Christian Churches of God
The Old and the New Leaven
(Edition 2.0 19950415-19980411-20080106)
The symbolism of leaven in the New Testament is used in reference to old and new leaven. We are to remove one sort of leaven and replace it with another. This symbolism has great spiritual significance for the Christian. The Feast of Unleavened Bread is understood in this light as replacing the old leaven of malice and wickedness with the leaven of sincerity and truth. There is also leaven in the offerings at Pentecost and this has symbolism for the Church in relation to the great leaven of the Holy Spirit.
The Old and the New Leaven
The concept of sin is that sin is the ‘transgression of the Law’.
1John 3:4 Every one who sins breaks the law; in fact sin is lawlessness (or anomia) [or, the transgression of the law (KJV)], being outside the law.
Romans 5:12-14 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned - for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.
Christ was slain from the foundation of the world.
Revelation 13:8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast - all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation [foundation] of the world.
Thus sin was known from the foundation of the world, as was our calling. The predestination of the elect is seen from Romans 8:28-30.
Romans 8:28-30 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (KJV)
The Law is the Ten Commandments and all that flows from those statutes, as laid down by God through Christ as the Angel at Sinai, when it was given to Moses. The Law is found in the Old Testament and is thus interlinked with the New Covenant. The ‘Works of the Law’ or Ergon Nomou, referred to by Paul in Galatians 2 and 3, is a specific body of teaching of the first-century sects termed Miqsat Ma’ase Ha-Torah or MMT. In short, the Works of the Law is distinct from what we understand as the Ten Commandments. Paul’s comments cannot be taken in isolation (see the papers Distinction in the Law (No. 96), Love and the Structure of the Law (No. 200), Works of the Law Text – or MMT (No. 104) and The Relationship Between Salvation by Grace and the Law (No. 82)).
The wages of sin is death from transgression of the Law.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Through the Law we become conscious of sin. The Law is to silence every mouth and make all accountable to God.
Romans 3:19-20 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
Sin thus achieves awareness from the Law, but the Law is holy, righteous and good because it springs from the nature of God (see the paper The Government of God (No. 174)).
Romans 7:9-12 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
The condemnation of the transgression of the Law was overcome by the justification of Christ.
Romans 5:18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.
The Law is not opposed to the promise of God. However, the promise was given to those who believe by faith, in Christ our mediator.
Galatians 3:20-22 A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one. Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
1Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all men - the testimony given in its proper time.
It is not those who hear the Law who are righteous, but those who obey. It is not those who hear the First Commandment but multiply elohim equal to God, or those who do not keep the Sabbath but another day, or those who make graven images or disobey parents or covet other’s goods or lie or steal. It is those who love God, His Law (Ps. 119:1-16, 97-106) and each other.
Psalm 119:1-16 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! Thou hast commanded thy precepts to be kept diligently. O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping thy statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all thy commandments. I will praise thee with an upright heart, when I learn thy righteous ordinances. I will observe thy statutes; O forsake me not utterly! How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to thy word. With my whole heart I seek thee; let me not wander from thy commandments! I have laid up thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed be thou, O Lord; teach me thy statutes! With my lips I declare all the ordinances of thy mouth. In the way of thy testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on thy precepts, and fix my eyes on thy ways. I will delight in thy statutes; I will not forget thy word.
Psalm 119:97-106 Oh how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day. Thy commandments makes me wiser than my enemies for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep thy precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep thy word. I do not turn aside from thy ordinances, for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to observe thy righteous ordinances.
Romans 2:12-16 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
The Holy Spirit and the grace of God do not free us from the obligation to keep the Law.
Romans 6:15-18 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey - whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
We are spiritually circumcised by the Holy Spirit. If we break the Law, we become uncircumcised and hence not of the promise. We fall into the same condemnation of those who keep the Law. A man is a Jew if he is one inwardly, circumcised by the Spirit and not by the written code. Thus, we obey the written code from the heart, through desire.
Romans 2:25-29 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. If those who are not circumcised keep the law's requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's pride is not from men but from God.
The Church is confronted with those who say that they are Jews and are not. Sometimes, the exclamations of conversion to Israel accompany an insipient anti-Semitism. Disclaiming the inherent and unavoidable embracing of Israel attendant upon conversion as a member of spiritual Israel, these false converts claim to be of spiritual Israel but deny the reality of the process and symbolism.
Revelation 3:9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie - behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and learn that I have loved you.
The word here for worship is proskuneo, which in effect is to prostrate oneself at arm’s length on the face before someone in obeisance. Thus, the word used for worship does not always have the connotation of doing reverence to God. These false Christians or false Israelites will, in the end, be made to prostrate themselves before the elect whom they have persecuted.
