GET RID OF THE LEAVEN! - Matthew 16:1-20

Shabbat Shalom to you all, how good and pleasant it is for us to be here together, to worship our Redeemer, King and Saviour in Spirit and in Truth, aměn! Well this Shabbat is the first of a New Year according to יהוה’s (Yahweh’s) calendar! This is the first month of the year, also known as ‘Aviv’, when the barley has ripened in the head of the grain, and it was in this month that Yisra’ĕl was delivered from Mitsrayim (Egypt). On the evening of the 15th we will have our Pěsaḥ (Passover) Meal with Unleavened Bread and will keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread for 7 days, of which during that week we will also celebrate the Feast of First fruits which is on the day after the Sabbath, being the first day of the week where Yahushua Himself offered up the First Fruit offering of the Harvest of souls unto the Father. It seems very fitting for us to think along the lines of the very Feast of Unleavened Bread that is but 10 days away and what we do in preparation for this Feast, and how that speaks to us not only physically or literally but also spiritually and metaphorically. In Shemoth/Exodus 12:7 we are told to eat Unleavened Bread for 7 days and whatever is leavened is not be seen with you and leaven is not to be seen within all your border! It goes on to say that we tell our children that it is because what יהוה (Yahweh) did for Yisra’ĕl when they came up out of Mitsrayim/Egypt! What is even more exciting for us to note is that the passage goes on to tell us that this very feast of Unleavened Bread being kept will be a sign to us on our hand and as a reminder between our eyes that the Torah of יהוה (Yahweh) is to be in our mouth – that is His Unleavened Bread of His Living Word! And we guard this law each year! This Feast reminds us of the purity of His unadulterated Word – יהושע (Yahushua), Our Passover lamb – and this sign will be on our hand and forehead!!! That sounds familiar doesn’t it! He repeats this twice in this chapter and so we realise once again that keeping His Feasts – obeying His Torah is our mark of worship! Following pagan feasts and traditions only leads to one receiving the mark of the beast! It is all about worship – may we have the sign of worship unto יהוה evident in our lives as we walk in and eat of the Living Bread - יהושע (Yahushua) Messiah.

As we approach this Feast we are reminded to clean up house so to speak and in a message tonight called, “Get rid of the Leaven” may we indeed do just that. In order for us to do that I would like us to look at the Words of יהושע (Yahushua) Messiah that He spoke to His disciples concerning some yeast they were to guard against. Please turn with me to Mattithyahu/Matthew 16:1-20 (Read)

The yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees – Mind and beware! Strong words but critical words that must be heeded!

Ok so who were the Pharisees and the Sadducees? They were the religious leaders of the day, 2 very opposing parties to one another, yet quickly united in opposition to Messiah in an attempt to trap Him and accuse Him of blasphemy! The Pharisees, of course, were the traditionalists of their day, while the Sadducees were quite liberal, holding fast to the written Law. The Sadducees held fast to the written Torah and believed the Word of Elohim as having all authority and any oral traditions were not seen as binding as law – not a bad thing! However the one of the things that they did not believe in was the resurrection of the dead. In fact Kěpha and Yoḥanan (Peter and John) were arrested for preaching on the resurrection of Messiah and for speaking in the Name!!! Ma‘asei/Acts 23:8 tells us that the Sadducees did not believe in angels or spirits – which is hard to see how they could not if they held fast to the written Word!!!

יהושע (Yahushua) was more critical toward the Pharisees – as they were more focused upon their oral laws and traditions than they were on the written Torah. They had made longs lists of do’s and don’ts that made it very hard to actually walk in the Torah of Freedom – they added to the Torah, and in so doing they added their ‘leaven’ or yeast to it and taught it as biding law.

Their teachings and doctrines were like yeast that works in slowly and secretly. Sin/Lawlessness is like tooth decay – it may go unnoticed at first, but if not treated will result in a rotten tooth that causes discomfort and pain and robs one of joy and pleasure! יהושע (Yahushua) called the Scribes and the Pharisees whitewashed tombs – all pretty on the outside – looking the part – yet on the inside they were dead – leprous and unclean!

