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WHAT’S your FOCUS as you deleaven?
I wonder what this is about? Are you focused on proper deleavening? Well, many of you reading my blogs and hearing our sermons, know we keep the Passover instead of Easter, and we observe the 7 Days of Unleavens – or unleavened bread, and Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles and the 8th day after the Feast of Tabernacles.
Right now many will be “deleavening” or will soon be starting to put out leavened products from our homes – our dwellings. And you’ll feel good about that, maybe even smug. Why? Some of you started so early. Some of you will keep 8-9-10 or more days of unleavened bread, because you want to be so sure all leaven is out DAYS before Passover. But if so, have you missed the point?
And you do it because we’re told to by God himself to do so, and even the mostly Gentile Corinthians, from a pagan background, were obviously keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. And they weren’t Jewish. Paul clearly discusses the Passover in 1 Corinthians 5 and 11. In chapter 11 he speaks of remembering the bread the and cup of wine that Yeshua offered at his Passover, saying the unleavened bread was his body and the cup and its contents represented “the new covenant in my blood”. We keep the Passover because it was kept by Yeshua and Christians long after -- and because it was what inaugurated the new covenant!
Let’s read it. Then we’ll get to the thought-provoking point of this blog. And again, remember, if this was just for the Jews, then why were the mostly pagan Corinthians keeping these days as well. Let’s read it – words spoken to a predominantly Gentile congregation. But I FEAR that many are missing the POINT of the deleavening process!
1 Corinthians 5:1-2, 6-8 --- “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles — that a man has his father's wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. …
6 Your glorying -- not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us KEEP THE FEAST, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened sincerity and truth.”
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 -- “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of ME.”
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.”
Exodus 12:14-16 --- 'So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to YHVH throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. 15 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. 16 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat — that only may be prepared by you.”
All these holydays are listed in Leviticus 23 – and in Lev 23:1-3, Almighty God calls them “the Feasts of YHVH” – not the feasts of the Jews, not the feasts of Israel, but Feasts of YHVH.
Leavened bread in the Bible was usually a picture of sin in most places, though not always. (Even the Kingdom of God, for example, is pictured as leaven in the sense that once it began to do its work, it will spread and someday fill the whole earth—Matthew 13:33). But usually, leavened bread is picturing the work of sin and how it can deceive one and spread.
So – like sin – as we deleaven, we think of how leaven can hide in so many products. Do all the cereals we have – like Cheerios -- have leaven? How about those fruit/nut bars (yes)? Hmm, Grape Nuts in the cereal bin – oh yes. Leavened. So we begin to carefully go through the cupboards and fridge and freezer and look for anything – breads, ice cream bars and ice cream cones, and crackers, and frozen baked goods that we have to consume before the Unleavens begin. We lay them out for all to see, so they’re used up. What’s not used up is thrown away. In the same way, we think about how sin can be hiding in our lives in areas we don’t even think about much – but should be!
We make to-do lists so we don’t forget to clean out the toaster, to empty or replace the vacuum cleaner bags. Oh yes, the cars need to be carefully cleaned out and vacuumed out. We get way down between the seats. We pull the couches apart and vacuum way down and find old missing toys, a half-eaten piece of toast and - maybe – even some money. But keep the money, it’s not leavened.
You get the point.
Now in deleavening, we humans love to see the fruit of our labor. I said “OUR labor”. We like to weed or mow the lawn because it feels so good to see that we accomplished something. After painting a room, we can see what we’ve done, and it feels good. Same thing with Deleavening. We like spending oodles of time of deleavening – even 2-3-4 weeks – because it makes us feel good, like we’re being righteous or something. We can see the results of our work. But IS THAT the real point of deleavening? Beware, lest you miss the point of the exercise.
