The symbolic act of taking leaven from our houses is expanded to include ridding leaven from our minds and attitudes. Many messages have been preached about the process of deleavening, emphasizing that, as we clean, we think about the symbolism of leaven and sin.
We should try to strike a balance in our deleavening activities, knowing that cleaning every nook and cranny of crumbs does not sweep us into the Kingdom of God. God does not tell us to clean the attic if no one eating crackers has been up there the entire year. Still, it is useful to do if one has the time and ability. A more thorough cleaning, however, should not take away from spiritual preparation, such as prayer, Bible study, and fasting.
Reducing clutter as we deleaven, a kind of “simplifying of our lives,” can be a useful tool in identifying aspects of the world that Satan uses to entrap us. The untidiness in our lives can be equated with a certain messiness in our minds. We need to ask ourselves what hooks this year have caught and bound us to the world? Have we formed any attachments to our stuff that could cloud our judgment? Can any of our stuff be given to charity or to others in need, or simply disposed of in some other way in order to simplify our lives?
Our stuff is not evil, in and of itself. Certainly, my stuff is not! But we must have a clear notion of what is truly important in life—and it is not our cars, big-screen TVs, or cellphones! If the house were on fire, and once we made it outside, we looked around on the lawn and saw that all our family was safe, would there be any reason to run back into that burning home? Is any of our stuff worth our lives?
We eat unleavened bread during the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread as a sign, a memorial to God's law and His deliverance of His people from Egypt. As Moses tells the Israelites in Exodus 13:3, “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten.”
Verse 6 tells us to eat unleavened bread seven days, and all leavening must be out of our homes and living spaces during that time. The reason appears in verses 8-9:
And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, “This is done because of what the LORD did for me when I came up from Egypt.” It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the LORD'S law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt.
God brought His people out of a land full of pagan gods and sins of all sorts. He took them into a wilderness to teach them His laws and to build their faith. Egypt represented the world, and the Israelites walked away from it.
In Genesis 45:16-20, when the king of Egypt finds that Joseph has family back in Canaan, he tells Joseph to bring them all to Egypt. The Pharaoh says in verse 20, “Also do not be concerned about your goods [kliy, stuff], for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.” In effect, he says, “Hop on the wagons and leave your stuff. I'll give you everything you need. Don't worry about it.” They probably brought some personal keepsakes, portable memories of one type or another, but whatever homes they had, full of stuff, they walked away from.
A few centuries later, they do it again. Even though they became slaves in Egypt, they lived in homes, which held the contents of their lives. The Israelites walked away from those as well, but instead of seventy people leaving Canaan, a couple of million left Egypt. They took their wages in the form of jewelry, an easy way to carry wealth. Again, they likely grabbed some items from their homes that carried special memories for them, but mostly, they walked away from the bulk of their stuff.
Did the fornicator think that his singular actions were affecting the whole congregation? Not only did he not think so, but neither did the whole congregation! None of them, it seems, understood how his sin was having a damaging effect upon them!
We, however, must begin to think in this way. We are one body, and what each part does and how he does it affects the efficiency, effectiveness, and purity of the whole. In Corinth it played a major role in puffing up, confusing, and dividing the congregation—jeopardizing the spiritual health of all!
This is so important that God includes it in the Ten Commandments! "You shall not bow down to [idols] nor serve them. For I, the LORD you God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me" (Exodus 20:5). God warns that evil will reach out, spread and afflict unborn generations. The effects of drugs, smoking, alcohol, medicines, x-rays, and poor diets upon the unborn are well known. However, we often fail to think of the effect of example. Do we care what we pass on to our children? Remember, it will very likely increase.
But notice the other side of this principle as revealed in the same commandment: ". . . but showing mercy to thousands [of generations], to those who love Me and keep My commandments" (verse 6). In His mercy God has provided that the good we do goes a long, long way—almost immeasurably farther than our evil deeds. God is sovereign over His creation, actively participating in stopping evil before it destroys us. At the same time, He is active in producing good in us toward His Kingdom.
Why does God tell us so much about the kings of Israel and Judah? One reason is that each king reflected the attitudes and conduct of the entire nation, so He can describe the whole nation in microcosm. An equally important reason is to show that the nation reflected its leadership. If the nation was led by a David, Hezekiah, or Josiah, things went well. If the leadership fell to an Ahab or Manasseh, the country degenerated quickly.
God is showing that there is a ripple effect within the nation; the moral and spiritual quality of its leadership radiates out toward the people (Proverbs 29:2). Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, "An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man." Parents need to take note of this. What kind of ripple effect is influencing your children?
John W. Ritenbaugh
Little Things Count!
The Corinthian church's coddling of this perversion gave the people of Corinth the appearance that God's people would allow this sin—a sin even unbelievers would never tolerate! Inside the church it gave the appearance that one could continue in sin and still remain part of the body. The apostle warns them that, just as a pinch of leaven will puff up a whole loaf of bread—or as one rotten apple will corrupt a whole barrel of them—so this sin, if allowed to continue, would ruin the entire church.
John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Abstaining From Evil
Just as a little leaven in bread quickly spreads completely through the dough, one "little" sin affects our whole being. As James points out, if we break one commandment, we are guilty of breaking the whole law. One sin begets another unless the chain is broken through repentance.
Holy Days: Unleavened Bread
The Days of Unleavened Bread are a memorial to God's law and to His powerful deliverance from Egypt and bondage. Paul explains this significance to the Corinthians and the urgency attached to cease sinning. He says we should not even keep company with a brother involved in flagrant sin! Also, by ridding our homes of sin, we realize that overcoming sin is hard work!
Holy Days: Unleavened Bread
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing 1 Corinthians 5:6: