“Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land. ‘You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.” Exodus 12:19-20
The Passover season is a special time to remember, and indeed, to tell the amazing story of how God Almighty delivered the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. No doubt, this story is a great story… a prophetic story of redemption by the Messiah, full of symbolism that all of us would do well to remember and reflect upon.
One of the things that we do in preparation for Passover in Israel is to do a deep “spring cleaning”. During this time of year, one can see households taken apart to clean all the grime, dust, and dirt that has set in over the winter. In reality, though, we are cleaning out anything that has leaven in it, in obedience to God’s command in Exodus 12:19-20. The book of Deuteronomy also tells us that we are not even to see anything with leaven: “For seven days no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory …” Deuteronomy 16:4
Cleaning the house before Passover is always laborious, especially if one desires to do it thoroughly. The end result, though, is always a great blessing, and few things beat the fresh smell of a very clean house! I believe, however, that it is more important for us as God’s followers to also reflect upon our own lives and clean our spiritual “house” while we are also cleaning the physical. As we know, leaven symbolizes sin, and therefore during this time, we are to clean it out from our hearts. It will require some labor, maybe even hard labor, as we will deal with all of the “leaven” (sin) that has filled our lives. But the end result will be a fresh, renewed cleanliness within our spirits.
But let’s not be content to do this just once a year! I personally believe that as Messiah’s followers, this self-reflection and “heart cleansing” should be something that we do on a regular, if not daily, basis. I remember a debate I had years ago with someone who told me that once he accepted the Lord into his life, all of his past, present and future sins were forgiven and that he was free to do whatever he wanted. I strongly disagreed with him. While it is true that, yes, once we accept the Lord, our past, present, and future sins are forgiven, this by no means is a free pass to continue in sin. In fact, since we are now born of the Spirit and the Holy Spirit now dwells inside us, we are to conform to the image and likeness of our Lord and Savior.
Sadly, this person was confused and did not understand that upon our acceptance of the Lord into our lives, a new relationship begins. Yes, while we are now free from the bondage of sin, we are by no means free to do as we wish:
“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord. “ Rom 6:20-23
Our freedom as followers of the Messiah is in Him and Him alone. Our Messiah has given us the freedom to live our lives for His Glory and His namesake. My Jewish brethren are focusing on the commandments, while my brothers in the faith tend to focus on grace alone. In fact, the two are connected; as Yeshua said:
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15
Our freedom in the Lord comes out of our knowledge of Him, which leads us to love Him, and as a result of our love for Him, we can now obey Him out of joy, not obligation. I would like to encourage all of us to take time and remember our own personal story of redemption, and to reflect on the importance of cleaning our spiritual house regularly.
Happy Passover and Shabbat Shalom!
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