If you have attended church for any length of time, you have likely heard a sermon about salt and it’s various implications for the Christian. I am going to try an approach two of the references to salt in the Bible that I think are often, to our detriment, over looked. Salt has many lessons for us, but these two often seem to get lost.
We are going to begin with a passage from, and I know anyone who regularly reads will be o so shocked, Leviticus. Leviticus chapter 2 outlines the proper form of the meal offering. I don’t want to delve to deeply into the offerings, but I would encourage you to do so on your own. It is fascinating, but also has a great deal to teach as so far as Christianity goes, but I digress. In Matthew we are told to be salt.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its savor, with what shall it be salted? It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and to be trodden underfoot by men.” (Matthew 5:13)
A couple of important things to note about this passage, as pointed out by numerous commentators, is that this is not only applicable to apostles and ministers, but to all. As Wesley says in his New Testament commentary: “Ye – Not the apostles, not ministers only; but all ye who are thus holy, are the salt of the earth – Are to season others”. We have all likely heard some of the more common themes in this. Preserving, flavoring, and the like, but I want to first focus on salt as a purifying agent. In Leviticus (as well as Ezekiel and Ezra), we see salt as a part of the offering. One of the many uses for salt in the ancient world is for purifying. Yep, that’ right, salt as a purifying agent. In some churches, salt is added to Holy Water, and also put in the mouths of children during baptism. Is it possible that in the offerings that one of the purposes of the salt is to represent a purifying aspect? Let’s ponder that as I move on to the second aspect of salt that I wanted to concentrate on.
Again, in Leviticus chapter two, we find a mention of this.
“And every sacrifice of your food offering shall you season with salt. And you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your food offering. You shall offer salt with all your offerings.” (Leviticus 2:13)
In Numbers, God’s covenant with the priesthood of Aaron is said to be a salt covenant, as is the covenant between God and the Davidic kings in Second Chronicles. So what is a salt covenant exactly? Henry Clay Trumbell in his work “The Covenant of Salt” has some thoughts on this based upon primitive cultures and their use of salt. He explains how salt represents both blood, and even life itself. He goes on further to explain that a covenant of salt is both perpetual and unalterable.
“The Lord’s covenant with Aaron and his seed in the priesthood, and with David and his seed in the kingship, is as a covenant of salt, perpetual and unalterable. And God’s people in all their holy offerings are to bear in mind that the salt is a vital element and factor, if they would come within the terms of the perpetual and unalterable covenant.”
So, we have a perpetual and unalterable covenant between God and man. A covenant of salt, with all that salt entails and represents. What then does that mean for us? Christ has told us, the faithful, that we are the salt of the Earth. We are the current (imperfect) representatives of the covenant that Christ has made with blood and with life. God has made that covenant with us, through Christ, and we must indeed uphold our part of it with both blood and life should it be required. Part of that covenant is the the promise that just as Christ is the first fruits of resurrection, we too will follow in His stead in our time. A covenant of salt-of blood-perpetual and unalterable.
To revisit where we started, one of the many over looked aspects of salt, was it’s use as a purifying agent. To place that into the context of the salt covenant, we are, because of Christ, the purifying element here now. This is not to say that we save, simply that we represent He who does. This is not to say that we purify by our own means, but rather because the Spirit dwells within us. If we are a purifying element, then we ourselves must also be pure. This is echoed throughout the scriptures. We need to strive to be blameless and holy in our personal lives, and then, as a purifying act, encourage others to do so as well. While we do not make the covenant, that is for God alone of course, we present the terms if you will. We model the behavior, the ethics, the love. We not only represent the salt covenant by our presence, we also must be salt as well.
I have not explained this as well as I should be able to. For that I apologize. I have not shown the beauty that exists in this nearly well enough either, and I am sorry for that as well. I hope that I have perhaps peaked your curiosity enough to start an exploration into what being salt actually entails. Research, read, question, discuss and learn. Look into it and see all the beauty and responsibility that is there. Most of all though, stay salty my friends.