The Woman, the Meal, and the Leaven

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 11
This parable emphasizes the fact that evil doctrine would be introduced into the Christian profession until the whole is permeated. A woman taking the lead in divine things is very generally a sign of evil, and it is significant that women have been notorious for this. Take the case of Mrs. White, a neurotic, hysterical woman, who was the chief prophetess of Seventh Day Adventism; of Mrs. Eddy, likewise neurotic, hysterical, and a spiritualistic medium, the founder of Christian Science; of Mrs. Blavatsky, a spritualistic medium, the introducer of modern Theosophy; of Mrs. Besant, the erstwhile infidel, her successor; of Ann Lee, of Shaker fame, and so on. Take Jezebel, as referred to in Revelation 2:2020Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. (Revelation 2:20), and whose spiritual significance is delineated in Revelation 17, as a case in point.
Leaven in Scripture is always a type of evil. It was to be put out of the dwellings of the Israelites. Christians are exhorted: “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:88Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:8)).
Again, the Apostle Paul, vehemently combating the Judaizing principles that were imperiling the very foundations of Christianity, so that he could say that even if an angel from heaven should preach any other gospel than the true one, he should be accursed, says: “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal. 5:99A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Galatians 5:9)).
And following the history of the Christian profession, is it not true that evil doctrines have permeated everywhere? Take the evil doctrines of the Church of Rome as to penances, purgatory; the higher criticism and ritualism of the Establishment; the rationalism of Dissent; the fearful delusions of latter days, of Millennial Dawnism, Christian Science, Seventh Day Adventism, Christadelphianism, Mormonism, Theosophy, and the like—the general breaking down of truth on every hand—does it not all fulfill this parable?
How comforting—amid all the sorrow of seeing Christendom getting worse and worse, preparing for its awful and final plunge into the abyss of apostasy—it is to know that Christ foretold it all, and that the very present state of things must be if the Scriptures are true.
The last three parables present the Kingdom in mystery in its inward aspect. The parables are as follow:
(1) The Treasure.
(2) The Pearl of Great Price.
(3) The Drag Net.
To grasp clearly the significance of these we must enlarge on The Threefold Division of the Seven Kingdom Parables.
These are very obvious. The first parable—constituting the first division—illustrates the way the kingdom is formed. It begins by what is real. Though the response may vary—some a hundred-fold, some sixty-fold, some thirty-fold—yet it is all God's work at the start. The three following—constituting the second division—are uttered in the hearing of the multitude by the sea side, and present to us the outward appearance of the kingdom of heaven; that is, as (1) containing, through the enemy's efforts, false as well as real; as (2) taking a pretentious worldly form opposed utterly to the Divine purpose for this age, that is, the King rejected and a kingdom in mystery; and as (3) being leavened by evil doctrine.
The last three parables—constituting the third division —and the explanation of the preceding three are given by the Lord in the privacy of the house after the multitudes have been sent away—the house here, not representing Judaism as in verse 1, but showing that the information given as to the three preceding parables, and of the three closing parables, could only be understood by those in relation to God when withdrawn from the world.
It is the Lord's significant action of (1) changing His position, and (2) of limiting His explanation of the parables to His disciples that marks the division between the two sets of parables, besides the distinctive line of teaching that marks each set, a line of teaching which is on the surface.