Month 1:20 (Aviv), Week 3:5 (Chamashee/Teruah), Year 5935:020 AM|
CHAG HA-MATZAH (Unleavened Bread) ANNUAL MOED 2:6
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 23 [Red] April 2011
Chag haMatzah 2011 VI
The Four Deadly Leavens of Sin
Continued from Part 5
Chag haMatzah has been quite an eye-opener for me this year. In previous years, after the initial excitement of the first day (which always falls on a sabbath day) I have often found that the six days that followed pregreessively of less interest to me, expect perhaps the last one which is also a sabbath. What, I wondered, are we to actually 'do' on these other days - practically-speaking?
I did not realise until this year that our approach to the days of Chag haMatzah likely sets the tone of our attitude to sin for the remainder of the year. We celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days because seven is the number of fullness or completeness. Therefore the believer who celebrates this festival is expected to keep it fully to Yahweh and to set himself aside completely to Him too. Chag haMatzah is about complete separation from everything that is sinful or leavened by feeding off the Lechem of Chayim or Bread of Life which is Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) Himself, because He is the believer's bread (Jn.6:32-36,38).
I can explain what that means practically in two different ways:
We'll start with the first by asking two questions:
- 1. By identifying what our daily spiritual bread is; or
- 2. By identifying what is is not.
Satan counterfeits everything so that whilst I doubt (except perhaps in satanic circles) he has a 'festival' that is 'anti-Chag haMatzah) you can be quite sure he has a counterfeit bag of 'life experiences' which are supposed to substitute for the real thing - a counterfeit 'living bread', something you will believe is the 'real thing' but which will prove to be totally hollow.
- 1. How do you experience chayim (life); and
- 2. How do you distinguish between authentic eternal chayim (life) or zoŽ in Messiah and the counterfeit, temporary 'chayim' which in reality is the flesh or psyche so that you can set yourself apart to the former and sever yourself from the latter?
The New Testament clearly identifies this chametz or leaven which masquerades as authentic chayim or life. Let's take a look at each of these in turn. See if you can identify their chametz or leaven as we read through some passages of Scripture.
1. The Leaven of Herod.
What do we understand from these passages the leaven of Herod to be? There are three main elements in this particular kind of leaven and they are common in the world. The first is, of course, the leaven of adultery. Herod had 'married', as he supposed, another man's wife. He had taken what belonged to another man while that man yet lived and according to Torah the punishment for such an abomination is death. And since he refused to repent, what did his darkened heart lead him to want to do? To silence anyone exposing that darkness to the point of being willing to murder. Since John exposed his vileness and since John would not be silent, he had the prophet murdered. Therefore he was willing to go to any end to permanently shut-up anyone who dared to shine the light of emet (truth) into him, demonstrating that the spirit of adultery is the spirit of murder. The third element hearkened back to an earlier time when Yah'shua (Jesus) was born. Here Herod proved that he was a scheming liar for though he claimed to want to worship the infant Messiah we know, from what he did to the infants of Beit Lechem (Bethlehem) that what he wanted to do was kill him. Why? Because he ruled only by the toqef (authority) of man (Rome) and not by the toqef (authority) of Yahweh. He was occupying the throne that rightly belonged to Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus)! Therefore he wished to commit murder in order to protect has falsely-acquired power-base.
"Now the disciples had forgotten to take lechem (bread), and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat. Then [Yah'shua/Jesus] charged them, saying, "Take heed, beware of the leaven of ... Herod" (Mark 8:14-15, NKJV).
"Now King Herod heard of [Yah'shua/Jesus], for His name had become well known. And he said, 'John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.' Others said, 'It is Elijah.' And others said, 'It is the Prophet (Elijah), or like one of the prophets.' But when Herod heard, he said, 'This is John, whom I beheaded; he has been raised from the dead!' For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; for he had married her. For John had said to Herod, 'It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife'" (Mark 6:14-18, NKJV).
"Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Beit Lechem (Bethlehem) and said, 'Go and search diligently for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.' When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way" (Matt 2:7-12, NKJV).
