Parable of the Leaven

Matt. 13:33

Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Luke 13:20,21

And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

The kingdom of heaven involves all of the things of this world: both good and bad.  It is not that God’s kingdom is leaven, but like unto leaven, which is hidden in three measures of meal.  Matthew 13:41 relates this truth by stating that at the end of the world, the angels will gather the tares (children of the wicked one) out of God’s kingdom.  Matthew 13:19, the parable of the sower, relates the kingdom of heaven included those that were lost, and Satan, who snatches away the word of God.  It is at the end of this church age, when the kingdom of God is purified, that the majority of wickedness will be destroyed and Christ will reign for 1,000 years.  It is only in eternity that all leaven will be removed from the Kingdom of God. 

Many commentaries interpret the leaven in this parable as the gospel, which the universal “church” has placed into the meal (the world) until all the world turned to the Lord.  However, there is no passage in the entire Bible that declares leaven to be good.  There is no indication that leaven (the gospel) should be “hid”, rather the gospel must be proclaimed.  Matthew 5:13-16 declares that the light should be placed on a hill, not hidden under a basket; believers are commanded to “let their light shine”.  As long as the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is the salt of the earth, the earth will be preserved.  Secondly, there is no indication that all the world will finally come to Christ.  Revelation 13:5 correctly states, ...and all the world wondered after the beast.  This passage shows people will more readily follow Satan than God.  Even after Satan is released from his 1,000 captivity in the bottomless pit, he will have no trouble finding a vast multitude to lead into the Battle of Gog and Magog. 

It is very likely most Protestants interpret the leaven as the gospel because they don’t understand the nature of kingdom parables.  If “kingdom parables” are all interpreted reflecting only good in the kingdom of God, it is natural to also interpret leaven as being good.  It must be understood, however, that the present kingdom of God upon this earth contains evil.  This is an amazing statement to some, but it is true, as reflected in the parable of the tares, and the parable of the sower.  Even though the kingdom of God contains evil in this present world, that evil will be purged in the eternal part of the kingdom of God. 

Many missionaries believe this parable assures them of converts.  Instead of looking for converts, every saved person would do well to look for God’s will so they can be obedient.  God will reward the obedient, but might not give them souls for their labor.  God is able to give many different kinds of rewards.

What is leaven?  Anything not purified.  In Matthew 16:5-12, especially verse 12, Jesus explained that leaven is false doctrine.  Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.  In Luke 12:1, when …there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  The apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 5:2-8, declared that leaven puffs up, therefore leaven should be purged out of believers and churches.  Paul continues the admonition to cleanse away wickedness in Galatians 5:9 by stating, A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, meaning a little false doctrine leads to great error. 

Some believe I Corinthians 5:2-8 and Galatians 5:9 is speaking about the purifying affects of the gospel.  However, the context of these passages reflect the destructive affects of sin, not the purifying affects of the gospel.  There can be great perversions of scripture when the meaning of scripture is forced into personal beliefs. 

There is no mention of how much leaven was put into the meal, but it really doesn’t matter, as Galatians 5:9 states, A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.  Leaven, as all errors, feeds on itself; increases as it is used and developed.  The truth, that which is without leaven, or error, always stays the same.  One rotten apple doesn’t purify a barrel of good apples, but spoils them.  One sick man doesn’t heal a room full of sick men by being around them.  The sick will make the well sick.  A field left to itself won’t produce grain, but weeds.  Even if grain is planted, much work is required to keep the weeds out.  When churches are first organized, much error is absent.  As time progresses, error naturally comes in as the beliefs and practices of people are tolerated, then accepted.  Revelation 13:3 states, ...and all the world wondered after the beast.”  The beast is totally evil, but multitudes of people will admire (wonder) the beast, and will worship Satan, who gives power unto the beast.  No person is totally cleansed by the gospel.  All saved people must be constantly on guard against sin creeping slowly into their lives. 

Note the three measures of meal were not removed, but a foreign substance was added.  Satan started this evil progression in Genesis 3:4, which continues unto today.  In Acts 15:1, unbelievers added circumcision to the gospel.  History tells us that the first error of the early church was claiming that baptism somehow helped a person be saved.  This is much the same error as saying that a person must be circumcised in order to be saved.  Because of this first error, the error of infant baptism followed.  After all, if baptism was necessary to salvation, and sometimes infants died, they need to be baptized so they will go to heaven when they die.  This all seems logical to the fleshly mind, but contrary to scripture.  This is why Christ commanded in
Revelation 22:18-19, For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. 

Some today believe speaking in tongues is essential to salvation, but there is no scripture in the entire Bible that teaches this.  There are many errors in many religions, including but not limited to: celibacy, confessional, sale of relics, indulgences, purgatory, taking Bible away from laity, wafer in mass is Jesus’ body, wine forbidden to laity, adoration of wafer, rosary, (mechanical praying).  All of these error began with:  ecclesiastical form of church government, baptismal regeneration, and infant baptism. 

