Yeast – Before Passover

Yeast – Before Passover

“For seven days no yeast is to be found in your homes.” (Exodus 12: 19) NIV

God had prepared His people to be out of Egypt.  He had made the Egyptians weary of them and their God.  His Passover would be the final straw and He set the stage for them to go; He gave specific meal instructions.  It covered what to cook and eat and how it was to be done.  As Christians, we take a lot of symbolism from this meal and even more has come from Jewish traditions.  Getting rid of yeast is very important to the Passover Feast and is rich for us as Christians.  But why yeast!?

I like the spiritual lesson Chabad.org has in its post on Passover. (I am paraphrasing big time.)  The difference between crackers and bread is yeast.  It fills the dough with gas and makes it puffed up; while the cracker stays flat and humble.  Wow!  Yeast in most places of scripture carries a negative thought.

My question, “Why yeast” still stands?  Yes, we should take time and view our lives and houses and get rid of things that are not pleasing to God.  The Jews do this before Passover and they are serious about it.  How would these first participants in Passover make that connection when all yeast had ever done is make their bread rise?  For the most part, we Christians will say that yeast symbolizes sin, but Jesus compared yeast to the action of the Kingdom of God.  I believe that He would ban it on what it would come to shadow, but I also think more has been at play here.

In Exodus 12: 34 the people took their dough in the kneading troughs wrapped them in extra clothing and moved quickly out of town.  My second thought of “why” is the speed of their departure.  Adding yeast and letting it rise in order to bake can take time.  By the text, it sounds like they were leaving quickly and God knew they would be on the move for several days.  Flatbread cooks quicker than yeast bread.

A third “why” could be the Egyptian cult worship that involved yeast?  The frog goddess Heqet was also involved with yeast.  It was a bread-making/ beer cult and could have been one of the deities that Israel had become involved with. (See Frogs in the Bible)

Yeast in itself is not bad and could be used the rest of the year, but for this time period, it did pose a problem.  It could be one or all three of these or it may be something else, but for the trip out of Egypt, it had to go.  Please see my other posts on yeast: What I Learned From Studying YeastYeast, All BadYeast, A Model of Church Growth.

Take Away – A more “modern” custom that Jews may do in preparations for Passover is selling their yeast.  I see it as a picture of what Judas did to Jesus.  Jesus became our sin (yeast); Judas tried to give the money back but was refused.  Yes, modern Jews can buy back their yeast products after Passover.

http://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/1742/jewish/What-Is-Chametz.htm

Bible and Science-Yeast, A Model of Church Growth

Bible and Science-Yeast, A Model of Church Growth

Matthew 13:33 “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”(NIV)

To understand this passage we need to look at how yeast grows. Yeasts are eukaryotic and can divide by a process called budding. (Most cells divide into two even sized cells.) In budding a small uneven sized pouch of cell material forms on the “mother cell.”yeastS_cerevisiae_under_DIC_microscopy In this pouch go all of the organelles and other chemicals that are needed for it to live; since it is eukaryotic DNA also goes into the bud. The mother cell has given the bud everything it needs to live on its own including the reproduction information – DNA. The bud may stay attached to the mother cell and actually start its own bud. (Under a microscope I have seen several of these all strung out from the mother cell.)

Churches may grow the same way. The church can send out a few people who are equipped with everything needed to start and grow a new church. (Personal Opinion: I see Hillsong Church growing in this method around the world.)

∞Jesus, let me be like Isaiah and say, “Lord, send me.” Isaiah 6:8

http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/bread.htm

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/get-know-nutritional-yeast?sf28652915=1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeast

pic from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeast#mediaviewer/File:S_cerevisiae_under_DIC_microscopy.jpg

Bible and Science-Yeast, All Bad?

Bible and Science-Yeast, All Bad?

Leviticus 23: 17 Bring two loaves of bread baked with yeast as a wave offering.

