Old and New Leaven

By COGwriter

Christians need to get past old and new leaven.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7-8, NKJV throughout unless otherwise specified)

As Christians, these days have meaning for us. We see that we are to purge out the old leaven. And that we are to be unleavened.

By being unleavened, Paul seems to be pointing to Jesus' words about being free of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matthew 23:27-28; cf. Luke 12:1)--free of sin (cf. 1 John 3:4).

Going back to the Book of Leviticus we learn that there are seven days of unleavened bread:

6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 7 On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. 8 But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.' " (Leviticus 23:6-8)

The month being referred to here is called Abib (Exodus 13:4, cf. 12:2) or Nisan (Esther 3:7).

Notice that there are seven days of unleavened bread.

Seven is the number of completion in scripture.

After God completed His creation and rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:1-3).

There are seven churches in Revelation 1-3. These seven represent the Christian church throughout the church age.

Anyway, part of the symbolism of seven days of unleavened bread is that spiritual leaven is supposed to be completely put our of our lives.

Here is a link to a related sermon: Get past the old and new leaven.

The Exodus

Now let's go over some scriptures related to the Exodus.

The children of left Egypt at night of the 15th of Nisan/Abib:

37 Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. 38 A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds--a great deal of livestock. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared provisions for themselves. 40 Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years--on that very same day--it came to pass that all the armies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It is a night of solemn observance to the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the Lord, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations. (Exodus 12:37-42)

Since the children of Israel were inside from sunset on the 14th to the morning of the 14th, they did not leave Egypt proper until the 15th. The night to be observed is the beginning of the first day of unleavened bread.

Thus after the Passover, the children of Israel put Egypt, in a sense, behind them.

Apparently on the 18th of Nisan/Abib, despite the ten plagues and losing his firstborn on Passover several days before, Pharaoh decided he did not like the idea of losing his slaves so he decided to pursue them:

1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 "Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn and camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon; you shall camp before it by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, 'They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in.' 4 Then I will harden Pharaoh's heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord." And they did so. 5 Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, "Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?" 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. 7 Also, he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them. 8 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children of Israel went out with boldness. (Exodus 14:1-8)

On the 20th of Nisan/Abib, Pharaoh’s armies get near the children of Israel:

9 So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon. 10 And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.

11 Then they said to Moses, "Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, 'Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?' For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness." (Exodus 14:9-12)

The Israelites saw a major problem. But despite all God had done prior to this, they did not seem to trust God for the solution.

Continuing in Exodus 14:

13 And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace." (Exodus 14:9-14)

The old Worldwide Church of God taught:

Our strength not sufficient!

But notice the message of God to them through Moses: ".. Fear ye not, STAND STILL, and SEE THE SALVATION OF THE ETERNAL... for the Egyptians... ye shall see them again NO MORE for ever. THE ETERNAL SHALL FIGHT FOR YOU!... How wonderful!

Helpless, we are told to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. He shall fight for us. We cannot conquer Satan, but He can. It is the risen Christ — our High Priest — who will cleanse us — sanctify us — deliver us — who said He would never leave us or forsake us! We cannot keep the Commandments in our own power and strength. But Christ IN US can keep them! We must rely on HIM, in faith. (Armstrong HW. What You Should Know About the Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread. Good News, March 1979)

One of the reasons that we sometimes face seemingly (from a human perspective) insurmountable problems is for us to learn that our own strength is not sufficient. More on dealing with seemingly impossible problems is discussed in our free online booklet: Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach?

The only solution for the children of Israel was God's intervention. For Christians, the only solution is often to fully submit to God (cf. James 4:7; Proverbs 3:5-8).

Continuing in Exodus 14:

15 And the Lord said to Moses, "Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. 16 But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 17 And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen." (Exodus 14:15-18)

So, notice what happened next in Exodus 14:

19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them.

The old Worldwide Church of God taught:

Notice verse 19. The angel who had gone before, showing the Israelites the way, now went behind them, getting between them and their enemy, protecting them. And then God parted the waters of the Red Sea. "...and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left" (verse 23). In Isaiah 55:1 and John 7:37-39, the WATERS are a symbol of the HOLY SPIRIT. The LIVING WATERS,of God are a wall to us, on our right hand and on our left, guiding us in the true path, making the path, protecting us in it.

