Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:7)
In the historic retelling of the first Passover, we are told about the crucial role of the lamb, and its saving power rendered to Israel. This lamb we know as New Testament believers points to Christ. Scripture tells us that Christ is our Passover lamb. Through Him we are delivered from sin, and preserved for eternity in Christ our Saviour.
The Passover story, however, includes another element that I find intriguing. Exodus 12, reveals that the Israelites were forbidden to put yeast in their bread. This strange injunction is the crux of my thought today. On the eve of their escape from Israel, they would eat flat “pita like” bread. The practical reason for this of course was because yeast took time to work into the dough. Time was a scarcity that evening as in just a little while, the death angel would swoop down on the unsuspecting Egyptians wiping out their entire first born en masse. The Jews were thus instructed to hasten, for surely Pharoah would be on their heels in no time, as they made their escape out of his domain. Thus there was no time to add yeast to their bread.
But why the continued emphasis on yeast? After all what does yeast have to do with anything? Well it must have been important to God for he chose to have a 7 day feast called the festival of Unleavened (non yeasted) bread, celebrated annually by Jews since the inception of the first Passover over 3500 years ago. But also here in the New Testament, Paul in his letter to the Corinthians reflects on it.
“Get rid of the old yeast”
Omitting yeast meant a couple of things. First, that we need to lend an attentive ear to God. Too often we take a step towards a new life change, or maneuver without careful dependence on God’s leading. The Israelite who obeyed God in this detail was one who heard, believed and obeyed. And as we know, the result was a blessing. Their freedom from bondage literally had to do with their ability to simply obey him. No need for lingering around waiting for yeast to rise. Simply eat and run, and thus avoid the hand of judgement via the death angel.
A second aspect to excluding yeast is that of being holy. In the same chapter of our text (1 Corinthians 5) yeast is described as the flesh or carnality. Could it be that God was saying adding of yeast to the bread was tantamount to doing things in our own human strength. See, the command to get rid of the yeast would indeed have caught the Israelites off guard. They were probably saying, “God I can’t pack up my baking ingredients just yet. I still need to add yeast” or “Why is God messing with how we always do things. Does it really matter to him?” You bet it does.
See, In Matthew 9, Jesus calls for a new way of doing things. Though the Pharisees and John’s disciples wanted Jesus to conform to the normal religious rite of fasting, Jesus emphasized the need to be sensitive to the the Spirit’s leading. Jesus was always confronting religious and popular culture’s way of doing things (even good things) against God’s leading.
He prophesied that new wine (representing the spirit, Eph 5:18) is coming, but we must be ready to do things differently.
So next time you eat that well yeasted croissant, think of the import of our thought today. Would you obey God in anything he asks you to do, even if it sounded strange? Do you desire His leading more than popular culture’s pull? Will you step out and do something bold and radical if prompted? I pray your answer is a heartfelt yes, and that you find more of God in laying down your ways and taking up His.
– Pastor Olu Jegede