So this corrupt lot wanted to see a sign – they wanted a miracle – “Come on show us that you are who you say you are!” And the response they got was simple – 3 days and 3 nights – when you get the leaven of your wicked thinking out of you and recognise that sign then you may just get it! They could tell the weather patterns yet could not discern the Truth of the Word which points to יהושע! They were wicked and adulterous – that is they twisted the truth around the worship of pagan deities and self! It is this very twisted and corrupt leaven we are to guard against.

Understanding the principle being taught in guarding against leaven and having no leaven in our lives, we can see how destructive a little leaven or rather sin can be. Just a tiny little bit of lawlessness can be deadly, and sadly too many today are living compromising lives thinking that their little compromises or sin will not affect or harm them in their relationship with Elohim – all due to false and leavened teachings that are geared to tickle ears and win over the crowds. People have used yeast for thousands of years, yet it was only in 1859 when Louis Pasteur discovered chemically how yeast in fact works, and he could therefore explain the very fermentation process that occurs in the making of wine and beer through the adding of yeast! Before this time nobody knew how yeast worked, they just knew it did! Today you can find all kinds of yeast products available – there is instant yeast, compressed yeast, active dry yeast, crumbed yeast, wet yeast, dry yeast with reducing power etc.

In other words this also helps me understand just how many ‘products’ in a sense there are out there that can certainly alter, change and even destroy the purity of the Truth. By ‘products’ I simply mean that there are so many false doctrines and traditions out there today, that if added to the Truth of His Word, even in ignorance, can and will affect an entire batch of pure Truth causing a rapid and destructive twisting to take place where each one ends up doing whatever he pleases.

When warning the disciples about this yeast, He was not talking about the yeast in bread but rather about these very twisted and lawless teachings. Sin is lawlessness and anything added to the Torah and taught as doctrine and law is a yeast that we are to guard against!

As you look at the process of what yeast does, you soon find out that it is simply a raising agent, as it ‘puffs up’ dough in the baking process. Yeast is a living organism that feeds on the dough in which it is placed and in the process it produces carbon dioxide! Did you hear what I said? Yeast is a living organism that feeds on the batch it is placed in to! So many people arrogantly think that some traditions and forms of worship that is rooted in pagan worship cannot and will not affect them – how wrong they are when they think that pagan feasts, such as Easter and Christmas are harmless – allowing this yeast in to your system through twisted teachings will affect you and affect you badly!!! In fact what tends to happen is that one affected by this sickened leaven gets puffed up and full of pride, unable to recognise their own sin – why? Because they have been deceived!!! And they are affected through and through – it is only by the favour of Elohim that we can all sit here today and give Him thanks that He has rid us of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, from which we are to now guard against being contaminated again!

Sha’ul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians:

Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 5:1-2, 6-8 “It is commonly reported that there is whoring among you, and such whoring as is not even named among the gentiles, so as one to have his father’s wife! 2 And you have been puffed up, and did not rather mourn, so that he who has done this deed, be removed from among you!” … “6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the entire lump? 7 Therefore cleanse out the old leaven, so that you are a new lump, as you are unleavened. For also Messiah our Passover was offered for us. 8 So then let us observe the festival, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The assembly at Corinth was in a state of disorder. Sexual sins and immorality was rampant. Some were only loyal to certain leaders while rejecting others and causing division. The Pěsaḥ (Passover) Meal was being taken without ridding oneself of leaven and sin through inspection and confession. There was major confusion as to the role of women in the assembly. Some people did not believe in the physical resurrection, while still others did not even believe that יהושע had risen from the dead!!!

