Hello Church Devotion Aug.25, 2013

U is for Unleavened

“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb has been sacrificed. Let us therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 RSV

There was, and is, nothing wrong with eating things containing yeast and other leavening agents at times. However, the purpose of the Days of Unleavened Bread in the Old Testament leavening agents such as yeast were compared and used as a symbol of sin and a metaphor for sinful pride and hypocrisy.

In the Old Testament, we are reminded in Exodus 13:3: “Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage, for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place; no leavened bread shall be eaten.” “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. And you shall tell your son on that day, “It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.” Exodus 13:7-8.

According to the Hebrew lexicon, the term “unleavened bread” is derived from the word matzoh, which means “bread or cake without leaven.” Leaven also is almost always symbolic of sin. Just like leaven will permeate through the dough, sin will spread in a person, a church or a nation, eventually overwhelming and bringing its participants into bondage and eventually to death. Whenever a little bit of sin in a person or church is permitted, overlooked, and compromised, it works much like leaven in bread. It will eventually get through the whole lump affecting the whole church or the whole world.

We can understand this in our own lives. One little lie begets another and then another. Pretty soon, we are living a lie and even start believing our own tales.

God was using leavening to make a point towards the Israelites. He wanted them to acknowledge in what they were eating, that they had no part in their redemption from Egypt. God alone did the work in freeing His people. God caused the 10 plagues. God opened the Red Sea waters. God defeated the Egyptian forces arrayed against Israel. God accomplished this alone without the efforts and actions of the people of Israel. Therefore, they were to not have any leavening agents used when they celebrated the Passover. We can explain the rise of bread when we are using leavening. But without it, it is pure batter and dough without any external agent. It truly is an inert mixture without anything special about it. Only God can take such a type of material and make something worthwhile out of it.

Sinfulness comes in many types and we humans can certainly find creative ways to relish sinning in our lives. Yet, God didn’t call us to sinfulness, but rather to righteousness. Adam and Eve were sinless in their created perfection, yet they found a way to bring in the leavening of sinfulness to their lives and to all their offspring. That leavening, we call original sin, taints us all. It taints our thoughts, our actions, and our living. We are truly leavened with sin… and it does not matter how much. Just one grain of sin as leavening spoils the perfection of the entire batch of dough. In fact, as you watch people make bread, you can see how the yeast is kneaded into the dough and is spread throughout it in the making of yeast filled bread.

So we are yeast filled people, with sin bursting throughout the many facets of our lives. Therefore, God in His splendid plan of redemption sent His perfect Son. Jesus is the holy unleavened bread from heaven who walks the earth and shows us the will of the Father and the way the creation was supposed to be, before the leavening of sin arrived.

Jesus in Matthew 16 addresses His followers with warning about the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees: “ How is that you fail to perceive 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.”

Jesus taught us that Scripture alone is the revelation of God to creation. It is not in traditions. Nor is it in the culture. Nor is it in society. Only the written Word of God has such power and truth! Scripture alone is pure and unleavened by the world around it. For God Himself proclaims it through the work of His Spirit.

So what do we make out of our starting text in 1 Corinthians?

“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb has been sacrificed. Let us therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 RSV

Is Jesus alluding to:

First Adam = Sinfulness =

Malice toward God and each other = Evil = Leaven

Second Adam = Clean =

Sincerity to God and our neighbor = Truth = Unleavened

What I mean by this is to say: Because of Christ, the very paschal lamb of God, which was sacrificed on the cross at Calvary, the punishment of those leavened with sin has been handled. The punishment that should have been paid by every fiber of creation due to sin and its effects has been paid for in the suffering and death of Jesus.

In the Cross, we find the healing of our souls, the restoration of relationship between the Father and the creation, and the focus to care for our neighbor. This is not of the old leaven. But rather, it is of the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. It is the bread of life of John chapter six. It is for you and me.

So are we to live lives according to the leaven of sin or to that of the unleavened bread of God? This should be an easy answer! But don’t we wish that it was just that easy to cleanse out the old leaven!

Old leaven is something we are used to… because of our familiarity, we may want to preserve it. Oh, may it not be so… Leaven also puffs up; when it does this we recognize it for what it is… PRIDE! This goes the opposite of what the Gospel does which humbles man and makes us reliant upon His untainted work on the cross. Let us beware of the leavening of this world, which would have us stand up for our right to sin, for us to turn from righteousness to lawlessness, and for us to introduce our tainted efforts into the perfect teaching of the Bible. No..no…no….!!!

Christ is the only answer. He is the unblemished, perfect, Son of God. Who overcame death and the grave so that we too might walk in newness of life… that we might walk in the truth of God.

1. What are Spiritual understandings of the word “Leavened”?

2. Who is the Unleavened Bread? Why is this important?

3. Why should we be wary of any sin, even a small one?

4. Why is it important that teachings of the Church be biblical ones?

5. How does our pride affect the biblical understanding of “Unleavened”?

6. Why are our communion wafers “Unleavened”?

Prayer: Lord, create in me a clean heart of God. Cleanse me again and again. Scrub my soul in Your wonderful Word. Get rid of the filth of my life and replace it with your goodness and truth. Your Word is truth! Plant that Word in the soil of my life and command it to grow. May it bring a harvest that brings glory to You, my Lord, and my Savior. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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