Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Purge out the leaven

Christian, search thyself now and purge out the old leaven. The head of the Jewish household, when the feast of unleavened bread draws nigh, not only puts away the loaves of bread ordinarily used in the household, but takes a candle and searches every part of the house, lest there should be even a crumb of leaven anywhere. He cleanseth it all out, that he may keep the feast not with leavened bread. Now, Christian, as this is God’s visitation, ask for the candle of the Holy Spirit to discover any little sin. Let any little self-indulgence into which we have fallen he conscientiously given up, and for the sake of that dear Savior who denied himself every comfort for us, let us take up our cross and follow him, determined that if the lion shall roar, it shall not be because of any prey in us.

From a sermon entitled "The Voice Of The Cholera," delivered August 12, 1866. Image by Ginny under Creative Commons License.


William said...

Actually Paul says in 1 Corinthians 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.

Both Jews and Gentiles were keeping the Feasts. In the Tanakh ("old testament"), they are not called the Feasts of the Jews, but the Feasts of YHVH.

Nick said...

Thanks, William. I understand what you're saying, but I think Spurgeon was simply explaining that particular practice of "housecleaning" an audience which might have been unfamiliar with it.

William said...

The practice of spiritualizing the Scriptures came with the Greek influence and the Gnostics. Just like in the previous example with Paul, we have to first keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread literally and the spiritual meaning is second.

And by the way one cannot keep this Feast without first keeping Passover, same with Pentecost, so indeed they were keeping the Feasts. If the Law is done away with (or spiritualized), then why do we have to keep the Feasts?

Colossians 2:17 speaks of the Feasts "Which are a shadow of things to come" not past, but still future.

Nick said...

William, I don't wish to engage you on this in great length as it's really not germane to the post. But Paul is clearly not speaking of the literal feast if he's talking about bread of sincerity. Your use of Colossians 2 is also in my opinion questionable. The substance is Christ, who had come already. But let's recall that the feast were still be literally celebrated as the Temple was still standing. That, aside from reasons of grammar, is another reason why Paul could say "they are a shadow."

Otherwise why does he say not to let anyone judge us in respect of such things?

William said...

The Colossians passage is generally taught exactly backwards. Those were believers in a city influenced by gnostics who didn't believe in any special days or in enjoying food.

These believers were being judged by non-believers for keeping Sabbath, the Feasts, New Moons, enjoying food on these special days.

Paul was a great student of the Law. He would never call the Law "commandments and doctrines of men" as in verse 22. He knew better that the Law was God-given. What he refers to in Colossians are the teachings of the gnostics.

In the phrase "but the body is of Christ", the word "is" is not in the text, but is supplied. The text says "Let no man therefore judge you..., but the body of Christ".

The Feasts have nothing to do with the Temple. They were celebrated by the People of God way before there even existed a Temple. They represent the schedule of God's plan which is still future.

William said...

What I meant was that keeping the Feasts is not Temple dependent. Throughout Acts Paul together with Jewish and Gentiles believers literally kept Sabbath and the Feasts.

He says, let us keep the feast, what feast? The Feast of Unleavened Bread which is a literal feast once a year. Nobody celebrates a "spiritual" Feast of Unleavened Bread and at a random date.

Then he explains how to keep it, when you take the literal bread, think of it as the bread of sincerity. Literal Feast with spiritual meanings.