During this baking spree we are on, I have found a new appreciation for yeast. Before this, we would make bread or pizza dough in the bread maker. We would always buy “bread maker yeast” in the little jar and it would last a long time. You add the amount of ingredients required and push start and a loaf of bread would appear. The bread always tasted good but then we were getting low on our little jar of yeast, one day at Costco I saw a package of yeast cheap, so I bought it to try. I thought it would be a whole bunch on individually wrapped squares of yeast but I was wrong. When I opened the vacuum-sealed package to my surprise it was just yeast. I looked up how to store it and thought we are going to have yeast for a long time. Then we started making lots of carbs. Like last night my daughter found this great pizza dough recipe and wow was it awesome. I loved the texture of the dough which turned into an amazing crust. So back to following instructions. First the water needs to be at the right temperature in this case between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit (37 to 43 degrees Celsius). Add 2 ¼ teaspoons of dry active yeast, a little sugar and watch it work. “Proofing means testing your yeast to see that it's still alive and able to start the fermentation process that will create the bubbles of gas that cause bread and other baked goods to rise. It bubbles and looks like foam on top.” You then add it to your flour mixture and then knead for about ten minutes in the stand mixer and voilà, awesome dough. But then you have to let it rise. This part is cool or should I say slightly warm. In this case the dough went in the oven with the oven light on and rose for about 2 hours. The pizza dough was fantastic as was the pizza.
                It turns out that using yeast to bake is not that complicated if you follow the instructions. I have learned a few things along the way and it is actually kind of fun to see it work. Yeast has been around they say forever. Red Star makers of yeast say “these are single-celled fungi. The scientific name for the yeast that baker’s use is Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, or “sugar-eating fungus”. A very long name for such a tiny organism! This species of yeast is very strong and capable of fermentation, the process that causes bread dough to rise.” There is a little more to it than just opening a package from Costco but I will let you look up the history of yeast yourself. As long as it bubbles and is frothy you have a good chance of having some pretty exciting food choices. Yet growing up in the church you see that yeast has had a pretty bad rap in the bible. When you look through scripture you see unleavened bread a lot. On Sunday I talked about Jesus as the bread of life so today I thought I would look into the yeast part of bread and why Jesus used yeast as an example when he taught.
                  When I was in college, the pastor of the church we attended was talking about bread one Sunday. At first I thought he was such a good speaker that I could actually smell bread. Truthfully, he cheated by having fresh baked bread piped through the vents. Later on when I was in seminary one of my Profs talked about communion as a celebration of life. They had stations set up with loaves of bread and juice. He always said tear a big piece off the bread and celebrate. I always liked intinction (bread is dipped into the juice) as a form of communion. Now I know some churches use unleavened bread and there are all kinds of thoughts on the process of communion. Don’t forget to commune with God on a regular basis by thanking Him daily for what he has done for you. I look at communion as a meal together and it could actually be a meal that you celebrate what God has done for you. I love the meal where you tear, dip and eat then repeat. Also why I love to make pitas and hummus. At the last supper Jesus ate with His disciples Matthew 26:26 “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Later Peter said Acts 10:39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” When the two disciples were walking the wrong way in disbelief Jesus opened their eyes. Luke 24:30 “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.” This is more about remembering and believing what God has done than the meal itself. Too many people get caught up on the ritual itself and miss the message the ritual is installed to commemorate.
                Almost every passage in scripture talks about not using yeast, so much so people would be cut off from Israel for using it. Exodus 12:39 “With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.” Almost every passage you see the word yeast it had without in front of it except for a few. I found it interesting that Passover is without yeast/ Leviticus 23:6 “On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast.” Then what we know is Pentecost or Shavuot is celebrated with yeast. Leviticus 23:16 “Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. 17 From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord.” Passover represents our freedom and Pentecost represents the power of the Holy Spirit.
                When you move into the New Testament there is still talk of unleavened bread but also leavened bread. Then Jesus turned things around when he was was teaching Matthew 13:33 “He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Then below this passage Jesus explains the parable of the weeds which describes what he was talking about. 37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.” It is amazing how this process using yeast happens so if you have ever baked you get what Jesus was talking about. It is also amazing how Jesus taught. He took yeast, that was at times to be completely removed and used it to show what how his kingdom grows just like the parable of the mustard seed. In the Old Testament we are told how bad yeast is. Exodus 12:19 “For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel.” Exodus 13:7 “Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders.” This was serious. Yet Jesus described His kingdom with yeast but he also describes the Pharisees who knew all about the yeast of the Old Testament.
                Now remembering that parable about the yeast used in a good way, Jesus then turns it around and warns against the yeast of the Pharisees and how terrible this yeast is just as it was in the Old Testament. This teaching is to be utterly despised. Mark 8:14 “The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” 16 They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.” 17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied. 20 “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” 21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”  Paul said 1 Corinthians 5:6 “Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?” In Mathew 23 Jesus slams the Pharisees and Sadducees. You can read them for yourself but here are the first two. Matthew 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. Mark 12:38 “As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” Then we see the explanation of the warning Jesus gave against the Pharisees. Matthew 16:11 “How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Jesus was teaching that the teaching of the Pharisees was as bad as using yeast when they were told not to.
                            When you see how yeast works and how a ball of dough can double in size in a few hours or less, you can understand exactly what Jesus was talking about. It really isn’t the yeast that is the problem; it is the false teaching that is spreading that is so dangerous. Think about how dangerous this teaching is if you compared it to trying to get the yeast out after it was mixed into the flour as one person described. You can see this when the spies went to explore Canaan and came back and spread fear among the people. Even though the spies saw fruit so big they had to carry it on a pole (they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs), they also did not believe God would take care of the giants in the land. Numbers 13:7 “They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.” 30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
                Then like the yeast Jesus was talking about these men spread lies. Numbers 13:31 “the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” They went on to say Numbers 14:3 “Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” Then God responded Number 14:29 “In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census (Numbers 1:46 The total number was 603,550) and who has grumbled against me. 30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. 32 But as for you, your bodies will fall in this wilderness. 33 Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness.” You can see the danger of the yeast of fear spreading through the people. The result of their disobedience was immense.
                This is the danger of yeast but not yeast itself. Jesus made us aware of how yeast works. He is not preaching against yeast but using yeast to show the dangers of people and their teaching who act like yeast. Just make some bread and you will see for yourself what he was talking about. Here is another way to look at this even though this is not yeast but yields the same results. Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:17 “Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.” 2 Peter 2:1 “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” Jesus warned us about false teachers spreading like yeast. He said in Matthew 24:4 “Watch out that no one deceives you. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
                Is your testimony the yeast of the kingdom or the yeast of the Pharisees?