But when Pharaoh and his army attempted to follow Israel in this divinely created path, these same waters completely COVERED THEM, as the Holy Spirit removes and covers our sins, and the Israelites SAW THEM NO MORE! What a wonderful picture! (Armstrong HW. What You Should Know About the Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread. Good News, March 1979)

Back to Exodus 14:

20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. (Exodus 14:20-22).

There are different theories as where this crossing happened. But let me state:

  1. It was a miracle of God and not some random wind.
  2. The water flows and seas in that part of the world are not the same now as they were nearly 3,500 years ago, so be cautious when you hear 'experts' speculate where the crossing may or may not have been.
  3. The crossing was probably at least a mile long and probably less than twelve miles, but we do not have precise measurements. Since it started at night and the Egyptians had trouble in the morning this would suggest that Israel had no more than four to eleven hours to cross. Plus there would be the front of the line and the end of the line to consider, and the Bible does not show how wide the Red Sea opening was (the wider the more people could walk across at the same time).
  4. The Exodus itself was in the fifteenth century B.C. Those who claim it was in the 13th century B.C. are in error and they give credence to those who claim there was no evidence the Exodus occurred--and there would not be evidence in the 13th century, because the camp of Israel left about 200 years earlier.

Anyway, during the early daylight hours of the 21st, the Egyptian army pursued them:

23 And the Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. (Exodus 14:23).

The Egyptians did not trust God, but their own sight and pursued foolishly thinking it would be safe enough to do so.

24 Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the Lord looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians. 25 And He took off their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, "Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians."

26 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen." 27 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained.

29 But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 30 So the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses. (Exodus 14:24-31).

The Hebrews crossed the Red Sea on the last day of unleavened bread and the army of Egypt was destroyed. The seventh and last day of unleavened bread pictures fully leaving the dead works of sin behind.

As far as tying any of these events in with Christianity, consider that Jude warned that:

4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation. ungodly men who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 4)

This is interesting because in the next verse Jude ties this problem with deliverance (from Egypt) during the Days of Unleavened Bread (which should be kept as an annual reminder of sin and deliverance, Exodus 13:3-10, 1 Corinthians 5:8):

5 But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 5)

In like manner, just because of the sacrifice of Jesus "God had passed over the sins that were previously committed" (Romans 3:25), He may afterward destroy "those who did not believe."

Here is some information on it from the old Radio Church of God:

... more than three million Israelites crossed the Red Sea dry shod! …

9. Did God Almighty get His people safely across the Red Sea before daylight? Exodus 14:21-27.

10. Then on the daylight part of Wednesday, the seventh and last day of Unleavened Bread, was there great rejoicing? Since the seventh day of Unleavened Bread was an annual Sabbath, was there a Sabbath meeting in which newly composed congregational hymns were sung in memoriam and thanksgiving to God? Ex. 15:1-18, 20-21. (Lesson 34 – Days of Unleavened Bread – Your Part In God’s Master Plan, Ambassador College, 1965)

After finally escaping Egypt, by crossing the Red Sea dry shod on the seventh day of Unleavened Bread (Lesson 35 – Feast of Pentecost – The Church In God’s Master Plan, Ambassador College, 1965)

The old Worldwide Church of God taught:

When the Egyptians attempted to follow they were all drowned in the sea. God had a great victory in delivering His people from slavery. That deliverance apparently took place during the last or seventh day of Unleavened Bread. (Neff L. God's Holy Days: The Master Builder's Blueprint. Good News, August 1980)

Tradition has it that the miraculous opening of the Red Sea and the completion of the Israelites' escape from slavery took place before dawn on the seventh and last day of the first Feast of Unleavened Bread. Then, on the daylight part of this annual Holy Sabbath, there was great rejoicing in celebration of their complete delivery from bondage in Egypt (Ex. 15:1-21). (Lesson 26 - Feast Of Unleavened Bread - Our Part in God's Master Plan, 1984)

But it is not just tradition, but scripture that supports this.

