You remember those stories too! Admit it! Finding cookies in your suit jacket as you walk up to give opening prayer, or dropping your pen in the car and reaching under the seat and pulling out a nice fluffy Twinkie your kids stuffed under the seat, or those devious breadcrumbs that deliberately worked their way into your pants cuff and discovering on the last day of the feast that your toothpaste had baking soda in it. Oh, the horrors! Salvation and redemption is a dirty business!
Those damn Girl Scouts! Satan is deliberately using them to remind church members their sin is not gone because their eyes and stomach yearn for those delicious Thin Mint 's as they are sneakily thrown in the neighbor's trash can. And those birds and squirrels! Wow! Satan's little spreaders of sin back into the lives of the chosen people of God!Occasionally, some well-meaning speaker reads from Clarke’s Commentary on Exodus 12:19, where it says, “To meet the letter of this precept in the fullest manner possible, the Jews, on the eve of this festival, institute the most rigorous search through every part of their houses, not only removing all leavened bread, but sweeping every part clean, that no crumb of bread shall be left that had any leaven in it. And so strict were they in the observance of the letter of this law, that if even a mouse was seen to run across the floor with a crumb of bread in its mouth, they considered the whole house as polluted, and began their purification afresh” (Clarke, Adam. Clarke’s Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 354).What are the odds of a mouse running across the floor with a piece of bread in his mouth on the eve of this festival? Actually, not as remote as you might think, based on my experience. Twice while living in Canada, we had a bird or a squirrel leave bread on our front porch right before or during the Days of Unleavened Bread, and they were more like chunks of bread than crumbs! As trite as it sounds, you can’t make this up! At least they were on the porch instead of in the house. The timing was remarkable, as neither my wife nor I ever remember such a thing happening at any other time of the year. Maybe it was a kind Jewish neighbor disposing of leavening where wildlife could get to it. It seems to me that God has a sense of humor.We stopped buying cookies from Girl Scouts (or, in Canada, Girl Guides) many years ago, because no matter how the Holy Days fell each year, the leavened cookies always seemed to arrive in the middle of the Feast. And have you ever noticed that it is during the Days of Unleavened Bread that the neighbor brings over a freshly baked cake?
This is also the time of year that unconverted husbands of church wives eagerly look forward to matzos and other unleavened products in the work lunches. Yummers! Church of God youth eagerly look forward to opening their lunch bag to share matzos covered in peanut butter with their lunch pals. Who can forget the delicious taste of pizza-flavored rye crisps! It certainly is the most wonderful time of the year! Even though those church members in the Southern Hemisphere are NOT keeping a spring holy day. Never mind though as Charlotte has decreed it is commanded of them.
One physical task that we may not find so pleasant is obeying the command to put leaven out of our homes (Exodus 12:15). Some go to extremes, spending days in what becomes spring cleaning in the northern hemisphere, and I suppose, fall cleaning south of the equator. Others barely give it a lick and a promise, taking a very casual approach toward the task.
Those of us who have been in the Church of God for 50 or more years have a unique perspective on deleavening. We have seen ministers, members and the Church as a whole sometimes fall into opposite ditches. Growth is a process, and we can, perhaps, have a few laughs along the way, such as the year I destroyed two toasters during the deleavening process. However, we also saw on more than one occasion where God’s instructions were watered down.
We all appreciate a clean house, but we must never forget that the purpose of this cleaning is to identify and remove leaven, and it is important that each member of the family take part in this process. Both removing leaven and avoiding eating leaven during this time provide valuable insights into our sinful nature.Yep, never mind the fact that if you are a Christian, that "sinful nature" has been obliterated by the work of Jesus. That work of washing clean is totally lost on Gerald Weston as he makes the following statement:
Jesus corrected the Jews for their oppressive interpretations of the law. He is to be our guide, not the Jewish custom described in Clarke’s Commentary. There is something about human nature that exalts physical activity over activity of the heart. Some, who once understood the truth, have joined Messianic Jewish groups that focus on the physical rather than the spiritual: prayer shawls, circumcision, certain kinds of dress, and other customs and rituals.But Gerald does not do this. He is still of the "truth." You know, the "truth" that is always used as a weapon to denigrate and label those demonically influenced unconverted slobs who reject the "truth" that has to offer Weston. You know those people, they are the ones who make fun of Weston's demand that you eat matzos or deleaven your home and car, and all the other fun things associated with unleavened bread time.
There were also times when we heard comments that downplayed the need to deleaven. Such comments usually preceded or accompanied times of apostasy. How easy it is to make fun of or ridicule deleavening practices, and while some take deleavening to extremes that God never intended, but some of us have been around long enough to attest to the fact that when deleavening is abandoned, other apostasies follow. God clearly instructed Israel, “For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land” (Exodus 12:19)."God clearly instruct's Israel" and all LCG members are spiritual Jews in their hearts, so that makes it all kosher.
LCG leaders and HQ work so diligently this time of year to present themselves as stewards of the law as they publicly make a display of putting sin out of their lives, yet, come the very next day after the days are over, they are back to mistreating and abusing members. How soon after Passover are members reminded that their family members that have mental health issues or have family in nursing homes that they are demon possessed? Or, when members who work in nursing homes, to provide for their families, that they must immediately resign due to working in an environment controlled by demons?Some claim this is only for Israel, but we are, through the Holy Spirit in us, children of Abraham and spiritual Israel (Romans 2:28–29; Galatians 3:26–29). We keep the Feast as Paul commanded the Gentile Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:7–8): “Therefore let us keep the feast….” Paul then explains the symbolism of leaven in this context: “…not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”Malice involves the thought process of an evil heart. Wickedness refers to wrong actions. These are to be replaced with a sincere heart and righteous behavior. Truth is described in 1 John 1:6 as something we practice. In other words, truth is more than academic. It is the way we act, what we do. So, we are to change in mind and in actions.
Remember that actions like these happen right after LCG members have "spiritually deleavend" their minds and hearts, even though LCG leadership are the most "balanced" leaders in the church today.
Balance is difficult for human beings—that’s us. As one minister once pointed out, the only time we are in the middle of the road is when we are on our way to the ditch on the other side! The emphasis must be on spiritual deleavening.We should take time each year for fasting and introspection, praying as Jeremiah did: “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. O Lord, correct me, but with justice; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing” (Jeremiah 10:23–24).
Pray for a tender heart that you might learn the less painful way, knowing that God loves you and that any correction He gives will only be for your ultimate good. As Paul instructs, “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:31–32).Oh, never mind. After all, this is the Living Church of God speaking.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God... Ephesians 2:8
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. ... John 6:50-71