The Covenant of Salt
Rev. Lily Lim | On 10, Apr 2018
2 Chronicles 13:5 (RSV)- Ought you not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel for ever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?
Numbers 18:19 (RSV)- All the holy offerings which the people of Israel present to the LORD I give to you, and to your sons and daughters with you, as a perpetual due; it is a covenant of salt.
Leviticus 2:13 (RSV)- You shall season all your cereal offerings with salt, you shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be lacking from your cereal offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.
God loves to make covenants with people.
What is a covenant?
It is a mutual consent or agreement of two or more persons, to do or to forbear some act or things; a contract; a stipulation.
In the Old Testament, God made covenants with people using unusual objects:
• With Noah He used a RAINBOW (Genesis 9:15-17).
• With Abraham, He used the STARS (Genesis 15:5, 18)
• With Moses, He used TABLETS OF STONES (Exodus 34:28)
• With David, He used SALT.
This morning, I would like to share a message called “THE COVENANT OF SALT” and this is in conjunction with the launch of Essential Community for the second quarter of 2018.
The outline of my message will be:
• What is the Covenant of Salt?
• What are the spiritual metaphors of salt?
• What is the Covenant of Salt in the New Testament?
(I) WHAT IS THE COVENANT OF SALT?
The Covenant of Salt is the most extraordinary of all His Covenants.
The phrase “Covenant of Salt” is mentioned three times in the Scripture.
It is symbolic of endurance, preservation and freedom from corruption.
It is a perfect picture of our CREATOR and it is sprinkled liberally on His Ancient Paths to preserve it and to keep it pure.
The Covenant of Salt is so important that it is visually demonstrated by the SALTING of the Temple Sacrifices, which was to perpetually remind the faithful of their solemn covenant repeatedly to Yahweh.
Numbers 18:19 (RSV)- All the holy offerings which the people of Israel present to the LORD I give to you, and to your sons and daughters with you, as a perpetual due; it is a covenant of salt.
Yahweh instructed the Israelites that every sacrifice including the grain offerings, was to be seasoned with SALT as a sign of their covenant with Him.
Even the holy Ingredients used for the incense offering were to have SALT added: “You shall make of thee an incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, SALTED, pure and holy” (Exodus 30:34-35).
Salt, like the rainbow is a sign of our CREATOR.
TRADITIONALLY, SALT WAS SHARED TO SEAL a truce between former enemies or as a symbol of ALLIANCE between close friends. Treaties or friendships were often formalized by the partaking of a lick of salt to seal the deal or heal the difference between them.
ENTERING INTO A COVENANT OF SALT means binding oneself to another in utmost loyalty and truthfulness, even suffering death, rather than breaking the covenant.
For this reason, a Covenant of Salt was never done lightly or haphazardly – it deserves serious respect. To the ancient Jews, salt represented purification, and was also symbolic of enduring friendship, honesty and loyalty (2 Kings 2:19-21; 2 Chronicles 13:5). Today, some Eastern people still use the phrase, “There is salt between us.” Having no salt, meant disloyalty and barrenness.
SALT IS RICH IN SPIRITUAL METAPHORS.
Salt is a vital part of Yahweh’s Covenant Rite before Moses (2 Chronicles 13:5) and its symbolism teaches many important spiritual lessons.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:13- Ye are the salt of the earth.” What did He mean?
(II) WHAT ARE THE SPIRITUAL METAPHORS OF SALT?
• SALT PRESERVES
To save from decay, salt was used to preserve meat in the olden days when there was no refrigeration.
There is decay all around us. Daniel, in His great vision, saw the meaning of the image. It was revealed to him the fact that political powers would decay, they would go from gold to silver to brass and then to iron and then to clay. What he was seeing was this: History started with clay in Adam- made from the clay of the ground – but history will end with clay and all the great battlements, all the great empires and status symbols of men, will one day turn to dust again in the face of a holy and a wrathful God.
We see that in our midst. We see the religious world decaying for Paul says that “men have a form of godliness but they deny the power thereof.”
We are really living in the end times and in a perilous time. Decay seems to be the norm in our days. Today we are seeing our society falling apart. Marriages are falling apart. Families are being broken up and scattered. Laws and orders are laughed at. The basic institutions of our society are threatened near to extinction and many of the structures that we see in our society, that look healthy from the outside are rotting in the inside – and it is only a matter of time before they collapse. As one writer said, “The corpse is rotting away, and the eagles are gathering together.”
Questions: Aren’t you sad and angry that the bill for the same sex marriage in the Philippines is passed? Aren’t you sad and angry to see the Hyper grace doctrines infiltrating many churches in the world, teaching people not to suffer any more for Christ or to fight in the battle for Christ but to hang their armaments and just enjoy the grace of God? Aren’t you sad and angry to see that the divorce rate in the church is the same as that of the world? Aren’t you sad and angry to see the Y generation becoming so selfish, argumentative, inward looking, having no qualms about the kingdom purpose of God? Aren’t you sad and angry that 4 out of 5 young people in this church come from broken families? Aren’t you sad and angry to see churches being silent on teachings about the ancient landmarks of God and now are open to drinking, gambling, sexual immorality, LGBT, unmarried young couples taking a trip abroad without any chaperone?
