"Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel." (Exodus 12:15)
With Passover beginning in two weeks, all over Israel and around the world every practicing Jewish man, woman and child will be busy cleaning out closets, shelves, drawers and vehicles in obedience to this commandment from God to rid every trace of leaven from existence. Every nook and cranny must be wiped clean in order to make sure that each dwelling place is free of ‘chametz’ (leavened products) before the Passover begins. All dishes, cutlery, pots and pans and even dishrags used during the feast must be made “Kosher for Passover.” This is a preparatory purification process that is expensive – both in time and money.
Why All the Trouble Over Yeast?
Leaven, or yeast, is used in scripture as a metaphor for sin. Galatians 5:9 (also 1 Corinthians 5:6) tells us that “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” When we equate yeast, and how it works, to sin, the meaning becomes clear. Those who have baked bread from scratch can easily relate.
Yeast is actually a single-celled, microscopic, fungal organism that absolutely thrives on sugar. There are over 160 known species of yeast, but only one that we use for baking - and one gram of it contains 25 billion of these little sucrose-craving critters. The most common dry yeast comes in a ¼ ounce packet and contains 175 billion! When you make fresh bread you always add sugar to the water that you put your yeast packet into in order to ‘turn it on’. When yeast eats the sugar it basically defecates carbon dioxide and it is this CO2 that causes your dough to rise – to get puffed up. Yeast is so pervasive that if a little dough lump is left on the counter, yeast will attach to the surface of the dough and work its way throughout the entire lump. Such is the way of sin. Sin, like yeast, comes in many forms and can be extremely powerful. The smallest sin doesn’t stay isolated, but, under the right circumstances, grows large enough to affect the whole entity. There’s personal sin, like pride and ‘puffed up’ arrogance, that takes root and can completely destroy its target – remember Proverbs 16:18, “pride comes before the fall.” Or sin can come in the form of giving heed to false teachers, as in the case of Galatians 5, which can devastate a church or an entire denomination. The single doctrinal sin of advocating same-sex marriage has permeated entire denominations, leading millions astray. Sin may start small, as a seemingly microscopic, almost non-existent issue, but it swiftly multiplies and invades with the goal of taking over the entire being it is ‘attached to.’ The thing is, yeast is vulnerable and can be stopped in its tracks. The same is true with sin. Those that have baked know that if the water you add the yeast to is too hot, the yeast will die.
The Refiner’s Fire
Just as Jews will symbolically rid themselves of sin, frantically cleaning their homes and cars of all leaven leading up to Passover, we can literally clean house through pleading the blood of Jesus over our lives. For believers, Jesus is our Passover. Just as the blood of the lamb, on the door frames of the homes of Jews, protected them during the first Passover (Exodus 12), the blood that Jesus shed on the cross is our sacrificial lamb's blood of protection. On the cross, Jesus took on ALL sin and defeated it in one action. Just as the preparatory water being too hot for the yeast to survive, the blood of Jesus is the preparatory refiner’s fire that purifies and protects us against sin’s pervasive ways (Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:3, etc) destroying its effects.
This Passover, I encourage you brethren to apply the blood of Jesus like a healing salve to your lives, allowing the refining fire of the Holy Spirit to invade every nook and cranny of your very being and lay waste to leavened strongholds. Blessings