Matt 13:33                Leaven in Three Measures of Meal                   7/1/2018        ßà   





#1.       The Woman (Gen 3:1,15, Isa 4:1, Eccl 7:26, Rev 12:1,17)













#2.       The Number Three (Matt 12:40, 27:40,63)









#3.       Till the Whole Was Leavened (Rev 13:7-9,15)




Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 13:31 (2X). We are continuing our travels through chapter 13 of the Gospel of Matthew, and today we have arrived at the fourth parable that is often called “The Parable of the Leaven”. Therefore this sermon is titled, Leaven in Three Measures of Meal (2X). We read here in Matt 13:33,

There are eight parables in this Chapter. The Lord Jesus Christ told the first four parables to the multitudes, and then He proceeded to tell the next four parables only to the Disciples. These eight parables are related to each other two by two. The first two parables are the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. Both these parables are about a sower and about seed that has been sown, or is being sown. The third and the fourth parable are the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven, which we are studying today. Both of these parables are about something that starts out very small and that grows into something very large, referring to the church. The first two parables focus on the sovereignty of God in salvation. The third and fourth parable focus on the sovereignty of God in the development of the church. We read in Matt 13:33,

Matt 13:33  Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Last week we gained in understanding of the previous parable by also turning to that parable in the Gospel of Luke. Let us also read this fourth parable in Luke 13. Put a sticker here in Matt 13, and please turn to the Gospel According to Luke, Luke 13:20 (2X). On the Sabbath the Lord Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues of Galilee where He healed a woman which had a spirit of infirmity for 18 years. She was bowed together and could not lift up herself. Then the ruler of the synagogue showed his indignation about this act of mercy on the Sabbath. It was an unjust remark. And it is within this context that the Lord Jesus then spoke the words that we now read in Luke 13:20-21,

Luke 13:20-21  And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?         It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Matthew speaks about the Kingdom of Heaven, whereas Luke speaks about the Kingdom of God.  The name Kingdom of Heaven is used to contrast it with a kingdom that is an earthly kingdom, and the Kingdom of God is used to contrast it with a kingdom of man. Both kingdoms are the realm where God is King, which means He reigns in the hearts of men who have become saved. The amazing thing we see here is in Luke 13:21; it is word for word identical to Matt 13:33. In fact the word “unto” in Matt 13:33 is not present in the original Greek text, so that Matt 13:33 after the words “the kingdom of heaven” actually reads identical to the words found in Luke 13:21 after the words “the kingdom of God”, and it reads as follows: “Is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened”. These two passages are in the Greek text letter for letter identical. This leads us to conclude that “The Kingdom of Heaven” and “The Kingdom of God” are absolutely identical. What is the message that God conveys when He makes these two passages identical? The answer is that God wants us to know that this is such an important message He gives in this parable, that we must be single-minded in our conclusion. We must have a singleness of heart, as unto Christ, in this matter that is discussed here in this Parable of the Leaven. Therefore, it is very important that we understand this parable correctly. The punctuation marks that the translators have added are in this case not helpful. We must not think that “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven”. That is not the intent of this parable at all. The Lord Jesus says that the Kingdom that we all want to enter into: “Is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened”. Let us now see how God uses these words in other parts of the Bible, so that we can understand them.

#1.       The Woman (Gen 3:1,15, Isa 4:1, Eccl 7:26, Rev 12:1,17)

Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Genesis, Gen 3:1 (2X). Whenever we see in the Bible an unnamed woman which needs a spiritual interpretation, we must look for a religious group of people. The woman may represent a faithful congregation, or she may represent an unfaithful group of people, like the seven women in Isa 4:1. Here in Gen 3 the woman is tempted. We read in Gen 3:1,

Ge 3:1  Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

This woman was much later named Eve. Here she is still called “the woman”. And when we look at Gen 3:1 we see why God chose to write it this way. When Satan tempts people into sin he first causes them doubt the truth of the Word of God. And the first place where Satan causes doubts to rise about God’s words is in the church. And that is why she is still called “the woman” in Gen 3:1.

Please drop down to verse 15. There we read about the curse on Satan. We read in Gen 3:15,

Ge 3:15  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.

