Have you ever noticed that some scriptures don’t get much airtime? There are verses that get spoken and written about sooooo often (you know the ones) and those that barely get touched.
I’m excited to share one of those with you today, especially since it’s so timely. Let’s get started in Ex. 12:15. God is giving His people instructions for how to prepare to celebrate Passover, and the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread (which is going on right now). He explains that on the first day of the feast, we need to remove all the leaven from our homes. Then He reiterates it in Exodus 12:19. And again in Deuteronomy 16:4.
Anytime you see something repeated three times in the Bible (especially in the first five books), it’s like God is underlining it, circling it, and putting up a neon sign that says “Look at this!”. So there’s something here that He really doesn’t want us to miss. But what is it?
This theme is picked up again by Yeshua in the Gospels, where He warns His friends to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the Saducees. But what is that?
Before we can answer that, let’s clear something up about the Pharisees and Saducees. When you hear the word “Pharisee”, what comes to mind? When I spoke on this a few days ago, the main words were “legalism” and “hypocrisy”. Most people think the main issue with the Pharisees was their preoccupation with God’s laws. But actually, their emphasis on righteous living is the one thing in their lives that Yeshua affirms.
So what about the Saducees? Unlike the Pharisees, they didn’t believe a reward was waiting for them in eternity. So they spent their energy pursuing pleasure, power and prestige in this life.
These two sects were in direct opposition to each other, fighting over a very small piece of the pie. They were living under Roman occupation, and both groups understood how tenuous their situation was. But the Pharisees tried to manage behavior and control people, while the Saducees tried to savor as much power and pleasure they could.
These seemingly opposite responses are really just symptoms of the same problem. And Yeshua isn’t interested in band-aids. He sees past the symptoms and addresses the deeper issue. So I’d like to suggest that the yeast of the Pharisees and Saducees is really fear.
Both groups had so much to fear. And when we’re afraid, the two most common responses are controlling the situation to create an illusion of safety, and numbing our fear with pleasure, to create an illusion of comfort.
Our society is steeped in fear too. The temptation to control and manipulate people is especially strong when life feels out of control. And when that seems hopeless, it’s easier to binge watch one series after another, or use food to numb than it is to face our fears.
So going back to preparation for Passover and the Feast of Unleavened bread, the physical process of cleaning out our homes points to something God wants to do in us spiritually. Not just individually, but in our families. Passover isn’t about God saving individuals. It’s about entire households, entire people groups being redeemed, delivered, and set free.And it’s not just the obvious stuff. it’s easy to get rid of the jar of yeast in the fridge, but it’s harder to get rid of all the crumbs in every corner of the house. But God wants us to expose the fear in our lives and get rid of it, so our lives reflect our new identity. So this year, when it was time to clean my house for Passover, God sent me out of town to deal with my fear first. Way out of town. He sent me to another country.
I needed to go there because I was afraid to, and my fear was preventing our family from walking in freedom with Him. I needed to go so I could feel Him leading me again. And I needed to go because He asked me to. I didn’t want to live my life wondering what would have happened if I’d been brave enough to obey.
Deliverance, redemption, and freedom are right here, so close you can smell them, taste them, digest them. They can become part of you. But they don’t just happen to any of us. We’re invited into the process. We get to prepare our hearts and households.
So my challenge to you during this celebration is to take a few moments and let God lead you through your heart. Ask Him to show you where fear is hiding, and give you an experience of the love that’s enough to get rid of it. It doesn’t have to be anything drastic…but it might be. Either way, He’s worth it.
How has fear held you back? How has God’s love displaced fear in your life?