On Friday evening, March 30, 2018, it will be Erev Pesah, and Passover will begin. This celebrates the departure from Egypt and slavery and will last for eight days. Passover is also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In preparation for the Passover, Jewish families remove all leaven from their homes. This is an effort that goes beyond a normal cleaning:
Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land (Exodus 12:19, NASB).
A last search is made of the house before Passover, and any remaining leaven is burned, followed by reciting a declaration that all leaven has been removed. As I thought about this, I realized there is an application for us I would like to share.
The New Testament also has something to say about leaven and unleavened bread we should consider. First, unleavened bread is a type of those who are born again. Jesus tells us “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, NASB). Before a person is born again, that person is like leavened bread. They have been leavened with malice, greed, idolatry, arrogance, hatred, strife, bitterness, rebellion and so forth. None of these things will ever make a person fit for God’s kingdom, and so the leaven must be removed. When a person is born again, the old leaven is purged, much like when all the leaven is removed from the house for Passover. Like the house is cleared of leaven and clean, the born again person also has their old leaven purged; they become like unleavened bread.
The problem is, we must guard ourselves to keep ourselves in an unleavened state. Leaven has a way of creeping back in if we don’t guard against it, and it only takes a little to do great damage. Paul addressed this in his first letter to the Corinthians:
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover has also been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor 5: 6-8, NASB)
We all remember what Jesus warned the disciples: “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matt 16:6, NASB). And Paul was distressed that the Galatian church had become infected with the leaven of false brethren: “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” (Gal 3:1, NASB).
Leaven can sneak in many ways, such as the cares of life and corrupted teachers who seek to draw away followers for themselves. As a matter of spiritual housekeeping, we must make sure this leaven finds no home with us. We may not be conscious of any problems, but that doesn’t mean everything is alright. The Laodicean church thought they were fine, but they were unaware of their true condition:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Because you say ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing, and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. (Rev 3: 15-17, NASB)
We may fool ourselves about our condition, but not Him. We need His perfect eyes to search us for the leaven that may be hidden in our house so it can be removed. Remember, all it takes is a little leaven to mess things up, so get it out! Make your temple a “leaven free zone.”
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thought; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way (Psalm 139: 23-24, NASB).
Shalom and blessings my brothers and sisters!
Nisan 10, 5778