What are your thoughts on bread?
I’m curious, because we’ve spent most of this week avoiding leaven—and before that, we invested a great deal of time in removing every trace of it from our homes. But how do you feel about it? When the Days of Unleavened Bread started, were you immediately overcome with a revulsion for all things yeast? Does the sight of a warm hamburger bun or hoagie roll make you sick to your stomach? When you walk through the cookie aisle of your local grocery store, do you fight the urge to knock down every Chips Ahoy display in sight?
Probably not. Chances are good that if you liked bread going into this week, you probably still like it. The fact that it now represents sin doesn’t change the fact that leavened products are, as a general rule, delicious. And maybe that’s something this week was designed to show us—that the things we need to be taking out of our lives are not always repulsive to us. Simply being part of the Church doesn’t make sin abhorrent to us any more than entering the Days of Unleavened Bread makes bread disgusting to us.
That’s what makes sin such a hurdle to our weak human nature. It’s enjoyable. We might look at a sinful action and see only the “passing pleasures” (Hebrews 11:25) it offers, whereas God looks at it and sees the web of damage it will cause—both to ourselves and to others. It doesn’t always make sense from our short-sighted perspective, but that doesn’t matter. We don’t always have to know why something is bad for us—we just have to trust that God does.
Israel never really grasped that. It’s the reason why after ten plagues and a handful of other assorted miracles, the entire congregation could stand around and bemoan their freedom from bondage. They couldn’t understand that God was bringing them out of an environment and a lifestyle that was spiritually toxic for them. All they could think about were “the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic” (Number 11:5). God was offering them a chance to become the world’s foremost nation as His chosen people, and instead they were longing for leeks. They couldn’t see beyond the passing pleasures of what they had left behind.
We steer clear of leaven during the Days of Unleavened Bread because, for a week, God uses it to picture the sins we need to remove from our lives—but no one is going to try to convince you that bread stopped tasting good. Likewise, as we continue to root out the sins themselves, we need to understand that the passing pleasures they offer won’t simply vanish. Satan is going to use everything in his power to make those pleasures appear more desirable than your calling, but we must learn to see past that ruse.
We must learn to see all sin as God sees it—as something that damages His precious creation. Even if we can’t understand why or how a particular sin could cause damage, we have to trust that God, from His perfect vantage point, can understand the matter much better than we can.
The penalty for treating the Days of Unleavened Bread flippantly is a severe one. Those who partook of leavening during this time in ancient Israel were to be “cut off from the congregation” (Exodus 12:19). God will just as certainly cut us off from His people if we choose a lifestyle of “longing for leeks”—of spending our time pursuing the sinful thoughts and actions that cause such pain and suffering to all involved.
Yes, bread is still delicious—but this week teaches us that the things we might find enjoyable outside of God’s perfect law aren’t worth the cost. We ought to instead be seeking to emulate the attitude King David described in one of his psalms:
I will set nothing wicked before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will not know wickedness.
Satan has many passing pleasures to offer…but God offers eternal ones. In the end, the leeks just aren’t worth it.
Until next time,