Devotional- You Are The Salt of The Earth-(Matthew 5:13)- AJ Iovino

Posted: May 30, 2012 in Devotionals & Bible Studies
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 “YOU ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH”

MATTHEW 5:13

Anthony Iovino –June 18, 2006

 

Scripture References for further study:

 

Matthew 5:13
Job 6:6
Genesis 1:1
Genesis 19:26
Luke 17:32
2 Kings 2:19-22
Colossians 4:6

 

Our Lord Jesus makes the following statement while addressing the crowds during His beloved Sermon on the Mount:

“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 by men”.

(Matthew Chapter 5 verse 13).

 

I have read and studied “ The Sermon On The Mount” many times, and each time I  read it  the Lord gives me new insight and a greater understanding of just how powerful and convicting His words can be.  I was curious as to why Jesus referenced “salt” in His sermon, and what exactly was He trying to say to the people 2,000 years ago. I researched salt  and discovered many amazing facts. I also found several Bible passages referencing  to salt.  In doing so, I now understand why Jesus tells Believers, “They are the salt of the earth”.

Let us start with looking at several basic properties of salt:

v It is an essential element in the diet of not only humans but of animals, and even of many plants.

v It is one of the most effective, oldest and most widely used food preservatives. It was also used to preserve Egyptian mummies.

v In many cultures, salt has played a vital part in religious rituals symbolizing immutable, incorruptible purity.

v There are more than 30 references to salt in the Bible.

v Sodium chloride or common salt is the chemical compound NaCl, composed of the elements sodium and chloride.

v Sodium chloride crystals are cubic in form. Table salt consists of tiny cubes tightly bound together through ionic bonding of the sodium and chloride ions.

v It varies in color from colorless, when pure, to white, gray or brownish, typical of rock salt (halite).

v Salt is found deep within the earth. Great amounts stretch throughout Canada and the United States hundreds of feet below land. Louisiana has many great dome-shaped deposits, mined much as coal is mined.

v Salt is produced both here and in many other parts of the world by what is called the solar method.  Salt water is pumped into ponds.  The sun evaporates the water and leaves the salt behind to be harvested.

v The oceans of the world contain 50 million billion tons of salt.  Utah’s Great Salt Lake is a source of much salt.

v Forty million tons of salt are required each year to fill our needs.

v The possession and control of salt has often been an objective in war, and also the cause of war.  More wars have been fought over salt than over gold.

v Since earliest times salt has been associated with value and worthiness.

v Homer called salt “divine” and Plato termed it a “substance dear to the God’s.”  Shakespeare mentions salt 37 times in his plays.

v The Germans waged war for saline streams.

v Roman Soldiers who fought off marauders and hostile armies seeking salt constantly guarded the early salt road via Solaria from Rosettia to Rome.

Maybe this is what Leonardo da Vinci had in mind when he portrayed an overturned salt cellar before Judas in his famous painting “The Last Supper.”  Was he thinking of the covenant of love and friendship that Judas had broken?

In our own country, many of the Indian wars were fought over salt licks or salt springs; the Indians protected them at all costs.

During the Civil War, the Union campaign in Virginia was to capture a source of salt of the Confederacy at Saltville.  The Northern army’s objective in Louisiana was to cut off another major source of salt supply from deposits near New Orleans.  Salt in 1865 sold for up to a dollar a pound in the South.

The Bible says, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ Genesis 1:1.  In doing so He gave us a plentiful supply of salt.  We are just as dependent on salt as we are on air, earth, water and fire. Salt is essential to our bodies and without sufficient levels, we would die.

The Bible makes numerous references to salt.  Look at the book of Job.  In Job Chapter 6 verse 6, Job states:

“Is tasteless food eaten without salt?”

In this passage Job is saying he has the right to complain , since he has been wounded by God  and offered tasteless food (words) by his friends.

In Genesis Chapter 19 verse 26 it states:

“But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt”.

Lot’s wife was turned to a pillar of salt for not obeying the angels advice and looking back onto the city of Sodom as God was destroying it for it’s sinfulness.  To this day there are grotesque salt formations near the southern end of the Dead Sea to remind us of her folly.  In Luke 17:32, Jesus refers to the folly of Lot’s wife.

Whenever salt is mentioned in the Bible, it is very significant.  Look at 2 Kings Chapter 2 verses 19-22:

Healing of the Water

19 The men of the city said to Elisha, “Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.”

 20 “Bring me a new bowl,” he said, “and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him.

