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"Leaven"

Sunday, January 02, 2022

Throughout Scripture, God overwhelmingly equates leaven with something sinful and spiritually deadly. In my observation, leaven is considered as a “foreign” substance that was added to an otherwise pure offering or pure sacrifice. Thus, God said no less than 18 times in Scripture to stay away from it. There are only two exceptions to this rule in the Bible, to my knowledge. Only two passages speak positively of leaven. One passage is Leviticus 23:17, and the other is Matthew 13:33 (parallel passage: Lk. 13:20-21). When you read those passages in context, you can see why God made the exception in those cases.

            As we noted, leaven is condemned by God more often than not. In studying about leaven, we find God telling His people to make sure literal leaven was not in specific offerings (Ex. 12:15, 19, 13:7, 34:25; Lev. 2:11, 6:17, 10:12). In the New Testament, leaven was symbolic of false doctrine (Matt. 16:6-12; Mk. 8:15; Lk. 12:1) and sinful behavior (I Cor. 5:6-8). We are reminded on two occasions, “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (I Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9). This means that sin has no natural stopping place! If we allow a little sin to creep into our lives, or into the church, or into a nation for that matter (Prov. 14:34), it will not be long until this brings great ruin to that person, church, or nation. Remember, sin brings death every time (Jas. 1:15)!

            When we read Leviticus 2:11, we see God telling Moses that when the people offer their grain (meal, KJV) offering, they need to make sure there is no leaven in it. Why is God this exacting? Perhaps understanding the spiritual side of this subject helps us to understand why. God did not want anything in the offering that would permeate or influence its environment the way leavening agents do with grain or flour offerings, just as He did not want the “leavening” influences of pagan or idolatrous worship in the people’s practices!

            A little later, we will read about God forbidding the people to marry the Canaanite people (Deut. 7). Why say this? It was because He knew such an arrangement would cause those people “to turn away … from following me” (Deut. 7:4). Yes, “a little leaven” can do much damage! Is there any wonder why there are continued warnings about adding to or taking from God’s word in the Scripture (Deut. 4:2, 12:32; Josh. 1:7; Prov. 30:6; Matt. 15:8-9;  I Pet. 4:11; Rev. 22:18-19)? Even minor changes can do significant damage to God’s revelation! If you are not sure about this, just ask Eve about what happens when someone adds a “not” to God’s word (Gen. 3:4-6)!

            God was very exact in what He wanted in the offerings. This was an object lesson to the people to show He is also precise in His teachings and what He expects us to say to others! Let us then learn the lesson about leaven and make sure that the words we say are true words, and not mingled with anything that would corrupt God’s pure message (I Pet. 4:11)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Neither Could They Blush"

Saturday, November 06, 2021

            Yesterday’s study focused on Jeremiah 6:14. This article continues the thought and theme by looking into verse 15. After condemning those who cried, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14), God’s words continue. “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed; neither could they blush. Therefore, they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord” (Jer. 6:15).

            God’s words were quite powerful in this verse. Those who preached falsely about peace were so arrogant they were not ashamed when confronted with their error. God said they could not even “blush”! The word “blush” in this verse means the same as we use it today. It has to do with one being hurt or ashamed of what one has done. Godly sorrow will produce “blushing” when we are genuinely hurt and ashamed of the sins we have committed before God. One who “blushes” over his sin will make a genuine effort to repent and leave that action in the past (II Cor. 7:10). In the context of Jeremiah 6, the people had preached falsely, and they didn’t care about that. They were confronted with the truth, and they did not allow it to affect them. They weren’t embarrassed at all! The apostle Paul said he knew some whose “end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. ” (Phil. 3:19, ESV). That kind of sounds like the people Jeremiah faced. Can you blush?

            Have you ever been told that you ought to be ashamed of yourself because of something you have done or said? If not, then this is part of the problem we face today - just like Jeremiah’s generation faced! Friend, there are actions we do and words we speak that should cause shame in our lives. The apostle Paul said that after folks had become Christians, they then looked back on their former lives with shame (Rom. 6:20-23). This is normal and right to be embarrassed over sins we have committed. Now, is this us? Can you blush?

