Cleaning out the leaven…being prepared

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Spring cleaningIn a few weeks time we will be celebrating the Passover , the feast of First Fruit and the Feast of Unleavened bread. It is time to start preparing our homes and our hearts for this time. We prepare by removing leaven from our homes, both physical and spiritual. You may think that we still have plenty of time to do this, but you also know how time flies and how busy we all are.

We always think there is plenty of time left, spiritually as well, but is this true? Our lives are not our own, and can be cut short at any time. Will you be ready when that happens, will I? Have you considered this, or do you move these kind of thoughts, quickly to the back of your mind, not wanting to think about it? We should not do this, but instead ponder this and make sure we are adequately prepared. Leaven can’t remove itself and just as we prepare for this feast, by removing all leaven from our homes, we are to make sure we are spiritually prepared too.

Before we focus on spiritual preparedness, we need to understand the physical preparation. We need to understand where this removing of leaven originates from, who the instruction was for and what it means. A good place to start is who this instruction is for.

Who are to remove leaven?

We have been taught that the law has been done away with and that these are Jewish feasts. Both statements are wrong. Y’shua said in Matt 5:17-19 that the law has not been done away with.

Matthew 5:17–19
17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

What greater authority do we need to affirm this? The word “fulfill” does not have the same meaning as abolish. Y’shua did not say “I did not come to abolish but to abolish” Fulfill means to fill up with meaning, not to take away. He came to be our example on how to live, on how to keep YHVH’s commandments. He was sinless, which means He never transgressed any commandments. He kept it perfectly.

The other untruth is that these are Jewish feasts. YHVH said that these are His appointed times.

Leviticus 23:1–2
1 YHVH spoke again to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘YHVH’s appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations—My appointed times are these:

YHVH then continues to give a summary of all His appointed times. The passage ends with:

Leviticus 23:44
44 So Moses declared to the sons of Israel the appointed times of YHVH.

These feasts are for every believer, not only for the Jewish people. Y’shua also kept all these appointed times and so should we. So, now that we have determined that these appointed times are for all believers, we can see if we can find out why we are to remove the leaven.

Why are we to remove leaven?

We have just confirmed that the law has not been done away with. So, the easy answer to this question is because we are commanded to do so.

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.

Exodus 12:19
19 ‘Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land.

Those who do not obey this commandment will be cut off from Israel.

4162 כָּרַת (kā·rǎṯ): v.; ≡ Str 3772; TWOT 1048—1. LN 19.14–19.26 (qal) cut off, cut down, i.e., sever an object from its source, or cut into parts, implying a violent action (Ex 34:13); (qal pass.) be cut off, be cut down (Lev 22:24; Dt 23:2[EB 1]; 1Sa 5:4+); (nif) be cut down (Job 14:7); (hif) cut down (Lev 26:30); (pual) be cut off, be cut down (Jdg 6:28; Eze 16:4+)2

The eating of unleavened bread is to commemorate the Exodus from Egypt.

Exodus 12:17
17 ‘You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance.

We also read here that it is a permanent ordinance, meaning that it is to be observed always. We have now determined that we are to celebrate this appointed time, now to the leaven.

In order to clean out the leaven, we have to know what leaven is.

What is leaven?

In order to determine what leaven is, we need to look at the function thereof. The function of leaven is to modify dough in order to give the product a lighter texture. It is a raising agent that gives baked goods such a light spongy texture. Leaven

Here is a definition from the Merriam Webster collegiate dictionary.

1leav•en \ˈle-vən\ noun

[Middle English levain, from Anglo-French levein, from Vulgar Latin *levamen, from Latin levare to raise—more at LEVER] 14th century

1 a: a substance (as yeast) used to produce fermentation in dough or a liquid especially: SOURDOUGH

b: a material (as baking powder) used to produce a gas that lightens dough or batter

2: something that modifies or lightens3

The aim of this article is not to cause a debate on what leaven is. Leaven is a raising agent, that which can modify or transform dough, for that is the function of leaven. In ancient times sour dough was used. We have more leavening agents available to us now. If we were to remove only sour dough, most people won’t be removing anything, and will continue to eat leavened bread and cake. That defeats the object of the feast being the Feast of unleavened bread. We are for this reason not to focus on the chemical composition of the leavening agent, but on the function of it. If it has the ability to leaven dough, then it is a leavening agent and should be removed. Just a side note: there are yeasts in the air around us, but YHVH does not expect us to remove that which is invisible to us, so don’t go there.