Here is some information about it from a Jewish source, The Temple Institute:

Exodus … On the seventh day after leaving Egypt, “the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold! the Egyptians were advancing after them. They were very frightened, and the children of Israel cried out to HaShem.” (ibid 14:10) All of a sudden, following orders was no longer an option. The Egyptians were closing in. This, as far as Israel was concerned, was not part of the plan. Something had to be done! This was a brand new reality for Israel, and they scrambled as they tried to wrap their collective brain around the threat to their continues existence. The people cried out to G-d, but then they quickly turned to Moshe: “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us to die in the desert?” (ibid 14:11) At first glance this appears to be a feeble attempt at gallows humor, a cynical rebuke of Moshe. But on second thought, it is actually a very logical and insightful question: Would the G-d that wrought miracles in Egypt on our behalf, and humbled the greatest power on earth, do it all for naught? There must be some way out of here! …

And now Israel is looking to Moshe for instruction. This is also a new reality for Moshe. Up till now he has been confronting Pharaoh, a most powerful despot, to be sure, but a man, who by his own admission, doesn’t know and doesn’t recognize HaShem, the G-d of Israel, placing Moshe in a distinct advantage. But now Moshe must confront his own people whom he loves, who like him, know and trust in the G-d of Israel. Moshe seeks to console the people: “Don’t be afraid! Stand firm and see HaShem’s salvation that He will wreak for you today, for the way you have seen the Egyptians is only today, but you shall no longer continue to see them for eternity. HaShem will fight for you, but you shall remain silent.” (ibid 14:13-14) What Moshe says is true, but G-d reproaches him: “Why do you cry out to Me? Speak to the children of Israel and let them travel!” (ibid 14:15) The children of Israel turn to Moshe, Moshe turns to G-d and G-d turns right back to Moshe, saying, what you have told Israel may be true, but it is not a matter of what they need to hear, but a matter of what they need to do: to extricate themselves form this situation, to move on, to overcome their adversaries, to overcome their own self-doubts. They need to make the first move. They need to move forward. They need to trust themselves before they can believe in me! (“Speak to the children of Israel and let them travel!” (Exodus 14:15). Temple Institute, Nisan 20, 5778/April 5, 2018)

Actually, they need to trust God more than themselves (Proverbs 3:5-6). Like most people, they were walking by sight and not by faith--which is the opposite of how God's people should walk (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:7).

Anyway, back to the Temple Institute:

And so it was, on the seventh day after leaving Egypt forever, Israel found itself in an impossible situation, the impassable sea before them, and the world’s largest, most powerful army closing in behind them. This might seem like a familiar situation to us today, nothing unusual, especially to those who read the daily headlines, a situation that Israel finds itself in time after time. But this was very new to Israel at the time, a nation of seven days, a babe in the woods, whose great faith in G-d, and ultimately, great trust in themselves, G-d would immortalize with these words: “Go and call out in the ears of Jerusalem, saying: so said HaShem: I remember to you the lovingkindness of your youth, the love of your nuptials, your following Me in the desert, in a land not sown.” (Jeremiah 2:2) G-d had already understood what the infant nation of Israel had yet to begin to realize: Their great trust and faith in HaShem, and their great trust and faith in themselves, the children of G-d, the nation chosen by HaShem to bear witness to His great presence in our world. “Let them travel!” G-d told Moshe. Let them be free! Let them be independent! And as surely as I am your G-d, I will open before them a path to the future, a path to the promised land, to Jerusalem, to the Holy Temple! Chag Sameach! A joyful Seventh Day of Passover to all! (“Speak to the children of Israel and let them travel!” (Exodus 14:15). Temple Institute, Nisan 20, 5778/April 5, 2018)

Despite the Jewish description of this as Passover, the Bible calls this day the seventh day of unleavened bread, not the seventh day of Passover:

15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat–that only may be prepared by you. 17 So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, (Exodus 12:15-17)

So, it is generally recognized that the Hebrews went through the Red Sea on the seventh day of unleavened bread.

