LEAVEN IN THE HOUSE
D. M. PANTON, M.A.
The types of the Old Testament are exceedingly important,
and not least so because, by checking our understanding of New Testament
truths, they make us certain whether we are interpreting these truths correctly
God’s ancient People held the purse, and ours is the gold which the purse held;
theirs was the leather jewel-case, ours the diamonds and rubies within it; or -
to bring out the value of the types more clearly so far as corroboration goes -
the Old Testament type is the photograph of the New Testament reality, and
so we are able to make absolutely certain of the face by comparing it, point by
point, with the photograph. It is a divine rule:-
mouth of two witnesses shall every word be established"
(2 Cor. 13: 1).
photograph we ponder contains both our justification and our
sanctification. The blood is outside the house, the leaven is cast forth
from within the house; for it is God’s work outside us that
saves, while it is His work inside us that sanctifies:
salvation is the work of a moment, sanctification is
the work of a life-time. As someone has expressed it:-
it took but a few days to get Israel
out of Egypt, but it took
forty years to get Egypt out
So all opens with the Blood. "Our Passover," Paul says, "hath been sacrificed, EVEN CHRIST: wherefore"
- since our Passover is thus finished for ever - "let
us keep the feast" (1
Cor. 5: 7) which follows. The symbolism
is exquisite. Israel, in Egypt - our souls, in the world - were in
immediate peril of the destroying angel; our Lamb has been killed instead of
the firstborn; its blood has been sprinkled by the household -
we ourselves have put the blood between us and God - on the lintels
outside; and God Himself now says:- "When I see the blood, I will pass over you."
This, for us, has all happened: Christ, our Passover, been sacrificed for us; and
the blood stands for ever between us and God’s destroying Angels: "if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast"
- that is, by angels - "into the lake of
fire" (Rev. 20: 15). It
makes the type extraordinarily vivid that "the
Paschal Lamb (as still in the Samaritan sacrifice) was roasted on a cruciform spit" (Dean
Stanley). Nearly two thousand years ago our Passover was sacrificed once
then is the command that immediately follows? "Ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread: seven day
shall there be no leaven found in your houses"
(Ex. 12: 17, 19). The Passover is in Egypt - we were born again, blood-sprinkled,
right where we were in the world: through the Red Sea
of baptism we have passed into the pilgrim life: now the Church enters its
seven days - six days of holy activity, culminating in the Sabbath Rest for the
people of God. And, in the beautiful symbolism, Israel, in their precipitate flight out of Egypt,
left with unleavened dough; "and the people took
their dough before it was leavened" (ver. 34);
we confess and abandon all known sin at the moment of conversion. Now dawns the new life. The moment we
receive Christ’s righteousness is the moment we are to begin our own: the
leaven is left in Egypt,
and any new leaven must be at once expunged. "Purge out
the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened"
(1 Cor. 5: 7).
As it has been beautifully put:- "My sins slew my Saviour, so now I must slay my sins."
what is the leaven?* Unleavened bread
is simply pure meal, all water having been parched out by the action of fire:
leaven itself is a piece of dough gone bad, and with a singular power of
spreading, corrupting, and making good dough sour. Paul reveals its
spiritual significance. "Let us keep the feast,
not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and
wickedness." This is sufficiently
comprehensive: ‘wickedness’ covers all gross
sin, of every kind. Paul began this application of the type with the
words:- "It is actually
reported that there is fornication among you."
His list elsewhere is most comprehensive. "The
flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit
against the flesh" - in the believer: "now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, fornication,
uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies,
wraths, factions, divisions, parties, envyings,
drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which
I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they which practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom
of God" (Gal. 5: 19).
[* The Oxford
Dictionary:- "A quantity of fermenting dough reserved from a
previous batch to be used to produce fermentation."]
it is remarkable that the leaven can be mental sin. "Let us keep the
feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth":
transparent sincerity and truthfulness (Dean Stanley). So our Lord
said:- "Beware of the
leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy" (Luke 12: 1). The bread on which we
are to feed all the time, and which goes to make our character, is ‘sincerity and truth’: the single eye; the unbiassed study; the absorption of the Book; the unceasing
obedience; a perfect correspondence between thought and word and action.
And there is a still higher form of the bread on which we are to feast.
Jesus said:- "I am
the bread which came down from heaven." We need all of
Christ to feed upon: we need all His power to save; all His grace to cleanse;
all His wisdom to guide; all His love to bless; all His urge to use; all His
presence to fill the soul. Thus "keep the
now the whole responsibility is cast upon us. "PURGE OUT the old leaven,
that ye may be a new lump." Canon Hay Aitkin
tells how a friend of his watched a Jewish carpenter search for leaven in his
house in Nazareth.
Girding up his loins, he turned every board, opened every drawer, swept every
cupboard; till, suddenly, with a cry of horror, he started back: he had found a
small canvas bag in which a workman had left some bread: solemnly and anxiously
he laid hold of it with two pieces of wood - not his fingers - and dropt bag
and all in the fire. Would to God we all dealt so with our
leaven! We may have to throw away whole loaves - habits,
friendships, profits, affections, ambitions, popularity - because there is
leaven in the loaf. "The parting from
iniquity," says John Bunyan, "is a work that will last thee thy lifetime."
