Last Sunday, during our weekly bible study, one group member posed a question we were to discuss amongst ourselves. The member wanted to know if yeast has appeared in the Bible and how the people used it. After our discussion, I learned so much about yeast and found a few bible verses about it. You may be interested in knowing more about yeast and may ask, “What does yeast symbolize in the bible?”
Yeast is used in the Bible to symbolize the Passover commemoration. It has also been used in the Bible to symbolize corruption or sin. In Matthew 13:33, Jesus uses the parable of the yeast in which he suggests that the kingdom of heaven is like yeast that was put into a large quantity of dough and worked its way through all the dough. Jesus uses this parable to suggest that the gospel of God can spread to the entire world just by using a few preachers of the gospel.
So, join me until the end as I explore this topic. I will discuss a few points on what the Bible says about yeast, how the people in the Old Testament used it, and the four symbolic meanings of it in the Bible. I will also discuss why sin is associated with sin in the Bible, among other topics.
What does the Bible say about yeast?
Exodus 12:39 suggests the Israelites baked their loaves of bread for the first time without yeast after they had been driven out of Egypt, as they did not have time to make their bread with yeast. For bread to be made with yeast, women had to make the dough in advance and store it for days before baking it. However, the Israelites were in a hurry in this scripture and could not wait for their dough to develop yeast, so they made it without yeast.
Matthew 13:33 also suggests that the kingdom of heaven is like yeast taken by a woman and mixed in flour that weighs about sixty pounds. With time the small amount of yeast spread throughout the whole flour.
In 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, Paul informs the church that a batch of dough only needs a little yeast to get leavened. He was speaking about the vices he had spotted in church. Paul then encourages the Corinthians to let go or abandon the old yeast that signified wickedness and malice and take up the unleavened bread used at Passover, representing truth and sincerity.
The Bible also suggests that a bit of yeast works through the whole batch of the dough through Galatians 5:9-12. Apostle Paul uses this metaphor to refer to the effects that false teachings can bring to the church. The church does not need to have many people spreading false teachings, but just a few or even one, and the whole church will be negatively affected.
Bible verses about yeast
Jesus addresses his disciples concerning the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees in Matthew 16:5-9. In This scripture, Jesus uses the yeast to represent the false teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, which can be spread across everyone when not stopped or called out.
Leviticus 7:11-13 gives instructions on how the Israelites were to offer the fellowship offering. If they were to offer this offering as an expression of thankfulness, they would offer thick loaves of bread without yeast. However, if they were to offer the fellowship offering alongside the thanksgiving offering, they would offer thick loaves of bread prepared with yeast.
1 Samuel 28:14 records a medium in Endor making bread without yeast and meat for Samuel and his men to eat. This is after Samuel had traveled to Endor to consult a medium as he sought to talk to Samuel.
Leviticus 2:11 also suggests that the Israelites were forbidden from presenting any grain offering with yeast, as they were not to burn it in any food offering they presented to God.
How was yeast used in the Old Testament?
Yeast as an ingredient of bread-baking
Yeast was majorly used in the Old Testament as an ingredient that was added to the flour before bread and cakes were made. The purpose of the yeast was to rise the flour and make it fluffy. While in Egypt, the Israelites would make their bread with yeast. However, they could not make leavened bread while fleeing Egypt, as they were in a hurry.
Luke 13:20-21 also records the parable of a woman mixing yeast with dough, indicating that yeast was used as an ingredient of bread.
As an offering
Yeast was also used in the Old Testament as part of offerings that were presented to the Lord. This is recorded in Leviticus 23:15-17, where God instructs the Israelites to bring him an offering of the new grain, which involved two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour baked with yeast. This offering was also used to serve as the offering of the first fruit.
Yeast as a remembrance of the Passover commemoration
Yeast also played a big part in the commemoration of the Passover. The Israelites were required to remove any yeast from their houses for seven days. They were also to avoid anything that had been prepared with yeast until the seven days were over. Yeast in this scripture was used to remind them of how God delivered them from Egypt.
4 symbolic meanings of yeast in the Bible
Yeast as a symbol of sin/something unclean
Bible scholars from got question organization suggest that yeast has been used in the Bible to symbolize sin. In Leviticus 2:8-11 God instructs that the grain that would be brought before him for offering must be without yeast, insinuating that yeast was not holy or a good thing worth to be offered before the Lord.
Yeast as a symbol of sin is also seen in 1 Corinthians 5:1-8, where apostle Paul is warning the church against tolerating the sin of incest in the church. Paul informs the church that a bit of yeast can leaven the whole dough if left to sit in it for a long time. With this, Paul encourages the church to weed out anyone practicing sexual immorality before he influences other church members.
Yeast as a symbol of false teachings
Yeast is also used in the Bible to symbolize the negative effects false teachings can cause. Matthew 16:6-12. Jesus addresses the false teachings of the Sadducees and the Pharisees as he likens their words to that of yeast. Jesus uses yeast in this scripture to show how the false teachings of the Pharisees can spread throughout the entire synagogue just the way yeast spreads, negatively impacting people.
Yeast as a symbol of God’s kingdom
Yeast has also been used in the Bible to symbolize God’s kingdom and how fast it can grow with the right preaching and influence. In Matthew 13:33, Jesus likens the kingdom of God to the yeast that was put in flour and was able to rise it. Jesus uses this parable to show how the word of God can be used to expand the kingdom of God.
Yeast as a symbol of God’s deliverance to his people
Yeast has also been used in the Bible to symbolize God’s deliverance of Israelites from Egypt. The Israelites used yeast to commemorate the Passover, as it reminded them how far the Lord had brought them.
Why is yeast associated with sin?
Yeast is associated with sin because of the way it works. When one person in a group commits sin, he is likely to influence those around him to commit the same sin. Apostle Paul uses yeast while teaching about incest in the church. Paul had gotten a hint that there was sexual immorality amongst the people and that a man was sleeping with his father’s wife.
Instead of repenting to be forgiven of the sin, the church was busy boasting. Paul then informs the church that it only requires a little yeast to leaven a whole batch of dough. The man who had committed that sin was likely to influence other church members to do it too, and he should have been thrown out of fellowship.
Why did Jesus compare the Kingdom of God with yeast?
Jesus compared the Kingdom of God with yeast, as the two almost work the same way. In one instance, the kingdom of God starts with small beginnings but eventually spreads across multitudes of people, just like a little yeast spread through the whole dough. When Jesus started his ministry on earth, he started as a single person. He then chose twelve disciples to help him spread the gospel. By the time his ministry on earth ended, Jesus had appointed seventy-two other disciples to preach and heal in all the cities and towns.
Jesus also compared the Kingdom of God with yeast because of the same final results. When yeast is mixed with dough, it is left to work on its own in silence, and the risen dough is evident to everyone. Likewise, the kingdom of God may work in ways that are not visible to everyone, but everyone usually witnesses its effects.
What is the spiritual meaning of yeast?
Yeast could be used to indicate the spiritual growth of a person. Just like the way yeast makes the bread fluffy, yeast could spiritually mean that your spiritual life is growing, and you need to embrace the changes.
Yeast could also be used to indicate transformation. Yeast is known to be a powerful ingredient or agent that transforms normal dough into a fermented one. Likewise, it could mean that one is transforming in terms of their beliefs or faith or evolving in different life aspects.
It could also be used to represent patience in the spiritual world. For yeast to work through dough perfectly, one needs enough patience for better results. In the spiritual world, yeast may encourage a person to practice patience with whatever they are dealing with to get the desired results.
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.