Cleaning out the chimney, the past and the leaven

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YHVH is very practical. He uses things that happen in our lives to teach us and to help us grow in Him. This week has been one of those weeks. A week of growing in many respects. We are busy with renovation work and had the chimney cleaned. We also had a blockage in our sewage line which had to be cleaned out. YHVH used these two occasions to teach us. I think He used two incidents, because He may have wanted to make sure we get it. Let me share with you how, it may help you also.

Clean on the outside, filthy within

We live in a hundred year old farmhouse with a hearth that has not been in use for many years. In order for us to use the chimney again, we had to have it cleaned. From the outside it is a normal chimney structure, but you wouldn’t believe what was found inside. It was half filled with dust, soot, old bird nest material and the decayed bodies of birds and rodents who became trapped in there. It was a huge mess and cleaning it was a difficult task.

The story with the drainage is similar. It hasn’t been cleaned for many, many years and poor installation and maintenance caused blockages in many places in the more than 60 m line. The installation was not done by a specialist, so it didn’t stand the test of time. It was cleaned out temporarily, but will have to be dug out and renewed.

You may wonder why I am telling you this. The reason is because we are like this chimney and this drainage system. All looks good on the outside, but inside is a mess. Like this chimney we are filled with dust, soot and old carcasses from our past. It blocks the airflow and makes it impossible to use the chimney. Our past can be like this if we have not dealt with it. YHVH is the specialist who wants to clean us out from the inside and renew us so we can be of use to Him in His kingdom.

YHVH’s cycle of sanctification

This is one of the reasons for His feast cycle. Every feast has a different focus and helps us to grow in Him. We will soon celebrate the Pesach, which includes the Seder meal and the Feast of Unleavened bread. The Bible instructs that we are to remove all leaven from our homes. (For more information on what is considered physical leaven, you can read this article)

Exodus 12:15
15 ‘Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.

YHVH’s instructions are to be adhered to physically and spiritually. We are instructed to physically remove all leaven from our homes. This verb is in the imperfect form, which indicates an incomplete action which started in the past. This means we are to de-leaven our homes before the feast and cause it to cease from our homes before the feast starts. We usually do this physically by doing a bit of spring cleaning, removing all possible traces of leaven from our homes. However, YHVH’s objective was not for us to have a clean home when we celebrate this feast, He wants us to de-leaven our lives on a spiritual level as well. The action involved in cleaning out the physical leaven is to prompt us to look inside. He wants us to search for unrighteousness in our lives; this is spiritual leaven. If we search for it, we will find it with YHVH’s help. When we repent of it and put it behind us, YHVH will come in and clean out all the dust, soot and carcasses from our past and renew us. He will remove the blockages and makes it possible for us to function according to His plan for us.

Deuteronomy 16:3
3 “You shall not eat leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat with it unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), so that you may remember all the days of your life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt.

This eating of the unleavened bread is a reminder of the day Israel came out of Egypt. Their first day of freedom. This is what we are to remember too, our first day of freedom, being released from slavery.

As I am writing this, I realize again how amazing YHVH is. He works in mysterious ways, at least mysterious to us while He is doing it. Later, when we look back we see what He has done. We have been on a journey of discovery of many things in the year before. YHVH has taught us much about ourselves, about the spiritual realm, but mostly about how it affects us and how we are to deal with it. We have not learned all there is to learn, it has been an introduction to us, but it exposed many things in our lives.

This, looked at in the context of the feast cycle reminds me of something we have learned at the beginning of our walk, which is still true for us. It is about how our lives are patterned after the physical seasons, each agricultural year a cycle of sanctification. The time period between Sukkot and Pesach is characterized by intense learning and discipline. We have explained it in the article “Are you willing to be transformed? Here is an excerpt from that article. I am only sharing a part of it, you can read the complete explanation of the feasts in the article. It is used with permission from First Fruit of Zion.

Winter – Sukkot to Pesach

Wintertime is when the physical world gives the appearance of deadness. It is a deceptive appearance, however. There is actually much life under the surface of the ground, since it is preparing for a beautiful Spring ahead of it. All the activities of the winter are designed to contribute to a beautiful and healthy spring. There is also a spiritual winter. This is the time between Sukkot and Pesach. It is in this time of the year that YHVH is at work in our lives to put to death a certain part of our flesh. This is often a painful disciplinary process, so that by the time spring comes around, we may feel like we are ready to quit life! Sinful and unhealthy behavior or thought patterns are often the object of YHVH’s discipline. He often needs to get our attention before he rescues us from these patterns. This will cause us to cry out to Him for deliverance from the sins of our flesh during Pesach.