"Purge out the old leaven, that
ye may be A NEW LUMP." The moment Isaiah confessed the
uncleanness of his mouth, a Seraph applied a coal from off the Altar to his
lips; when we confess, Calvary is instantly
applied to the sin confessed, and we are purged.
now there dawns the confirmation, in the Old Testament type, of the solemn
warnings to the child of God in the New. "Whosoever eateth that which is
leavened" - so far from purging out the leaven, actually eats it - "that soul shall be CUT OFF from the congregation of Israel."
Paul’s comment on the type is the sole chapter of the New Testament devoted to
excommunication; and he names six kinds of leaven on which public action must
be taken - fornication, covetousness, idolatry reviling, drunkenness,
extortion. Scriptural excommunication, like the ‘cutting off’ from Israel, can be
not only exclusion from fellowship, but a ‘cutting off’ from life itself (1 Cor. 5: 5). But the cutting off can also be by the hand of God, and for
leaven on which the Church is incompetent and unauthorized to act.
For partaking unfittingly of the Lord’s Supper, Paul says, "many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep"
(1 Cor. 11: 30).
The leaven-eater could not point to the blood on the lintels to justify his
sin, or, if he did, the plea was not allowed. But while both Church
action and Divine action can involve death, yet the salvation of the offender
is directly stated. "Deliver such a
one" - not only that particular man, but any such - "unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in
the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5: 5). *
[* The salvation of the "spirit," is not the same as the saving of the
"soul". Caleb and
Joshua had a "different spirit." That is to say, they were fully aware of what the
consequences of disobedience to the commands of God would bring. "But my servant Caleb, BECAUSE
HE HAD ANOTHER SPIRIT WITH HIM, and hath followed me fully, him will
I bring into the land whereunto he went and his seed shall
possess it" (Num. 14: 24). That is, believers who have the spirit of
Caleb will inherit the Millennial
Kingdom of Christ.
Disobedient Christians, on the other hand, will be cut off like Esau, and will
weep and gnash their teeth (Matt. 22: 13; Luke 13: 28), when they receive "another spirit," and discover then
their loss of "an the inheritance from the Lord as a reward" (Col. 3: 24) - the Millennial
Kingdom of Christ. - Ed. ]
it is well to heed Paul’s warning on the extremely dangerous character of any
sin. Could you weigh the least sin (someone has said) in the scales
of eternity, you would fly from it as from a serpent. "Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?"
Nothing corrupts so quickly as a live body out of which the life has gone;
nothing rots more quickly, and nothing corrupts others quicker: and leaven is
dead dough. No matter how great the mass of flour,
unhindered leaven will penetrate it through and through. One woman
sinned, and the whole human race was leavened: a doctor fails if he does not
cut out the roots of a cancer; otherwise, it is only a
question of time when the cancer kills. One nourished sin can ruin a
whole life; and why? because it never remains one
sin. On the other hand, the more we dispossess
ourselves of sin, the more God can possess us, and the ‘new lump’ is a saint in the world, a bit of heaven on earth. The
Israelite gave up leavened bread, but he soon had angels’ food.
once more the Gospel stands out in all its crystal clearness. Every
unsaved soul who attempts to achieve self-righteousness by purging out the
leaven from his house, in an effort (it may be) of twenty, forty, sixty years,
while yet there is no blood on the door - that threshold is doomed
to be crossed by the Destroying Angel. Dr. A. T. Pierson
tells of a Hell Club in London.
In its membership was a young man who had an earnest, praying Christian
mother. One night the Club proposed to observe the Lord’s Supper in
mockery. As each member held a glass of wine he was to sneeringly say,
just before drinking it, "The blood of Jesus."
As the young man held his glass and repeated the prescribed words, it suddenly
seemed to him as blood. Nervously he replaced the glass on the table,
excused himself and hastily passed from the room. But on the street the
signs of the business houses seemed to be painted in blood, and as they creaked
in the night wind they seemed to say, "The blood of Jesus! The blood of Jesus!" For hours he paced the
streets in a vain attempt to get those words out of his ears and that sight out
of his eyes. He became frantic and desperate, and so decided to end his
life by drowning. But as he approached the water’s edge and saw the
moon-beams as they shone upon the face of the water it appeared to him to be
blood. And as the waves dashed against the shore they seemed to say,
"The blood of Jesus! The blood of Jesus!"
He could not bring himself to cast his body into those waters and so turned his
steps homeward. Letting himself in quietly he ascended the stairs, but as
he passed his mother’s room he heard her voice. Pausing to listen he
recognized that she was praying to God for him. Going into his own room he closed the door, fell upon his knees and
cried to God for pardon and for peace. And God, as He has ever been wont to do, heard
the penitent’s prayer and spoke peace to his soul. Some time later in a
Christian Convention this man was called upon to lead in prayer; and in his
prayer a well-known hymn was born. Falling on his knees, he cried:- "We praise Thee, O God! for the Son of Thy love, for Jesus who died and is now gone
above. Hallelujah! Thine the glory, Hallelujah! amen; Hallelujah! Thine the glory,
revive us again."