            Just like in Jeremiah’s time, we have raised a generation of people who do not blush over sin and wrongdoing. There is an older generation telling the younger ones to “accept your truth,” whatever that means.  There is an older generation telling our young ones not to worry about sin because “no one has the right to judge you” and “do what you feel is right.” Since people listen to this, then they have no concept of what is right or wrong. When the truth is preached, they do not blush. They are not ashamed. They simply parrot their mentors and ask, “Who are you to judge me?” Or they tell the one who loves them and exposes the truth (Eph. 4:15, 5:11) that he needs to “clean up your own yard and stay out of mine.” Can you blush?

            If we can’t blush, if we do not feel shame and hurt over our sins, how will we ever repent of our sins before Christ (Lk. 13:3; Acts 2:38)? Truly, those folks in Jeremiah’s time stood in rebellion against God (Jer. 6:14-15), as do we if we will not stop and consider the seriousness of our sins before a sinless God (Rom. 3:23)! Can you blush?

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

Remembering And Forgetting

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

I have said from time to time that I tend to forget the things I need to remember and remember the things I need to forget. Does anyone else feel like this? Solomon said something like this in Ecclesiastes 9:14-16.

Just to see how well we remember the important things, please take a couple of short quizzes. Check your answers and see how you do.

            Quiz #1 - Who:

  • Invented the polio vaccine?
  • Discovered pasteurization?
  • Discovered penicillin?
  • Invented the artificial heart?
  • Wrote the book of Philemon?
  • Wrote the book of Acts?
  • Invented the incandescent light bulb?


            Quiz #2 - Who:

  • Won last season’s “Dancing With The Stars”?
  • Won the 1990 World Series?
  • Is Miss America?
  • Is Carole Baskin?
  • Is the “Tiger King”?
  • Is Prince Harry’s wife?
  • Drove #3 in NASCAR races until 2001?


            How did you do on your quizzes? Did you get more correct answers in quiz #1 or #2? Did you have to “Google” anything? Perhaps this illustration will give us some insight into Solomon’s words (Ecc. 9:14-16). In the text, after the siege, men were more likely to remember the loser instead of the winner! Why is it that men tend to listen to a failed king rather than a winning wise man?  How upside-down can we get?

            This passage does not give reasons why men tend to remember the loser and the things of lesser importance rather than what is of greater importance? Could I suggest that perhaps men tend to remember the things they ought to forget because those things of lesser importance satisfy a lust (Jas. 1:14-15). Additionally, we know many love to gossip, and love to find out the latest “scandal.” Are there not plenty of things in this world that would scratch such an itch?

            Often, our priorities are the polar opposite to God’s. Solomon understood that and said so in Ecclesiastes 9. Let us take a moment to examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5). What can we do to get our priorities in line with God’s? Make that change today and forget what is not important but remember what is (Phil. 3:13-14)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

Living Dogs And Dead Lions

Saturday, September 19, 2020

            The last part of Ecclesiastes 9:4 says that “a living dog is better than a dead lion.” What I find interesting is that in the days of Solomon, dogs were not “man’s best friend.” They were not considered pets but nuisances. Lions, on the other hand, were exalted and symbols of royalty. In those days, if one had the option, a regal-looking lion would be much preferred over some mutt dog. Yet, Solomon observed a living dog is still better than a dead lion.

What does such a statement mean? It is similar to our saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Put simply, it means that there are times when we are better off getting what is available, what is possible, instead of the things only wished for. We could say it this way: Take advantage of the opportunities you have instead of waiting for things that might never come!

