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Beware Of The Leaven
Posted By Mike Verdicchio On March 24, 2012 @ 5:45 am In The Eastern Eye | No Comments
From the Category, “The Eastern Eye”
[The Bible is an “Eastern”  book. It was written many years ago in the “East” which today we refer to as “The Middle East.” As such, there are many customs and idioms that are not familiar to the “Western” mind.
In understanding the Scriptures it is important for us to understand the culture, but it doesn't mean that we should necessarily follow that culture. Rather, it is in the understanding of the Eastern culture that we gain light and understanding about many things in the Bible.]
There was an occasion when Jesus told his followers, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” On another occasion, he compared the kingdom of God to leaven. Understanding the leaven of Bible times gives us great insight to what he was communicating to them.
When reading the word “leaven” in the Bible, many people think of the properties of yeast, that which causes the dough to rise. But that is not the purpose of the leaven used in Bible times. In fact, their bread was flat and as such, causing the dough to rise was not a concern.
Leaven was very thin dough, made from flour and water; kind of a soupy substance. They would take this thin dough and put it into a two or three gallon pot, and tie off the top with a piece of linen.
For eleven days they put that pot outside in the sun from 6 am to 6 pm. After the eleven days, the pot was then brought into the kitchen. Whenever they would bake bread, they added two or three spoonfuls of leaven to the dough.
The leaven was added to the dough to sweeten the bread. The two or three spoonfuls would permeate the dough. It quite literally changed the dough.
The dough they prepared for bread was no longer just pure dough. The properties of the leaven sweetened the dough. It is important to recognize that leaven changes something.
In our modern dictionary, there are a number of definitions for the word “leaven.” Most people think leaven and yeast are the same thing. However, one of the definitions that I have found says, “an element that produces an altering or transforming influence.” That definition is very accurate when considering the leaven used in Bible times.
When Jesus gave his warning about the leaven of the Pharisees as recorded in the gospel of Matthew, his disciples got a little confused, and thought he was talking about bread. However, he explained to them that he was talking about the “doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
Jesus compared their doctrine to leaven. They were supposed to be teaching people about God and the things of God. Jesus quite clearly indicated that they had added their own ideas to the pure right doctrine of God.
In fact, you can read of Jesus confronting the religious leaders of his day and time directly. On one occasion, he told them that they were worshiping in vain, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men. Their message, what they were teaching, was no longer pure; they had changed it.
Have you ever wondered what happened to the pure doctrine of Christianity taught in the first century? So many things that Paul taught and that are recorded in the epistles have changed. How did that happen?
What happened to the pure doctrine in the book of Romans that says that nothing can separate us from the love of God? Or, that there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus? And what happened to the pure doctrine recorded in Ephesians that states that we are saved by grace, “not of works?”
Through the years and even unto this day, leaven – the ideas, theories and commandments of men – continue to be added to the pure Word of God. That is why we ought to ask ourselves why we believe what we believe. Is it because someone said it, or is it because we can read and understand it from the Scriptures?
Jesus also used the comparison of leaven with the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven, sometimes referred to as the kingdom of God, includes all that God made available through the completed work of Christ. Because God so loved the world, the results of what Christ accomplished, has changed and continues to change the lives of men and women.
By accepting Christ as lord of all men and believing that God raised him from the dead, someone lost and without hope becomes saved. They are forever changed. They are now born from above, a child of God!
Specific information and details for those who are born again are found in the Church Epistles: Romans through Thessalonians. In the book of Galatians, Paul, endeavoring to help them believe rightly, addressed some errors in their thinking and actions.
He told them that they had been doing well, but then something happened. They were now thinking that they were right before God by doing the works of the Law; in other words, that they were made righteous by their good works.
In correcting that error, Paul pointed out to them that this kind of thinking came in from somewhere else. It had permeated that group of believers. Paul then told them, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump. “
We ought to do our best to rightly understand the Scriptures that are addressed to us as Christians. We really need to ask ourselves, “Why do I believe what I believe?” We can take Jesus’ warning seriously, and, at the same time, rejoice that his accomplishments continue to bring great change to those who are lost and without hope.
Matthew 16:6, 11, 12
Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
How is it that you do not understand that I spoke it not to you concerning bread, that you should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
You hypocrites, well did Esaias [Isaiah]prophesy of you, saying,
This people draws nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honors Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me.
But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Romans 8:38 and 39
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus
Ephesians 2:5, 8 and 9
Even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;)
For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Another parable spoke he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid [mixed] in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works [is energized] by love.
You did run well; who did hinder you that you should not obey the truth?
This persuasion comes not of Him that called you.
A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
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There are a number of books that you can read to get insight on customs, manners, idioms and meanings from the Eastern culture in which the Bible was written. The best I know of were written by Bishop K. C. Pillai. I have had the pleasure of listening to many recorded teaching by him.
He wrote three books, and they are hard to find, and are usually over priced. But, if you want to you can check this link to see what Amazon has to offer. Light Through an Eastern Window 
Another great resource that I have used for years is a book called, “Manners and Customs of the Bible,” by James Freeman. Mine was printed in 1972 and I know they have newer additions. For the newest edition, just click the link and it will take you to Amazon. The New Manners and Customs of the Bible (Pure Gold Classics) 
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