Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Jeannette Haley

Have you ever been on a salt-free diet? I remember when the “latest health scare” was the issue of salt. Granted, regular table salt is not a healthy substitute for “real” or mineral salt, but looking back on those “salt-free” days, I was just as clueless as the rest of the gullible public when it came to the trends of the times. I distinctly remember making a huge pot of vegetable beef soup, without salt. Believe me, that concoction would not have won me my very own spot on the Food Network. Try eating a hard cooked egg, chips or popcorn without salt. It’s like, what’s the point? You might as well munch down a bowl of cheap dog food.

Thankfully we now know the “rest of the news,” and that is that sea salt is essential to life. According to Wikipedia, “The role of salt in the Bible is relevant to understanding Hebrew society during the Old Testament andNew Testament periods. Salt is a necessity of life and was a mineral that was used since ancient times in many cultures as a seasoning, a preservative, a disinfectant, a component of ceremonial offerings, and as a unit of exchange. The Bible contains numerous references to salt. In various contexts, it is used metaphorically to signify permanence, loyalty, durability, fidelity, usefulness, value, and purification.” Other interesting information about salt in the Old Testament from Wikipedia says, In Leviticus 2:13, God commanded that ‘And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt.’ Salt was cast on the burnt offering (Ezekiel43:24) and was part of the incense (Exodus 30:35). Part of the temple offering included salt (Ezra 6:9).

“Salt was also used to ratify covenants. In Numbers 18:19, God promises to provide, through the offerings of His people, for His priests forever: ‘All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer to the LORD, I have given to you and your sons and daughters with you as an ordinance forever; it is a covenant of salt forever before the LORD with you and your descendants with you.’ Salt cannot be burned or destroyed. Perhaps because of salt’s durability, God used it as a metaphor to indicate that as salt keeps its flavor, so the Lord’s covenant with the priesthood was durable. More likely, however, is that the ‘covenant of salt’ (or, in some versions, ‘inviolable covenant’) refers to a practice that rendered contracts irrevocable during the time period in which the Bible was written. In biblical times, men carried pouches of salt on their belts. When a pact, promise, or contract was made, the men from each of the participating parties would intermingle the salt from their own pouches with the salt from the pouches of the other party. This reminded the men that they could not retrieve their own salt from the other pouch, symbolizing the fact that they could not go back on their word.

“Another reference to the use of salt to ratify a covenant occurs at 2 Chronicles 13:5. At the beginning of this chapter, Abijah, King of Judah and rightful heir to David’s throne, is at war with King Jeroboam, who has taken control of Israel. Before Jeroboam’s destruction, Abijah speaks of the Davidic Covenant: ‘Hear me, Jeroboam and all Israel: Should you not know that the LORD God of Israel gave the dominion over Israel to David forever, to him and his sons, by a covenant of salt?’ Here, salt refers to God’s irrevocable pledge and intended loyalty in fulfilling the Davidic covenant and God’s desire for the loyalty of David’s lineage to Him if the people are to enjoy the blessings of the covenant. The preservative quality of salt represents the fidelity or loyalty intended in keeping the covenant.

“Newborn babies (because of what the Lord commanded) were rubbed with salt to promote good health. A reference to this practice is in Ezekiel 16:4: ‘As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths.’

“In the book of Genesis, chapter 19 the wife of Lot was turned into a pillar of salt when she disobeyed the command of God and looked back at the city of Sodom whilst fleeing from its destruction. Some Christians see this to mean literal salt whilst some think it refers to rock salt.”

In the teachings and parables of Jesus, He often illustrated them with those things that were relevant to the lives of the people. Concerning salt, in Matthew 5:13 He said, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” “Savour” in this context means “to become insipid; to make (act) as a simpleton; become fool, make foolish.” In reference to the salt of the earth, Jesus is saying that His people in every generation are the essential “salt” that brings life to those who are spiritually dead.

However, before we become puffed up about how important we think we are, remember that Jesus always brings a sobering contrast, and this verse is no exception. He makes it very clear that it is possible for the salt to lose its “savour” which renders it not only useless, but also so contemptible that it will be thrown out and trampled underfoot. He is warning the church of the consequences if they fail to be the salt of the earth, thus beyond remedy, having become foolish as well as utterly worthless. Note: “Salt produced by the evaporation of sea-water in hot countries is said sometimes to lose its saline properties. The same result is also sometimes seen in impure rock-salt that has long been exposed to the air. When such is the case there can nothing be done with it but to throw it out into the highway, where men and beasts trample it down.” (“Manners & Customs of the Bible” by James M. Freeman, page 335). Other sources report that salt becomes unsavory and worthless once it is diluted with other elements.

Following Jesus’ statement concerning the salt, He went on to declare in Matthew 5:14-16, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The light within us does not shine so that we can attract people to ourselves; instead, it is the light of Christ that draws people to Himself. Therefore, our “good works” are not to bring glory to us, but to God alone who is worthy of all glory and praise.

       When Jesus appeared to Saul as he made his way to Damascus seeking for authority to persecute “followers of the way,” Jesus said to him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. . . I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” Acts 26:14-18. [Emphasis added.]

This darkness means obscurity, or shady. We know that Satan works his subtle seductions through the darkness of obscurity lest the light of truth exposes his lies and deceit. Throughout the Scriptures, light and truth are associated with God and His righteousness while Satan’s false light is darkness and destruction. Underneath all is the inescapable issue of SIN. Regardless of how modern man has devised ways to downplay, ignore, deny, redefine, intellectualize, and just plain mock the fact of sin, Jesus made it very clear what man’s problem is. He said, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” John 3:19-21.