Spring – Pesach to Shavuot

Spring is the time of new life sprouting forth. Actually, it is the life which was latent in the ground all the time, covered over by the trappings of winter. In the spring the vestiges of new life are seen in abundance. Our spiritual “spring”is from Pesach to Shavuot.

In the spring, YHVH causes the death producing deeds of our flesh to be broken to let the life of Y’shua flow through into a new area of our life. Just like He brought the Israelites standing facing the Reed Sea with the Egyptians chasing after them, He also brings us to a place of trust and faith in Him. We just came through a difficult winter where we were brought to desperation as we experienced a problem area in our flesh. We needed to be sanctified in that area of our life. He purposely brings us to the Passover seder night, just as he brought the children of Israel to their Passover event. On that night they called out to YHVH for salvation and He told them to stand still and watch! They had to take Him by faith for their rescue. So it is with us. On the Seder night, we need to stand by faith in YHVH’s sanctifying Word that He will bring us out of that area of trouble we have been walking in – and rejoice in His promised deliverance.

The matzah and counting of the Omer, our help.

During the week of the Feast of Unleavened bread we are forbidden to eat leaven (symbolic of sin) This is a visible reminder to us to keep sin (problem areas that YHVH has made us aware of in winter) out of our lives. The matzah therefor becomes a visible reminder of YHVH’s sanctification in our lives for every given year. In Leviticus 23, we are told to count the days until we reach fifty. This is called the counting of the Omer. The Omer is a sheaf of grain. It is also a measure of weight. When the Omer was counted, it was a way for the farmers to see daily how much the crop was growing; the longer the sheaf, the more the weight, and the closer the new crop was to bearing fruit. The first of which was to be presented at the Temple as a first-fruits offering. In the same way, we now have a new area of growth coming out of the “ground” of our lives. This, the new walk in righteousness, is the area where we once walked in unrighteousness. In other words, this new life is in an area where there was once just sin and death. We are to live these fifty days practicing the same thing we did during the Feast of Unleavened bread. Only this time we don’t have the “crutch” of matzah to remind us to live without this sin. During these days we are to consciously develop this new habit of walking in righteousness in that specific area.2

It takes minimum 21 days to form a new habit. YHVH gives us more that fifty. We are to use this time and form the habit to walk in righteousness in this area YHVH has shown us. It will bring blessing if we do.

You can read about the other feasts and our spiritual seasons in the linked article. We did not add it here for the sake of brevity. We have experienced it again, a difficult and intense time of learning culminating in the feast of Pesach. Have you experienced something similar? Please tell us about it.

The thought that YHVH is working in our lives should inspire us to go on. It shows us He cares for us and wants to finish the work He started in us.

Philippians 1:6
6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Messiah Y’shua.

Be vigilant

A final thought on the chimney. We had a chimney cowl placed to prevent the birds from going in to nest. I was walking in the garden and saw two birds trying frantically to get in. It reminds me of the verse in Matthew about an unclean spirit cast out of a man.

Matthew 12:43–45
43 “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. 44 “Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 “Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.”

The unrighteousness that was in us, will, like these birds, return if we don’t break off all associations with it. We are to be vigilant and guard against it. YHVH will help us, we can trust Him. We hope you have a blessed spring feast season. If you would like to learn more about the observance of these feasts, you can read and study through the following articles:

Cleaning out the leaven…being prepared

Unleavening our lives…its all about intimacy

How to celebrate Pesach and the Feast of Unleavened Bread

The first Passover and the commemoration of it

A Practical guide for the Passover Season

A night of watching…a study of Exodus 12:42


1. All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD, and Y’shua for Jesus


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2 responses to “Cleaning out the chimney, the past and the leaven”

  1. Sue

    Your metaphors for the seasons and the spiritual intent are lovely, Schalk and Elsa.
    However, it feels very strange reading about the seasons and agriculture in the northern hemisphere whilst living in the southern hemisphere!
    It’s really quite disconcerting.
    Nonetheless, thank you for a great article.
    Shabbat Shalom.

    1. Shalom Sue,

      It is indeed written with a northern-hemisphere context. We experienced it the same when we were still living in South africa. It makes it difficult to connect. It may help to think of yourself as a fellow-Israelite whose habitation is Israel.


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