God says that He will cause a perpetual warfare between Satan and the faithful church, a glorious eternal church, out of which Christ came. And this warfare will be from the beginning until the end of time. He, Christ, shall on the cross bruise the head of the serpent, which is mortal to a serpent, and which means that this is the condemnation of Satan. And Satan shall bruise the heel of Christ, which means that on the cross Satan will be able to drive nails through the heels of Christ, but this is not the end of Christ. And here also the woman represents the faithful church, not Mary, like is slanderously taught in the Roman Catholic Church. But the woman can also represent the false church, which drags people into Hell with her. For example, the seven women in Isa 4:1, or the woman in Ecc 7:26,

Ec 7:26  And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.

And here we find the characteristics of the false church, which clamps her arms and her hands around unsuspecting church goers with snares and spiritual nets, from which they only can escape if it pleases God to give them the grace to escape. This lot, of being ensnared by the false church is more bitter than death, meaning that being condemned to Hell is more bitter than physical death. Please turn all the way to the end of your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 12:1 (2X). God showed here the apostle John a number of visions with great spiritual applications. The first vision is that of a woman who is endowed by God with all kinds of glorious signs. We read in Rev 12:1,

Re 12:1 ¶  And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.

This woman represents the eternal church, and she is in principle the same woman of Gen 3:15. She is clothed with the sun, referring to the righteousness of Christ, for in Mal 4:2 Christ is the Sun who shall arise with healing in His wings. And she has the moon under her feet, where the moon is a reflection of the sun, as the Word of God is a reflection of the Lord Jesus Christ. And she has upon her head a crown of twelve stars, where the stars are identified in Rev 1 as the leaders of the church who were put there by the appointment of God. The number 12 simply means “fullness”. It is a full and complete number of ministers, pastors and teachers, who watch over their flocks like faithful undershepherds under Christ as their chief Shepherd. This woman does not represent Mary, as is slanderously reported in the Roman Catholic Church, for if we drop down to verse 17 we read,

Re 12:17  And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

You see, the remnant of her seed are not descendants of Mary, but they are identified as all those who belong to the faithful eternal church. And thus we conclude that the woman in Matt 13:33 represents the church, which initially started out as the faithful body of believers, the Bride of Christ. What did the woman do? She hid leaven in three measures of meal. What is meant by that? And thus we realize that we first have to unravel what is meant by the “meal”.

Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Genesis, Gen 18:6 (2X). The Greek word for “meal” occurs only in two places in the NT: in Matt 13:33 and in Luke 13:21. And the Greek word “measure” occurs only in two places in the Bible: in Matt 13:33 and in Luke 13:21. And so, three measures of meal was probably a large amount of flour, but we do not know exactly how much. We may get an idea of how much that might be from the words recorded in Gen 18:6-7. There we read,

Gen 18:6-7  And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.  And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.

What we could conclude from here is that the amount of three measures of fine meal was probably equivalent to the size of the calf that Abraham fetched, so it was probably a large amount of flour, but we are not sure. In any way, this is a Hebrew word, whereas in the NT we have a Greek word written down 1500 years later, and we have no way of relating those two from the information that the Bible provides. So, here in Matt 13:33 it is obvious that God did not think it was important for us to know how much precisely “three measures of meal” were. In other words, God is saying that we should not try to interpret this parable in any historical sense. We must interpret these three measures of meal in a spiritual sense. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to John, John 6:35 (2X). What is meal? It is flour made from ground wheat or ground barley. Before the woman mixes leaven into the meal, she first prepares it with much water and other ingredients to make dough. And what is the dough for? It is to make bread. She could have made unleavened bread, but in this case she made leavened bread. And what is the spiritual meaning of bread? We read in John 6:35,

Joh 6:35  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

The Lord Jesus said, “I am the bread of life”. He who is called “The Word of God” is to our souls the spiritual food that gives us eternal life. That is what He said in V 47. Please drop down to verse 47

Joh 6:47  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

Joh 6:48-49  I am that bread of life.         Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

Joh 6:50  This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

Joh 6:51  I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Through faith on Him that has been given to us of the Father, we can know that we have been saved for all eternity. And in verse 51 the Lord says that His gift for the life of all of us whom He came to save, the world of His elect, was His sacrifice for us on the cross. And so, if the meal in Matt 13:33 represents Christ, for He is the bread of life, it seems incongruous that the woman, who represents the church, would be kneading the dough. But notice: it is dough before it goes into the oven. In other words, the dough represents something that is leading to Christ. It is Christ who endured the oven of Hell, as it is so vividly pictured in Gen 15:17. And so, the dough represents the Gospel of Christ. And if it is the true Gospel then the dough would represent the Gospel of Christ crucified for His elect only. But notice that something occurs while the woman is kneading the dough. She hid in it some leaven. Please turn again to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 13:33 (2X).