Immediately after the Apostle Paul’s first encounter with Jesus, the great light that he had seen blinded his physical eyes. Through this time of physical darkness he knew that the light that he had been walking in was a false light; now he knew the true light of the world. Moreover, the true light of the world had called him to turn people from Satan’s darkness to the light. Jesus was establishing His church as the salt and the light. The Apostle Peter wrote, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” 1 Peter 2:8.

       Nearly twenty years ago the Lord put Rayola and me together as a team. I will never forget, during a time of prayer, Rayola’s heart cry, “Lord, make us the salt and the light.” The simplicity, yet profoundness, of this heartfelt prayer went through my spirit like a two-edged sword. The “salt and the light.” Didn’t that mean more than just attending church once or twice a week? Didn’t that mean being always “salty” wherever we were, in any circumstance however obscure, unpopular, overlooked, uncomfortable, or misunderstood, with our “light” burning? Didn’t being the “salt and the light” mean a state of being? In other words, first presenting our “bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service”? (Romans 12:1)

Both salt and light attract. For example, in Montana’s Glacier National Park, there is a mountainside with a natural salt lick. Tourists can park and quietly watch the mountain sheep making their way down to the salt lick from great heights. It’s fascinating to watch these surefooted animals, both young and old, as they follow one another to this great source of salt.

If you have ever gone on a tour of an underground cave, you will no doubt recall the moment when the tour guide switches his or her flashlight off. It is an eerie feeling not being able to see anything whatsoever because of the total absence of light. Everyone is greatly relieved when the guiding light is switched back on.

More often than not (and this was true for myself as well) Christians who long to be the salt and the light define this mandate from the Lord in ways that can be burdensome, and out of line with God’s will for them. Our God is a personal God. Where one person is called to be the salt and the light may not necessarily be where God is calling you or me. Nevertheless, wherever we find ourselves in this sin-sick, dark world, we are to be the salt and the light.

Remember the wonderful song, “Brighten the Corner Where You Are”? The writer of this song, Ina D. Og­don, (1913), ear­ly in her life had hoped to preach on the Chau­tau­qua cir­cuit. How­ev­er, her fa­ther’s ill­ness forced her to aban­don her plans for an evan­gel­is­tic ca­reer, in or­der to care for him at home. She wrote these en­cour­ag­ing words show­ing how one can serve the Lord in ma­ny dif­fer­ent ways and cir­cum­stanc­es. In other words, make the best of where you find your­self.  (Music: Charles H. Gabriel) The song goes: “Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do, Do not wait to shed your light afar, To the many duties ever near you now be true, Brighten the corner where you are. (Refrain) Brighten the corner where you are! Brighten the corner where you are! Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar; Brighten the corner where you are! Just above are clouded skies that you may help to clear, Let not narrow self your way debar; Though into one heart alone may fall your song of cheer, Brighten the corner where you are. (Refrain) Here for all your talent you may surely find a need, Here reflect the bright and Morning Star; Even from your humble hand the Bread of Life may feed, Brighten the corner where you are. (Refrain)”

Here is where those individuals who are the salt and the light depart from the social gospel of the apostate church. Apostasy, the result of unbelief and rebellion, manages to maintain an outward form, or show, of acceptable religion, which can come under different guises or titles. However, the spirit behind it remains the same. Thus, just as there is a cultural war in America between the “liberals” and the “conservatives,” there is likewise a war between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light. Those in the apostate church worship a mystical “Jesus” that the pilgrim church never knew—a Jesus that fits in quite comfortably with the plans of the Babylonian, one-world-religion people. Beware of the redefined, unbiblical, “modern Jesus.” He is antichrist, and cannot save anyone.

By contrast, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” John 8:12. While most people associated with some form of religious instruction or practice, would agree that Jesus is the light of the world, how many of them also “follow” Him or even know what that means? We can get all mushy and sentimental about “sweet Jesus, the light of the world,” loving our concept of Him, but are we willing to deny self, pick up our cross and follow Him to Calvary? Are we able to drink of the cup of self-denial and suffering from which He drank? The question is, is the Jesus you “follow” leaving you to your own devices and agendas of seeking to live and look like the world? If the latter is true for you, then you are still in darkness, and without the light of life. 1 John 1:6 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”.

       We know that the darkness of Satan’s kingdom is rapidly spreading over the earth, swallowing whole nations in its insidious grip. We know that it will culminate in a one-world government that will seek to eliminate the “salt and the light.” Nevertheless, we also know that in the midst of this terrible time, God still has His true Church who will stand distinct as the salt and the light of the world, made up of individuals who have separated themselves from the apostate, harlot Laodicean church system.

Where are you today? Are you assured that you are indeed the salt and the light, pointing people to the Lord Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation? Is “Christ in you, the hope of glory”? Do you have enough “oil in your lamp” to keep you burning to the end? On the other hand, maybe you are one who is passively content to ignore the approaching storm that will usher in the greatest time of spiritual darkness this world has ever seen. Perhaps you have been so caught up with church involvement, activities, entertainment, programs, movements and a host of other man-centered stuff to last a lifetime that you have left Jesus behind. If so, you need to wake up to the reality that you are “salt-free” and in “shady darkness”—and one whom the Lord Jesus Christ will reject at His coming.

Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Will you open the door of your heart to Him before it is too late?