THE NEED TO REMOVE ALL LEAVEN

alternate textThe events following Y’shua’s death, almost 2000 years ago, were so unique and far-reaching that one tends to forget that He died at the beginning of the seven days of Unleavened Bread and that many of the events that took place shortly after his death, actually took place during the Week of Unleavened Bread. And even though we do not find any direct references to the feast being kept DIRECTLY AFTER Y’shua’s death, we know, without any doubt, that the seven days following his death, were set apart and celebrated widely as the feast of Unleavened Bread, ALSO IN THAT PARTICULAR YEAR. In 1 Cor 5:6-7 Shaúl calls Y’shua our Pesach (or: Passover) that was slaughtered for us and then he concludes: “Do you not know that a little leaven influences the entire lump? Therefore cleanse out the old leaven, so that you are a new lump, as you are unleavened.” Shaúl finds the connection between Y’shua’s death and Unleavened Bread, and so should we. I believe this is exactly what we have tried to do over the past couple of days – trying to identify traces of leaven and falsehood and dishonesty in our lives and dealing with those as well as we could. But some of us may feel that this was almost an impossible task. Where were we supposed to start looking? Sometimes we are dishonest with ourselves! Sometimes we simply do not know the difference between falsehood and truth! Removing all traces of leaven is not that easy!

It may be a good starting point to focus specifically on the seven days following Y’shua’s death. The actual events that took place, the disciples’ response to those events, and the traces of leaven that came to the surface – not only during that week, but also during the weeks, years and centuries that would follow long after that. Let us not forget that the first week after Y’shua’s death was a week in which the disciples were absolutely shell-shocked by what had happened with the One they honoured as the promised Messiah, their Master and the Son of Elohim. Let us also remember Kefa’s confession in Mat 16:16 at Caesarea Philippi (“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living Elohim”) when Y’shua asked his disciples: “Who do you say I am?” And then his repeated denial that he even knew Y’shua, during the night before Y’shua’s death. A renewed focus on the first Week of Unleavened Bread after Y’shua’s death may help us to bring structure and context into our own efforts to remove the leaven from our lives – even though we are already quite a long way into this year’s Week of Unleavened Bread.

The one major event that took place during that Week of Unleavened Bread was Y’shua’s resurrection. Imagine the utter surprise when some of Y’shua’s disciples entered the location of the grave, only to find that their Master was not there – despite the fact that the place was guarded by soldiers. And the sight of two heavenly messengers telling them Y’shua had been risen from the dead – that He was not among the dead any longer, but among the living. All the emotions and responses and subsequent events during those next few days that were included in the writings of the four evangelists, were direct results of the resurrection of Y’shua the Messiah. The one event that stands out for us as an unparalleled highlight when we think of the seven days of Unleavened Bread, is the resurrection of Y’shua. For us, without any doubt, He is the first fruit to be risen from the dead – the guarantee that when He comes again, we will also be risen from the dead. Let us therefore remove the leaven that causes us to think about our own resurrection as something that will happen differently than the resurrection of Y’shua. For us too, like it was for Y’shua, resurrection does not mean being transported directly to heaven the moment we die, but being resurrected (or made alive) from our graves (or from the soil of this earth) on the day appointed by Yahweh the Almighty. This day (for us), according to Scriptures, will be the Day when Y’shua comes again as a fulfilment of many of the prophesies of old.

One of the emotions of the disciples that is mentioned frequently during the days following Y’shua’s death, is the emotion of fear (especially among the disciples). This emotion was quite understandable. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the authorities and what they might do to them, suspecting them to have removed the body from the grave during the night. Fear in the face of the unprecedented phenomenon that someone might have risen from the dead. But above all: The fear of Yahweh – standing in awe at the sight of his wondrous deeds and the fulfilment of his Word. Let us therefore remove the leaven that causes us to lose our fear of Yahweh – our amazement at his wonderful works and our awe for Who He is and where we stand in relation to Him. There is a kind of leaven that can puff up a person into thinking that the Almighty and his words is something that may easily be set aside, or postponed or simply treated in a casual manner. The Week of Unleavened Bread is a perfect time to deal with that kind of leaven in our lives!

In the Scriptural reports about the first seven days after Y’shua’s death we frequently read about the doubt and the unbelief in the minds and the hearts of the disciples. Most notably, the doubts of Thomas (or: Taóma) and his well-known utterance: “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and put my finger into the imprint of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I shall by no means believe” (Joh 20:25). Some would argue that it is only human to have doubts in one’s mind about certain aspects of Scriptures, and this is indeed so. All of us will go through times that we have doubts. It is human, it is normal and it can even be healthy – up to a certain point. But when our doubts become something of a bad habit and a smoke screen because we are not prepared to believe (when we cannot see or when we do not have the proof that we were hoping for) – then our doubts will become like leaven, with the capacity of contaminating our entire walk with Yahweh. Let us therefore remove the leaven of continuously falling into the habit of doubting, simply because we are not prepared to believe the words and the promises of Yahweh, like a child would believe the words and the promises of his father.

Just a day or two after his resurrection Y’shua joined up with the two men who were on their way to Emmaus. They were speaking about the events of the previous week and even about the reports that Y’shua may have been risen from the dead. They did not realize that it was the very same Y’shua who was walking alongside them! They thought that Y’shua was the One that the prophets spoke about but, at the same time, they were so devastated by the death of Y’shua that they could not see the fulfilment of the prophesies, right in front of their eyes! Among other things, Y’shua said to them: “O thoughtless ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” There are times when it is good to be slow – slow with the tongue, slow to criticize and slow to become angry, but never slow to respond to Yahweh’s words. Let us therefore remove the leaven of slowness of heart from our lives – slowness to see, slowness to believe and slowness to act when Yahweh is speaking to us simply and clearly.

The well-known words of Y’shua, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” seem to have been uttered within a day or two after his resurrection. Also, on the evening after his resurrection, Y’shua said to his disciples, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you”. The authority that Y’shua exercised before and after his death, is an authority given to Him by his heavenly Father. As Y’shua’s followers we have also received authority (from Y’shua) to speak and to work on his behalf in this world. This authority is something that we cannot go without. We need it to be strong and courageous. We need it because we have nothing within ourselves that can change people’s lives and bring them lasting hope and redemption. But this authority is not something to be treated lightheartedly or abused. It does not allow us to go beyond the scope of Scriptures and the example set by Y’shua. Let us therefore remove the leaven of trusting our own abilities and becoming arrogant in our ways and moving and working and speaking in a manner unlike the example set by Y’shua our Master.

In some of the reports following Y’shua’s resurrection it is said that the disciples worshiped Him, when they realized that He was risen from the dead. The word that is used in these cases is a word that means “to prostrate oneself in order to pay respect”. This word is sometimes used in the context of paying respect to Yahweh, but sometimes also in the context of paying respect to a person of high standing, like a king or a prophet or a master. When they realized that Y’shua had been risen from the dead, the disciples knew more than ever that Y’shua was somebody special, who was sent by Yahweh for a very unique and far-reaching purpose here on earth, but they never thought of Him as Yahweh in human form! Y’shua never introduced himself to them in that way, the prophets never portrayed Him in that way and even Yahweh, Himself, declared Y’shua to be his beloved Son in whom He was well pleased (not a fleshly manifestation of Himself). Let us therefore remove the leaven that causes us to simply equate Y’shua with Yahweh and thereby separating ourselves from the position of the early believers and not allowing Y’shua to be the esteemed Mediator and High Priest between Yahweh and ourselves that He came for in the first instance.

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