Day 8: Leaven

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I am absolutely obsessed with this idea of yeast in the Bible. All it takes is a read of Leviticus (which is of course part of the Bible and should be read … but if you’re squeamish you might want to tread lightly).

God gives the Israelites a series of instructions on the offerings they must make to Him in Levitius. There are offerings for guilt, fellowship, unintentional sin, grain offerings, burnt offerings, and who knows what else. And in almost every instance, God commands that bread without yeast should be part of the offering.

(In one case in Leviticus 7, they are to bring loaves made with yeast, but I don’t think  these were actually put on the altar, but simply given to the priests. I think.)

Reading through Leviticus in my one-year Bible, I can’t help but wonder: does God really HATE yeast? Is He against fluffy bread? Should I be only serving pita bread in my house, even now?

But more than anything, it comes down to what yeast represents. The passage I mentioned here is the only place in the Bible where yeast can be seen in a positive manner. Everywhere else, the Bible warns about the yeast of the Pharisees, the yeast of evildoers, generally, the yeast of sin.

Yeast doesn’t start as part of the flour, does it? It has to be carefully added, almost made into a potion with sugar and warm water or honey. Often, it has to proof. It’s a tricky little substance, but once it’s incorporated into the other ingredients it spreads like wildfire. It affects every nook and cranny of that bread dough. You can’t take out yeast once it’s put in.

To the Israelites, the yeast also served as a reminder of God’s goodness in saving them from slavery. They had to leave Egypt in such a hurry, there wasn’t time for their bread to rise (Ex. 12:39). It’s because of this they started celebrating the Feast of the Unleavened Bread.

All this yeastless celebration had a purpose, of course. Like pretty much everything in the Old Testament, it points to Jesus. I really don’t think God just thought it was funny to deprive the Israelites of risen bread sometimes. He made a point.

Jesus is the Bread of Life! He is the only person to ever be without yeast–sin. Unlike the rest of us, He wasn’t infected with the desire of go against the ways and will of God. He didn’t spend His life trying to force down the yeast, battling the rising of our flesh-bread.

One time, He did feel the yeast, though. He was buried in it willingly.

But oh, then, did He ever rise. And not because of the yeast. Out of it. Doing what we never could: severing from the yeast completely, not letting it penetrate one cell of His divine body.

It makes it a little easier to see why God has such a distaste for the leaven.

This is day 8 of my 31 Days of The Book series. Start at day 1 here.

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