What is the deal with leaven, you ask? Must be an Old-Testament thing, you guess? Surprisingly, the word leaven is mentioned more times by Messiah and Paul than its combined mentions in the entire “Old” Testament. That should take the “old” right out of the equation, regardless of denominational traditions.
It starts here:
Exodus 12:15, “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.”
This describes the Feast of Matzah (unleavened bread), which is both connected to Pesach, as well as distinct. Day one of Matzah is considered a High Sabbath (see John 19:31–no, seriously, look it up). Starting at sundown after Pesach, and for the entire following week, your homes and your mouth shall be leaven-free. But why?
Messiah says this:
Matt 13:33, “He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.””
Leaven represents INFLUENCE. The concept behind this Holy week is to begin re-training yourself to be cautious about what goes IN to your mouth. In the Garden of Eden, humanity had a choice between the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. One was encouraged to eat from, and it led to safety, protection, immortality–all the themes of eating the Pesach meal. The other was to be avoided–like the leaven during this week. Eve was influenced by the serpent, she influenced Adam, and the three of them continue to influence us all up to this very day.
The Feast of Matzah brings us back to the temptation moment in the Garden. Do you have enough self-control to refrain from eating this ONE THING for a week?
Now, any object lesson like this needs to expanded from simply the physical actions for it to truly serve it’s purpose. This is why Messiah and Paul both accentuate the deeper meaning behind the ritual.
Matt 16:11 “How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Luke 12:11, “In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
The same temptation that Adam and Eve fell to in Genesis is still alive and well in the Gospels. Instead of sticking to the eternal commandments, man-made religion adds or subtracts commands to suit their own limited and defective human understanding. Again, this issue is a human one, not a Jewish one. Christian denominations, like the 2 major Jewish divisions criticized throughout the gospel, has found “loophole-ism” favorable to “legalism”. Biblical obedience has been slowly, over time, replaced with plausible (at first glance) but completely made-up Christian traditions.
As Messiah said to religious leaders in Mark 7:9, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” Some things never change.
Instead of refraining from leavened bread for one week (as Messiah did) some Christian leader at some self-appointed “Council” in the past invented Lent, a forty-day fast that originally began with eggs and dairy–and has evolved into each person simply picking whatever they want to give up.
Instead of honoring Pesach (as Messiah did even unto death) man-made religion replaced it with Good Friday (despite all the evidence pointing to a Wednesday night crucifixion), and even replaced lamb with fish!
Instead of honoring the Feast of First Fruits–the commanded celebration (Leviticus 23:11) that kicks off the harvest season–and the very day Messiah rose from the grave, man-made religion has created Easter–which I grant you, is REALLY similar in some ways–but NOT the same.
Instead of resting on the 7th day Sabbath, man-made religion has created “The Lord’s Day” (Sunday) and has replaced the idea of resting with the idea of a “Sunday service”.
This tendency to make up inconsistent rules and traditions is exactly why the Feast of Matzah occurs when it does. We’ve restarted the year, we’ve remembered our Pesach redemption. We are then to take this annual season of a new beginnings and RENEW our minds. We are to take every thought captive, letting only Holy thoughts have influence over our lives and corresponding actions.
Finally and crucially, its not just religious traditions that need to be examined and potentially purged. Frankly, that’s the easy part. If I was to make a list of unholy attitudes that also need to go, it would crash the internet–which would be a blessing in disguise no doubt.
As Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 5, “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Pesach lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate The Feast [of Matzah], not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Just like Adam and Eve were faced with a choice in the Garden, and chose their own way–Messiah too was faced with a choice in a Garden, and chose His Father’s way. Lets follow His example and use the remaining days of this Holy week to examine our lives and re calibrate our hearts and minds–not just our diets.