But The Temple Istitute got it basically right it was the crossing the Red Sea that got the Israelites more fully out of Egypt.

The old Worldwide Church of God wrote:

Egypt is a type of SIN. As God's people Israel are today in "BABYLON,"and soon are to be delivered after God pours out His PLAGUES upon Babylon, so they once were in Egypt and were delivered after the pouring out of the plagues.

And, as Rome has changed times and seasons and days, professing Christians have been deceived and have lost sight of true TIME and God's DAYS, as well as the true WORSHIP of God. So it was with the children of Israel in Egypt.

For years they had been in severe BONDAGE in Egypt -forced to work with taskmasters over them. There was no Bible — no written Word of God. They were not permitted to worship God as He had ordained. They were forced to work seven days a week. They had lost sight even of the true Sabbath — and that is why God REVEALED to them the Sabbath in the wilderness of Sin (Exodus 16). Just as Rome has changed times and seasons, so had Egypt.

Passover only the start

And so, on delivering His people from Egypt (sin), God straightened them out as to TIME. And, as the BEGINNING of our salvation was wrought by Christ's death on the cross, so God said,"THIS month [in the spring] shall be unto you the BEGINNING of months..." (Exodus 12:2). (Armstrong HW. What You Should Know About the Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread. Good News, March 1979)

By keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread for 7 days, we picture our acceptance of God's instructions related to His Holy Days as well as picture our intent to leave spiritual Egypt (cf. Revelation 11:8).

Now What?

So, the Egyptian army is dead, the days of unleavened bread end that night.

Now what?

Well, it did not take the children of Israel long to want the Egypt, spiritually the old leaven, back:

1 And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt. 2 Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 And the children of Israel said to them, "Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger." (Exodus 16:1-3)

They had seen miracles, had been delivered from the Egyptians by the Passover deaths persuading the Egyptians to push them out and the drowning of the Egyptian soldiers on the last day of unleavened bread.

But they longed for physical slavery in Egypt!

They longed for the old leaven!

When faced with new challenges and tests, new leaven in a sense, they not only fell for that, but wanted the old leaven too. By "new leaven" I am NOT referring to how the coming Kingdom of God will spread as Jesus taught in Matthew 13:33, but new problems and new situations that may tempt us to sin. By the way, Jesus' comments about the Kingdom of God spreading like leaven should also serve to show us that physical leaven, of itself, is not bad. It just is a symbol and is to be put out of our lives during the Days of Unleavened Bread.

That being said, after their complaints, God provided the children of Israel meat (quails) and began a daily miracle of providing them with manna (Exodus 16:11-35).

But it did not take too long before they had another issue:

1 Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, "Give us water, that we may drink."

So Moses said to them, "Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord?"

3 And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, "Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?" (Exodus 17:1-3)

The children of Israel still did not trust God. They are wandering around getting fed manna six days a week, with none provided on the Sabbath. And this is happening wherever they are, and not for other peoples. But when faced with another trial, they wanted the old leaven of Egypt again!

Anyway, God provided water out of a rock and they were able to drink (Exodus 17:5-6).

Later they heard God thunder on Mt. Sinai and God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. One of which was:

2 "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 "You shall have no other gods before Me. (Exodus 20:2-3)

Later, Moses went back to Mt. Sinai and was gone longer than THEY thought. So:

1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, "Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him."

2 And Aaron said to them, "Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me." 3 So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.

Then they said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!"

5 So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, "Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord." 6 Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

7 And the Lord said to Moses, "Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. (Exodus 32:1-7)

So, when faced with new leaven, unfaithfulness, they sadly chose that and an idol, which was coming to the place of the old leaven of Egypt.

Anyway, they became ungrateful for manna and complained again:

4 Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: "Who will give us meat to eat? 5 We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; 6 but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!" ...

16 So the Lord said to Moses: ... 'Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, "Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt." Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. 19 You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, 20 but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the Lord who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, "Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?"'" (Numbers 11:4-6, 16, 18-20)

So God provided more quail (Numbers 11:31)--as well as a plague that killed some of the complainers (vs. 34). People again asked for the bondage of Egypt.