Matt 13:33  Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven which a woman took (A) and hid (A) in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened (A).

I want you to know that in this verse “the woman took” is actually not in the past tense, but in the Aorist tense. And “she hid” is actually not in the past tense, but in the Aorist tense. And at the end of the verse “was leavened” is actually not in the past tense, but in the Aorist tense. The Aorist Tense. I wrote these three words on the board, so that you may know how it is spelled. We do not have the Aorist tense in our English language, but it is a very important one to remember. In the Aorist tense an action has occurred at some time in the past, the action continues in the present, and it continues until some point in the future. In other words, the Greek text of Matt 13:33 tells us that this action of the woman did occur in the past, but if we want to understand the parable we must also understand that this action of the woman hiding the leaven in the dough is presently going on, and this action is also continuing until far in the future. And so, we realize that we must understand this action of the woman very well. The real question is now: Is this good leaven or is this bad leaven? And is there such a thing as good leaven? When we search the Bible for other locations of the verb “to hide” we do not get any help, for the word “hid” or “hide” occurs only in two places in the Bible: in Matt 13:33 and in Luke 13:21. Please turn in your Bibles further up in the Gospel of Matthew, Matt 16:6 (2X). When we search the Bible for all the locations where the word “unleavened” and “leavened” and  leaven” occurs, we are surprised with the following findings: #1. Leaven was rigorously excluded from OT meal offerings or meat offerings. There are at least 59 verses in the OT which prohibit the use of leaven in offerings to the Lord as well as eating anything leavened during certain feast days. The reason seems to be that leaven represents corruption, and symbolizes evil. The sacrifice that is burnt by fire is a symbol of Christ on the cross, who must remain untouched by sin. Especially during the Passover meal, where the Passover Lamb is a type of Christ, no leaven may be found in any of the Israelite’s dwellings.  #2. There are only two exceptions to this rule. The first is in Lev 7:13,

Le 7:13  Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings.

And thus when a sacrifice of thanksgiving is offered it must be offered with leaven. Why is this so? It is because the sacrifice of thanksgiving is offered on our behalf, not on Christ’s behalf, and thus the sacrifice of thanksgiving is not representing Christ, but represents us. We are not altogether free from sin, and thus the sacrifice must reflect that our actions are always tainted with sin. The second exception is in Lev 23:17, where the Feast of Firstfruits is celebrated. We read in Lev 23:17,

Le 23:17  Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD.

When we study this passage we understand that it speaks of the Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of Pentecost. But what is the Feast of Pentecost? It is a feast to celebrate the birth of the NT church. It was on Pentecost that the Holy Spirit was poured out to facilitate the conversion of about 3000 souls. Prior to this point in time there were only 120 in the upper room in Jerusalem. And so, since it is the church that is in view on Pentecost, and since the church consists of fallible men, it is expected that the sacrifice on Pentecost must reflect the state of man, and not Christ, and thus our bread must be leavened. #3. What about the NT significance of leaven? Apart from Matt 13:33 and Luke 13:21, all other NT occurrences of leaven cast leaven in a bad light. In most of the NT leaven symbolizes either Jewish legalism, or false doctrine, or moral corruption. For example, we read in Matt 16:6 (2X), “Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees”. And what is that leaven that they must beware of? Drop down to verse 11 and 12, Matt 16:11-12,

Mt 16:11  How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

Mt 16:12  Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

And so, the leaven represents the false doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. They believed that all Jews automatically went to heaven because they were children of Abraham. As long as they kept the Law they were righteous before God. Please turn in your Bibles to the first Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 5:6 (2X). You find 1Cor after the Epistle to the Romans. In this chapter the apostle Paul scolded the church at Corinth for not excommunicating the man who was living with his father’s wife. They were obligated to exercise church discipline. Then he says in 1Cor 5:6-8 (2X),

