What is God up to? (Part 2) (25 Aug 2019)

In What is God up to? (Part 1) on 26 May 2019, we considered Jesus’ comparison of the kingdom of God to the mustard seed. In this second part to what is the kingdom of God like, Jesus compared it to leaven: It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened. Luke 13:20-21 (ESV)

In Part 1, we mentioned that the kingdom of God is equated to the ways of God. Here we see God’s agent, the Holy Spirit penetrating into every strata of society. It grows.

In baking, the leaven (yeast) added to the bread causes it to rise and the size increases. What is the point of the parable? A small amount of yeast will leaven a large amount of flour. In other parts of the Bible, leaven is used negatively (Luke 12:1; I Cor 5:6-8) but it is not so in the Parable of the leaven. Leaven is used positively in this parable.

The woman took yeast and mix it in a large amount of flour (probably 30-45kg). Anyone who tries to deal with the tough large lump of dough will be worn out. The description of our world could be compared to plain unbaked dough, indigestible and tough. The dough could be the realistic situation in the world, including our personal world. We may feel overwhelmed – that things are not getting better. We may feel sharply the overwhelming pressure of evil, of failures of educators, our own failures too.

The conditions of our world today need not discourage us because God leavens our world with the yeast of His Holy Spirit.

When everything is out of control, when we are ready to throw in the towel, when we cannot cope, we need to remember God is already in the world.

It is not the obvious that counts but the hidden. The yeast is thoroughly hidden, like the seed in the soil, but once the yeast is in, we cannot find it as it disappears into the dough. The yeast penetrated so deeply that it has become part of the dough.

We may be tempted that all is lost, overwhelmed by happenings in life, wonder where God is. I felt lost and overwhelmed when two of my students in the universities took their lives in January and April this year. What helped was God’s Word, doctrine that I studied at BGST, and friends.

When we cannot discern God’s finger in human affairs, it does not mean He is absent. God is so intimately involved that He may be hidden, indistinguishable but He is there working out His purposes.

Leaven is small compared to flour. Though small, it makes a big difference. The agent of the Holy Spirt that God the Father has injected in the world – that is what gives us hope. I like what someone says, ‘If God can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, He can make something out of you.’

Dear God, thank you that you are in control. Our hope is in you. Help us to bring life and hope to the world, encouragement to the discouraged. Grant us the deep confidence that you are not just present but is intimately active in each of our worlds.”

 

Deacon Dr Vivien Ler