Then, after hearing reports of giants (Numbers 13:26-33, the new leaven of unfaithfulness was upon them again:

1 So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, "If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?" 4 So they said to one another, "Let us select a leader and return to Egypt." (Numbers 14:1-4)

God was not pleased:

26 And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 27 "How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. 28 Say to them, 'As I live,' says the Lord, 'just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: 29 The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. 30 Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. 31 But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. 32 But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. 34 According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection. 35 I the Lord have spoken this. I will surely do so to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.'"

36 Now the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation complain against him by bringing a bad report of the land, 37 those very men who brought the evil report about the land, died by the plague before the Lord. 38 But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive, of the men who went to spy out the land. (Numbers 14:26-38)

You might say that was just them. But what if there was a book about you. One which showed how God intervened for you, yet you kept complaining. Were you longing for the old leaven? Will God get upset enough with you to consider cutting you off?

Despite what happened, when they were low on water again, the children of Israel wanted the old leaven:

2 Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron. 3 And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: "If only we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! 4 Why have you brought up the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here? 5 And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink." (Numbers 20:2-6)

Once again, God provided water via Moses (Numbers 20:11). Moses let this trial, new leaven bring forth his anger and God decreed punishment for him (Numbers 20:12)--don't think you cannot be punished by God.

As far as the children of Israel go, notice something in the next chapter:

4 Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses: "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread." 6 So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. (Numbers 21:4-6)

Repeatedly when facing trials, the children of Israel chose the unfaithfulness of new leaven, while also wanting to go back to the old leaven.

Don't Look Back, Look Ahead

Now, it is not just the children of Israel who looked back.

In Luke 17:32, Jesus said to, "Remember Lot's wife."

So, let's do so:

1 Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground.

2And he said, "Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant's house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way."

And they said, "No, but we will spend the night in the open square."

3 But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

4 Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally."

6 So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, 7 and said, "Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! 8 See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof."

9 And they said, "Stand back!" Then they said, "This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them." So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. 10 But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. 11 And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door.

12 Then the men said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city — take them out of this place! 13 For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it."

14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, "Get up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city!" But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.

15 When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, "Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city." 16 And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed."

18 Then Lot said to them, "Please, no, my lords! 19 Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die. 20 See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live."

21 And he said to him, "See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. 22 Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there."

Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

23 The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. 24 Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

26 But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace. 29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt. (Genesis 19:1-29)

Lot's wife wanted the old leaven. Sodom was fancy for its day, but also a significant place of sin.

Now, perhaps it should be pointed out that some believe this took place during the days of unleavened bread. Genesis 19:3 is the first time the Hebrew word for unleavened bread is used.

Since the angels stated that they planned to stay in the open square, that points to this not happening in the dead of winter.

Furthermore, because of the rushed instructions Abraham gave his wife related to making cakes on a hearth for the same angels Genesis 18:2-6, this also seems to support this could have during the days of unleavened bread.

Furthermore, the old Worldwide Church of God published the following:

A Warning Not to Look Back!

1. Did Christ foretell that the modern society of our end-time generation would be much like the wicked city of Sodom? Luke 17:28-30. What is His warning for Christians living in the end time? Verse 31, last part.

Whom should we remember in connection with His warning? Verse 32.

COMMENT: Christ was referring to the destruction of sinful Sodom and Gomorrah, the escape of Lot and his two daughters from Sodom, and Lot's wife being turned into a pillar of salt. Tradition says that these events happened during the season of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (although they occurred several centuries before this festival was commanded by God).

It is interesting to note that unleavened bread is mentioned in connection with the departure of Lot and his daughters from that sinful society (Gen. 19:3). God had determined to destroy those two exceedingly sinful cities, which, like Egypt, are symbolic of sin (Rev. 11:8). He sent two angels to warn Lot and his family to leave the city (Gen. 19:1, 12-13). (Lesson 26 - Feast Of Unleavened Bread - Our Part in God's Master Plan, 1984)

What happened to Sodom was also intended to be an example:

7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (Jude 7)

6…the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly (2 Peter 2:6)

Thus, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah were to serve as an example to those who would live as they did.