The Law is written on our hearts or minds from conversion.
Hebrews 8:10 ... I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Thus, it is not abolished or muted. By practise and teaching of these Commandments we are called great in the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 5:17-20 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
(see also the paper Lazarus and the Rich Man (No. 228)).
The summation of the Law is love of another as yourself.
Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
However, it is primarily the love of God.
Matthew 22:36-40 Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
By this we are made sons (and daughters) of God.
1John 3:2-3 Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
Thus we go on to the concept of 1John 3:4.
1John 3:4 Every one who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness or the transgression of the law.
The purification of the elect goes through the process of putting aside sin. This is pictured by the concept of the leaven of malice and wickedness.
1Corinthians 5:6-8 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Paul was saying a number of things here. The first was that Christ was the Paschal Lamb, the sacrifice of the Passover, laid before the High Priest and of which there was only one, according to the Mishnah. Schürer comments on this in The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, p. 522). The second point is that leaven is not sin but rather that there are different types of leaven. The leaven which we formerly had was the leaven of malice and evil.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread celebrates the fact that we were saved by Christ to an unleavened state of sincerity and truth. We have to keep this festival with that in mind.
Thirdly, we were not yet in receipt of the Holy Spirit, which was granted at Pentecost.
This Spirit was the new leaven of the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 13:33 The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened.
The measures are the sequence from God to Christ to the elect. Thus, the woman is the Church, the leaven is the Holy Spirit and the three measures are the levels of the relationship within the family of God. All of it would become leavened. God would become all in all (Eph. 4:6).
The symbolism of the two loaves at Pentecost, which are leavened, has direct relationship to this aspect (see the paper Pentecost at Sinai (No. 115)).
The concept we must deal with is that of having to rid ourselves of the old leaven over the Feast. We are required to put away malice and wickedness and proceed to the development of holy righteous character in the Spirit. This is to be pictured in the build-up to Pentecost, which symbolises our harvest as the general first-fruits after Christ. This harvest is before the general harvest at the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths because it is ongoing over the two-thousand-year period. Our judgment is now.
The symbolism of the sequence of the build-up to Pentecost is that the seven weeks symbolise the period of the Jubilee as it relates to mankind. The life of humanity was reduced from 120 years to 70 years. A person is adult at 20 years of age. They have 50 years to develop to the final stage of their life and the union with God at the resurrection. This is symbolised in every aspect of the Faith. It is symbolised in the 50 days to Pentecost. It is symbolised in the very architecture of the Temple of God built by Solomon, according to the directions and with the materials he was given.
This structure represented the Temple, which became the living Temple of the Church. It had seven stages to the entire edifice. Six of these were one on top of the other in the nave and the seventh was the main hall proper, which led into the Holy of Holies. We could not enter this last stage until Christ died and split the Temple veil and made it possible for us to enter. This is the significance of the seven weeks to Pentecost. On this last phase the Holy Spirit entered the Church, enabling God to become all in all. This was the general harvest. Christ was the Wave Sheaf or the first of the green ears of barley, as the wave sheaf cut off in his youth. The second harvest starting with the wheat then continues on over the period until Ingathering, which is the third phase of the harvest of God. This third phase is represented by the Holy Days in the Seventh month.
Thus Pentecost is the culmination of the final phase in symbolism as the development of the individual as Temple of God. The commencement of the process from Pentecost symbolises that the harvest is progressive until the second Advent of Christ and the Ingathering of the Millennium. The Last Great Day is the City of God, when the Kingdom is handed to God by Christ, and God is finally all in all as the City of God.
Thus the leaven at Pentecost does not symbolise sin. It symbolises the complete eradication of sin at the final result of the Jubilee of years, when God through the Holy Spirit has developed holy righteous character in all the sons of God. They are thus fully converted beings.
This conversion involves the removal of the entire structure of sin from the individual over the period of the calling, justification and glorification, as we see from Romans 8:29-30.
If we love Christ we will keep his commandments (Jn. 14:15). The Law involves love of God and love of each other. If we do not love each other whom we have seen, how can we love God whom we have not seen? The fruit of the Spirit is love (Gal. 5:22).
1John 4:11-13 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit.
Note that John was writing well after Christ and he had seen Christ, yet held here, as in John 1:18, that no man had ever seen God. It is by the love of God abiding in us that we are perfected. He has given us of His own Spirit that we might achieve this perfection. Christ laid down his life for the sheep. He did not let wolves attack them; rather, he laid down his life for them (Jn. 10:15; 13:37).
Count it an honour to be one of the elect.
Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends (Jn. 15:13).