THE SYMBOLISM OF YEAST IN THE BIBLE.

September 20, 2011

I write these posts so that we all can learn as we think about God’s word. If you disagree and comment on what you do not understand, the same way as I do, then we both learn. I must consider your view and I must think a bit more about what I understand. Perhaps you are right and I am wrong, or perhaps we both are right, from our point of view. It is possible for both to be right and yet disagree. Sometimes we are only placing a different definition on some key word.

I wrote a post on tithing (It is not even possible to tithe!) and soapyjames challenged some of my conclusions. That forced me to re-examine my understanding and God added to my comprehension of the symbolism of yeast as used in Scripture. Because we are both genuine in our desire to understand God’s word, I think soapyjames also gained understanding.

Yeast is always used as a symbol of sin in Scripture. Almost all of the Old Testament offerings to God were to be void of any yeast. They all were symbolic of Jesus. He is the bread of life and that bread is without sin and usually covered in oil, which I think is symbolic of understanding or faith: the two are, at least for me, very closely related.

The fellowship offering is the only one where yeast is allowed and it was to be presented along with cakes of bread made without yeast and mixed with oil, wafers made without yeast and spread with oil, and cakes of fine flour well-kneaded and mixed with oil. That was a symbol of Jesus (bread of life with no sin/yeast). The cakes of bread made with yeast, which were to be presented along with the bread without yeast, I believe, symbolized the church: you and me that have sinned (and still do).

There is another offering described in Leviticus 23 that also required yeast in the bread and along with the bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull and two rams were to be sacrificed as a burnt offering to the LORD. It is called the offering of new grain and the symbolism is the same as the fellowship offering.

Then there is Communion where the bread is to be without yeast, which represents Jesus. The emblem of the blood of Jesus is to be wine. In fully fermented wine all of the yeast is destroyed and that is why God chose wine to represent the blood of Jesus. The Blood of Jesus destroyed the power of sin and that is what the wine represents.

Because soapyjames caused me to dwell on yeast God has granted me the answer to a question that has puzzled me sense I first read it. (John 19:29&30 NIV) A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

No one drinks vinegar to quench their thirst. It was a cruel thing to do, to offer vinegar instead of water, but that is consistent with the crucifixion of Jesus.

In order to make wine the air must be kept from the juice. If air is allowed to contact the juice, vinegar is produced instead of wine. The result is that the product is spoiled or undrinkable. The spirit that is at work in those who are disobedient is the ruler of the kingdom of the air (Eph 2:2 NIV). Jesus kept the air away and he made wine, but the world did not and we make vinegar. The symbolism of Jesus drinking vinegar is that he took our sin.

Study yeast in the Bible and you will see that Jesus predicted the condition of the church today.

Mat 13:33 (NIV) He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Luke 13:20&21 (NIV) Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”