1Co 5:6  Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

1Co 5:7 ¶  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:

1Co 5:8  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Here we read those famous words, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump”. This is a rule which applies all the time, and neglect of this rule is the reason that NT churches become apostate and die. The old leaven refers to the immoral lifestyle that they practiced before becoming saved. And then he defines leaven in verse 8 as representing “malice and wickedness”. On the other hand, unleavened bread is symbolized as “sincerity and truth”. Moreover, the apostle Paul came down hard on the churches of Galatia for their desire to obey the doctrines of the Judaizers, who wanted them to obey the Laws of Moses. But God says, through the pen of the apostle Paul, in Gal 5:8-9

Ga 5:8-9 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

Now we must remember this rule also: “The later revelations carry the greater weight”. And thus the symbolism of leaven as defined in Matt 16, and in 1Cor 5, and in Gal 5 applies for today. When we are faced with unraveling the fourth parable in Matt 13, we must say that in this parable leaven represents evil doctrines and wickedness. Let us now continue to study the “three measures of meal”.

#2.       The Number Three (Matt 12:40, 27:40,63)

In which direction then should we go for an interpretation? The only key here in this expression “three measures of meal” is the number three.             When we search the Bible we find that the number three is intimately associated with the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, which began in the Garden of Gethsemane on Thursday evening, and lasted till early Sunday morning. Let me show you a listing

of twenty events where the number three is identified with the atonement of Christ.

#1. It was on Monday, three days before the Lord Jesus began His sufferings for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane that the voice of the Father thundered from heaven. #2. In the Garden, the Lord Jesus took three Disciples to pray with Him: Peter, James and John. #3. The Lord Jesus prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane. #4. He found the three Disciples asleep three times. #5. The Lord Jesus was on trial three times before the Sanhedrin. #6. His accusers said, We heard Him say, “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands”. #7. The Lord Jesus was tried by the Jewish Rulers, by king Herod, and by the Roman Governor. #8. Three times Pilate tried to release the Lord Jesus, because he found no fault in Him. #9. Three times Pilate said to the Jews: “Why, what evil hath this man done?” #10. Peter denied Jesus three times. #11. On Calvary there were three crosses: Three persons were crucified. #12. It was the third hour (Roman time) when Jesus was crucified. #13. Pilate wrote the accusation: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” in three different languages and nailed it unto His cross. #14. There were three groups of people that mocked Him: The Jews, the Roman soldiers, and the two robbers who were crucified with Him. #15. The passers by were scoffing at Him, saying, “Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. #16. There was three hours of darkness over the whole land. #17. The Lord Jesus was three days and three nights in the heart of the earth; which means that the entire Atonement encompassed three days and three nights, beginning Thursday evening. #18. The chief priests and Pharisees were coming to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again”. #19. After His resurrection, when the Lord Jesus reinstated Peter, He asked him three times: “Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me?” #20. Peter answered three times: “Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee.”

I don’t think I have to go on to prove to you that the number three is very prominently on display during the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember what we found last week: that the Parable of the Mustard Seed is directly pointing to the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, the Parable of the Leaven runs parallel to the previous parable; so here is where we should find the interpretation. What then does it mean that the woman took three measures of meal?

Please turn almost to the beginning of this Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 2:2 (2X). Let me bring again to your remembrance the text of our sermon for today. Matt 13:33,

Matt 13:33  Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven which a woman took (A) and hid (A) in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened (A).