We love “Do it yourself” (DIY) projects, but we can’t do a DIY salvation, and we really can’t put sin totally out of our lives ourselves. We simply can’t. Not as long as we are flesh and blood. The SPIRIT is willing, but the flesh is weak. Therefore we still sometimes do what we don’t want to do – as Paul explains in Romans 7 and Galatians 5. But nonetheless, we do our best to put sin (leaven) out of our lives and homes.
Some of you start this process 3-4 weeks before Passover. But is that what we should be doing? Is it possible we end up trying to be more righteous than GOD? If you read Exodus 12:15, God himself allotted the Israelites ONE DAY to deleaven. ONE DAY. Let that sink in. But we’ve turned it into a full-fledged spring cleaning and by the time Passover actually arrives, many of you are worn out! Surely you can admit that. And yet it’s true, we’re told to have no leavened food in our homes for 7 days.
Exodus 13:6-8 -- “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to YHVH. 7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. 8 And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, 'This is done because of what YHVH did for ME when I came up from Egypt.'
Now we ourselves will take more than a day but not much more. We will carefully remove what leaven we have in our homes. But THAT won’t be my focus. THAT is not where I will put my energy. What IS my focus? What is YOURS?
Click here on “Continue reading” to get the wakeup call we all need right now.
So back to the point of this blog: I hope and pray this will be a wake-up call to many of us, to focus on the right things before Passover.
SO --are you and I as diligent and thorough and focused on putting out the spiritual leaven we have in our LIVES? Are you taking the time to scrutinize your LIFE as carefully as you scrutinize your cupboards? I want you to please think about that. Paul – in discussing leavening – made a point to make this very point to the Corinthians! He said “you Corinthians have put out puffed up bread and yet YOU yourselves remain puffed up and almost proud about the tolerance you show to sin in your midst.” Remember? Go back and read 1 Corinthians 5.
A little leaven leavens the whole lump – he said – as he put the focus on the congregation, not on some unleavened baking they had done. He focused not so much on flat bread – but the unleavened LIVES characterized by sincerity and truth. Paul’s focus wasn’t so much on the leavened bread, but on what leavened bread points to – such as hypocrisy. Christ pointed to the leaven of false doctrine that we allow to leaven our own beliefs and teachings (Matthew 16:6-12).
In other words, do you and I focus as much energy and time – or even more – on the POINT of the leavened bread -- more than the leavened bread itself?
Do we remember, as we hold a sheet of matzah to the light, we can actually see many holes in it, and stripes across each sheet of matzah bread – clearly reminding us of our Lord and what he went through for us? HE is our unleavened bread.
So he clearly ate unleavened bread with that last Passover (the Greek word used –artos - can refer to both leavened and unleavened bread, including the showbread that David ate). Since Yeshua himself said the bread was picturing HIMSELF – surely he would have used unleavened bread, for he was the only one who was ever truly, purely unleavened. Sinless.
So my point, and my warning – is that I feel most of us who keep these days still focus your time, energy, thoughts and efforts on the physical – so there’s simply little time left to focus on YESHUA, and how HE is our unleavened bread, and how HE is the one who makes us pure.
Be sure to hear the sermons I’ve given like “Do this in Remembrance of ME”, and “When I See the Blood”, “Crucified with Christ” and others I’ve given in previous years in the spring.
As diligent as you are in putting out leaven from your home, are you as diligent in putting out gossip from you’re your life? Or keeping the sabbath holy or more sacredly than you do today? Do you put as much effort in FIGHTING sin itself – as you do in getting every little crumb out from between the couch seats? You know your weaknesses. Perhaps you drink too much, or eat too much, or gossip, or take God’s name in vain (Oh my G**), or go on porn sites on the web, or cheat on your tithes or taxes, or simply don’t pray very much. Or maybe you worry – which is a lack of faith. Are you putting as much diligence in fighting these sins – or whatever yours are -- and asking Christ to put sin out of your life and to cover you with HIS righteousness – as you do putting leaven out? Or have you missed that point? THIS is what we should be deleavening and scrubbing from our homes and lives: our SINS. Focus on THAT, much more than the physical leaven.