Mark 8:15 “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

Most of the time when yeast is mentioned in the Bible it is connected with sin. The references to the loaves of bread at Pentecost (see Happy Birthday Church of Jesus) and the kingdom of heaven (God) is said to be LIKE yeast (Matthew 13:33) are the only positive references. Scripture does not tell us why yeast has gotten this labeling. The Israelites could have it for baking their regular bread but it could not be used for bread connected with any offering or feast (except Pentecost).

yeastS_cerevisiae_under_DIC_microscopyYeast live by breaking down sugars. Carbon dioxide, which causes bread to rise, is one product and the other is alcohol. Yeast may be found on all kinds of surfaces but they will live on the outside of fruit and grains; this is why they will naturally spoil and ferment. God knew/knows this He made them. But these facts should not have them be connected to sin (my reasoning here). Some yeast is considered “good” and some are termed “wild.” The wrong yeast in a batch of beer or wine and you do not get the specific taste you are wanting. So bread makers and brewers are particular about what they put in their wares.

After reading a lot of literature on the subject here are some ideas as to why yeast may be connected with “bad.”

  1. It works unseen and affects everything it is in.
  2. The smell could be associated with something dead.
  3. It may give a sour taste to bread.
  4. Egypt had cult worship related to bread and beer.

I am leaning to #4 as the reason because Father God did not want anything Egyptian imported into His worship. The Israelites had enough problems with this so why add another thing like yeast in bread.

∞ Father, let me spread good in Your Kingdom.

http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/bread.htm

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/get-know-nutritional-yeast?sf28652915=1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeast

pic from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeast#mediaviewer/File:S_cerevisiae_under_DIC_microscopy.jpg

Pentecost-Happy Birthday Church of Jesus

Pentecost or fifty days after Easter is the end of a time period known as “Counting of the Omer” and for the Jews it is the time period they remember the Exodus to the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.  For the Christian it marks the birth of the Church and the giving of the Holy Spirit.  The Hebrew letter Nun the fourteenth letter of the Jewish alphabet represents Pentecost, which means fifty. Jesus during the Resurrection had shown Himself to the Disciples and had taught them about His Kingdom.  After forty days He ascended into Heaven leaving them ten days to seek Him about this promised “Holy Spirit” that was to come.  You have to wonder if they fully understood what Jesus was talking about or what was about to happen?  Had Jesus explained that when the Holy Spirit came that they would walk in a new anointing and power that had not been experienced by that many people before? In Leviticus 23: 15 – 22 the observance of Pentecost is described.  The main offering is the “firstfruits” of the season that is two loaves of baked bread that are to be waved before the Lord.  The unusual thing about these loaves is that they are to be made with yeast.  Normally offerings brought to the Temple were to be yeast-free as it is a type and shadow for sin.  As the Hebrew4Christians website notes these loaves represent the Jew and Gentile being presented to God as firstfruits.  In one parable found in Matthew 13: 33 and Luke 13: 20 yeast is compared to the kingdom of God.  (Yeast is a living organism that serves a purpose in a sense they give what they are in life!  Instead of sin maybe it is the type of yeast you are using!) PentecostActs 2: 2 + 3 tell about the “sound of a violent wind” and “what seemed to be tongues of fire.”  Other than God can be dramatic if He wants to be, maybe they symbolize the ram-horn trumpets and the fire for the burnt offerings that had to be made on Pentecost.  I have wondered if the Disciples really knew what “wait for the gift my Father promised,” meant?  They had seen Jesus operate in miraculous power but you wonder if they thought it would show up like that? I know that many who are Christians do not claim a “Pentecostal” experience is valid for today.  Many make fun of it just as the Disciples were accused of being drunk but Peter dispelled that idea immediately (2:15).  His closing comments in Acts 2: 38 + 39 talk about the “gift” (the one they had been waiting for) and says that the “promise is for you and your children and those who are far off” so that should include everyone since the first Pentecost and I did not notice that the “gift” was going to change in anyway.  Think about the gift of Pentecost! http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Spring_Holidays/Shavuot/shavuot.html

http://clipart.christiansunite.com/1402137661/Pentecost_Clipart/Pentecost004.jpg

Fruit and Nuts – Grapes + Recabites

Grapes, raisins, vines/branches, and wine

When it comes to symbolism what better icon is there than the grape plant for representing the Church of Jesus?  Jesus used it in parables, it is part of our communion and it is referred to throughout Scriptures. Now as with most symbols you can attach several meanings to grapes and its vines; I am going to look at a few and let God reveal others to you.