Sounds like a pretty messed up lot hey? Well before we get all ‘puffed up’ and boastful ourselves, let me just say that even within our own small group there are some very different thoughts and beliefs, some leaven that we need to rid ourselves of! What this community or assembly in Corinth did not realise is that all the sinful acts – that is those lawless deeds that was going on – whether inherited through traditions or not was affecting others. Sha’ul was saying very clearly in this passage as you read on and in context that sin or leaven cannot be tolerated or accepted – it must be gotten rid of! He reminded them and reminds us that we are new – and we must cleanse out the old leaven to be a new lump, unleavened in Messiah. As this Feast of Unleavened Bread approaches we must ensure that we get rid of any old junk!

Just a tiny little bit of sin, a little bit of compromise that often is thought of as harmless – is like a little bit of yeast in the dough – it will affect the whole batch. Let me remind you all – our individual compromises affect not only our own lives but the lives of the rest of us in this family too. One little sin leads to another, be it in your life or be it that it causes another to also have a little compromise or sin in their life and so this leaven of lawlessness snowballs and before you know it, an assembly that is rich in Spirit and in Truth can become spiritually unhealthy and what results is nothing more than a divided group of people that blows out nothing but Carbon Dioxide (CO2)!!! And guess what … CO2 stinks!!!!

So as we have said, yeast causes dough to rise and so too does sin cause our flesh to rise! Sha’ul in Romiyim (Romans) tells us very clearly that we are to walk according to the Spirit and that the Torah is spiritual. We are to therefore not walk according to the flesh; we are to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh. We are to throw off those things of the flesh that hinder us as we run the race with great perseverance, fixing our eyes on the Living Torah – the Bread of Life – the very Unleavened Bread of Life -  יהושע Messiah! The question we must daily answer is whether we choose to walk in the flesh or in the Spirit – which one will we feed the most?

We must bear in mind that יהושע did in fact speak favourably regarding leaven when speaking about the kingdom of heaven, as He expects His very kingdom rule and reign to rise up inside of us and cause us to be affected by His Word.  The principle of yeast rising and spreading to the whole batch is what He speaks of, and what we are looking at tonight is the very yeast that kills through a very enchanting and ear-tickling puffed up message that only leads to lawless living as well as the very yeast of the sinful nature – that is of the flesh that can contaminate our attitudes and harden our hearts!

So then as we think upon cleaning up our lives, getting rid of the leaven, what sins are there that ‘puff up’ a person? Let us look at just 3 that has a nasty way of puffing one up:

Hatred – hatred toward another person is sin. Yes we are to hate that which is evil and cling to that which is good, but in respect to another, יהושע tells us to love our enemies! Hate is a sin that simply causes one person to degrade another, and through hatred some people puff themselves up to feel better about themselves when they clearly cause others to feel inferior, unworthy or useless. Hatred is terrible yeast that contaminates the Truth, and sadly we see in many parts of the world, including South Africa how hatred toward another, be it for various reasons including ethnicity, is readily taught and accepted as true doctrine! There are many living today who have puffed themselves up in their views and have a total disregard for others, which is nothing other than hatred being lived out literally, and actually feel good about themselves. “I have made it, sorry about you” approach as they look down upon and shun others as unworthy and useless! May we not have this leaven in our batch!

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

Jealousy – This is a common sin attitude seen daily among almost everyone! One that we must rid ourselves of quickly! Jealousy has destroyed relationships and lives. The Word is clear – DO NOT COVET! Sha’ul said he would not have known what coveting meant if the Torah had not said not to covet! The problem with many today is the same thing – they do not know that they are sinning because they have not read the Torah and are unable to look intently into the mirror of the Word and see how they look! Others know what the Word says yet still disobey as they allow the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees to affect their life of obedience! Being jealous of another or of another’s possessions is a very terrible yeast that only begins to puff oneself up into reasoning out why you need to have that which you covet and so end up all puffed up with pride and conceit! There is a saying, ‘Jealousy makes you nasty!” – How true that is! The Truth will never make you nasty, but add a little leaven and watch it spread – all it takes is a little! Don’t get jealous when others seem to have more than you or succeed a little quicker than you or are just simply blessed – don’t get jealous period!

