Did you ever consider where the idea for spring cleaning originated? It was God's!
According to our modern liturgical calendar, Wednesday, February 26, 2020 is Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent, the 40 days (not including Sundays) leading up to the Saturday before Easter. Lent is a time of personal reflection preparing our hearts and minds for Good Friday, April 10th, and Easter, April 12th. People make a personal commitments during Lent by fasting or giving up certain pleasures in their lives as an act of penitence.
Beginning soon after Ash Wednesday, on March 9th, is the two-day Jewish holiday of Purim as recorded in the Book of Esther. Following Purim festivities, Jewish households begin to prepare for Passover which begins at sunset on April 8th. These Passover preparations include a special "spring cleaning" of sorts to remove "chametz," which is anything containing leavening/yeasts, such as breads, crackers, and similar items.
Therefore you shall sacrifice the Passover to the Lord your God, from the flock and the herd, in the place where the Lord chooses to put His name. You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), that you may remember the day in which came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life. And no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the meat which you sacrifice the first day at twilight remain overnight until morning. Deuteronomy 16:2-4 NKJV
I find it interesting that both Christian and the Jewish traditions recognize the importance of a "spring cleaning" or spiritual purging in preparation for the upcoming Holy Days. Passover cleaning addresses the removal of the physical yeast found in food, but is there a spiritual application?
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. 1Corinthians 5:6-8 NKJV
Jesus, the sacrificial Passover lamb, was a Jewish rabbi. Removing the leavening in our lives is more than avoiding simple pleasures or abiding by a legalistic practice to not eat bread. Our Savior desires that we walk in "truth." His life was a demonstration of an "unleavened" life without immorality, malice and wickedness. Our Christian life should emulate Christ's. The precepts established by Elohim, the Creator of all things, are purposeful and Christ fulfilled every one perfectly. Avoiding leavened breads will not in itself change our life. It is simply a physical reminder of a spiritual calling to be holy, as our Heavenly Father is holy, separate, without fault in everything we do and say.
For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6 NKJV
As we approach our Lenten season, I encourage you to choose a sacrifice that moves you toward Adonai's heart, resembles Yeshuah's walk, and causes you to radiate the Spirit's presence in your life. Spend time studying Scripture, perhaps reading the segments of Jesus last days on this earth or meditating on the Psalms. Choose to demonstrate gratitude, kindness and humility toward those around you. In so doing, you may find these become a lifetime of daily habits that grow your relationships with others and your LORD.
"Now acquaint yourself with Him, and be at peace; Thereby good will come to you. Receive, please, instruction from His mouth, And lay up His words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up...For then you will have your delight in the Almighty, And lift up your face to God. You will make your prayer to Him, He will hear you." Job 22:21-27 NKJV
Now, if you are like me and was raised in a Protestant Christian family you may not have celebrated Lent or searched for chametz, so give consideration to your Hebrew roots, through adoption into God's family. See what "chametz" you can eliminate, do a little spiritual spring cleaning…gossip, bitterness, jealousy, selfish ambition. Galatians 5 has a few suggestions. Also, what Christ-like attributes can you put on for the next 40 days? Compassion, gentleness, kindness, joy? Galatians 5 has a good list of add-ons, too!
Merciful Father, Adonai, Messiah, we are grateful for your love and sacrifices. Guide us in the way that leads us to Your heart. Help us identify things in our life that do not glorify You and give us strength to sweep them out of our lives. We desire Your Presence, peace and freedom from all things that entangle us and keep us from living a full life walking in Your Spirit. Amen