Leaven – good or bad?
He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.” Mat 13:33
How one little verse can be so completely misunderstood.
> First off, we have to look at our preconceived ideas.
Who in his or her right mind would ever say that the Gospel won’t fulfill its course and cover the earth “as the waters cover the sea” (Isa 11:9)? (Don’t mention anyone that this is a Millennial promise!) This is what the parable is saying, obviously, that the “whole loaf”, praise God, will be leavened by the Holy Spirit. Surely the Holy Spirit in us will accomplish all that is promised – that all nations will be discipled and then the end will come. (Mtt 28) How can this parable of leaven suggest anything else?
> Next, we judge a verse too quickly.
How can the “kingdom of heaven” point to a persuasive, evil influence; its impossible. Next question… The trouble is that we make this decision even though we know that (in our minds) ALL other references to this word leaven clearly say that it is evil and we must be warned about!
And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Mtt 16:6)
In the Bible, leaven is never used in a good sense. In a crass way, I say it is the equivalent of saying “dog poop”. (ie. “He put dog poop in my eye and I got sick.”) There is not a single place in the Scriptures where it typifies something good. Even when Jesus uses the word “leaven” it is always in a bad sense (Mtt. 16:11-12 “false teaching”; Mk. 8:15 “idealizing the Kingdom as domineering power and authority”; Luke 12:1 “hypocrisy”).
> Furthermore, we have grown up in the time when “interpretation” is an individual concept, left open to the eye of the beholder.
If I want “leaven” to be good, I can make it so! If I want “the birds of the air nesting in the branches in the tree” (Mtt 13:32) to be an expression of the Gospel’s global influence, I can (even though I just read in an earlier parable, same chapter, same setting, that the birds are evil. Mtt 13:19)
We have grown up in this atmosphere that each man’s belief is his right and who am I to question his/her interpretation!
In other words: “As with all spiritualizing, the interpreter becomes the authority since the symbols mean whatever he wishes them to mean.” (Dr. Peter Steveson)
Most of you know this already but I need to say it again and fresh:
“If we want to change the symbolic meaning of leaven and take it in a good sense in the parable of the leaven, we must have some very solid arguments.” (I-Bing Cheng, M.D.)
Leaven was, and is, an unseen, pervasive, evil influence. That’s why Scripture says that the woman “hid” the leaven into the flour. The actual Greek word for hid is “enkrüptō” from whence we get our English word “encrypt”. Do you really think that Jesus would want us “hiding” or secretly “encoding” the truth of the Gospel like an American solider in WW2 infiltrating the enemy lines wearing a German officer’s suit? We might get some intelligence but we would not be acting like our forefathers of the faith, of whom the world was not worthy! (Heb 11)
At the end of the age, at the harvest, Jesus will send out His angels to gather out of the kingdom tares and chaff and foolish virgins. They will co-exist in the kingdom of heaven because God is not a respecter of persons and will allow BOTH to grow together. The truth will be confronted on all sides. An enemy will come in the night and sow tares, an imitation crop. Leaven of hypocrisy and false teaching will so permeate the whole loaf that truth will be questioned on all sides.
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isa 5:20)
This is what the Bible declares and this is how one can and should read the prophetic parables of Mtt 13.
P.S.I have been told that leaven ONLY works when the dough is lukewarm!