Ya’aqoḇ/James 3: 14-16 “But if you have bitter jealousy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast against and lie against the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom coming down from above, but it is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and self-seeking are, there is confusion and every foul deed. 17 But the wisdom from above is first clean, then peaceable, gentle, ready to obey, filled with compassion and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

Greed – Oh boy, greed just puffs up an individual! Ever heard or said or even had a thought along the lines of: “What I have is mine and I have worked hard for this so I am not sharing it with anyone and I definitely am not giving it away! It is mine!

Greed has a way of seeking more and more and more and is never satisfied or content, and greed will cause you to never look outwardly at the needs of others, but rather only looks at satisfying self with a sickened craving for more, never having enough for self! This is nothing other than a pride filled life of selfishness without regard for another and will even forsake family and friends in order to feed the consuming poison of the yeast of greed. Greed is like a drug addiction that is always seeking the next big fix!

In Kěpha Bet/2 Peter 2 we are warned about those false prophets and teachers who will in their greed and with fabricated words use you for gain! Watch out for the yeast of greed – even in those seemingly nice to hear messages. Sha’ul tells us to not keep company with anyone who is called a brother and he whores or is greedy of gain, or is a drunkard or a swindler – we are not even to eat with the greedy! Get rid of greed!

As we consider some of the leaven that we ought to rid ourselves of may we also realise, pretty much in line really with our Torah portions of late, that leprosy is also symbolic of that deadly leaven of sin. In leprosy what happens is that as the leprosy progresses and worsens the leper begins to lose feeling – their sense of touch weakens and eventually becomes null and void to the point where the flesh is eaten to the bone the extremities fall off!

As we consider the leprosy of our hearts that comes as a result of sin or leaven being mixed into our lives, no matter how small amount, if not dealt with and confessed, can begin to cause leprous decay from within and result in us losing feeling so to speak. By this I mean that our hearts begin to harden and become insensitive to others, having no care or regard for one another only thinking only of self. Before we think that this has never or would never happen to any of us, what we do often see today is a what I would call a ‘puffed up walk’ by many who have started walking in Torah – by this I mean that there are those who by the knowledge they have learnt become ‘puffed up’ instead of growing in humility and the ‘leaven of self’ sets in and so what can happen very quickly then is that hearts begin to harden and as the care for one another is lost – they become lepers in the inside which can rapidly spread like yeast if not dealt with and cleansed out through repentance and the washing of the Word.

We are to be clean on the inside and then our ‘cleanness’ or set-apartness will shine through as we become a light to the nations. As you can all see when looking at a light bulb – the filament that which projects the light – is on the inside of the globe. What is on the inside of us will shine forth and so let me quickly remind you that any sin or leaven that may be on the inside will eventually surface and reveal true character – let not the leaven of malice and wickedness be in us, but rather the Unleavened Bread of sincerity and truth! The very Unleavened Bread within us will too shine forth brightly as we reflect that we are indeed children of the Most High.

It is time to get rid of leaven, and so as we look forward to Pěsaḥ and Unleavened bread may we rid not only our home of yeast but more importantly our lives of any leaven of the flesh! Tonight is just simply more of a reminder that we are to constantly keep the leaven of flesh out of our lives and not just as we approach a Feast of יהוה, it is time to get rid of the leaven – will you do it – will you cleanse your hands and your hearts through the washing of His Word and by the Truth of His Unleavened Bread? And may we guard against the yeast of man-made doctrines and traditions that only spoil and cause to rot!

In closing I would like to briefly share a little on something that is at times a controversial issue regarding the Pěsaḥ Meal and wine. I know that I said recently that it is still our home and we do not allow any alcoholic beverage here, and will not have wine here for Passover but will have grape juice and so the question arises wine or grape juice? I am sharing this as it is fitting for removing leaven and not having the Pěsaḥ meal with leaven!