We see that the leaven of Herod is many things but in summary one might say it is the leaven of MURDER, the opposite of chayim (life). And his worst act of genocide took place where? In the 'House of Bread', in Beit Lechem (Bethlehem) where he slaughtered the innocents. Now listen to this well: WHENEVER WE SEEK TO CLAIM A TOQEF (AUTHORITY) THAT YAHWEH HAS NOT GIVEN US - WHETHER IT BE TO TAKE SOMEONE ELSE'S WIFE OR SOMEONE ELSE'S THRONE OR POSITION OF DIVINELY-ORDAINED LEADERSHIP - WE BECOME MUDERERS! We have the sin or leaven of Herod in us. Whenever we allow someone or something else other than Yah'shua (Jesus) occupy the Thone of our Lev (Heart) we also become murderers of the Son of Elohim (God) by agreeing to the demand by murderers to crucify Him so that our consciences are no longer troubled by sin! We become idolaters by allowing Herod into the House of Bread - the House of Messiah, whose temple (our bodies) He purchased by His death so that the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) could dwell within. Instead, we throw out the Ruach and invite Herod in! What madness drives a soul to do such a thing? Simple - rebellion! Whenever we rebel against divinely established toqef (authority) we admit the spirit of murder - Satan! And when we do, our hearts become progressively darkened, they begin to scheme and plot to rob and defraud, the rage of demons wells within until finally we start persecuting and slaughtering innocents whether mentally, emotionally or physically. Please, if the leaven of Herod is in any of you in any degree, fall flat on your face and repent! Reject that devilish chametz (leaven) and eat only pure matzah, Yah'shua the Messiah!
2. The Leaven of the Pharisees.
These are pretty self-explanatory, aren't they? Basically the chametz or leaven of the Pharisees is two things:
"Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees" (Mark 8:15, NKJV).
"Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take lechem (bread). Then Yah'shua (Jesus) said to them, 'Take heed and beware of the chametz (leaven) of the Pharisees...' And they reasoned among themselves, saying, 'It is because we have taken no lechem (bread).' But Yah'shua (Jesus), being aware of it, said to them, 'O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no lechem (bread)? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning lechem (bread)? -- but to beware of the chametz (leaven) of the Pharisees...' Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the chametz (leaven) of lechem (bread), but of the doctrine of the Pharisees..." (Matt.16:5-12, NKJV).
"Then Yah'shua (Jesus) spoke to the multitudes and to His talmidim (disciples), saying: 'The Torah-teachers (scribes) and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do" (Matt.23:1-3, NKJV).
"And as [Yah'shua/Jesus] spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner. But the Master said to him, 'Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are kosher (clean) to you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the ahavah (love) of Elohim (God). These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you, Torah-teachers (scribes) and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them'" (Luke 11:37-44, NKJV).
"In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, 'Beware of the chametz (leaven) of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy'" (Luke 12:1, NKJV).
The Pharisees, who were the forefathers of modern Judaism, had invented all kinds of rules and teachings (that would come to form the Talmud) which they imposed on the people but did not always live themselves. Paul had once been of their number and had been a zealot for their traditions but, as he himself testifies, he considered all of this to be mere dross compared to the living Messiah who dwelt inside him. Religious hypocrisy is rampant in the churches and assemblies. It leads to pride, vanity, conceit and - like the leaven of Herod - to persecution of true believers, because the emet (truth) upsets those who are in rebellion. Beware the leaven of the Pharisees! They claim to be the House of Lechem (Bread) but their lechem (bread) is rotten because it is full of the chametz (leaven) of false doctrine and hypocrisy.
- 1. False doctrine and practice; and
- 2. Religious hypocrisy.
3. The Leaven of the Sadducees
Yah'shua (Jesus) lumped the Torah-teachers or Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees together. The doctrine of the Sadducees was a little special. Like the modern-day Samaritans they only accepted the Pentateuch or first Five Books of Moses, so they rejected all the nevi'im (prophets) and other writings of the Tanakh (Old Testament) such as the psalms and proverbs. Unlike the Pharisees, the Sadducees did not believe in the supernatural at all and in consequence denied the existence of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), the existence of malakim (angels) and the resurrection (Mk.12:18; Ac.23:6-8)). They were the equivalent of your modern secular believer, for whom theology was a mere intellectual exercise and whose interest is in power, influence and toqef (authority) in the here-and-now. They were not at all unlike your modern liberal Christian. These Yah'shua (Jesus) warned believers to greatly aware of because they had the power, if believed, to destroy their hope of the resurrection and of the life to come. One could argue that the leaven of Sadducees was even more deadly than that of the Pharisees in that respect!