  1. Part of Communion – The wine is to represent the Blood of Jesus. * Sorry, I did not say grape juice! I do go to a church that uses grape juice but ancient Israel would have had to ferment it in order to keep it. Several churches I know use grape juice so as to not have weaker Christians stumble and I am good with that!* But wine is a “living drink” having come from many individual grapes all put together and joined by yeast (it does not have to symbolize sin) to become something new. Yeast in Luke 13:21 is used as a picture of the Kingdom of God.
  2. Jesus refers to Himself, as the Vine and we, the Church, are the branches. John 15:5
  3. Nazirites – People separated to God for a season could not eat or drink any part of the grape plant while under the vow. (Look in Numbers 6 and remember that Samson was a Nazirite and so was John the Baptist, probably.) Interesting type and shadow, that people in the Old Testament who choose to get close to God had to give up grapes, a symbol for the church.
  4. Medicine – In 1 Timothy 5:23 Paul urges Timothy to use a little wine because of his stomach; the alcohol can kill germs.
  5. The vine in Judges 9: 12+13 – refuses to rule over other plants so that it can do its job. I did not find any reference to a “vine” that was not grape.
  6. Misuse of wine – I guess the one that stands out is Noah getting drunk after the Flood. Proverbs 20: 1- “Wine is a mocker” (NIV) speaks for its self or Proverbs 23:29-35, “When will I awake so I can get another drink.”
  7. Raisins – They are grapes with most of the water (Holy Spirit) taken out of them but they still can revive a weak individual. Ex. 1 Samuel 30:12

However, you view wine drinking is between you and Jesus but the grape plant and its fruit are and always will be part of Church symbolism.

The picture of the grapevine is from http://free-extras.com/images/growing_grapes-5434.htm

Recabites (NIV) or Rechabites (KJV)

First, my apology to anyone who is not familiar with American slang; the word “nut” can carry several meanings and for this blog, it is someone who is crazy (at least according to worldly standards).

The main story of the Recab family is found in Jeremiah 35. Here the prophet Jeremiah is instructed by God to have all of the men of the family come to the Temple and serve them wine. No pressure right, THE MAN of God invites you to church and expects you to join in “the boys night out” he is throwing. They refuse and state that they don’t drink because of a long-standing family tradition. (Drinking alcohol is not the point but it could be; I know it is a very volatile topic. I don’t drink because it is one thing that God delivered me from when I got saved. I have found out through the years that it is not me who is uncomfortable with not drinking but the drinkers around me.) They also state another family tradition of not owning houses or planting fields. Now all of this combined for some people would qualify them as “NUTS”, no “American Dream” of your own house; then to top all of that off they tell the man of God, NO.

So who were these Recabites who would say no when put into such a pressure situation? According to 1 Chronicles 2:55 they are one of the family groups that came from Caleb, the faithful spy in the Exodus story. Now there are several “Recabs” in the Bible and not all of them are from Caleb and when you read verse 55 you may recognize Kenites and again there are several groups with this name that do not seem to be related. But more specifically they may have come from the Jehonadab who sided with Jehu in 2 Kings 10 (it makes you wonder if they are part of the 7000 in 1 Kings 19) to get rid of Ahab and the prophets of Baal. So taking a stand and following God was a long time family tradition for the Recabites.  And in Jeremiah 35:19 God honors them because they honored the instructions of their ancestors. With a promise to always have a family member who serves God!

The picture of the Recabites is from http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/Pictures/StandardBibleStoryReadersBook5/images/scan0017.jpg