When God gave the Israelite’s instructions for the Passover feast; He restricted them to eat only unleavened bread or bread without yeast for a given amount of time (Exodus 12:15). They were also instructed to remove all the leaven (yeast) from their homes.
Every time I come across this scripture I wonder, what Gods beef with yeast is.
The bible, in its multiple attestation nature also makes reference to yeast, in the New Testament (Matt 16:6) when Jesus is telling his disciples to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees. Here we see The Word telling us to stay away from something clearly not edible, yet Jesus uses the word yeast to describe this apparent bad thing that we are meant to stay away from. Why does He choose to use the word yeast to represent this debauched thing?
The scripture in Exodus gives us a concrete representation of yeast in a physical form, so if we are to conceptualize Gods aversion for yeast this would be a good place to start. So let’s talk bread for a minute as we attempt to do so.
On one hand we have leavened bread or bread made with yeast and on the other hand we have unleavened bread or bread made without yeast. When we compare these two types of bread and analyse with a discerning eye we observe some interesting themes that may have endorsed the use of the word yeast in the bible to refer to something distasteful in God’s eyes and why He wants us to stay away from a life of yeast (a yeasty life)
We can easily infer that anything God tells us to stay away from is sin, therefore yeast refers to sin, and we can also deduce that yeast is to bread just like sin is to our life. Therefore if yeast represents sin then we can say that bread represents you as a person or your life.
Let’s talk a bit more on the physical properties of both these types of bread (Leavened and Unleavened) from a spiritual point of view
1) Size: Interestingly if you use the same quantity of flour to make both types of bread, the bread made with yeast would appear bigger than the bread without yeast. It’s the same amount of flour but one has a false image; made to appear bigger than it actually is. Sin has this effect on people too. A life of sin is often perceived to be fuller than a life of dedication to the word of God. We get so carried away with materialism, appearance and ‘fun’ that it actually gives us the impression that our lives are full and exciting, sadly it is never really the case and eventually the fallacy disappears and you are left with a shocking realization that leaves you dejected. On the other hand a life dedicated to Christ, like the leavened bread is level and steady, what you see is what you get, it’s a life of comprehension and appreciation of who you are, and who you are not. This provides a sense of contentment with oneself.
2) Taste: Typically bread made with yeast tastes better than unleavened bread. I am sure you can see the pattern here with regards to sin. A sinful life tastes sweet while that of righteousness has a bit of a flat taste to it (to those of us without fully developed spiritual taste buds). If you are familiar with food science you may already know that food that is sweet is high in sugar which is generally not good for you. The point here is that a life of sin tastes good on the outside (physically) but on the inside (spiritually) it is not good for you and it will end up deteriorating you spiritual organs. I can assure you that a life without sin is certainly sweeter, though it might not taste as such the first few times, you just have to keep feeding until you acquire the taste. In the mean time you can savor the sweet satisfaction that comes from knowing that your spiritual organs are being nourished by this lifestyle, and if you think that is sweet, wait until your spiritual taste buds become developed, then you will be able to testify that a life dedicated to abstaining from sin is doubly sweet and doubly satisfying, i.e. from a taste point of view and a nourishment point of view. In summary, like unleavened bread, a life of righteous living may not taste as good (at first), but is definitely a healthier option for us as we progress through life, bearing in mind that our souls are built for eternity.
3 Longevity: Bread made with yeast has a shorter expiry date than unleavened bread; the truth is also the same with sin. There is a literal crash and burn reality when it comes to a life of sin that is caused by the first two features discussed above. A righteous life will last longer than a life of sin, remember that we are built for eternity and the end of our time on earth does not represent the end of life from a spiritual point of view.
Based on the features of these two kinds of bread, we can conclude that God wants us to stay away from sin, particularly sin associated with the doctrine of the Pharisees; a counterfeit puffed up Christianity or a false self-glorifying carnal experience perceived to be spirituality. Yeast in essence represents falsehood. There is a dual message here for both believers and unbelievers. God wants us all to stay away from Sin and its declining properties, but as believers God wants us to stay away from falsehood. A false self-centered Christianity.