"Then Yah'shua (Jesus) said to them, 'Take heed and beware of the chametz (leaven) of the ... Sadducees.' And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no lechem (bread).' But Yah'shua (Jesus), being aware of it, said to them, 'O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no lechem (bread)? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning lechem (bread)0 -- but to beware of the chametz (leaven) of the ... Sadducees.' Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the chametz (leaven) of lechem (bread), but of the doctrine of the ... Sadducees" (Matt.16:6-12, NKJV).
4. The Leaven of Corinth
Of the four leavens of sin the Corinthian leaven is, in some respects, the most pervasive. The context is gentile and pagan, unlike the three others we have considered. See if you can discern what this rotten leaven is.
Because churches and assemblies will not expell sexually immoral believers these days, those churches and assemblies are being leavened with the Chemetz (Leaven) of Corinth are are being destroyed as the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is driven out and false spirits take over.
"For this reason I (Paul) have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Master, who will remind you of my ways in Messiah (Christ), as I teach everywhere in every assembly (church). Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Master wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of Elohim (God) is not in word but in power. What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in ahavah (love) and a spirit of gentleness?" (1 Cor.4:17-21, NKJV).
"It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles -- that a man has his father's [plural] wife (as Reuben did)! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Lord Jesus Christ), when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Lord Jesus Christ), deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Master Yah'shua (Lord Jesus). Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little chametz (leaven) leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old chametz (leaven), that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened (matzah). For indeed Messiah (Christ), our Pesach (Passover), was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast (of Pesach/Passover and Chag haMatzah/Unleavened Bread), not with old chametz (leaven), nor with the chametz (leaven) of malice and wickedness, but with the matzah (unleavened bread) of sincerity and emet (truth). I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people (who are believers). Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner -- not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside Elohim (God) judges. Therefore 'put away from yourselves the evil person'" (1 Cor 5:1-13, NKJV).
There is no doubt that this is one of the chief vices of our age. The congregations of believers are saturated with the chametz (leaven) of Corinth and few pastors dare to speak out because it is politically incorrect to do so, since these vices are now not only protected by law but encouraged, and those who are opposed to them are persecuted. However, as Paul reminds us, it is not for us to judge the world - that is His business, not ours. We are only to judge the household of faith. If the world wishes to be promiscuous, it is none of our affair. But those who claim to be Bible-believing Christians and Messianics who embrace the Leaven of Corinth must be opposed because then they are teaching false doctrine like the Phariseees and Sadducees. But there is more to the Leaven of Corinth than sexual immorality - lots more!
"Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?...Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of Elohim (God)? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of Elohim (God). And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Master Yah'shua (Lord Jesus) and by the Ruach (Spirit) of our Elohim (God)...Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but Elohim (God) will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Master, and the Master for the body...Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For 'the two,' He says, 'shall become one flesh.' But he who is joined to the Master is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body" (1 Cor.6:1,9-11,13,16-18 NKJV).
The history of the Corinthian congregation is an interesting one. It did repent and become a model congregation but later, in the days of Clement, succumbed to the pressure of its youth to be more 'liberal' and 'open', which at length destroyed it completely. The history of the Corinthian congregation is not at all unlike the modern Church which has been destroyed by immorality and false doctrine. Corinth also arguably produced the modern charismatic movement with is false tongues to further add to cacophany of demons infesting the assemblies of believers.
"We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but ahavah (love) edifies...Ahavah (Love) suffers long and is kind; ahavah (love) does not envy; ahavah (love) does not parade itself, is not puffed up...For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; lest, when I come again, my Elohim (God) will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced" (1 Cor.8:1; 13:4; 2 Cor.12:20-21 NKJV).
With so much destructive chametz (leaven) to remove, it should be obvious that the believer has a lot of work to do to first get rid of it and then make sure it stays out. This isn't something that only has to be done at Chag haMatzah but day in and day out the year round. This has been one of the activities of this ministry for the last 25 years and will continue to be as more and more demonic leaven creeps into the Body of Messiah to corrupt the good lechem (bread). May you too be diligent in guarding the emet (truth) and mitzvot (commandments) and guarding against this never ceasing invasion of false doctrine, hypocrisy, sexual immorality and the spirit of murder. Your well-being, and the well-being of your families, depends on it.
Continued in Part 7