….. and I will heal the land.
Exodus 12 :15 Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread; even the first day you shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
Exodus 12 : Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whoever eats that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.
1 Corinthian 5:
2. And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that has done this deed might be taken away from among you…
These opening passages of scripture are the first mention of the word leaven. They are seen in Exodus 12. Leaven is not a word we use often now but one we should understand within the Biblical language of having great significance.
God spoke to Moses, declaring the intention to release His people from the clutches of their Egyptian masters. Food and sacrifice had to be prepared for what would become the first Passover. The second would occur in the wilderness a year later. The message given to us is that whenever God speaks to us to do something, a series of preparatory things need to be observed. Specifics are given for our attention. We are told not to do things as we think, but how God asks or directs us to. His ways are not our ways.
Leaven is yeast, a fungus added to flour to increase dough size – a raising agent. If you have ever made bread from scratch you will know that it takes quite a bit of time and patience waiting for it to rise. As the Hebrews were about to leave their captivity, in a very short space of time, there was, of course, no time to wait for the bread dough to rise. So God introduced unleavened bread and thus the feast also became known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Unleavened bread, such as flatbread, takes no time at all to make. The preparation of the Passover lamb and the cleaning of the house to remove traces of contaminants to the bread flour was crucial for the bread to remain unleavened. In Jewish culture, the tradition of removing all leavened food products from the house is called ‘Chametz.’ In addition, the removal of some unwanted items from the house can also be attended to.
What is striking from the passage in Exodus 12 is that the failure to abide by the rules of cleansing, results in the removal of the one committing the offense, to be removed from the community. The removal of the contaminants from one’s house is seen as a cleansing act, a spring clean so to speak. Throughout the year the house, in these days, meant the cooking and preparation of food was done in close quarters to the living space. Flour and dust would have increased as the months of cooking and family life went on. Dust from the outside world and from such arid conditions would have been a constant addition to the environment of the home.
Leaven is seen as any contaminant that infests and spreads, thus compromising the integrity and purity of a substance. In this passage found in 1 Corinthians, it refers to sexual immorality among the house of faith.
1 Corinthians 5: 6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know the saying, “It takes only a little hametz to leaven a whole batch of dough?” 7 Get rid of the old hametz, so that you can be a new batch of dough because in reality, you are unleavened. For our Pesach lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed.
Leaven is symbolic of sin. And like the dust around, it represented the constant condition within the person. Having cleansed the whole house, symbolic of the physical cleansing of the person, the sacrificial blood of the lamb would represent the forgiveness, mercy, and love of God, resulting in His protection. The person would atone for their sin receiving the righteous blood of the lamb upon themselves, representing the righteousness attributed to them by Christ.
You may have heard of the saying within Christian teaching, that the New Testament is Christ revealed and the Old Testament is Christ hidden. Friends , for those who have eyes to see, Christ has always been revealed in the Old Testament. He never was hidden. NT teaching seems to have forgotten this. He was the Word, the sound of God walking in the Garden of Eden. He and the Father are One, coexisting simultaneously. This hidden aspect seems to emerge from the idea that Christ, having come to earth in human form, illuminates the new believer to His presence and persona. It also somehow declares a supremacy in the spirit.
Look what this passage in Romans 11:18-21 tells us:
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee.
Or this passage in Romans 12: 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgment, according to the measure of faith God has given you.
The symbolism of exalting one’s self is captured within the terminology of the concept of being infected by leaven. The result is being puffed up, boastful. In the Roman Catholic Eucharist, communion, which fundamentally replaced the Passover Seder, but nonetheless is a requirement of Christ to observe, is preceded with the confession of sin, followed by the praying of the Holy Rosary, a form of prayer psalter. It is seen as a cleansing process, a right of passage into communion. Failure to confess mortal sin is seen as being under the control of the devil. Observance thus requires this purification right and sees the soul as being converted.
It is not hard to see the parallel in Jewish cleansing rituals. Cleansing, as seen within the preparation of the Passover ritual is a constant right that must be undertaken with extreme diligence.
The Parable of the Kingdom of Heaven. The reflection is an opposite image.
Mathew 13: 33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and mixed into three measures of flour, until all of it was leavened.”
