AGCC Sun. a.m. 3/19/00
TEXT: Ex. 12:8,15-20; I Cor. 5:8; Matt. 16:5-12
INTRO: We come to a symbol in Passover that has two different elements to it. The bread Israel was asked to make and eat was to be made without any yeast - why? First it was because God planned to make their exit from bondage a quick one and they would have no time to do anything but basics. Second, because yeast had become a symbol of sin or hypocrisy that can spread throughout a whole loaf if even the tiniest amount of it is present they were to avoid even the smallest sins.
Both involved the issue of trust. IF they believed God about the quick deliverance they would act in such a way as to avoid doing things that require more time like bread with yeast which requires time to rise before being used. The act of adding the yeast would be in effect like saying to God, "Well, I don't really believe you will follow through as you say, so I may as well take my time." Also leaving behind Egypt meant leaving behind all its influences, thus removing all the yeast was a symbol of being willing to avoid Egypt's influences totally and trust God.
Everything boils down to trust! This is essential in everything, but absolute in our relationship with God.
ILLUS:The Department of Transportation has set aside $200 million for research and testing of an Automated Highway System. This system would purportedly relieve traffic woes with "super cruise control" in heavily congested cities. Special magnets embedded in the asphalt every four feet would transfer signals between vehicle and main computer system. Steering, acceleration, and braking would be controlled by sensors, computers navigation systems, and cameras along the side of the road. Control would be returned to drivers at their specified exit. Researchers and government officials claim they have the technological capability to address any potential problem. But one challenge they have yet to address. Says Mike Doble, Buick's technology manager, "The only thing we can't do yet is get people to comfortably trust the system. It's not a technology issue. Would you drive, closely spaced, at high speeds, through San Diego?" Trust is always the question. -- USA Today (4/9/97). Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 4.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that we are to trust God completely … to not hesitate in obeying Him and His word and avoid the polluting effects of sin.
I. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! Ex. 12:8,15-18
A. Confidence Ex. 12:8,15
1. The command to eat bread without yeast was meant to convey the idea of rapid obedience.
a. To add yeast would indicate that they did not believe God was either able or willing to free them from bondage quickly.
b. Evidence of lack of faith would be the addition of yeast to the bread … which would make it necessary to wait for the bread to rise before cooking it. This would have been an act of deliberate disregard for God's Word and would demonstrate a lack of faith in God.
2. Many in Israel may have believed that God COULD deliver them, but evidence that He WOULD deliver them required them to act out that faith by the action of making bread without the yeast!
a. Too often the concept of faith is not understood, it is not just an intellectual belief that God exists … it is an act on our part that SHOWS we believe He exists!
ILLUS:"Faith is not believing that God can, but that God will!" -- Abraham Lincoln, Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 2.
b. Too often people don't mind believing in God as long as it doesn't change how they have to live!
3. If Israel believed God it meant changing the course of how they made bread this time … their faith that God would indeed deliver them immediately would be evidenced in the change of bread making … a change that reflected their confidence in God's promise of quick deliverance.
a. Do we hear God's Word and say "Amen" to it and then simply walk away without any real changes in our lifestyle or value system?
b. What evidences in our life indicate that we have prepared ourselves properly to show the world that we believe in God's deliverance?
B. Commitment Ex. 12:16-18
1. God commanded Israel to do no work for 7 days, all they could do was make food … and only bread without yeast during this time.
a. They were not to busy themselves with ordinary things - they were to stay focused on God's deliverance from bondage.
b. Their lives needed to show a commitment to each generation by celebrating this every year, God can and does deliver from bondage.
2. They are to so believe in God's delivering power that they act out this element of bread with no yeast every year - their children would need to know that God not only delivered their forefathers, but that it was necessary for their forefathers to demonstrate commitment by an obedient act that was in keeping with God's promise to lead them out of bondage … hence no yeast in bread!
3. It was meant to be a perpetual reminder of both God's promise and man's responsibility by an appropriate response of obedience.
4. Real faith must have real evidence in our lives!
ILLUS:Robert Chesebrough believed in his product. He's the fellow who invented Vaseline, a petroleum jelly refined from rod wax, the ooze that forms on shafts of oil rigs. He so believed in the healing properties of his product that he became his own guinea pig. He burned himself with acid and flame; he cut and scratched himself so often and so deeply that he bore the scars of his tests the rest of his life. But he proved his product worked. People had only to look at his wounds, now healed, to see the value of his work--and the extent of his belief. -- Ralph Walker, Concord, North Carolina. Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 1.
