Getting out the leaven!

As we head toward the season of Unleavened Bread and the Spring Feasts of the Lord I am quickly reminded as I flip through commercials on television and stroll through store isles that this is also a season that many people, whether religious or not, celebrate Easter. I want to make a disclaimer before I dig into this subject that I am a Messianic Torah Teacher today but I grew up in the Christian church being involved in several denominations for nearly thirty years of my life. I do not condemn Christianity or well-meaning Christians because God chose my journey to start through this path. Without Christianity I would not have come to know the God of Israel. I celebrated Christmas and Easter and was involved in Resurrection Sunday plays and skits depicting the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That being said, I also do not agree with all of the doctrinal stances that I have grown up to learn as “God said biblical truth,” but later after further study and revelation from God discovered were in fact doctrines and traditions of men. It was this issue that Yeshua confronted the Pharisees about in Mark 7 referring to ceremonial washing of hands, which was tradition, being taught as commandment of God:

[Mar 7:5, 7, 9 KJV] 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? … 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. … 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

I could preach this in any church today speaking against certain aspects of Judaism and I would get a hardy, “AMEN!” However, Christianity follows a similar crooked path that Judaism followed, relying on elders and church fathers to establish doctrine that puts emphasis on tradition over commandment. The Jewish people by in large reject Yeshua as the Messiah not because the Bible supports it but because the Rabbis say so and in the Talmud and Mishnah, certain “post Yeshua” teachers of Judaism wrote about Yeshua being a false Messiah and false prophet. So the words of the Rabbis trump the obvious and numerous prophesies and writings that support that Yeshua is in fact the Messiah. To Christians this seems absurd. It’s so obvious! Why can’t they see it? Well setting aside the fact that “blindness in part has happened to the Jewish people until the fullness of the gentiles comes in” (Romans  11:25), there is a huge reliance on false information and sources. Now lets turn this around because the problem also exists in Christianity as much as in Judaism. When someone tries to explain the Torah or the Feasts of the Lord to the average Christian doctrines and sources being relied on are not biblical but that of “church fathers.” Instead of relying too much on the rabbis like Judaism, they are relying too heavily on church fathers to shape and form their interpretations and conclusions of the bible. When the question is asked, “when was Jesus crucified?” the knee jerk reaction is- “Good Friday!” Then when you ask when Jesus was resurrected, again the resounding, tested by the ages response of “Easter Sunday!” Does the Bible support this claim? No. Is it even possible for three days and three nights to exist between Friday at 3pm and early Sunday morning? No. Where did it come from? Church fathers and their writings, not the Word of God Himself. To someone that keeps the Passover and the Feasts of the Lord it seems obvious, just like the Christian explaining Jesus to Jews, but again the walls go up, defenses are raised and the blindfold that the Jews are accredited to having in part is partially pulled over the eyes of Christians as well. The bible says that the Old Testament is veiled to the Jews when they read it but is taken away when they come to Messiah Yeshua (2 Corinth. 3:14-16) but is that veil being cast over the New Testament when read by many Christians because of falling into the same sin of willful ignorance and pride? Listen to Paul’s warning in Romans 11 when speaking to the “wild olive branches,” who are non Jewish believers being grafted into the tree of Israel:

[Rom 11:18-21 KJV] 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, [take heed] lest he also spare not thee.

We, as New Covenant brethren, whether Jewish or not, have to be very careful not to fall into the same sin as unbelieving Israel or the judgment will be the same upon us. Paul uses the words, highminded and boast. Take a moment and think about your walk with the Father. Does this describe you? Do we think we have all of the answers just because our Pastor said so or some church father wrote a paper hundreds of years ago?

So why did I take this time to go over these concepts? Because whenever I talk to a lot of Christians about Christmas and Easter and the deceptions associated with them, I get a boastful and highminded response instead of being like the Berians and searching the scriptures to see if it is true. I plead with you to please study for yourself:

[2Ti 2:15 KJV] 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

So what does all of this have to do with leaven? It is at this season that God calls and requires a removal of leaven from all of Israel’s households. What is leaven and why is it symbolized as something bad to remove before the Passover?

[Exo 12:15 KJV] 15 Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.

[Exo 13:7 KJV] 7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters.

[Lev 2:11 KJV] 11 No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the LORD, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the LORD made by fire.

Leaven is the agent that causes bread to rise. Without leaven bread is flat in an unrisen state. What sin causes someone to be puffed up? PRIDE! Pride is the leaven I believe God wants us to focus on getting out of our lives and our homes. Pride is the root of all kinds of sin. In fact, most if not all sins could be traced back to pride. Remember Paul’s warning: “Do Not be highminded!” This is what blocks us from receiving revelation from God Himself or through the agents He sends in our path to deliver messages we wouldn’t hear for ourselves from His Word. Yeshua took issue with the Pharisees and Sadducees  mostly I believe because of the pride and haughtiness they possessed.

[Mat 16:11 KJV] 11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake [it] not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

Paul also spoke of this concept in 1 Corinthians 5 as he rebukes the assembly for allowing sin in their midst and being arrogant and puffed up about it instead of humbling themselves and repenting:

[1Co 5:2, 6-8 KJV] 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. … 6 Your glorying [is] not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth.

What do we do when approached with teaching that challenges us to repent and change? Do we study for ourselves and seek truth with a humble unleavened spirit or do we get puffed up and resist any correction, boasting in our old leaven (doctrines). This season of Unleavened Bread lets get the leaven out! Let us keep the feast with unleavened bread  of sincerity and truth.

Chag Sameach Hamatzot (Happy Feast of Unleavened Bread)!

Day of Firstfruits (Yom haBikkurim)

When my kids realized that we were talking about First Fruits for school this week, they thought we were going to have a lot of fruit to eat! Then, I explained to them that the traditional thing to do on First Fruits was to have a wave offering. Puzzled faces stared back at me as I am sure they pictured either “the wave” that we do at sporting events or “waving” as we do when we greet or say good-bye to someone.

I read to them Matthew 27:52-53 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (Matt. 27:52-53) Of course, the older boys loved talking about how this must have looked like the beginnings of an ancient zombie apocalypse. Maybe we will talk about that at some other time…. sigh…

We continued our discussion with a reading from 1 Corinthians:
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. (1 Cor. 15:20-23)

What does this have to do with Yeshua? What does this have to do with Passover and Unleavened Bread? Well, Yeshua is the firstfruits of the harvest. He is the first to ripen in the sight of YHVH. Because of Him we are able to be counted among the harvest of YHVH.

Yeshua is the first-begotten of the Father (Heb. 1:6); the Firstborn of Creation (Col. 1:15-16); the first-begotten of the dead (Rev. 1:5) and is the Firstfruits of those who are to be resurrected (1 Cor. 15:20-23). Praise YHVH! And just as He is our Firstfruits, so “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created” (James 1:18).

1 Peter 1:3- Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, who, according to His great mercy, has caused us to be born again to a living hope because of the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah from the dead.”

James 1:18- He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Revelation 14:4- These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.

Our mission is this: to go into the world and preach the gospel to every living creature (Mark 16:15) and recognize that the fields are white for the harvest (John 4:35). We are co-workers in YHVH’s field (1 Corinthians 3:9).