Cleaning the House, Pt 1

Cleaning the House, Pt 1

So it’s time to clean the house…. No, not just because it is spring— which it is—but because Pesach, or Passover, is fast approaching. The day of Passover is immediately followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a time rich in significance for us in Messiah.

So, yes, we concentrate on the spiritual significance of the search for and removal of “leaven” from our homes. This time is a picture of examining our hearts and lives for sin, and the removal of that sin. Coming directly on the heels of Passover where Yeshua is revealed as our Passover Lamb who died for our redemption and for our rescue from slavery to sin, this clearing out of sin from our lives is perhaps even more meaningful. 

Rav Sha’ul (Paul) tells us in 1 Corinthians 5:

(7) Get rid of the old chametz, so you may be a new batch, just as you are unleavened—for Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. (8) Therefore let us celebrate the feast not with old chametz, the chametz of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened bread—the matzah of sincerity and truth

1 corinthians 5:7-8, TLV

Now there also remains the practical action in the natural. We ARE commanded to take the “leaven” from our houses—our physical homes. HaShem tells us in Exodus 12:15:

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.

ExoDUS 12:15, NIV

Well that sounds simple right? I just look at all the packages in the pantry and toss out all the ones with “yeast” in the ingredient list! BUT if it is just about yeast how come people drink wine for Passover? Yeshua was drinking wine with his Talmidim at a Passover Seder, wasn’t he? And isn’t wine made with yeast? So is “yeast” really a good translation for the Hebrew word in that verse? Many translations use the term “leaven”. Does that help? So what about other leavening agents, such as baking powder or baking soda? Maybe the problem is the “Western Context” I am applying to this Scripture? Perhaps a closer look at the Hebrew words used in Exodus 12: 15 is in order?

For seven days you are to eat מצות, matzot, but on the first day you must remove ְְשׁאר, se’or from your houses, for whoever eats חמץ, chametz from the first day until the seventh day, that soul will be cut off from Israel. (Hebrew added)

exodus 12:15, TLV

Three Things to Do

So I am commanded to do three thing in this verse:

  • Eat matzot
  • Remove se’or from my house
  • Do not eat chametz

Eat matzot; well, I understand that one. Matzot is the plural of matzah and that is the thin crispy unleavened bread; the stuff I can buy in the store labeled for Passover. So  during that seven day period of the Feast of Unleavened Bread we eat matzot. Most people try to make sure they eat at least a little each of the days.

But what about remove se’or and do not eat chametz”? To understand what this means we actually need to travel further out of our 21st century Western World context. In Biblical times, bread was made in a family or small community setting and the “leaven” used to make the bread rise was a wild yeast. Yeast is a micro-organism naturally occurring all around us. In fact, you could never actually rid your house of yeast no matter how hard you tried. These living creatures that you can’t even see are absolutely everywhere! Fluffy “leavened” bread can be made by mixing flour with water and allowing the “wild” yeast in the air to take up residence. The yeast reproduces in the wet flour, fermenting it, and producing carbon dioxide gas which “fluffs’ up the dough.

Waiting for the wild yeast to do this is time consuming, so people have come up with ways to spread the process up.  The closest thing that we have today to the original methods would be sourdough, where the yeast has been “captured” from the air to grow in a wet flour mixture. A portion of that starter is then mixed with fresh flour and water, and perhaps some other ingredients, and allowed to grow throughout the entire ball of dough, leavening the entire lump. The baker could also save a small portion of today’s dough to leaven tomorrows’ bread in the same way. And actually now that we know that fact, it makes what Rav Sha’ul says in Galatians 5:9 make a little more sense:

A little chametz works its way through the whole batch of dough!

galatians 5:9, tlv

Check back tomorrow for the answers to these questions:
– What is Chametz?
– What about Se’or?

And to learn what’s the bottom line.

Read the next post, Cleaning the House, Pt 2.