5. It may have seemed like a small matter of obedience to leave yeast out of the bread but it indicated a profound belief that God's Word to deliver them had been accepted.
a. The failure to leave yeast out of the bread was a failure to trust God!
b. Our failure to have our lives demonstrate the truths of God's Word shows the world that Scriptures are not really all that important and that we don't really trust them enough to pattern our lives after them.
6. They were not to procrastinate in their obedience, it was to be immediate as evidenced by the lack of yeast in making their daily bread.
a. Do we put off being obedient to God in areas the Word of God touches in our lives?
b. What evidence is there that you take God's Word seriously in your life?
II. DO NOT POLLUTE! Ex. 12:19-20; I Cor. 5:8; Matt. 16:5-12
A. Cleansing Ex. 12:19-20
1. The other symbol of yeast was that of "influence" - usually evil influence.
a. Yeast had the characteristic quality of being able to spread its influence throughout an entire loaf of bread if even a tiny amount of it is allowed into the mixture.
b. It was viewed as an "outside" influence on the basic elements of grain and water that made up the bread.
c. A small amount could influence an entire loaf … much like a small amount of disbelief could spread throughout the entire camp of Israel! (as it so often did!)
2. In this sense God tells Israel that not only should the yeast be left out of the bread, it should also be removed from the house! (12:19)
a. So serious an issue was this that God said that failure to remove all traces of yeast from the house during this time would result in those who ate the leavened bread would be cut off completely from Israel.
b. The little bit of disbelief could spread rapidly through Israel just as yeast does through dough … so no chances of this could be allowed, the solution was to remove all traces of yeast as though it was a pollution.
3. God wasn't worried about the Egyptians destroying Israel, He was more concerned about their own tendency to pollute themselves by disobedience to Him!
ILLUS:Most of the evil in this world does not come from evil people. It comes from people who consider themselves good. -- Reinhold Niebuhr, Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 5.
4. The warnings applied to everyone, Jewish either by birth, or alien who comes in by choice.
a. God did not want a polluted people, so they were to cleanse their house of all traces of yeast.
b. The "bread" was to remain pure and unpolluted … so that all who ate got only bread and nothing else!
c. We are to be careful too that we present Christ as the bread of life without man's philosophies and polluted additions to His Word. Like the warning here in the Old Testament, anyone who eats bread that is not the pure bread would be cut off … there is no other bread of life outside of Christ that can give life.
5. It was not just a matter of not making bread in your own home without yeast, it was just as important not to eat any bread anywhere else with yeast in it.
B. Contamination I Cor. 5:8; Matt. 16:5-12
1. As God's people we are to avoid contamination of the ways of this world.
a. It is not enough to condemn sinful things, our lives must demonstrate a rejection of sinful things!
b. The Pharisees were great at condemning sin while their own lives were full of it!
ILLUS:Hypocrite: Someone who complains there is too much sex and violence on his VCR. -- Marriage Partnership, Vol. 12, no. 2.
2. The Pharisees and Sadducees were prime examples of those who railed against the vices of sin but inwardly were full of sin themselves.
a. They thought they could hide their ungodliness but like yeast, that which was hidden inwardly had a way of showing its influence outwardly.
b. Even a little sin can have a big influence over our lives.
3. Jesus constantly warned His disciples against following the ways of the hypocrites, such contamination can have wide spread effects in the body of Christ.
4. It is easy to give an impression of godliness, this the Pharisees and Sadducees were good at, but the truth is found in our attitudes and actions and not in our spoken beliefs.
ILLUS:Accountability to me is unnatural. My tendency is to only let you know enough about me to give you a good impression. I am a recovering hypocrite. -- CCM artist Steve Green, Christian Reader, Vol. 34.
5. Church history is full of examples of how a little bit of contamination can easily spread through the body of Christ.
a. So where do we start? WITH OURSELVES .. getting rid of the yeast in our own loaf of bread, and then cleansing it from our homes.
b. Each generation was to keep the practice each year of eating this unleavened bread for 7 days … as a reminder of God's deliverance and their need to keep themselves pure.
6. Do our children have examples of lives uncontaminated by the yeast of this world?
7. Do they know the importance of immediate obedience which brings immediate deliverance from bondage?
CONCLUSION: God asked Israel to forget yeast in their bread - why? - because they would be leaving bondage right away! It would have been an act of disbelief to take the time to use yeast, it would have showed a lack of faith in God's power if they ignored this. Yeast was also a symbol of sin and God wanted His people to be holy and unpolluted by sin. This is still the message in unleavened bread - believe and be holy!