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The Parable of the Leaven

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The Parable of the Leaven

Yeast was a foreign element

  • The yeast was something materially different from the flour itself
    • Something placed in it by a living, active process
    • The yeast does not belong to the nature of the flour
    • Before man can possess it, it has to be given by the Holy Spirit
    • The resulting new nature is spiritual and from above
  • Yeast is of a moving and exciting nature.
    • No sooner is it introduced to the flour than a moving process begins
    • The soul is stirred up, the powers of the mind and the passions of the soul are excited
      • Darkness gives way to light
      • Chaos and confusion gives way to order
      • Insensibility gives way to feeling
      • Apathy gives way to desire

Yeast is of an assimilating nature

  • Transfers its own nature to the yeast with which it comes into contact
  • Does not destroy its identity, but alters its qualities
  • This process of assimilation is:
    • Holy
      • Renovates the heart
      • Extinguishes the love of sin
      • Destroys the power of sin
      • Sanctifies the understanding and fills it with divine knowledge
      • Controls the judgment and brings it under the power of truth
      • Sanctifies the affections, making them spiritual and heavenly
      • Purifies the conscience and fills it with peace
      • Subjugates the will to the authority of the Savior
    • Silent
      • Creates no noise or confusion
    • Gradual
      • First one part is leavened, and then another
      • Sin is forgiven at once, but sanctifying grace is gradual
        • Infant
        • Youth
        • Young man
        • Mature adult
    • Complete
      • Until it worked all the way through the dough

Contemplates the perfection of the Christian character

A parable that likened God's Kingdom to "a little leaven" was bound to startle any Jewish audience. The Gospel writers chose these graphic images of leaven and of mustard seed to illustrate God's kingdom because of the innate characteristic of these particular pieces of organic matter to spread dramatically and dominate everything around them.

The dramatic imagery of this parable is made even more striking by the amount of flour that the woman adds the leaven to. Three cups (¾ lb.) of flour is enough to make a loaf of bread large enough to feed ten or more adults. The three "measures" (Greek: sata = Hebrew: seah) that the woman uses in this parable, however, amounts to half a bushel (almost 18 liters) or more than 30 pounds of flour. That would be enough to make at least 40 large loaves or sufficient bread to feed at least 400 people.

This extraordinary imagery in the parable of the leaven was designed to leave the minds of Jewish audience with the idea that there would be a super-abundant yield in due time rather than immediately.

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