Regarding the Leaven

I got into sourdough a few months ago and it was my fault. You see, Costco has these take and bake loaves of sourdough that have only four ingredients and are quite affordable. My wife loves them and was buying one at every visit. Our pantry was being taken over by shelf stable sourdough to the point where I had to step in, suggesting that we take a break for a month or so.

It was during this time that Costco discontinued the bread, and I was starting to get those sideways glances. So I suggested we learn how to make it and it ended up being my thing. Hey, a trad man can be a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker, right? It turned out to be quite fun! Baking involves science while cooking meat over a fire is art, with both having a degree of crossover.

I joined online groups of enthusiasts. In one of these groups, a woman posted a question regarding the Passover celebration. She is a newly converted Jew and has no local community of Jewish people to clarify the rules to her. Her immediate question had to do with the matter of yeast in the home around the time of the Passover.

Exodus 13:7
Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory.

My heart does break for this woman. And for many reasons. By seeking to live a life of circumcision, she necessarily must reject Jesus. That is the biggest loss to her. She is lost and thinks she is finding herself in a lifestyle that will send her soul to hell over her rejection of the only savior, the One who all of these rules and concepts of the Law pointed toward.

And what was the big deal about the leaven? Sourdough has been quite informative in this for me. You see, to make a sourdough starter from scratch, you put flour and water into a jar and stir it up. A day later, you add flour and water and stir it up. You do this each day until it begins to activate. All you have put into the jar is flour and water, and you do need to discard some of it as you go, or you would have more starter than you could ever use. So where did the activation come from?

There is naturally occurring yeast in the air you breathe. Worldwide, you are breathing yeast with every breath. This is how bread rose for thousands of years before you could pick up yeast at the grocery store. Instead, people would mix flour and water and the yeast in the air around them would come to eat the sugars in the flour and take up residence in the mixture. The threefold combination was known as leaven. This leaven would be mixed with a greater amount of flour and water, perhaps salt and other ingredients as well, and the entire lump would be leavened as the natural yeast worked into the combination.

Israel had lived under Egyptian rule for over 400 years. The leaven of pagan belief and practice was in the air they breathed, and that little leaven showed itself as they grumbled against God and then turned to a golden calf just as soon as they had enough free time to demand it.

When God told them to clear out all of the leaven from their homes, there was a physical aspect to it. It takes time for the leaven to work its way in, so unleavened bread makes sense when you are about to leave abruptly. The leaven was also metaphorical, inviting the people to ponder how you didn’t have to add all the ingredients to affect the whole lump. The ambient leaven was everywhere and would influence them. They should have been instructed to consecrate themselves inwardly as they outwardly removed all leaven. How has the culture around them slowly worked into their lives? How had they soured?

Fast forward to Jesus. The Pharisees were in charge in Israel. Their desire was to bring forth the Messiah and they believed that this would only happen once the people of Israel obeyed the Law to a satisfactory degree. To make it easier, they added shorthand rules to the people. But their additions to the Law became odorous, and the people were without any guidance. The success of the gospel of the kingdom is testament to the fact the the people knew something wasn’t quite right, but the only teachers available to them had been on board with the Sanhedrin.

Luke 12:1
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.

It is important to note that leaven is not inherently evil. It is a picture, though, of culture influencing the individual and of culture influencing the covenant people of God. In Exodus, that was the descendants of Israel and the descendants of those who had joined with Abraham by faith. In the gospels, the people of God were the same categories as well as those who had come to faith, despite the abuses of the religious class (Matthew 23:15). Today, the people of God has expanded, and will continue to expand, as the leaven of the gospel begins to work in the lump.

Matthew 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.”

What leaven is in the air you are breathing? Are you tuned in to whatever programming is coming through your television every night? Do you send your children to be taught about basic reality from government schools? What is souring your dough? Is your church seeking out more and more opportunities to grow together and to give opportunities to grow in the faith as a church family, rather than as a disparate group of Christians individually figuring things out? What is the yeast in your air? It matters! And God started the calendar for Israel on the month where they were to reset the yeast in their cupboards.

As to those still wondering how to appease God through the shadows that pointed to a savior who has been reigning on His throne for 2000 years now, their best option is to abandon the shadows and types in favor of the substance of Jesus. Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith, the one who the Old Testament prophets pointed ahead to and the one who was pointed back to in the New Testament epistles. There is no other name by which we must be saved. There is no other gate. There is no other door. To even attempt to appease God apart from Jesus is a fool’s errand that many have tried, to their eternal shame.

James 2:10
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.

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Published by CoffeeSwirls