And therein is the rub: we run out of time! At some point we have to admit, “Master, I did my best to get rid of actual leaven – and I’ve got the point! I can’t get ALL the leaven. Even if I think I have, I know there’s more leaven– even in the air. Yeshua, son of God, I need YOUR life, I need YOU. I need YOUR perfection to cover me and our home. I need YOU to come into my life. I need to follow YOU and your leading. I need faith in YOU, and your perfect work – and not faith in me and my own work of deleavening. Please cover me now, Master, and now I will devote the majority of my time before Passover to prayer and even fasting and meditation on YOU. YOU are my unleavened life. YOU are the hidden matzah. YOU are the bread of Life, that if we eat of it, we shall live.”
Folks, otherwise you’ll be worn out by Passover and the Night to be observant -– and not have the energy left to focus on and deeply appreciate the true meaning of the spring holydays. Focus on the POINT of the deleavening. Christ did (Matthew 16:6-12). Paul did 1 Corinthians 5:1-8. Hear my sermon on what makes us truly unleavened and righteous – and it’s NOT our deleavening that does that! It’s NOT. You can’t put enough sin out of your life yourself to make you righteous enough to qualify for the kingdom. Salvation is a GIFT, not the result of work you do. You are rewarded by your work, but not saved by your work. Rewards may have to do with how many cities you have, or what you will do for eternity. But Salvation is Christ’s work – gifted to us.
And again, CAN you or I even actually ever get all leaven out of our homes? I would confidently say ‘No”. There are even leaven spores in the AIR – and that’s how sourdough bread is made. And surely there will be a few leavened crumbs that even the most diligent will miss. Sin in our lives is the same. Paul himself admitted to still falling short and doing what he hated sometimes. And in striving to be righteous by what WE do, we end up missing the point of the unleavened life.
IT’S NOT our own righteousness; IT’S NOT the fruit of OUR labor of putting sin out that makes us righteous. It’s not how hard WE worked that will produce the unleavened life – but it’s the work of something and Someone totally different from ourselves.
YESHUA is our unleavened Bread, the Bread from heaven. Passover comes before the Days of Unleavened Bread. Passover – and the BLOOD of the lamb of the NEW Covenant – is what washes us from ALL sin. That’s what makes us unleavened. Then AFTER that, we show God we will strive to follow him, but even then, we sometimes still eat a leavened sandwich – especially when we’re away from home. But yes, we are called to live a transformed life as much as we can, as we follow the leading of the spirit, but in the end, it’s Christ’s righteousness that covers us. Let’s read it in Romans 9.
Romans 9:30-32—“What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of FAITH; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has NOT attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.
Folks, did you get that? This is repeated in Philippians 3:9-11, Romans 3-4-5-8 and so many places. You and I cannot work our way into a righteousness good enough for the kingdom of God. We have to have the righteousness of GOD himself, given to us as a gift (Romans 5:17-18), that we receive by faith.
SO --- the point of this blog is this: Yes, deleaven. But as you do, recognize you can’t get it all and won’t get it all. There are even leaven spores in the air. We are deleavened because HE is our unleavened bread. We are righteous because HE is righteous, and we believe he bestows on us HIS righteousness by faith in Him.
AND REMEMBER: days of unleavened bread come AFTER PASSOVER. Passover is what cleanses us from all sin, as we’re washed in the blood of the Lamb.
Our effort, our time, our focus, our energy – is all on HIM as we come to Passover. Not on us, not on our work, not on our effort. Please get that point, or you missing the point.
Israel was told by God to take one day to deleaven. Let’s not be more righteous than God. (Exodus 12:15). Spend more time in prayer, deep meditation and reading of the gospel accounts and in deep appreciation of our dear Savior who – in His Passover – gave us the New Covenant, the better covenant, the covenant of eternal life and HIS righteousness, HIS law written on our hearts. Praise you Yeshua. Praise you dear Abba, our wonderful God and Father.