Summary: Something we don't want in our life.

What our Lord is trying to get across to us.

"What does the meal represent?"

Very likely many of them would think back to the very first time the phrase "three measures of meal" appears in the Scriptures. It is in Genesis 18. Abraham was in his tent by the oaks of Mamre one day and he looked out the door and saw three strangers approaching. He went to meet them, for strangers were an uncommon sight in those days and anyone passing by was offered hospitality. He welcomed them and offered them, according to the Scripture {Gen 18:6-7}, three measures of meal baked into bread which Sarah made in the tent while they were fellowshipping together out under the trees. During their conversation it suddenly broke upon Abraham's astonished intelligence that God himself was visiting him, accompanied by two angels.

In the book of Judges, when Gideon was suddenly confronted with the angel of God, he brought him an offering of three measures of unleavened meal. When Hannah, the mother of Samuel, went to worship God in the temple she took with her an offering of three measures of meal, unleavened.

What did it mean? It is clear that it became a symbol of the fellowship of God with his people and their fellowship with one another.

1 John 1:3-So there is the meaning of the three measures of meal, the unleavened bread of sincerity, honesty, and truth.

It is very precious to God that his people become honest and open and accepting toward one another, with nothing hidden between them.

They are to understand one another, bear one another's burdens, uphold one another, and share together the life of God in their midst, the life of a living Lord.

In the New Testament you find five distinct usages of leaven and they all mean something bad. Never, ever in the Scriptures does leaven symbolize something good.

Jesus frequently spoke of leaven. He said to his disciples, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees," {Matt 16:6, 16:11, Mark 8:15}. And, lest we misunderstood what he meant Luke adds: "The leaven of the Pharisees is hypocrisy" {Luke 12:1}, i.e., pretending to be something you are not, pretending to a status before God which you don't actually possess, being phony, putting on an outward garb of religiosity but inwardly still having the same old evil thoughts and angry moods and bitter attitudes.

Then Jesus spoke of the leaven of the Sadducees {cf, Matt 16:6-12}. That is rationalism, the idea that life consists only of what you can taste and see and touch and smell and hear and think about, that there is nothing beyond that, no supernatural activity of God in life, no resurrection, no angels, no life after death.

And he spoke of the leaven of the Herodians, the followers of King Herod. Their leaven was materialism. They taught that the great value of life is to be powerful and wealthy. If you can acquire wealth and power then you have the secret of life.

When a woman is used symbolically in Scripture it always means the same thing -- some religious authority either out of place or doing the wrong thing, some misuse of a relationship with God.

It is clear that the woman belongs in the story. A woman is an authority in the home, one who had the right to prepare the bread of fellowship. This woman was in her rightful place, in her kitchen. It was her job to prepare the bread. But she had no right to hide leaven in it.

And the very fact that she hid it indicates that this is something sneaky or crafty that she is trying to get away with, something she knew was wrong.

Now bring the picture together. Our Lord is looking down the centuries to follow and he sees the thing which is most precious to God about the work which he himself has begun among mankind.

This is the fellowship of God with his people, the sharing of life with each other and with God, the family of God, the oneness of the body of Christ, with all the members sharing life in openness and honesty together under the love and forgiveness of the Father.

And into that wonderful fellowship these false, evil principles are introduced by those who had the right and the authority to preserve this fellowship, i.e., the leaders of the church. It is they who introduce the leaven into it, who permit it to come in and do not exclude it as they should.

Those who are charged with the responsibility of developing the fellowship of God's people nevertheless allow hypocrisy, formalism, ritualism, rationalism, materialism, legalism, immorality -- all of these things -- to come in. And when these things set into a church they destroy the fellowship of God's people!

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