This passage about leaven is the exact opposite of what the context of our preceding verses tell us. As in all things regarding the Kingdom, not all is obvious, as the hidden things are mysteries. Yeshua is alluding to an opposite, a reflection or paradox. If leaven is seen as a contaminant or symbol of sin on earth, the exact opposite is seen with the heavenly dynamic. Leaven or yeast is a raising agent, and there is the clue. All believers are raised up to be like Christ; we are mixed with one another to become representative of the Kingdom of heaven. Defined in our own language, leaven also means to permeate, modify or transform (something) for the better. The antithesis of the leaven of the Pharisees speaks to us about hypocrisy.
Luke 12:1 “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
Yeshua in His teaching spoke: Mathew 16: 5 When they crossed to the other side, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Watch out!” Jesus told them. “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
7 They discussed this among themselves and concluded, “It is because we did not bring any bread.”8 Aware of their conversation, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you debating among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How do you not understand that I was not telling you about bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
The paradox shown to us is, in fact, an extraordinary divine exchange. By cleansing ourselves, removing the leaven and contaminates from this world in our lives, the power of sin is removed and we emerge from the mikvah cleansed and elevated, rising up to a resurrected state because we have been purged and made better. How can one word provide two totally different concepts?
Judgement upon the House of God.
Among all of God’s people, a purge needs to take place. The Church in modern culture is infected with a leaven unheard of in its history. It reflects the exact attitudes and hypocrisy of the pharisaical condition revealed by Christ. It is boastful of its deeds, it has compromised the Word, and merged with the leaven of the world. When the house is so full of this contaminate, it is easier to knock it down, wait till the dust settles and start rebuilding. Why does God say that He will judge such a house first? The house of God is exactly that. It’s His house. He’s coming back to it and needs it to be clean because He cannot enter into its sinful state. In essence it is His will to restore it to its original condition.
Friends, this warning is given to us by God, Himself. It is not of my opinion though it is my belief. What is occurring within its walls, is an abomination and that is why its power is waining and its number decreasing and I believe that prayer is simply not being answered and everything is in chaos and confusion.
I recently went on a walk with Nathan, my cofounder of Arrows of Ephrayim. The weather was wet and rainy. Walking on the moors, I spotted an unusual shape in the distance. From what seemed like a white rock, two black stalks protruded from it. Suddenly the image got clearer and we realised it was a sheep. At first we thought it was dead, until the black stalks, its back legs, began to slowly release their tensed positions. The sheep was on its back under a small tree. The other sheep were in the distance. We thought that perhaps the sheep was pregnant. We walked to a nearby house to tell of our discovery. The lady of the house told us that she would ring the farmer in the nearby village. She also informed us that the sheep at this time of year were prone to pneumonia.
The following week, our daughter had difficulty breathing. She’d had bit of chest infection but this was a bad event. The doctor gave her an inhaler, and advised that she should go straight to hospital if it recurred because she could be developing asthma. Later that week, a friend of mine told me that his wife, who works for the NHS, following a chest infection, had also had breathing difficulty and was finally diagnosed by a specialist as having asthma. Her bout was so bad that she has been given four months’ leave from work.
My friends, I am telling you, leaven is contagious. It affects everything. It is the dust and debris in our hearts and homes. When we find difficulty in breathing, our blood is affected too because it starves us of vital oxygen. Certain nebulisers can contain high doses of steroids that act immediately upon the vessels in the lungs, rejuvenating the body.
Friends, that’s what the Church needs: Rejuvenation and Revival. I believe its lungs are damaged and infected with the dust of leaven. Believing that all is well is pure presumption. Believing that God finds delight in it, is assumption.
David wrote these heartfelt words through tears of remorse, understanding his sinful state.
Psalm 51:7-15 (KJV)
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
V13, is the result of being converted. It is the result of no longer being a contagious carrier and transmitter of evil, hence the instruction that expulsion must result in anyone who has not dealt with it. Strong’s number reveals this: 2219 zýmē – leaven (yeast); (figuratively) the spreading influence of what is typically concealed (but still very dramatic).
Leaven is generally a symbol of the spreading nature of evil. My observation is this: God will respond to the abomination in the house. He will cause to fall every high altar and stone and image built to another God. He will restore what is His and gather to Him those who have been cleansed and purged. He will not stand for fake news, untruths, hypocrisy, anyone who compromises or adds to His word or anything that declares His name through blasphemy. He has given us His house to maintain and expects that not one of His flock should perish,
When we declare that we will do all that we can to cleanse the house, then maybe He will turn His face to us again and heal us. Remember my story of the sick sheep? Well my dear friends, God is calling us to respond.