Mark 8:15 - “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”
In saying “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod” He was warning them about influences of the mind that can rob us of the understanding of revelation and renewal. Three kinds of leaven are mentioned in the above verses: the leaven of Herod, the Pharisees, and the Kingdom!
The leaven of Herod is a atheistic influence based on the strength of man and man based systems. Like politics, popular will, and persuasion. Herod’s leaven excludes God entirely. It’s statements of faith are a cynical “God helps those who help themselves”. You find yourself in a boat without bread; the person under this influence would advise, “next time write a list and remember to bring bread.” You are the answer to your own problem. Take responsibility for yourself. Be a self made person. Herod’s leaven represents one of the big problems in the church: practical atheism. Large numbers of Christians are practical atheists who disbelieve in an active God. Believers face situations daily without bringing God into the picture. Like Herod, they say there is no divine intervention in practical living. They are professing Christians but they live like their atheistic neighbors whenever they face a problem.
The leaven of the Pharisees represents the religious systems. It embraces God in theory but not in practical experience. The concept is essential to the Pharisitical mind, but the experience of God is completely removed. The Pharisees have God inform without power. If you found yourself in a boat without bread the Pharisee would say, “God in His sovereignty has arranged for you to be in the boat without any bread so you can identify with those who also have no bread in this hour.” Pharisees provide explanation not solution; they say the bakery closed when the last apostle died. They refuse to let God be active right now on earth. They insist that you pray, but also insist that you should have no hope of God answering. Their’s is a Russian roulette god: spin the chamber and maybe you will get an answer……or maybe not. People under the influence of Pharisee leaven can know Jesus the wrong way. Today countless millions in the church have been satisfied with Pharisee’s leaven. They are content with some documentation, with some brand of church, but they are entirely unplugged from an active, invasive, here-and-now God.
Under the influence of this leaven many Christians find explanation for physical illness that does not bring the power of God into the picture. They say, “that person is tormented by that particular affliction, but with the lifestyle he leads, it is no wonder.” They feel a cocky sense of understanding at explaining the problem at yet they are powerless to provide a solution, and they will vilify anyone who tries.
John 9:2,3 - "And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, 'It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.'"
The disciples fell into this too. They asked Jesus, “Rabi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2) Jesus refused to discuss the question with them. He said, “Neither this man or his parents sinned but that the works of God should be revealed in Him.” (John 9:3) People do not realize that when God redeems a situation He does it so thoroughly that it looks like He created the problem as an opportunity for His power or glory to be seen.
The same could be said of sin. Yet, God did not make a person sin just so His glory could be revealed. When Jesus is at hand a problem takes on purpose. Without His redemptive touch, the problem is just another work of the devil. Jesus was so focused on solutions that He did not even entertain the Pharisitical debate.
Luke 13:20,21 - "again He said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21“It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”
Some in the church believe that ‘leaven’ always refers to sin and this parable shows how the church will be full of sin and compromise in the last days. The mistake in this line of reasoning is twofold:
1. They are mistaking the church for the kingdom. They are not the same. The church is to live in the realm of the kingdom domain but in itself is not the kingdom. While sin does infect the church, the kingdom is the realm of God’s rule. Sin cannot penetrate and influence that realm.
2. The predisposition to see a weak and struggling church in the last days has made it difficult to see the promise of God for revival. It is impossible to have faith were there is no hope. Such approaches to understanding scripture have crippled the church.
The parable about the leaven illustrates the subtle but overwhelming influence (leaven) of the kingdom in any setting of which it is placed. The bible talks about influence (leaven) on the mind that determines how we interact with the kingdom. These influences (leaven) affect us as we endeavor to become students of miracles.
"And Jesus, aware of this, said* to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? 18“Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember, 19when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?” They said* to Him, “Twelve.” 20“When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they said* to Him, “Seven.” 21And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?” - (Mark 8:17-21)
The miracles we experience must shape the way we think. God gave us miracles to train us how to see differently. Some people see miracles and are thankful. But they leave unchanged and have not learned to see differently. They go home and their lives continue on in the same pattern as before.