Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Symbol of Leaven

By  Lee 

The bible contains many symbols the meanings of which are hidden within its own pages.  The focus of this book will be on the symbol of leaven.  There are those who say leaven is always a symbol for sin and evil. To determine the meaning of leaven we must search the scriptures where leaven is mentioned.

Matthew 16:6 then Jesus said to them, "take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." 
To understand the use of the word leaven by Jesus we must read through to verse twelve of chapter sixteen. 

Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the
leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 

In this section of the scriptures leaven clearly symbolizes doctrine or teaching that is false in its origin.  All false doctrine has its origin in a false spirit and this false spirit is Satan.  Leaven was used in the old covenant scripture to symbolize sin.  The Israelites were commanded by the Law of Moses to remove all leaven from their homes and to not eat any leaven during the days of unleavened bread. 

Leviticus 23:6- and on the fifteenth day of the same month is a feast of unleavened bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 

Yeast is a leavening agent as it causes the dough to rise into a loaf of bread.  Thus when scripture speaks of leaven it refers to yeast.  From the scriptures given so far yeast or leaven seems to symbolize something evil and of an evil spirit.  We must continue our examination of the word leaven. 
In Matthew 13:33 Jesus gives a parable;

Another parable he spoke to them: "the kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened."  

Here we see leaven being used in connection with the kingdom of God.  This scripture seems to conflict with the previous scriptures that appear to connect leaven with evil and sin.  How can God's kingdom be sin?

 Leviticus 23:17, the law again mentions leaven;  "you shall bring from your habitations two wave loaves of two tenths of an ephah.  They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven.  They are the first fruits to the Lord." 

Here the law describes two loaves of bread baked with leaven as God's first fruits.  Here again we seem to have a conflict as to the true meaning of the symbol of leaven.  If we closely examine, we see that leaven can symbolize both good and evil.  This means that leaven symbolizes spirit that can be good or evil.  God's Spirit being good and Satan's being evil.  This shows us that people are leavened as bread is leavened with a good or evil spirit.  The spirit of Satan is leaven that produces sin and everlasting death.  The Holy Spirit from God is leaven that produces righteousness and everlasting life. 
The apostle Paul uses this symbolism of leaven in first Corinthians 5:6-8.  A problem developed in the Corinthian church that Paul compared to evil leaven.  The sin of one man was infecting the entire church as a little leaven leavens the whole lump.   Paul tells them to purge out this old leaven of malice and wickedness and to fulfill the old covenant shadow meaning of the days of unleavened bread.  Israel could unleaven physically but could not spiritually and neither could they become a new lump leavened with God's Spirit, for the Holy Spirit was not given to ancient Israel.  Paul was telling the Corinthians to repent of the evil spirit that invaded their church and allow the leaven of God's Spirit to lead them into sincerity and truth. 
It is my hope that this study of leaven will prove to the reader that leaven is a symbol for spirit and that it can be the Spirit of God or the spirit of Satan.  All people are born with the leaven of Satan and only through faith in Christ can they receive the leaven of the Holy Spirit.   This is only the beginning of the information that can be gotten from leavens meaning. 
At the beginning I quoted Matthew 13:33  "the kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till all was leavened."   A little leaven will leaven the whole church.

This parable reveals very important information about the kingdom of God.  The leaven in this verse symbolizes God's Holy Spirit.  The woman is the church of God and the three measures of meal are the three ages of grace that God has and will provide for humanity.  The two wave loaves baked with leaven in Leviticus 23:17 were the first fruits of God.  The first fruits are God's elect who were given the Holy Spirit, the holy leaven.

James 1:18    "of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, That we might be a kind of first fruits of His creation."

The two loaves represent the saints of the old covenant and the saints of the new covenant.  The kingdoms third loaf has yet to be baked with God's Spiritual leaven in order to use up the three measures of meal in Christ's parable.  Those who believe that this is the only day of salvation can not understand the true meaning of the symbol of leaven.  They limit God to one or perhaps two loaves depending on their doctrinal stand.    

First Corinthians 15:19- if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 
Paul had hope in the resurrections of the just and the unjust.  The advocates of heaven and hell condemn the unjust to an everlasting life of torment without hope.

Acts 24:15- I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.
When a person is leavened with God's Spirit they become a new lump or a new creation.  They are given spiritual understanding and knowledge and they are held accountable to God.  They have been given much and much will be required, but to whom the Spirit has not been given not as much will be required. 

Luke 12:47-48  "and that servant who knew his masters will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.  But he, who did not know, yet committed things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few.    For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more."
If you have been given the Holy Spirit then you have been given much; God has leavened you.  Those who have God's Spirit are held to a higher level of accountability than those who do not have God's Spirit and to blaspheme the Spirit brings many stripes.  More will be asked of those who have that Spirit than those who do not.  God's punishment will be greater for those who were given the Spirit, and refuse to repent, than upon those who were not given the Spirit and can not repent.  There is a sin that can be committed that has no forgiveness. 

Matthew 12:31-32 "therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.  Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come."
This sin is called the, 'unpardonable sin."  Only those who have been given God's Holy Spirit can commit this sin and will be beaten with many stripes, which means to suffer the lake of fire.  Notice that in the age to come it will be possible for people to commit this sin, and proves that there will be people in the age to come with the Holy Spirit.  Ezekiel 37 describes the second resurrection with respect to ancient Israel.  The second death is the fate for all who commit the unpardonable sin.  

Hebrews 6:4-6  "for it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put Him to an open shame".
Hebrews 10:26-27 speaks also of this unpardonable sin and of the lake of fire:

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain expectation of judgment and a fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.

