Thursday, July 29, 2010

Terminology - Leaven

As you may suspect half of the staff here at The Old Dead Guys, likes to garden.  But you most likely do not know she also likes to bake, especially bread.  Whether it is muffins, or wheat bread, or even that white stuff that is full of gluten goodness it makes little difference.  She will go to great lengths to try and make a different type or improve one already delicious by adding a fruit or spice of some sort.  But one thing that is always included without hesitation is leaven or yeast. 

The Scriptures use leaven frequently, and most often we think of leaven as a bad thing.  However, you will recall the Scriptures never say yeast is bad only the effects (seen in analogy) of leaven is and it is used usually as an object lesson.  

Webster’s 1828 states of leaven

As a noun leaven is
1. A mass of sour dough, which, mixed with a larger quantity of dough or paste, produces fermentation in it and renders it light.
2. Any thing which makes a general change in the mass. It generally means something which corrupts or depraves that with which it is mixed.

And as a transitive verb
1. To excite fermentation [growth] in.
2. to taint; to imbue.

Its usage in Scripture is first mention is in Gen 19:3 and displays haste, in this case baking bread by Lot for the two angels.  This idea of haste is also seen in God’s instructions for the Passover (Ex 12:15) as a memorial.  It is also seen in the NT as something to avoid as in the “leaven of the Pharisees” (Mt 16:6-12) and speaks of avoiding bad doctrine.

Conversely we are also shown that the Kingdom of Heaven is likened to leaven in that it will start out small but grow until it growing time is completed (Lk 13:21).  In the parable it is represented by all three lumps being leavened.

Lastly we see leaven likened to sin in our lives and are told to be on guard against and to put it away from us for a “little leaven leavens the whole” (1 Cor 5:8; Gal 5:9).

So remember leaven in Scripture is used as an object lesson in what it does i.e. grows.  Whether it is representing good or bad is determined by the context. 

Context is King!


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