God made a big deal of commanding the Israelites to commemorate their exodus from Egyptian slavery by removing all yeast from their households every year for a seven-day festival to the Lord. The haste in which the Israelites responded to God’s command to leave Egypt allowed no time for the yeast to work through their batches of dough. It metaphorically represents the way sin works in our lives by first gaining a small presence, and with time expanding its reach. So, after 430 years of slavery, God delivered His people from that sin and bondage; the yeast got left behind.
The Jews celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread annually for 1200-1300 years before Jesus arrived on the scene, so all the people were aware of its significance. After a particular encounter with a group of Pharisees, Jesus warned His disciples to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees (the priests, pastors and teachers of the day). Again, yeast represented sin and bondage. Instead of teaching and modeling God’s truth of love and freedom to the people, the Pharisees loaded them down with legalistic requirements of the Law, harsh judgments void of love and grace, and demands of gifts for the temple that superseded pressing human needs. In frustration, Jesus called them out, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
8 ‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.’” (Matthew 15:7-8)
We think of the Pharisees as hypocrites – we would never do anything like that. Never mind that we check the box of church attendance to prove to ourselves (and others) we are good people. We go to get our weekly dose of Jesus in services that are transformational, not merely a Sunday activity. The impact on our hearts should last throughout the day – or at least until we reach the parking lot. And if we don’t leave changed it was because the pastor delivered a lack-luster sermon, or the worship team was off their game.
Could it be that we’ve become so accustomed to our work being done through the conveniences of technology and skilled, dedicated people that we feel we do not need to work at having a personal relationship with Jesus? That work requires seeking Him individually, privately every single day, calling on the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation to know Him better (Ephesians 1:17). That work is accomplished in meditating on God’s Word which requires we read it (not a devotional about it) and chew on it with Holy Spirit. We must also engage in conversation with Him which is what prayer is about. Without these things, there is no relationship, only knowledge about the Lord that will fail us in a crisis requiring the trust that only comes through knowing Him.
King David’s Psalms indicate there was not a sweeter time than when he was communing with his Lord. Knowing God as he did gave him the confidence and assurance to navigate uncertain times. “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. 5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:4-5) David did not take his relationship with the Lord for granted. He attempted to do the things that would keep him connected, while rejecting those things that would create a wedge. If a relationship with our Savior is as important to us as it was to David, it might be time to assess how much yeast is in our homes and perform the purge that sets us up to enter the Promised Land of unfettered communion with our God.