YOU ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH
Jesus put His disciples in a privileged and responsible position – He called them “salt” and “light”.
“You are the salt of the earth…” Matthew 5:13
“You are the light of the world.,,” Matthew 5:14
Not, ”You will be…” but “You are…” That means that although you are a disciple-in-training, you are, right now, salt and light to the world.
We need to examine what the Bible means by salt and light.
Salt is necessary for life. It is a mineral that has been used since ancient times for different purposes: for seasoning, as a disinfectant and preservative, as part of ceremonial offerings and as a unit of exchange. Symbolically it was used in various covenants to signify permanence, loyalty, durability, usefulness, value, and faithfulness.
Salt was added to both grain and animal sacrifices to make them acceptable to God.
“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.
“When you have finished purifying it, you are to off a young bull and a ram from the flock both without defect. You are to offer them before the Lord, and the priests are to sprinkle salt on them and sacrifice them as a burnt offering to the Lord.” Ezekiel 43:23, 24.
Sat was also to be an ingredient in the sacred incense.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take fragrant spices – gum, resin, onycha and galbanum – and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and fragrant.” Exodus 30:24, 25.
Salt was used widely as a symbol and sacred sign in ancient Palestine. Portions of the sacrifices were given to the priests and Levites as part of God’s provision for them. In this “covenant of salt”, God promised that He would always provide for them.
“Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the Lord I give to you and to your sons and daughters as your regular share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the Lord for both you and your offspring.” Numbers 18:19.
By a “covenant of salt” God assured the breakaway king of Israel, Jeroboam, that He had pledged, by a covenant of salt, that the dynasty of David would be permanent.
“Don’t you know that the Lord, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and to his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?” 2 Chronicles 13:5.
Salt that had been contaminated with other substances e.g., soil or other minerals, was of no value. It’s only use was to be thrown onto the dusty roads to bind the soil. Salt thrown onto soil that was cultivated made it sterile and useless for agriculture.
Why did Jesus call His disciples “salt”? They would have a positive influence on society by adding flavour and preserving it from contamination. They would also be examples of those who lived under God’s rule, people of integrity, loyalty and faithfulness.
They would serve to warn people who live without God that they will become like salted land, barren, sterile and useless.
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.’” Jeremiah 17:5, 6.
It was also a warning to the disciples not to be contaminated or mixed with anything that will make it worthless. A disciple can become useless by his mind and his faith in Jesus alone being mixed with false teachings or his life being mixed with sin.
To be salt, therefore is to be both privileged and responsible. Disciples of Jesus are privileged to make a difference in the sinful world by living pure lives, unmixed with false teaching or sin, so that they show the world what God is really like. The “covenant of salt” symbolises lives that are upright, faithful and loyal to God and to one another in a world which is rotten with selfishness and greed.
They are also responsible to remain “salty”, otherwise they too will become sterile and useless like salted soil.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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