I believe some folks are guilty of hoping for that “dead lion” when they think they will wait for a “convenient” time to be saved. Felix maintained this attitude (Acts 24:25), and though seeing Paul for over two years (v. 27), he never found a “convenient” time! Are we like this? Some wish to wait on their obedience to the Lord until they “know more” or until they have accomplished some goal. I know of people who said they needed more Bible knowledge before they could be saved. To these people, I asked, “You know the Lord’s plan of salvation and you know that you are in sin and need to be saved. At this point, what else do you need to know?” A living dog is better than a dead lion, friends!

            Some will not tell others the truth about salvation and Jesus because they are afraid they do not know enough. They are concerned that some question might be asked of them that they cannot answer. Many are fearful of any type of “confrontation.” I think there is a large percentage of Christians who don’t wish to talk to people who are not like them -- whether racially, the same economic status, etc. What ultimately happens is that no teaching gets done, and a generation is lost in a Devil’s Hell. To these people, I say: “A living dog is better than a dead lion”! We are wasting our opportunities looking for the “perfect” opportunity, the “perfect” person, etc. Listen, those are not coming in that form. We need to understand that the “perfect” is only “perfect” in hindsight. Our opportunities to teach someone about the Lord doesn’t come wrapped in a pretty bow! They come to us at the bank and the grocery store. They come to us when we are dirty and sweaty from working, and with our children at night when we are tired. Opportunities to teach about Christ come to us looking like a flawed and failed person who is in sin and needs Christ. This person has sinned and has emotional or other types of “baggage” and regrets. It is these people who need to cast their care on Christ (I Pet. 5:7) but can’t do it until they are introduced to Him. What are we doing to help these people? Where is the love for our neighbor (Matt. 22:39)? Are we so busy waiting for “dead lions” that we are missing the “living dogs?”

            Take a moment for true self-examination (II Cor. 13:5). What opportunities and who are we overlooking in our vain pursuits? The dead lion offers nothing for you. Stop wasting time on the impossible and accept and work with what is real and true! The blessings are sometimes right under our noses. We need to get them out of the clouds and down where we can focus on what is instead of what is not. 

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

God Didn’t Make You Like That!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

            At the end of Ecclesiastes 7, we read, “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.” These words are a sober reminder that what God had in mind for man and what man has become are two very different things!

            When God began His work on earth, He made man ”upright.” This is not in reference to his bodily structure, but instead a reference to his soul. God created man free from the bondage of sin. It is by “one man sin entered the world” (Rom. 5:12; Gen. 3:1-6). God did not make man a sinner, yet, “all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12, 3:23)!

Solomon shows us that it is man who “sought out many inventions.”  Instead of “inventions,” other Bible versions use terms like “schemes,” “devices,” “perversions,” and the like. One version that I think states this thought in plainer language says: “I did learn one thing: We were completely honest when God created us, but now we have twisted minds” (CEV).

            Man left to himself, does not tend to get better, but tends to get worse (Jer. 10:23b)! On our own, we tend to follow after temptation, and this results in sin, heartache, sorrow, and ultimately death (Jas. 1:14-15). Yet, we keep following this path, thinking that things will somehow get better if we keep going. Sadly, just the opposite is true. Our sin leads to death and not life! Anyone who follows this path will meet destruction and be lost in Hell (Matt. 7:13-14).

            Friend, are you awake (Rom. 13:11)? Are you listening? Living life as you please and answerable to no one but yourself will result in separation from God rather than growing closer to Him. God made man upright/honest, and if we wish to stay on that course, then we need to be faithful to Him! We need to “draw nigh to God,” and He will draw nigh/near to us (Jas. 4:8). As Barnabas taught, we need to “cleave unto the Lord” with “purpose of heart” and not let go (Acts 11:23)!

            God made man upright, and He gave us a way to stay upright (Jn. 17:17; I Pet. 4:11; Col. 3:17)! Will we listen and obey so that we can go to Heaven one day? Or, will we turn to our own inventions and be lost in Hell? The choice, as it has always been, is up to us. Don’t allow another day to pass where you are following your own schemes. Instead, make today the day you repent and turn back to the Lord’s way (Acts 2:38)! You will be blessed beyond measure when you walk in the way that is upright (Eph. 1:3)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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