 21 Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the LORD says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’ ” 22 And the water has remained wholesome to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken.

Elisha used salt to symbolize the covenant faithfulness of the Lord.  The Lord Himself is the one that healed the water.  In the first act of his ministry, Elisha was able to proclaim to the people that in spite of their disobedience the Lord was merciful and was reaching out to them in his grace.

An interesting characteristic of salt is when it is used it loses itself.  You cannot see salt in your food because it makes a contribution and is gone.  When used in many chemical processes, salt also dissipates after fulfilling its purpose.

As Christians, if we are to be the salt of the earth, we are to lose ourselves and offer ourselves as Jesus commands us.  It is out of love that we do this and out of our gratefulness to our Lord, who gave Himself for us.  When you read the Gospels you will get a great understanding just how Jesus demonstrates for us to be salt.

Salt never loses its taste.  It will become rock hard, it will become damp so that it will not come out of the shaker unless you unscrew the top and pour it out.  Even so, it tastes the same.  It is still salt.

Let us look at some uses of salt in the days of Jesus Christ:

  1. The religious ritual demanded that all sacrifices be salted before they were offered to God.
  2. New born babies were rubbed with salt.
  3. A grain of salt placed in a tooth cavity was a remedy for a toothache.
  4. Salt was used extensively as a preservative for meat and fish.  As there was no refrigeration in those days, meat and fish were packed in salt to draw blood and moisture from them (even in this process salt performs its purpose and disappears).
  5. A primary source of salt was on the shore of the Dead Sea or the Salt Sea that is referred to many times in the Bible.  Nothing was known about refining salt in those days.  It was difficult to tell the difference between the salt and the sand on the shores of the sea, so this substance they called salt was really a mixture, sometimes more salt than sand.  When it was more sand than salt, it had “lost its saltiness” and therefore was good for nothing “except to be thrown out and trampled by men”.

Has sand crept in and diluted our sense of moral values today?  Has sand crept in and caused greed, selfishness and apathy to abound in us and through us?  As Christians we should look seriously  at what the Lord Jesus is saying to us about being salt.  The scripture does not say try to be salt…It says YOU ARE SALT!  By TRUSTING Jesus as our savior we become salt, not because of anything we did, but only on what The Holy Spirit does in us and through us. We can let sand creep in and  suppress The work of The Holy Spirit.

Supposedly our nation is a Christian nation.  Is much of it salt or sand?  We have many churches, in fact in many towns there are churches on just about every corner.  65% of our people belong to a church.  There is evidence of belief everywhere.  But is that belief seasoned with salt?  Colossians chapter 4 verse 6 says:

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Our conversations need to be tasty, like salt.  This means we are to be wholesome.  When we do this The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to answer anyone. Again, this is being able to yield ourselves to Christ and let His love, His mercy, His compassion and His grace work through us.  Let’s look at ourselves right now.  Are we seasoned with salt today?  Salt is Truth and Truth is God’s Word!  You and I can look like salt on the outside, but not be salt on the inside.  No matter how good we may appear, if we are not salt through and through our  Christian Life is only sand and we will be thrown out and trampled by men.  We can go to church every Sunday, we can talk the Christian talk, we may do all this and still be only sand.  Salt, like Christianity is no good unless it is used.  Christianity, like salt preserves what is good and prevents decay.  Would you consider using salt only on Sunday?  We are to be salt 7 days per week.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for making it clear to us that we are the salt of the earth because of what your Son Jesus Christ has done for us.  Thank you for His sacrifice on the cross; the sacrifice that makes it possible for all who would repent of their sins and trust your mighty Son as savior and Lord.  Then and only then, Father can we be made the salt of the earth.  I pray, Father that you strengthen us today as Christians and give us clear guidance and direction on how to stay committed to your word and to continually flavor an unflavorful world.  Father, I ask you also to draw others to your Son Jesus as they read this devotional today.  That they would understand that it takes losing oneself in order to gain Christ in their lives.  I pray for our country and for the world as we go about sharing the good news of the Gospel.  I pray all this in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Bibliography:

Salt and Christianity by H.R. Malott- Chief Representative of the Salt Institute circa 1970.

Salt Institute – http://www.saltinstitute.org

All Bible versus are taken from The New International Version (NIV)

You are the Salt of the Earth- Anthony Iovino- 6-18-06

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