Passover begins Wednesday night. Before then, those of us who want a more traditional experience of Passover will get rid of the yeast in our homes. Our family will do that. Then, starting Wednesday night, we will eat matzah for seven days.
We eat unleavened bread to remind ourselves of Israel’s hasty departure from Egypt. The Lord saved us so quickly there wasn’t time for the yeast to spread through our bread.
We also eat matzah to remind ourselves that the Lord wants us to remove the sin from our lives. Throughout the Scriptures, leaven is used as a symbol for sin. Just a little yeast when added to a batch of dough can spread throughout the batch. Just a little sin, if tolerated, can grow and spread and ruin the life of an individual, community or nation.
Sin is like a living, powerful, destructive thing. It’s like a lion or tiger waiting to pounce on us and devour us. The Lord said to Cain, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
God has made it possible, with His help, to rule over it – to rule over sin. I very want to rule over sin. I don’t want sin to rule over me. How about you?
The holidays of Matzah and Passover are designed by God to teach us how to do that – to overcome sin, to live holy and pure and God-serving lives.
In ancient times, before a batch of dough was baked into bread, part of the leavened dough was pinched off and set aside. Later, that piece of leavened dough was added to a new batch of flour, leavening the new batch.
This symbolizes the way sin is passed from generation to generation. Adam and Eve were the first ones to sin. They joined the rebellion of the fallen angels. They were alienated from God. Their nature was corrupted. They were headed to death, not life; to Hell, not Heaven.
Their corrupted nature and their future of death and Hell was transmitted to the following generations – just like dough with yeast in it is pinched off and added to a new batch, leavening the new batch.
Sin is real. And it is ruinous. And it is deadly. Our fallen, sinful, corrupted nature is real, and it is ruinous and deadly. But the good news is that the power of sin and our sin nature can be overcome! We can become new people whose sins are forgiven and who receive a new nature – a nature that rejects rebellion against God; a nature that wants to resist temptation; a nature that is able to rule over sin; a nature that loves God and wants to please Him and serve Him.
Here’s how it works: when we understand that Messiah Yeshua is our Passover Lamb – that He died and was buried and rose from the dead, and is alive now; and when we make a serious commitment to be loyal to Him and His teachings – we are saved. Our sins are forgiven. We are given a new nature. That new nature can then be empowered by the Holy Spirit who takes up residence in us. The result of the new nature being empowered by the Holy Spirit is the ability to resist temptation, rule over sin, and live to serve the living God.
Rabbi Paul understood these realities when he used the holidays of Passover and Matzah to remind Messiah’s Community in Corinth to get rid their lives of sin: Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch – as you really are. For Messiah, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Holiday, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the matzah, the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
The Passover Lamb is eaten with matzah. Passover, which represents salvation, must be accompanied by matzah, which represents a holy life.
That wasn’t happening in Corinth. Messiah’s Community was tolerating immorality, division, pride. Those sins are incompatible with salvation and a holy life.
We can only do a little about combating sin in the world. We can teach people God’s standards, what is right and what is wrong. We can stand for what is right. We can vote for what is right. We can pray for what is right.
We can only do a little about sin in the world, but we can do a lot about sin in our own life and in the life of Messiah’s Community.
We remove sin from our own lives. We call it for what it is – sin, and we turn away from it, and we ask God to help us get rid of it.
We practice the spiritual disciples, like reading the Bible, praying, proclaiming the gospel, and serving the Lord and His people in the Shema community. That strengthens us spiritually and helps us overcome sin.
If we are still struggling with sin, and can’t overcome it on our own, we confide in a trusted brother or sister or two, and make ourselves accountable to them. We confess our struggles to them. They pray with us and for us. They are like Aaron and Hur, who held up the hands of Moses, which enabled Israel to have victory over Amalek.
And we remove sin from Messiah’s Community. We call it for what it is – sin, rebellion against the will of God – and we reject it and we get rid of it by confronting those who are sinning, and if they refuse to repent, remove them from the community.
Rabbi Paul wrote this to the Corinthians: I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the community? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
Let’s not tolerate sin in our lives or in the life of our community. Let’s not allow sin to remain unchallenged. Let’s not allow sin to grow and spread and work its way through our lives or the life of our community. Just as we cleanse our homes of leaven in order to celebrate the Passover, and eat unleavened bread for a week, let’s focus on removing sin from our lives and the life of our community. Amen?
Thanks be to God who sent Yeshua the Messiah, our Passover Lamb, and the true Matzah, who has made it possible to overcome Satan and the fallen angels, sin and the sin nature, death and Hell!
Thanks be to God who gives us a new nature, which, when strengthen and empowered by the Holy Spirit, makes holy living, God-honoring living, a reality.
Thanks be to God, who has made us part of Messiah’s Community, which is able to help us in our struggles. Amen?