March 29, 2004

Starting Over...Again
"For seven days you are to eat bread made without 
yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your 
houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it 
from the first day through the seventh must be cut off 
from Israel" (Shemot / Exodus 12:15).

Passover this year begins the evening of April 5. Many 
Jewish households around the world follow the biblical 
directive to remove yeast and yeast products from 
their homes, and eat only matza (unleavened bread) for 
the duration of the festival.

This custom is what Paul has in mind in his letter to 
the congregation in the ancient city of Corinth:

"Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a 
little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 
Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch 
without yeast - as you really are. For the Messiah, 
our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let 
us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the 
yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without 
yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth" (1 
Corinthians 5:6-8).

This congregation was tolerating the presence of some 
serious wrongs. They seemed to believe that their 
tolerance of those wrongs was to their credit. They 
failed to see how the whole congregation was being 
affected by these wrongs. Paul urged them to radically 
deal with the situation, so that the congregation 
could be free from the negative consequence of the 
evil working in their midst.

Using the yeast analogy is interesting, because once 
yeast gets into a batch of dough, it cannot be 
removed. The whole batch becomes leavened as a result. 
When preparing our homes for Passover, whatever is 
leavened must be removed. Yet in the case of the 
congregation at Corinth, even though they had been 
adversely affected by the evil in their midst, there 
was still hope of restoration for them. They had the 
opportunity to start over again.

That's one of the most wonderful benefits of knowing 
the Messiah. When Yeshua gave himself in fulfillment 
of the Passover sacrifice, he opened the way for us to 
be forgiven and restored to a right relationship with 
God. The effectiveness of what he did goes beyond a 
one-time spiritual experience on our part. As we live 
out our lives with him, we undergo a continual process 
of forgiveness and restoration.

Whenever we find ourselves infected with all sorts of 
evil, the power of the Messiah is available to us 
individually and corporately to be restored to a state 
of purity.

But in order to experience God's restoration power, we 
must remove the infectious yeast from our midst. Just 
like how at Passover, yeast has to be removed from our 
homes, we must do our part in dealing with those 
things that are not good in our lives. The wonderful 
thing is that as we do this, and as we allow God to 
work in our lives, we know we can start over...again