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Parable of the Leaven
Text: Matthew 13:33
The kingdom of heaven is like leaven. While leaven generally seems to be negative in the scriptures, the kingdom of heaven is not a negative thing. The kingdom of heaven is not a corrupt thing. It can be assaulted and attacked by an enemy, but in itself it is not corrupt. This parable shows up here and in Luke 13:20-21. Let’s read it in Luke as well. Again the kingdom of God is like leaven. There is nothing corrupt about the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Genesis 19:1-3 Lot makes unleavened bread for the angels. Why make unleavened bread as opposed to leavened bread? If you don’t have time to wait, then you don’t have time to let the dough rise so you’d make unleavened bread.
Exodus 12:11-15 – Leaven is forbidden the passover evening before Israel leaves Egypt. The Lord said to the Israelites you don’t have time to spice up your food (He would tell them to just eat the herbs bitter, no seasoning that night), you just have to eat and get out of there.
The spiritual significance of getting rid of the leaven is that leaven passed on from one lump to another. Some leavened lumps have been around for decades. God didn’t want Israel to continue baking with Egypt’s leaven. God is saying to Israel you’re leaving Egypt and you’re not taking Egypt with you. But leaven itself was not generally forbidden in Israel. Just in that passover and following week Israel was to purge themselves of the old leaven – no remnants of Egypt in their homes. There was a memorial of the passover that lasted a week where leaven was taken out and it’s called the days of unleavened bread. But leaven itself was never an evil baking agent.
Leviticus 23:15-21 – On the other hand, leaven was supposed to be incorporated into the feast of Pentecost. This would be the firstfruits. You know it as Pentecost. It was the first offering from the first harvest of the year; after Israel had planted seed in their land at the beginning of the year. Israel would plant seed at the beginning of the year and 7 weeks later the first round of fruit would be harvested. So the Lord appointed an offering of the firstfruits after 7 weeks from planting. The spiritual significance is great with Christ as the Passover and Pentecost the offering of the firstfruits. The spiritual truths line up with the agricultural process. Israel is commanded to use leavened bread here.
Back to the parable in Matthew 13:33 – The characteristic of leaven is that it is unseen (HID in three measures of meal), and its work will be thorough (till the WHOLE was leavened). The Lord says the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are like leaven. So to say leaven is evil in the Bible is not entirely true. Leaven doesn’t poison the food, it makes it better. When Jesus Christ says the kingdom of heaven is like leaven, or the kingdom of God is like leaven, He’s not saying these kingdoms are basically corrupt. Nor is he saying they are corrupted over time. The two characteristics are that it’s unseen and it is thorough in its effect. When the unseen work is complete, the dough is ready for the oven.
Luke 17:20-30 – kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven go largely unnoticed until the Father is ready for the Son to return.
Matthew 24:36-25:13 – point here is the unseen work is over, now the day of judgment arrives.