First up, we need to understand that when the people who wrote the Bible talked about "salt", they are talking about evaporated sea water - or lake water, in the case of the Dead Sea. There is a big difference between sea salt and the manufactured chemical, sodium chloride, that we call salt today. Sea salt contains many elements in the same proportion that they were leeched from the land, and as such has a health giving benefit. Sodium Chloride - while being a part of sea salt - on its own can easily become a poison in excess.
So it is healthy salt that the Bible is talking about, and the type of salt that we should use everyday ourselves. Check out the benefits of "sea salt" on the Internet.
This healing aspect of salt is brought out in 2 Kings.
2Ki 2:19-22 NET. The men of the city said to Elisha, "Look, the city has a good location, as our master can see. But the water is bad and the land doesn't produce crops." (20) Elisha said, "Get me a new jar and put some salt in it." So they got it. (21) He went out to the spring and threw the salt in. Then he said, "This is what the LORD says, 'I have purified this water. It will no longer cause death or fail to produce crops." (22) The water has been pure to this very day, just as Elisha prophesied.
I don't believe that the salt itself was the cause of the water being made pure - that would have been a miracle performed by God - but was used as a symbol of healing.
We all need a certain amount of salt to survive - especially in hot conditions, or if we are working hard. So there could be a practical reason for including salt with the grain offerings.
Lev 2:13 NET. Moreover, you must season every one of your grain offerings with salt; you must not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be missing from your grain offering — on every one of your grain offerings you must present salt.
Only a few offerings were burnt in total. For most of the offerings, only special parts and the fat were burnt, and the remainder was for the priest's food. Thus the basic diet of the priests on duty would have been meat without the fat, grains in various forms with liberal amounts of olive oil, and of course the salt, and the drink offerings. With all their hard work, and attending fires in and outside the camp, sea salt is a very practical addition to their diet.
Another characteristic of salt, is that it adds to whatever is already there.
Job 6:6 NKJV Can flavorless food be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?
Salt adds to - or helps to bring out - the flavour. Salt will also extend the life of certain foods if they are immersed in brine (a mixture of salt and water).
It is used as a type of adding something positive to our speech.
Col 4:5-6 NET. Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunities. (6) Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.
The "covenant of salt" was a covenant with extra benefits. First to Aaron.
Num 18:11-12 NET. "And this is yours: the raised offering of their gift, along with all the wave offerings of the Israelites. I have given them to you and to your sons and daughters with you as a perpetual ordinance. Everyone who is ceremonially clean in your household may eat of it. (12) "All the best of the olive oil and all the best of the wine and of the wheat, the first fruits of these things that they give to the LORD, I have given to you.
Num 18:19 NET. All the raised offerings of the holy things that the Israelites offer to the LORD, I have given to you, and to your sons and daughters with you, as a perpetual ordinance. It is a covenant of salt forever before the LORD for you and for your descendants with you."
And then to David.
2Ch 13:5 NKJV 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?
However, If you are really concerned about salt in the Bible, then these last three Scriptures should be of major concern. They all deal with the same topic.
Mar 9:49-50 NET. Everyone will be salted with fire. (50) Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other."
Mat 5:13 NET. "You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.
Luk 14:33-35 NET. In the same way therefore not one of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his own possessions. (34) "Salt is good, but if salt loses its flavor, how can its flavor be restored? (35) It is of no value for the soil or for the manure pile; it is to be thrown out. The one who has ears to hear had better listen!"
How salt was used to give added meaning in the Old Testament has some instructional value to us, but it is much more urgent that we come to understand how the characteristics of salt are used to describe a situation in the New Testament.
The reference in Mark 9:49, that "everyone will be salted with fire" is followed in verse 50 with the statement that "salt is good" - so I take this to mean that the disciples He was talking to were going to experience the coming of the Holy Spirit with fire. The next two Scriptures confirm that that is what happened.
Joh 1:33 NET. And I did not recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'The one on whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining — this is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'
Act 2:2-4 NET. Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting. (3) And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them. (4) All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.
So the condition being talked about in Mark 9, Mat 5 and Luke 14, is when a person has been "salted" - given the Holy Spirit - but then allows the salt to "lose its flavour".
I believe that this is happening right now, right before our very eyes.
In the world's Sunday keeping Churches, because they are not requiring the ten Commandments 9including the Sabbath) to be kept, and in the Sabbath keeping Churches of God, because they will not talk about where their doctrines might contain errors.
In 1 Peter 3:15 we are told "... always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess."
It is my experience that most ministers and members that support one of the Churches of God - will not answer you if you want to talk about where the church's teaching might be inconsistent with the original Bible (the Bible without corruption). [Dec 2017: or inconsistent with the spoken words of God].
Sure, we should not be pushing our ideas and understanding onto those who have no interest, but surely something has gone wrong when people from the Churches of God will no longer discuss their beliefs with someone who is interested. If you can't stand up and try to defend what you believe, what use do you have to the organization? As Mat 5 and Luke 14 point out, once salt has lost its saltiness, it is good for nothing.
Certainly the New Testament church leaders and members were willing to at least stand up and have a go, as can be seen by Acts 9:29, Acts 15:2 and in Act 18:27-28 NET. "... When he [Apollos] arrived, he assisted greatly those who had believed by grace, (28) for he refuted the Jews vigorously in public debate, demonstrating from the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus."
If we define a "cult" as a group of people who follow a leader, or a group who are focused inward on a single cause, then the Churches of God are in real danger of becoming a cult. It is my experience that anyone inside their organizations who raises an objection is either silenced or put-out, and any one outside their organizations who tries to point out some errors, is ignored.
If there aren't some changes soon, the once good salt won't even help a manure heap. I feel that getting the salt back into God's people today is the real salt we should be concerned about.
Bob Orchard June 2009
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