What have we seen so far? The woman, representing the church, took leaven, representing false doctrine, and she hid it, or she disguised it as wholesome doctrine, in the midst of three measures of meal, representing the doctrines of the church, in the midst of doctrines that should be leading the unsaved to Christ. And the fact that three measures of meal is probably a very large amount of dough, leading to a much greater amount of leavened dough, means only that the church is a very large organization. Something that began very small became very large. And in the progress of time the entire amount of dough became leavened, pointing to the fact that as we approach the end of time the church worldwide shall become apostate. And what does their apostacy consist of? It is false doctrine which modifies the Gospel of Christ as the Bread of Life. When the Lord Jesus claimed to be the Bread of Life, in John 6, He claimed to be the only Bread of Life. All those who ate another bread from heaven died in the wilderness. And then He continued on this theme in John 14:6 by saying “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me”. I am the only Bread of Life. Let us see what consequences this has for all those people who came into the world before Christ came into the world. If they came in contact with the nation of Israel there might be a possibility that they too became saved. For example, the 300 servants of Abraham, who fought with Abraham against the roving kings of the east, could have heard the Gospel of salvation. Another example is the Ninevites who definitely were saved when they heard the preaching of Jonah. But what about all the millions of people who lived far away from the nation of Israel, and who never even heard that they needed to be saved? The Lord Jesus stated here unambiguously that they remained unsaved, for God says in Rom 10:17, “So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”. Only those who come under the hearing of the Gospel can be saved. And so, the Lord Jesus clearly stated here that He did not suffer and die for every human being that would come into the world, since those people before His time remained in their sins. They had no Christ to atone for their sins. The concept of Christ crucified for every human being in the world is a false doctrine. When the apostle Paul says in 1Cor 2:2 (2X),

1Co 2:2  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

He did not mean to say that he brought only a single message of Christ crucified. We can show this easily from Acts 20:27 where the apostle says to the Ephesian elders, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God”. Paul preached the whole counsel of God, not only at Ephesus, but in all places where he went. And thus, when He says to the Corinthian church that he preached only Christ and Him crucified, he referred to all things pertaining to the atonement of Christ, and that includes the fact that Christ did not atone for every human being in the world. But this is a doctrine that is not liked in many churches. And so, people in the church tried to soften the blow by introducing various doctrines that eventually lead to the Free-Will gospels that are so prevalent in the churches today. This is the leaven that the woman took and hid in three measures of meal. And when we consider that all three verbs in this parable are in the Aorist tense, we realize that this adulteration of the true Gospel has been going on since the beginning of the NT church. And then God says:

#3.       Till the Whole Was Leavened (Rev 13:7-9,15)

What does this mean for people who live near the end of time? It means that as we approach the end of time we should expect that more and more churches will join the apostacy. More and more churches will adopt the Free-Will gospels, since this is how they will grow their membership in the churches. But God is not pleased with man-made gospels. This is idolatry of the highest order. This is idolatry without letting people in the church realize that they are committing idolatry. Please turn in your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 13:7 (2X). In Rev 13 God is introducing us to a beast that comes out of the sea, which represents Antichrist. And Antichrist shall gradually usurp all power in churches all over the world. However, if Antichrist is to rule over all the earth, then we must expect him to be embodied in many human beings. We read in Rev 13:7-9,

Re 13:7-9  And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.  And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.         If any man have an ear, let him hear.

How shall Antichrist make war with the saints and overcome them? He shall be in the pulpits of many churches and he shall deceive the congregations with gospels that are pleasing to man. He will ridicule the saints, and he will ridicule the true Gospel, and his lies will be pleasing to most men, so that the saints are more and more silenced, until at last the true Gospel goes out no more. And then all that dwell on the earth who have not received the grace of God unto salvation will worship the beast. This first beast is assisted by a second beast that comes out of the earth, and who instructs men to make an image of the first beast. What is that image? We know that the Bible is the image of Christ. Therefore a false bible is an image of Satan, or Antichrist. And when we read in Rev 13:15 that “he had power to give life unto the image of the beast”, we realize that over 200 million NIV bibles have been distributed all over the world. This is the life that has been given to the image of the beast. And so, what is the message to the saints who live near the end of time? Remember that more and more churches will fall for the great apostacy. Beware that you do not put your trust in your church, or in those things that your church teaches. Put your trust only in the Bible, for God will not let you down. Pray that God will give us the grace to remain faithful to Him, for if our salvation comes only by grace, then our sanctification also is only by grace. Therefore pray that God will give us wisdom when we open the Bible, and that God will give us the grace to recognize false gospels when they come. Pray that we may stay away from large congregations, for if Antichrist is able to make war with the saints and to overcome them, then certainly large congregations are the first ones to bite the dust. Pray that we may understand this Parable of the Leaven, for God tells us that by repeating this parable in Matt 13 and in Luke 13 He has placed great emphasis on this Parable of the Leaven.

AMEN.                  Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.