It is important that we look again at Matthew 12:31 and Matthew 13:33.  Matthew 12:31 tells us that the unpardonable sin will not be forgiven in the age to come when the final loaf of leavened bread is baked from the leavened meal of Matthew 13:33.  The first two loaves, Leviticus 23:17 are the saints of the first two ages.  The first age lasted from creation to the birth of Christ and his gospel. The second age of grace began at the first advent and will last until the door is shut, prior to the start of the great tribulation, as is symbolized in the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13.  The third age of grace will begin after the return of Christ with those during the millennium and second resurrection.  Those who will be leavened at those times are beaten with few stripes and given their first opportunity to receive the Holy Spirit and come to the knowledge of the gospel of salvation.  These are the third measure of meal that was leavened in Matthew 13:33. It is God's will that no one will perish but all come to repentance.  When Christ returns and finds someone who has committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit he will not forgive this sin and will cast such a one into the lake of fire, which is the second death. 
With this understanding of leaven, there arises a conflict with those who believe in the doctrine of heaven and hell.  The unsaved of this age are said to be in hell, living forever in torment.  Therefore questions concerning the state of the dead must be addressed. 

John 3:16 "for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life."
This well-known verse of scripture says that only those who believe in Jesus will have everlasting life, everyone else will perish.  This is in complete agreement with all of scripture.  Jesus did say that if you refuse to repent, you will likewise perish.  To perish is to cease to exist, to have no life or consciousness.  God did not create humans with everlasting life but rather gives everlasting life as a promised gift to those who believe in his son as Romans 6:23 plainly states. 

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is everlasting life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus Christ died to give humanity the gift of everlasting life but the heaven and hell doctrine believes in an immortal soul or everlasting life from creation.  God prevented humanity from the beginning, in Eden, access to the tree of life, so they would not eat of its fruit and live forever.

Genesis 3: 22 & 24 then the Lord God said, "behold the man has become like one of us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…"     He drove out the man; and he placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

God does not give everlasting life to sinners. 

First John 3:15 whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has everlasting life abiding in him.

Everlasting life is given only to the saints of God and is given at the return of Christ and not before. 

First John 2:25- this is the promise that he has promised us, everlasting life.
God's promises are sure, as God cannot lie, and if He has promised his saints everlasting life it is a sure promise. The writings of the new covenant reflect this hope of God's promise of everlasting life as though it was a reality. God speaks of things that do not exist as though they do and His saints have done the same.  It was not my intent to prove the state of the dead in this writing, but rather that there is hope for those who have not known Christ in this current age.  I have found in my many years of studying the scripture that all spiritual things are linked together as an unbroken chain of truth.  If one speaks of any one topic it will lead to all others link after link.  The word of God can not be broken except in the minds of those to whom it has not been revealed.
The sin of Adam and Eve has been passed on to all of their descendants.  They ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which violated God's command to them.  The tree of life was the other choice God gave them but after Adam and Eve made their decision, the tree of life was closed and sealed from humanity.  The leaven of sin from the spirit of Satan had entered the world.  God has provided a way through his Son, Jesus Christ, for people to purge out the old leaven and become a new lump leavened with the Holy Spirit of God.  Within the symbolism of leaven is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  That is why Jesus spoke this parable.  We know that Jesus spoke in parables to hide the truth from those not intended to receive it in this age, but in the age to come. 

KJV Matthew 13:10-16
 10.  And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
 11.  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
 12.  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
 13.  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
 14.  And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
 15.  For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
 16.  But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

There is a hope for those who have not known God, who have not been leavened at this time. 
The understanding of the symbolism of leaven leads a person to see that there are many teachings in professing Christianity that are not in agreement with the scriptures.  You would not think that a little thing like leaven would produce so much understanding. It is as Jesus said, "he who is faithful in little is faithful in much."
Another very interesting thing about leaven is recorded in Luke 24:30-31

KJV Luke 24:30-31
 30.  And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

The word bread used in verse 30 is the Greek word "artos" Strong's #740 which means bread raised to a loaf or baked with leaven. This event occurred after the resurrection during what would have been the days of unleavened bread of the Jews.  This is how the disciples knew it was Jesus.

KJV Luke 24:35
 35.  And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

Once Jesus had risen He had fulfilled all the symbolism of the ancient Israelite holy days and soon would leaven his disciples with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus ate leavened bread with His disciples during the days of unleavened bread to identify Himself to them.  Indeed Jesus has fulfilled all the ancient holy days by what He did.  Just as we are not required to sacrifice animals or circumcise we are not required to keep holy days.  If Jesus ate leavened bread during the days of unleavened bread He was showing the end of the ancient system.  Jesus was the bread or leaven from heaven sent into the world to leaven the spirits of just men made perfect.  Leaven when properly understood can give spiritual wisdom to the one of faith.
The Greek word for unleavened bread is "azumos" and is Strong's #106 and is the English word "unleavened bread".

Strong's Ref. # 106

Romanized azumos
Pronounced ad'-zoo-mos

From GSN0001 (as a negative particle) and GSN2219; unleavened, i.e. (figuratively) uncorrupted; (in the neutral plural) specially (by implication) the Passover week:

KJV--unleavened (bread).

Strong's Ref. # 740

Romanized artos
Pronounced ar'-tos

From GSN0142; bread (as raised) or a loaf:

KJV-- (shew-) bread, loaf.

KJV John 6:32-35
 32.  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
 33.  For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
 34.  Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
 35.  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

The word bread that Jesus uses to call Himself the true bread and the bread from heaven is "artos" or leavened bread.  The bread Jesus used at Passover was leavened bread.  The symbol of leaven has been misunderstood by many.  I hope this book has enlightened you to the meaning of the symbol of leaven.  Jesus is Gods leaven.

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