Working With Yeast

by Lee Turner

In one of His briefest parables, Jesus tells us that "the kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened" (Matt. 13:33 asv; see also Luke 13:20, 21). Because leaven has been used several times in Scripture to represent evil (see, for example, Luke 12:1; 1 Cor. 5:7,8; Gal. 5:7-9) some think this parable predicts the ultimate triumph of evil. Those who take that pessimistic position forget that leaven or yeast is not always used in Scripture to refer to evil. For example, the loaves offered in a wave offering to God were to be of leavened bread (Lev. 23:15-18). Those who would make leaven in Jesus' parable represent evil would then have Jesus predicting the total corruption of the kingdom of heaven, because the leaven worked till the meal "was all leavened." But Jesus' parable does not prophesy the total victory of evil but, rather, the utter triumph of the kingdom of heaven. Thus, the phrase "till it was all leavened" should be equated with Daniel's prediction that "the God of heaven [would] set up a kingdom [which would progress till it] filled the whole earth" (Dan. 2:35, 44).

But Jesus helps us understand how the triumph of the gospel is going to be achieved. It will not be through swords, guns, marching armies, or even legislative decisions. It will be through a hidden influence. The woman, no doubt representing the church, took the leaven and hid it in the meal. The meal undoubtedly represents society. In some areas the message of Jesus has to work more surreptitiously, more stealthily, than in others. But it must and will do its work!

However, the work of leaven is done quietly, unobtrusively, unpretentiously, without fanfare. So, too, the work of spreading the gospel in the Muslim world goes forward. Radio propagation of the gospel in resistant areas admirably conforms to the working specifications of leaven. Even though we may not always have something showy to present, the leaven will, indeed, continue to do its work-especially if we continue to pray!

Lee Turner is director of Key Communications, a Portland-
based radio ministry to the Urdu-speaking world.