse its relish into the world of mankind: in this it triumphs, that the savour of the knowledge of it is unaccountably made manifest in every place, beyond what one could have expected, 2Co_2:14. But you must give it time, wait for the issue of the preaching of the gospel to the world, and you will find it does wonders, and alters the property of the souls of men. By degrees the whole will be leavened, even as many as are, like the meal to the leaven, prepared to receive the savour of it.”
So to speak of leaven, one is speaking of something that is silent, working almost mysteriously within—sin does that, doesn’t it? Y’shuaJesus warned of the leaven of the Pharisees. Their doctrines, traditions, interpretations of the Law, and even their hypocris, that would all work within those that adhere to their leadership. Leaven. Y’shuaJesus said to seek first the Kingdom of G-d. It will also work within us, slowly, silently, mysteriously. The Word of G-d, made flesh in Y’shua, made flesh in us.
Yet go back to the woman hiding the leaven in three measures of flour. There’s a view that even here leaven is sin hidden within the ingredients that the loaf is made from. There is a belief that the loaf is symbolic of the church, which is G-d’s Kingdom on Earth, and that the leaven is false beliefs and false doctrine hidden withing the ingredients so that these deceptions are passed on to all who partake of the loaf. An extreme example of the way an entire nation can become captive to a bizzare notion is the propaganda machine developed by Hitler prior to World War II. The leaven of his deception grew slowly, silently, until it permeated most all in the nation of Germany. The German people were mentally poisoned to hate the Jewish people, gypsies, virtually anyone that did not adhere to their Aryan cultural view of themselves. Extreme nationalism gave rise to the Hitler youth movement. No one questioned the authority of the Third Reich, of Hitler, of his agents, until too late. When they did, they were eliminated. The world, it seemed, went crazy. Sixty million people died as a result of Hitler’s leaven. Two atomic explosions rocked Japan.
Could the church of the twenty-first Century become permeated by false beliefs? The Apostle Paul said: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) It’s not that there may be evil lurking in heavenly places, it’s that THERE IS evil lurking. It is leaven in the church. Sin!
Proceeding pesach, we rid the leaven within our homes. We celebrate the feast of passover with the knowledge of Y’shuaJesus as the pesach lamb. On Sunday we celebrate the empty tomb, the resurrected Lord. And we rejoice!