There are several examples of using unleavened bread in the presence of holiness.  In Genesis 19:3, Lot gave unleavened bread to the two angels.  And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.  Lot was living a very wicked place, a place God would destroy the very next day, but when Lot entertained these heavenly guests, he gave them unleavened bread, not the common bread of the day.  God commanded the Jews concerning his worship on the Day of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, to remove all leaven, which is a type of sin, from their houses, as stated in Exodus 12:15, Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.  If leaven is a type of the gospel, then God is commanding Israel to remove the gospel from their houses!  Removing the gospel, or adding to the gospel, is Satan’s plan, not God’s.  Satan continually adds confusion to salvation, but God is not the author of confusion, I Corinthians 14:33. 

It is interesting to note that Satan has never removed anything God has not allowed him to remove.  Satan tries to remove the Bible from the world, but failed. Satan has tried to introduce his own interpretation, which seemingly have been accepted by the majority of the religious world, but the Word of God in it purity is still present.  Satan has always been forced to carry God’s Word with Him, and this Word will one day be His complete destruction, just as Goliath carried the sword of his destruction to the battle, Satan will carry the two-edged sword of his destruction. 

The leaven is hid in three measures of meal.  There are two ways of looking at something that is hid.  It is bad when a robber hides and attacks his victim, but Psalms 119:11 relates a good hiding, Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.  The only way to ascertain whether the woman hiding the leaven is good or bad is to examine the other elements of the parable and let the explanation fall where it may.  The woman is said to took leaven and hid the leaven in three measures of meal, which represents the gospel.  She hid - like an enemy in the parable of tares did their dirty work at night.  Using the above statements, and the general interpretation of the parable, the woman hiding the leaven is bad. 

Who is the woman?  There are two “women” in the Bible, which represent two kinds of religion: false and true.  In II Corinthians 11:1-3, Paul desires to present the Corinthian church to Christ as a chaste virgin, which would be a true church, without sin.  Revelation 17:1-6 speaks of a great whore, which is every religion in the entire world that doesn’t glorify God and exalt Jesus Christ.  In Revelation 17:7, this great whore declares the is a queen, and no widow, and shall see no sorrow.  This false religion is sadly mistaken, for she shall fall with utter destruction. 

The three measures of meal comes from wheat, and according to Matthew 13, wheat is the result of good seed, or a purifying work of Christ.  Meal is a life giving substance, as described in Genesis 18:6.  Abraham feeds Christ and two angels with three measures of meal, revealing that meal is acceptable as “holy” food.  Matthew 13 and Genesis 18:6 are the only two places in the entire Bible where three measures of meal is mentioned.  I Kings 17 relates the story of Elijah and the widow woman and barrel of meal that didn’t run out.  II Kings 4:38-41 conveys that meal makes poison soup edible; while in the parable of leaven, poison is inserted into good food.  Casting salt into a spring of water for purification, II Kings 2:21, is comparable to putting meal into poison soup to make it edible.   The three measures of meal relate to the three parts of the gospel: death, burial, and resurrection. 

Jesus is the bread of life, made from meal.  In John 6:35, Jesus said, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.  And in John 6:48, he declared, I am that bread of life.” 

The whole three measures of meal being leavened speaks of the entirety being leavened.  It is staggering to think that all religion will become perverted with a part of the evil.  Yes, it is possible that believers will also become perverted, which should cause all believers to be cautioned to remain as true to God’s written commandments as possible.  In Luke 18:8, Christ asks this question, …when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?  II Timothy 3:5 relates in the last days many will have …a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.  These scriptures make it abundantly clear that the only way a church or people will stand is by the grace of God.  Revelation 3:14-22 describes the church at Laodicea, which was neither hot nor cold.  We are living in an age when many of the Lord’s churches are like the Laodicean church. 

How does it happen that error creeps into the hearts and minds of believers and true churches?  There is an appearance of speaking correctly, but it is not according to the Word of God.  Paul warns in II Corinthians 11:13-15, For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.  Jesus admonishes in Matthew 7:15-20 that wolves often appear in sheep’s clothing.  In Acts 20:28-31, Paul warned the elders from Ephesus that perverse men shall arise from their own midst.  Peter declares in II Peter 2:1-22 that as false prophets were formerly in Israel and brought them to destruction, so false teachers are around us now, and desire to bring us to destruction. 

In light of these very discouraging points, what are believers today to do?  First, remaining true to Christ is a very personal matter.  II Cor. 11:12 reminds us that things are not always as they seem, as Jesus related in Matthew 7:15-20 concerning wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Acts 20:28-31 admonishes believers everywhere to watch and beware.  Peter, in II Peter 3:17,18, states, Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.