Notice also Jesus' words:

28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

31 "In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. (Luke 17:28-31)

Now what about Abraham himself and how he responded to instructions?

1 Now the Lord had said to Abram:
"Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

4 So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan. (Genesis 12:1-6)

Now, this was different than what the children of Israel did. They left slavery and poverty. Abram left wealth, family, and civilization.

But we never hear of Abram longing for the old leaven.

Now related to some of this, in a first Day of Unleavened Bread sermon (and his last one), Herbert W. Armstrong said:

Today's a more joyful time, because today marks the time of our coming out of sin. And in a sense we're only starting out of sin all over again, as we do every year. And I wonder if we really do realize fully and comprehend the real meaning of this festival. I first learned back very early in the year of 1927 that we should keep the Passover and that we should keep seven special Sabbath days—annual Sabbaths or holy days. At that time I didn't know why.

Do you know I had to think of Abraham, when God called him OUT of Babylon. And, you know, God was calling me OUT of this world; and He's called you OUT of this world. When God called, his name originally was … be pronounced "A'bram" (I think many have called it "A-brahm."), till God changed his name to Abraham.

And God called him OUT to leave the gaiety and the bright lights of the civilization where he was. And he didn't quibble. He didn't say, "Well, do I have to?" Or, "Well, can't I go later?" Or, "Can't I go someplace else?" Or, "Why isn't it just as well here?" It just says one, just two words: "Abram went." That's all. He didn't question. And I think that came to my mind when I saw that we should keep these annual days. (Rely on God. Sermon, Pasadena, California, April 6, 1985)

Here is something about Abraham in the New Testament:

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11:8-10)

And Abraham was not the only one.

4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Hebrews 11:4-7)

There was a great cost to Noah and his family to build the ark. It is believed that he was also ridiculed about it and people would not believe his preaching--even though he was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5).

Related to these people and Abraham's wife Sarah, the New Testament teaches:

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)

Notice something about Moses:

24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. (Hebrews 11:24-28)

Moses had it all. He had wealth and influence in what was possibly the wealthiest most powerful nation at the time--yet he did not turn back to the old leaven of Egypt.

Notice also:

31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

Rahab certainly was not considered to be some great one by those of Jericho.

Continuing in Hebrews 11:

32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented — 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:31-40)

By focusing on the goal, these men and women left the old leaven behind, and trudged past the new leaven that they would encounter.

Instead of longing for sin, they first sought the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Christians and Those Who Fell Away

As Christians, like the ancient Israelites and modern practicing Jews, we are to put out leavening agents and leavened foods from our houses. It is not acceptable to remove leavening from your property if you just bring it back once the Days of Unleavened Bread are over. The lesson is to remove leavening entirely from our lives, which represents that which promotes corruption. We are not just to temporarily avoid sin, but are not to return to it or bring it back in our lives.

The Apostle Peter wrote:

1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. (1 Peter 2:1-3)

You do not grow spiritually by going back to malice, deceit, hypocrisy, etc. The Apostle Peter also wrote:

20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire." (2 Peter 2:20-22)

The old leaven is like the old vomit--putting that out does not mean you will not vomit in the future--but we are not to go back to the old leaven in our lives.

Consider something from the old Worldwide Church of God:

Jesus went on to teach an important lesson: "No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old" (verse 36).

Any seamstress understands that. New, un-shrunk material cannot be used to patch old, worn garments. When it shrinks, it will tear the old cloth even worse than before.

Jesus' second analogy is not quite so easy for us to follow in the 20th century: "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins" (verses 37-38).

In New Testament times glass bottles were rare, so wine was often transported in animal skins, usually from goats. They made a strong, airtight and moisture — proof container, but you had to be careful. New wine that had not finished fermenting gave off gas that would expand the skins. A new wineskin had some "give" to it, and would allow for the expansion. But old, used skins lost their elasticity. They would burst. The wine would be spilled and the wineskin ruined.

But why tell people that?

Jesus Christ's business was not to give the multitude helpful household hints.

