What is your favorite season of the year? Mine is spring, for several odd reasons…
- Blue and green is my favorite color combo
- I prefer outdoors much more to indoors
- Renewal, revival, and resurrection spring to mind
- It feels good getting our taxes done
- Spring serves my optimism better than fall
- I like getting rid of stuff in the house
There’s even a name for that last one…
Spring Cleaning! Whoever thought that up…good job.
It turns out that spring cleaning dates back to early biblical days when the Israelites were leaving Egypt. They had to clear town so fast that they did not have time for their bread to rise. It was going to be unleavened bread all the way as they journeyed through Sinai. That’s why the spring feast of Passover is celebrated with unleavened bread, or matzah, to this very day.
God then commanded Israel to eat their matzah with not a trace of leaven left in the house. The Israelites took that seriously and taught it to their children who passed it on to every generation. Hence…spring cleaning!
To this day, observant Jewish families remove every box, bag, and crumb they can find of cereals, breads, crackers and anything that might carry leaven. Their final step is to use a feather to sweep up the last little dust pile into a wooden spoon and toss it all into the fire!
OK, that’s the Jews, but should Christians take God’s command this seriously? Oh yes, and more so. Paul the apostle explains…
Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Therefore, purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
1 Corinthians 5:6-8
In its spiritual reality, leaven is sin, and like yeast multiplying, a tiny amount permeates the whole community. But those in the body of Christ may enter fully into the Passover and are like the matzah, unleavened by sin’s infiltration.
Some may get to sit down at a Passover Seder table to “keep the feast” this year, and I assure you that is a very special remembrance, but all of us get to keep the everlasting feast of fellowship in Jesus our Lord if we approach the communion table in sincerity and truth.
Did you note what Paul prescribed for living in this reality of communion with the Lord and each other? A spiritual spring cleaning!
Purge out the old leaven. (v.7)
Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:16-17
The Hebrew prophets and sages waxed poetic using the imagery of spring for the long sought after newness of life—the very life we have in Christ. These words communicate a veritable “spring cleaning” of the soul…
Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away!
Song of Solomon 2:10-13
And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”
Let’s explore this last one. What’s with the almond branch that Jeremiah saw in a vision…and what does it have to do with spring cleaning?
Permit me to wax etymological…
Peek into the original Hebrew to find Jeremiah using a word play between “almond” (shaqed) and “watchful” (shoqed). The pronunciation is slightly different, but the words chosen share exactly the same root.
Adding a touch of the horticultural…
Of all the fruit trees in the land of Israel, the almond is the first to bloom in late winter/early spring, yet it is the last to bear fruit! The horticulturalists of Israel call the almond tree the “hard worker.” While it takes its time, the tree is producing the most nutrient-dense superfood on the planet. Be patient!
Learn, then, the message of the almond branch…
God is keeping watch over His word. He may delay, but He will bring it to fulfillment.
God makes His promise in the winter, renews hope of it in the spring, and brings it to fullness in His appointed time of harvest.
Patiently hope, therefore. Patiently wait. Let the springtime remind you that His word is working on your behalf.
Let the springtime remind you that it’s time to clean house – Welcome the spring cleaning! It is the season to get the little bit of leaven out. Repent of sin and sweep even the dust of it away making room for the abundance in the harvest that awaits the fullness of time.