Now, to the spiritual meaning of leaven. YHVH uses His appointed times to teach us about Himself and His Kingdom. Leaven is one such teaching aid. Leaven is specifically used as a symbol of what should not be part of our lives spiritually. Leaven is used because it has certain characteristics.

Leaven does not have a life of its own, it has to be worked into the dough in order to have its effect on it. We also have to create a suitable environment in order for leaven to function properly. The dough with leaven in it has to sit in a warm area for a while in order for the leaven to work well. We also have the ability to stop this function at any time. If you were to put the dough in the fridge, the process would be delayed or stopped.

These characteristics make leaven the great teaching aid it is. Just consider these characteristics and compare it to sin for example. We choose to have sin in our lives, we are in control. The environment has to be right and we can stop if we want. I am not saying leaven is always sin, but it can be.

There are many specific examples in Scripture. We have written an article about unleavening our homes. Here is a link to that article:Unleavening our lives…its all about intimacy. Leaven can be compared to anything that stands between us and YHVH. It hinders our intimacy with Him. It is for this reason that we are to examine ourselves, as we clean out the leaven in our homes, for any spiritual leaven in our own lives. This is to be our preparation for this appointed time.

YHVH’s appointed times are cycles of righteousness. He uses each of His appointed times to teach us about Him and about becoming righteous. The article Are you willing to be transformed? explains this in more detail. Celebrating YHVH’s appointed times as he intended for us to do, causes transformation in our lives. This transformation is a process and with the feasts being cyclical, it is constantly being built upon. This is the process of sanctification. This is how we are to ready ourselves to live our lives to honor YHVH here on earth, but it is also part of our salvation. Allow me to explain. Salvation is obtained through our belief in Y’shua. However, salvation can be lost. The once saved always saved doctrine is not scriptural.

Losing our salvation

It is a shocking thought that we can lose our salvation. Here is a sobering passage…

Matthew 7:21–23
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Master, Master,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, Master, Master, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

When we read this passage in Matthew, we get the impression that this person calling out, knows Y’shua. He prophesied in His name, cast out demons and even performed miracles. Yet, Y’shua said that He didn’t know him and told him to depart from Him. Why? Because he practiced lawlessness.

Verse 21 states that he who does the will of the Father will enter and he who doesn’t, thus practicing lawlessness will not. We have written about what YHVH requires of us What does YHVH require of us?

We have also written about what we need to do after repentance Obedience follows repentance. Obedience is what YHVH requires of us and a humble repentant heart. The opposite of law abiding or obedience is lawlessness!

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling

It is also for this reason, that the Apostle Paul wrote that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. This fear and trembling refers to the reverence we are to have for our Heavenly Father. This reverence and love is what motivates us to be obedient.

Philippians 2:12–13
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is Elohim who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

How are we to work out our salvation? Paul gave the answer in verse twelve: “just as you have always obeyed.” He didn’t say that you can just relax now as the law has been done away with. It is obvious from this passage that Paul taught the Philippians to be obedient to YHVH’s Word and that he equated this obedience to working out their salvation.

There is another reference that confirms this. It is written in Hebrews that Y’shua became the source of eternal salvation to those who obey Him.

Hebrews 5:9
9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,

In the book of James, we find a whole passage explaining that faith alone is not enough. He goes so far as to say that faith without works is dead.

James 2:26
26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Those works that he refers to here can be summed up by this answer Y’shua gave when asked what the greatest commandment was.

Matthew 22:37–40
37 And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

The whole law and prophets hang on this. All instructions YHVH gave shows either our love for YHVH or for our neighbor.

Salvation has a past, present and future dimension to it. It is a process with a clearly defined starting and ending point. Here is the starting point.

Ephesians 2:5
5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Messiah (by grace you have been saved),

Salvation is made available to us when we believe and this whole process of salvation continues on and will be perfected at the end.

Romans 5:9–10
9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of Elohim through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to Elohim through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

What we do is important

All this proves that it does matter how we live our lives and we will be judged according to the truth that has been revealed to us.

James 4:17
17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

If YHVH has revealed His truth to you, you have a responsibility to live it. Every day is an opportunity to become more sanctified. We are to be set apart because He is set apart.

1 Peter 1:14–17
14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;

We are not in control, YHVH is and poor choices will result in consequences and some day it may be too late to make it better. Let us start fresh! Ask YHVH to reveal all the leaven you have in your life and get it out. There is still time left, but we do not know what tomorrow may bring…

James 4:13–15
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If YHVH wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

May YHVH bless you as you prepare your home and your heart for His appointed time.


  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.
  2. Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  3. Mish, F. C. (2003). Preface. Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.

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