Jesus was using a familiar situation to teach an aspect of Christian living.

Withdrawal symptoms

When someone begins to understand the teachings of the Bible, it is a totally new experience — unlike anything he or she has ever known — like new wine or an unused piece of cloth. Now, what most of us do is try to fit this new truth into our old way of life. That is only natural, because it is hard to change, and no one likes to admit having been wrong. The old way of life is familiar and comfortable, and we want to hang on to as much of it as possible.

How about you?

Perhaps you have fond memories of the Easter sunrise service, the fun of Halloween and those beautiful candlelight carol services down at the old family church. The truth comes smashing into inherited religious ideas and preconceived notions of right and wrong. It challenges comfortable beliefs, making you question things you have always done. This new way — even if it is right — sometimes seems like an unwelcome intruder, and you find yourself resenting it. Jesus warned us that that could happen: "And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better' " (verse 39).

It is not surprising that so many people, even though they acknowledge the truth, still prefer to cling to their old beliefs. Or perhaps they do as my family did when we met the truth halfway, with a sort of "un-Christmas" celebration. We didn't enjoy our "un — Christmas."

You never can if you know that you are compromising with what is right. We were trying to put our new wine in the old bottle, and we spoiled everything.

All the way

Don't make that mistake. If you are beginning to understand what it means to be a real Christian, realize that it is going to demand positive action on your part. You can't have it both ways, observing this world's customs and still expecting the blessing of the world tomorrow. "Why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not the things which I say?" Jesus thundered (Luke 6:46).

He expects total commitment. He demands that we come out of the Babylon of confusion that characterizes so much religion today. So along with the excitement of learning new truth comes the responsibility of making some painful decisions.

Don't compromise.

God does not want to take from us anything that is good. His way of life is filled with exciting experiences that mean something and lead somewhere, not empty, senseless but often very expensive rituals.

As you take the plunge and follow God's way of life, you will begin to miss the "old wine" less and less. You will see it for what it is — a hollow counterfeit of the real thing. God is showing you the way to freedom from all that. Instead of looking back at the fraudulent ways of this world, you will begin to anticipate the excitement of helping others learn the truth in the world tomorrow. (Halford J. New Wine and Old Bottles. Good News, December 1985)

Sadly, most people who were in the old WCG did long for the old leaven. Many went back to Christmas, Easter, etc. Consistent with the prophecy in Zechariah 13:8, about 2/3 fell away (see also The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings).

When offered old leaven by apostate leaders, many went for it.

New Leaven

What about new leaven AFTER the Days of Unleavened Bread are over?

Don't we get exposed to leaven again?


But, the use of new leaven essentially points to a new start as well as realizing that we are still in the world.

As Christians, we understood that Peter was inspired to write that we are to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).

We do that through Bible study, meditation, and sermons.

But also new encounters.

Peter also wrote:

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:2-11)

We are to be diligent and faithful.

Essentially, new leaven should also remind us that new challenges and sin is in the world and we can be affected by it--but also that hopefully we have grown and are not repeating/going back to the old sins, represented by the old leaven that we removed.

Even if the new leaven is similar to, or reminds us of, the old leaven, we are not to long for the old leaven, but face each day, one at a time.

As far as taking problems a day at a time, Jesus taught:

31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:31-34)

The children of Israel did worry about what they would eat and drink. They wanted the old leaven, the old Egypt of bondage.

Don't think that humans today do not have similar longings.

So, no do not go back to your old leaven. Do not long for the Babylonian/Egyptian world you may have come out of, but still live among.

Don't long for the old leaven.

When you run into actual leaven, let it remind you that sin is still spread throughout the world.

When you run into new (or similar to old) spiritual leaven, do not give up.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Yes, you can make it.

As Jesus indicated, you may simply have to take issues one day at a time in faith.

Grow in grace and knowledge, even as we face new spiritual leaven throughout the year.

Here is a link to a related sermon: Get past the old and new leaven.

Thiel B. Old and New Leaven. COGwriter (c) 2021 https://www.cogwriter.com/old-new-leaven.htm 2021 0320

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