Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Salty Witness

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matthew 5:13 (NIV) ---Jesus

Jesus spoke to a large group of people, including His twelve disciples. He had traveled throughout Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of good news and healing people who were ill, those suffering from diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics. His popularity spread across the lands of Syria, Galilee, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan River. Great crowds of people from these surrounding lands now followed Him (Matthew 4:23-25). 

Seeing all the people, Jesus went up on the mountainside and began to teach good news (The Sermon on the Mount) to the multitude. He declared blessings and future rewards (The Beatitudes) to His followers. Jesus told them to rejoice when persecuted and then pronounced them “the salt of the earth.” Why would Jesus use such an analogy and why should we rejoice over persecution? Before answering that question, let’s discover some basics and history about salt.  

Salt is a substance giving seawater its characteristic taste. It’s also used for seasoning and preserving food. We use it daily, sometimes without thinking. And it’s made news in America as our government has stripped it away from many school lunches; students have complained that the food doesn’t taste good anymore. I personally like salt on my food—have you ever eaten meat or potatoes without salt? A sprinkle is all that’s needed to enhance flavor.

Now I admit too much of a good thing is bad—everything in moderation is the key. But salt is extremely important to our well-being. Physically, salt is a good source of sodium and chloride, and after an extreme work-out or working outside in the heat, it’s what a body needs. Adding sodium and chloride with potassium balances the body from the conduction of nerve impulses to the contraction of muscles. A bodily system out of balance can be dangerous, especially when exerting oneself in the hot sun and high temperatures. 

In ancient times, Israel was an agricultural society and they worked predominantly outside. Salt replenished their perspiring bodies—it was (and still is) an essential component to healthy living. Even though it was a physical necessity each day and sometimes in short supply, God called the Israelites to sacrifice salt. He gave them explicit instructions about offering salt with their sacrifices. He said, “Make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred (Exodus 30:5). Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings (Leviticus 2:13).

Surrender salt and add it to the covenant of God. Why would God ask them to give up something so important to them physically? Did this essential compound have a deeper meaning in the lives of God’s people? God, the Creator and Provider, supplied (and still supplies) everything for His people. Why would the Provider provide salt and then ask for a sacrifice of salt? What does salt have to do with covenant? How does salt relate to people?

I have lots of questions about salt and why Jesus called believers “salt of the earth.” Over the next few weeks, I hope to uncover and convey information about salt, its many uses, and its biblical meaning for followers of Christ Jesus. Hopefully I’ve piqued your curiosity as well. 

Below is a list of the qualities of salt along with some Scriptures related to salt and its meaning. As you read them, consider what salt meant to the Israelites and what it means for us today. Return next week to continue discovering the importance of salt in our lives.

  • Salt cleanses
  • Salt preserves
  • Salt seasons
  • Salt endures
  • Salt is pure
  • Salt is precious
  • Salt is a sacrifice

Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the Lord I give to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the Lord for both you and your offspring.” Numbers 18:19 (NIV)

Don’t you know that the Lord, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt? 2 Chronicles 13:5 (NIV)

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.
They will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God their Savior.
Psalm 24:3-5 (NIV)

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,  and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:9-14 (NIV)

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Luke 14:34-35 (NIV)

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 (NIV)

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17 (NIV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

No comments:

Post a Comment