Here’s another parable that’s difficult to explain; “The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” Matthew 13:33
The trouble with this parable is that leaven (yeast) is likened to pride and sin!
Some say that in this instance leaven is a good thing. It means the good news of the Kingdom will change the whole world, and then the Kingdom of God will come. I don’t think so. There’s nothing to back that up in scripture – nor has it come to pass. How many of us have families who are all following the Lord? The gospel brings persecution – not peace. Jesus, when he was talking about persecution, said “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” Matthew 10:34-36.
Let’s look at what Jesus meant when he said “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14. If you read this in context you’ll see he’s talking about the tribulation after the disciples asked him about the end times. I believe he’s speaking of the preaching of the two witnesses and the 144,000 Jewish evangelists, after the Church has gone. Because he said in the next sentence that when they see the Abomination of Desolation in the temple, to run for the hills. Matthew 24:15. And he was speaking to the Jews because he said to pray that their flight did not take place on the Sabbath. Matthew 24:20.
So what did Jesus mean by “the Kingdom of Heaven being like leaven?” Well, lets look at what was specified for offerings in Leviticus;
“On the eighth day they must bring two male lambs and one ewe lamb a year old, each without defect, along with three-tenths of an ephah (three measures) of the finest flour mixed with olive oil for a grain offering, and one log of oil.” Leviticus 14:10
So the woman sneaked leaven into the offering.
Jesus said I AM the Bread of Life. He is bread without leaven. This unleavened bread has stripes.
The Body of Christ is likened to bread, but unlike Jesus, it has leaven. “Is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.” 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
The leaven has had 2,000 years to rise! It’s really puffed up in some places.
There’s different types of leaven, just as there’s different types of yeast.
First, Jesus warned about the leaven of the Pharisees: “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” Mark 8:15, Matthew 16:6-11 He explained that the yeast of the Pharisees is hypocrisy. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Luke 12:1
In Matthew 23, A Warning Against Hypocrisy, he pronounced seven woes on the Teachers of the Law and said “You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” Matthew 23:13.
And then there’s sexual sin. Sexual immorality is leaven within the church, destroying its fellowship. Paul took on the church at Corinth who were proud of their tolerance. They had sexual sin of the kind that even the pagans didn’t tolerate. He said,
“Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens [ferments] the whole lump [of dough]? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump [fresh dough], as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:6-8 RSV)
(The festival that Paul told the church at Corinth to celebrate was the Festival Of Unleavened Bread that the Jews observe at Passover.)
Finally, in the book of Galatians 5:9, Paul speaks of leaven, this time in connection with legalism, with trying to put people under the Law. Christ came to set us free from that. When I was handed my baton (Chapter 74 The Year Of Inheritance) and told to run my race, (Hebrews 12) I was warned about this. The legalism for me came in the form of prosperity doctrine. And it was subtle. The leaven was well and truly hidden. It did hamper me from running my race, until we got out of that church.
“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” Galatians 5:7-9.
Now we don’t know who the sneaky woman was who introduced the leaven. It could be Jezebel, mentioned in Revelation 2:20. That spirit likes to promote immorality. It twists and distorts the truth, teaching so-called secret things.
As for things done in secrecy, Jude warned “For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” Jude v4.
Jude was the brother of Jesus Christ, and one of the Twelve Apostles appointed by Jesus to lead his Church, and he urged Christians to contend for the faith. In England, on the same day the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation was celebrated at Westminster Abbey, the peers voted to allow David Cameron’s same-sex marriage Bill to continue its passage through parliament. The Queen, who is called “the Defender of the Faith” broke her oath by signing the Bill into law the following month, July 2013. Within months England had a string of severe storms and floods in the UK, beginning with the St. Jude storm on 27-28 October 2013, which was also known as Cyclone ‘Christian’. Prime Minister Cameron called the UK floods ‘biblical’ after the Thames burst it’s banks on 11th Feb 2014, but I don’t know if Britain noticed the sign about Jude. (I wrote about it in my other blog Red Sky in the Morning.)
Jude also warned against those who run greedily in the error of Balaam, who prophesies for profit. (Jude 11 and Revelation 2:14).
We have to accept that there will be leaven in the bread, but we can combat it by knowing our Bible.
Timothy, pastor at Ephesus between AD 64-66, wrote “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:16.
Finally, a bit of trivia. The word “yeast” comes from Old English gist, gyst, and from the Indo-European root yes-, meaning “boil”, “foam”, or “bubble.”
It brings to mind the opening scene from Macbeth where the witches are going “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”
I think the sneaky woman with the leaven would have got on just fine with the witches.
Get the gist?