Thursday, April 2, 2015

Unleavened Souls

This is the season for getting rid of leaven. Typically, leaven is seen as a metaphor for sin, however, I want to suggest a different interpretation. I see leaven as teaching or doctrine. That's how it seems to be used in Matt. 16:12. You might say "But teaching isn't always a bad thing." True. Leaven isn't either. Matt. 13:33 uses leaven in a positive context. Lev. 23:17 describes an offering that is to be baked with leaven. Of course, this is all just a picture or midrash.

If we take this picture back to the original Exodus story, it would look something like this. God commands all of Israel to get rid of their leaven or doctrine in Egypt--to leave their Egyptian ways behind. Fifty days later, God presents the Torah at Shavuot. Shavuot is the only day when a leavened offering is brought to the altar. Perhaps because this is when God gave His Torah, his teaching to Israel. It's the good leaven.

Jump forward 1500 years and Paul is talking about leaven again. In 1 Cor. 5 he talks about the leaven of "malice and evil." Curiously, this whole book is filled with warnings about knowledge and human wisdom. 1 Cor. 8:1 says "knowledge puffs up"--much like leaven puffs up bread. Paul urges us to cleanse out the leaven that causes us to boast.

Instead we must walk humbly with our God. Drop back to the Exodus story and we find that no man may eat of the Passover Lamb without being circumcised. Looking at the spiritual side again, Deut. 10:16 commands us to "circumcise the foreskin of your heart and be no longer stubborn." That's humility.

Paul warns us about partaking of the Lord's Supper (Passover) in an unworthy manner. 1 Cor. 11:16-34 speaks of how there are divisions in the church and when the people come together to partake of the Lord's Supper they bring judgment upon themselves, because they come with an uncircumcised heart. They do not examine themselves before they partake of the blood and body of Messiah.

Now I've tried to paint a picture here for you. I realize that you may not agree with all the details of this picture--that's ok. The point I'm trying to drive home is that this is a time to lay aside our doctrinal differences and come together as one body. Circumcise your heart, cast out your leaven, and come as unleavened souls--completely emptied of everything except for the power of Christ in you. "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2).

Because on this night of watching only one thing matters:

The blood is on the doorpost
The family is in the house
Redemption is at our doorstep
Tonight we shall become free


  1. But they aren't celebrating it on the right day...and they have an egg on their seder plate... hahaha wise words, Matthew. Thanks for sharing! Chag Sameach to you and Brittany!

    1. Lol...Chag Sameach to you as well. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Great post and wise words! This holy day (week) is definitely about unity. This is the time that God brought His people out of Egypt and the time that Yeshua died for us ... probably the most unifying events that ever occurred to the children of God. Thank you for the thought-provoking advice!

    On another tangent (getting away from your main point :) ), that's an interesting and fitting interpretation of the symbol of leaven. Up until a couple of years ago, I thought leaven always represented sin; but I read an article on a Jewish site that pointed out how it also tied in with pride vs. humility, and it was very interesting to think about it in a new way. Leaven seems to be a powerful symbol that represents several things ... all of them important lessons.

    Chag Sameach to you and Brittany! (I wonder if little Hannah will join you guys before the Feast is over?)

    1. =) Glad you enjoyed it. Yes, symbolism is always hard to pin down to one particular thing...often times it's all in the mind of the interpreter.

      Chag Sameach to you as well!