“Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.” Exodus 12:20
After a few months in Japan, I was starving for some familiar American junk food. McDonald’s (pronounced “Makudonarudo”) was already fairly common at that time, but my friends and I were particularly hungry for pizza. When someone informed us that there was a Shakey’s Pizza located downtown that offered an all-you-can-eat buffet for only ¥500, we immediately organized an expedition to satisfy our pent-up cravings. Upon arrival, we strategically located ourselves at a table closest to the serving counter so we could be the first to pounce on the fresh pizzas as they were brought out. A couple of minutes later, when a pizza was pulled out of the oven and sliced up for the waiting customers, we sprang into action. To our dismay, the main topping on this particular pizza was corn, so we reluctantly returned to our table to wait for a better offering. Shortly afterwards, we leapt into action when another pizza was served, but this one was covered with octopus tentacles so again, we took a pass. The next one looked like a cheese pizza which we hungrily scooped up, but one bite revealed the “cheese” was actually mayonnaise! We were eventually rewarded with some pizzas that looked and tasted more familiar, but that day served as a reminder that common foods back home may be mixed with some uncommon ingredients in Japan.
We really weren’t in a position to complain as Americans back home were guilty of similar culinary infractions upon Japanese food. For example, when sushi was first introduced in the West, it suffered all kinds of abuse by innovative chefs and inexperienced customers. On occasion, I enjoyed observing the horrified response of my Japanese friends when I informed them that some Americans liked to put ketchup on their sushi before eating it. Perhaps this was a petty form of revenge for what the Japanese had done to my beloved pizza. Thankfully, after a few years of culinary experimentation on both sides of the ocean, recognizable forms of both pizza and sushi are now readily available for traditional diners like myself.
Before partaking in the First Passover (Exodus 12), God instructed the Israelites to prepare bread, but it was not to include the usual ingredient of yeast. The purpose of this curious omission was to drive home the powerful point that they were to be a people set aside for God, living consecrated lives in line with His purposes. Centuries later, the New Testament picks up on this theme using the concept of yeast synonymously for sin, because it can spread into our lives affecting everything it touches (Galatians 5:9). This is why the Apostle John calls for us to exercise discretion in what we crave in this world while we continue to live in it (I John 2:15-17). Our fondness for particular foods is certainly understandable and often culturally driven, but our appetite for things or activities that are diametrically opposed to the will of God can lead us astray and set us on a path of destruction. Mixed ingredients can be acceptable when it comes to culinary matters, but in the spiritual realm, it can give us a bad case of eternal indigestion.