Monday, February 04, 2008
Lives Of Leaven
Luke 13:20&21 “(The Kingdom of God) is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three pecks of meal until it was all leavened.”
Leaven – Gk. zume: ferment, boiling up, leaven
I know that this may seem odd, but I’ve always had some strange fascination with yeast. It’s alive, yet lays dormant until it’s “activated” by water. I even watched a cooking show once that explained the little critters and I still don’t think that I really understand their complexity and uniqueness. With that being said, let’s move on to more meaningful matters, shall we?
I’ve spent some time today researching and asking the Lord what this simple, yet mysterious parable means. I’ve recently read one’s interpretation to explain that the leaven is representing the false doctrines of men that have corrupted the organized church. They go on to explain that they feel this parable is to be seen in a negative sense. Never being one to take another’s opinion alone, I sat down to look into the matter. As I sought for answers, my result was a bit different. It is not better, nor is it infallible or conclusive. I’ll be the first to tell you that this kind of thing is not doctrine, it is simply interpretation. Therefore, it may have multiple meanings or explanations. With that being said, I’m thankful that the Lord is my teacher and the Holy Spirit, my guide. Otherwise, I’d not know my right hand from my left in all of this!
From what I’ve found, this reference to leaven being added to the meal, is not a bad reference explaining false doctrines infiltrating and corrupting the Word of God. My first thought is that the true infallible Word of God cannot be corrupted. It, of course can be altered, twisted and taught incorrectly, but the Word itself is impenetrable – an almighty force that cannot be scathed. For a moment, set aside your understanding that leaven must always be bad, despite knowing that nine times out of ten, in the Bible, it is. I personally believe that this parable is simply referencing how powerful the Kingdom of God is. In the verse previous, Jesus speaks of the mustard seed – an item that He often used to define Kingdom matters. He goes on to say that when the mustard seed was “thrown into a man’s own garden, it grew and became a tree and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” Here we see something small and seemingly insignificant be planted. It flourishes and grows into maturity and then becomes a dwelling for others to nest safely in. The Kingdom grew and became strong – it became something significant and provided shade and shelter for others because the man chose to plant the mustard seed in his own garden (his own life).
Then comes the leaven. In verse 20 Jesus states, “To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God?” Verse 21, “It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three pecks of meal until it was all leavened.” Leaven works quietly, yet extremely potently. Its work requires no big hoopla or flair performed by another. It simply needs added (planted if you will, as the mustard seed) and then it infiltrates and affects the meal, causing growth and expansion. Yeast, leven, zume, represented a “bubbling up” and a “rising”. It spreads its life as it grows and multiplies. I believe that it represents a lively, active ingredient, small in size, but potent in its power and ability to spread throughout. From what I’ve briefly looked into, the meal likely represents the Word and we know that Jesus was the Word made flesh. Hosea 8:7 talks about the “standing grain” that “has no heads and it yields no grain (meal).” The “standing grain” was only productive when it grew into maturity and yielded meal. (Also see Mark 4:26-29) Maturity for us, in the spiritual sense, is when we grow into the likeness of Jesus Christ, we become like Him ourselves and then, as the yeast does in the natural, we allow Him to multiply and spread to others via our lives. Do you see it? I know it’s a bit of a brain cramper! Let’s continue.
To get a bit more specific, the three pecks, or measures, of meal that is referenced here is equal to 128 cups or 16-five pound bags! When the proper amount of water was added, it would have likely produced around 100 pounds of dough! That’s a lot of useful, food-producing dough. In a spiritual sense, that’s alot of Jesus, the Word! When this dough was placed into the fire (refining), it was baked, making it edible for many. It, in physical terms became the bread of life! Do you see the comparison in the spiritual? I pray that you do! Our lives are the fields where the mustard seed must be planted and allowed to produce shelter for others – a dwelling. Our lives must be that big ball of dough that is “bubbling up” and reproducing! We’re continually refined by the fire of the Lord and offered to the world as Kingdom sustenance. May we say “Come! Taste and see that the Lord is good!” When we do this, we will personally see the expansion of the mighty Kingdom of God upon the earth!
A great afterthought, but not meant to overshadow the above:
Wine: Gr. "oinos" – wine, fruit of the vine
In John 2, Jesus turned the water into wine. All wines only become wine after yeasts are inserted to turn the sugars into alcohol. When Jesus decided to turn the water into wine, He caused instant fermentation, instant activation to be completed. The water instantly became “the fruit of the vine”. It was not just ordinary wine either, but it was the “good wine” (vs. 10). Upon His deciding, the process was pronounced complete.
In Mark 14:25 Jesus says that He will again drink wine (fruit of the vine) when the kingdom of God has come into its fullness at the great wedding feast. When the activation and fermentation process has been completed, those found truly abiding in the Word (water) will be touched by Jesus and will be transformed into the perfect fruit of the vine - served at the great feast, the arrival of the Kingdom of God. We will drink of this new wine with Jesus on that day!