We all know that the ‘Cup of Pěsaḥ’ represents and is symbolic of the Blood of יהושע but what is in the cup? Wine – Grape Juice or Water? Some say water as יהושע turned water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana, and also because blood and water came out of His side when the roman soldier pierced Him while on the stake – but this cannot be as water doesn’t represent His Blood. יהושע and Sha’ul both refer to the Pěsaḥ beverage as the ‘cup’ or rather ‘fruit of the vine’. They NEVER used the word wine in reference to the ‘cup’. Fermented wine in Greek is ‘oinos’ and is used 28 times in the Second Writings – this word was not used for the Pěsaḥ Cup. Luqas/Luke 22:20 tells us that this fruit of the vine represents His Blood. Another word used in the Greek for fermented wine is in Ma’asei/Acts 2:13 is ‘gleukos’ which again was not used in reference to the Cup at Pěsaḥ!

In Scripture wine can represent a few things: in Ḥazon/Revelation 14, 16 and 17 speaks of the wrath of Babylonian fornication and also symbolises the fierceness of יהוה‘s wrath. It is represented also as a celebration drink as when water was turned to wine at the wedding and also when Aḇraham received bread and wine from Malkitseḏeq after a great victory. We also can see that wine was forbidden in worship and service in the Tabernacle. Wine and strong drink were forbidden in order that the priests could distinguish between the set-apart and the profane, the clean and the unclean – a statute forever throughout our generations! (Wayyiqra/Leviticus 10:9-10).

Sha’ul also told Timotiyos that an overseer must not be given to wine. It is all a picture of cleanness and set-apartness when representing the Blood and work of Messiah!

What we must realise today, in case you were not aware, is that wine is a by-product and not the first fruit of the grape. Wine is produced when yeast, what? Yes Yeast, a leavening agent, is added and acts on the sugar molecule of fruit juice in order to produce ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide. Wine therefore, is a chemically altered product and is not the original pure fruit of the vine, but rather a secondary by-product! Therefore, for Unleavened Bread and the Pěsaḥ Meal a modified substance is not adequate to represent as a symbol of the pure uncorrupted Blood of Messiah.

And most importantly for this Feast – wine is leavened just as bread is leavened by yeast. Pěsaḥ is to be eaten with no leaven. Unleavened Bread represents יהושע and the fruit of the vine His Blood.

New wine symbolises the best – that juice that is squeezed out by the sheer weight of the wine press before the treading takes place. יהושע is the first fruit of the dead and He is the True Vine. This pure first fruit can only equate with the first of the fleshly squeezed grape juice and not a by-product of wine which has been corrupted through chemical change!

Before יהושע suffered He went to Gethsemane where He sweat blood, and we know that this was an Olive grove and that Gethsemane is also referred to as an olive press that crushed fresh olives. The Word Gethsemane comes from 2 Hebrew words – 1 – ‘gath’ – Strong’s # G1660 – means wine press and 2 – ‘shemen’ – Strong’s # H8080 which means oil. יהושע was in the wine press under so much pressure He sweat Blood – the First Fruit of the crushing. Wine is a by-product, יהושע is NOT!!! So then let me ask you who are being commanded to get rid of leaven – is the cup of Pěsaḥ that represents His Blood from Grape Juice or Wine? The answer is simple – the first fruit of the grape – the fruit of the vine – pure grape juice!

Yeshayahu says that ‘new wine’ is found in the cluster! The word used here for ‘new wine’ is ‘tiyrosh’ and means fresh grape juice as just squeezed out! So another lesson for us in removing leaven for His Feast – No Wine!!!

May we be a people who get rid of the leaven in our lives and allow His Blood and His Word to cleanse us and set us apart for good use, aměn!

יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and give you favour; יהוה lift up His face to you and give you peace!

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