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)!

Parsha Tzav

 Parsha Tzav (צַו) “Command”

 Torah portion: Vayikra/Leviticus 6:1-8:36
Haphtarah (concluding portion): Malachi 3:4-24
Brit Chadasha (New Testament): Hebrews 9:11-28

Did you know: Tzav is the second parsha [portion] of sefer [the book of] Vayikra [Leviticus]?

Science: Drinking blood from coming from another person or animal is dangerous because many diseases are blood borne and there is an increased chance of having their diseases transferred to you. This week we will learn about blood-borne diseases.

Bible and Pop Culture: This week we learn that anyone who drinks blood will be cut off from Israel (Leviticus 7:26-27). It is interesting to note that vampirism is becoming more and more popular in our society because of movies like The Twilight Saga, Underworld, etc. Those movies glorify vampirism. In past generations, vampires were depicted as villains in stories such as Dracula. This week, the older kids will be writing a paper that answers this question: What do you think the repercussions are on the younger generations our society of changing the way they view vampirism? What does the Bible say about drinking blood? What does the movie industry say about it?

Culinary Fun: This week we learn that the sacrifices were offered with unleavened bread. This week we will be making unleavened bread in preparation for Pesach. We might also make some honey butter and some garlic butter to accompany our unleavened creations.

Health: This week we will be studying the nutritional benefits of eating the traditional foods found on the seder plate. Who knew? 😀

Haphtarah Connections: This week’s haphtarah (concluding portion) is found in Malachi chapter 3. Malachi 3:13-18 reads

Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’” Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.”

Isn’t it awesome that a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed His name? This week we will midrash (discuss) what this verse means and why its important to never lose sight of the importance of walking in holiness and reverence before our Father.

Crafty Fun: Malachi 3:8 talks about the importance of bringing a contribution before the LORD with our tithes and offerings. This week, let’s make a recycled tzedakah box. If you already have a tzedakah box, consider making a breakfast gift basket or a pampering bath salts gift in a jar for someone you know who is in need of food, pampering, and/or cheering up.

Brit Chadasha (New Testament) Connection: Our reading for the NT this week is in Hebrews 9. Verses 11-14 read,

But when Messiah appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

Let us never forget that the most important thing in our walk with the Father is the blood of His son, YESHUA that purifies us of our sin and washes us clean. As we prepare for the Passover in the coming weeks, may we focus on his amazing, loving sacrifice and thank him with true thankfulness and continue to be in awe of His mercy and grace. I like this object lesson from the folks at Kids’ Sunday School online that shows our kids what NOT being washed of sin can look like on the outside.

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