Now, in that backdrop, can you see the need for salt? Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth. He is implying that it is criminal for a Christian to isolate or insulate himself and stand at the sidelines and wait for the great collapse of society.
Humanity does not and cannot change and what the Lord Jesus was saying when he declares that we are the salt of the earth, is this: “Humanity without Me is a dead body, rotting and falling apart. You, My followers are the salt of the earth that must be rubbed into the flesh to halt that DECOMPOSITION. He is saying that the Christian must be rubbed into the world. Jesus never said that we are the sugar of the earth – meaning gentleness and winsomeness without truth. If we are the salt of the earth, we will be disadvantaged to be salt. It will not be nice to be salt because as we are rubbed into the world that salt will hurt the world. When God’s people are amongst those who are raw towards God, their presence will hurt! A man who is without God and is wrong before God is like an OPEN WOUND – and when we come in and if we come in, with a holy and righteous life, it will aggravate it, it will irritate him – the annoyance and distress he will feel. Thus, the spite, hate and persecution toward you.
Application: Are we being rubbed into the world? Are we? As Christians, have we saturated the world system, infiltrated it, in order to turn people away from the darkness of Satan unto the kingdom of God’s glorious light? Do we work like a preservative, like an antiseptic on the effect of decomposing life? Do we rub life into people around us, into the society that we live in, into the work place that God has placed us in, in the family that we have jurisdiction over, are we salt within it?
• SALT SAVOURS (SEASONS/FLAVORS)
Salt flavors things and certain foods without salt are insipid, maybe even sickening. What the Lord Jesus is saying is: “Christianity is to life what salt is to food.”
Oliver Wendel-Holmes once said this, “I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers!”
Robert Louis Stevenson said once, in his dairy after going to church and it seemed to be an extraordinary phenomenon – he wrote, “I have been to church today and I am not depressed.”
The perception of the world is that we are the opposite of salt upon life, isn’t it? That we are not the savor and the flavor of life but we are that insipid tastelessness and unsavoriness of life. We seem to hinder everything that is PLEASURE but all the Lord is saying to us is, “Ye are the salt of the earth” and we must discover once more that lost radiant flavor of the Christian faith. Christ is saying, “In a worried world, the Christian should be the only one who remains peaceful. In a depressed world the Christian should be the only man or woman who remains full of joy!”
Questions: Do we have a savoring influence on those around you? Do we have a positive influence? Do we exude aura that life without Christ is insipid and is dull?
That is not what our culture teaches us, our culture attempts to numb itself with pleasure and with drugs and with a pleasure–mania – and people are literally dying of boredom around us. The entertainment industry thrives on making life look better, on making it more fun and luxurious – and good within it is often portrayed as evil and evil as good. But that is a lie.
Holiness is more exciting than sin. Can you think of the influence that we would have on society if we were more courteous, if we worked harder, if we produced the best musicians and artists and craftsmen and students?
• SALT PURIFIES
2 Kings 2:19-22- Now the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful. He said, “Bring me a new bowl and put salt in it.” So, they brought it to him. Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it, and said, “Thus says the LORD, I have made this water wholesome; henceforth neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.” So, the water has been wholesome to this day, according to the word which Elisha spoke.”
Elisha used salt to purify the contaminated water that caused death and miscarriage.
Application: Christians as salt, purify the world by not accepting false philosophies, dishonest ways of doing business, selfish desires.
• SALT IS PURE
Germs cannot live in it. By analogy, believers are to be pure and have salt in us. At birth, salt was rubbed in a new born baby’s skin to purify it (Ezekiel 16:4)
• SALT – JUST A DASH
Just a dash of salt adds to the taste and pleasure of a meal. Too little and it has no effect; too much and it spoils the taste. It must be used carefully and in moderation.
Colossians 4:6- Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
Too much exposure to salt will raise a person’s blood pressure. When Christians are too “salty”, it makes the lost world mad. They can’t handle the things of God. Street preaching, bumper stickers and handing out tracts drive them crazy. They go nuts when confronted with such salt. They get angry. It makes their “blood boil”.
Application: The believers should add- just a dash – of spiritual interest, hope and excitement to other people’s lives. Too salty ruins the taste of the meal and the spiritual message.
E.g. Joy and Ben were attending this church in Singapore whose SP was like a Bible Concordance. He would punctuate every sentence of his sermon with a Bible quotation. In one sermon, he would use about 150 bible quotations – that is too much salt. Joy and Ben couldn’t stomach this excessive “salt” and they hadn’t been growing spiritually through the pulpit ministry of this church for the last 4 years and so last year, they moved to another church. In this new Church, the SP was very deft in his use of Bible knowledge as he was trained with Hebrew language and Ben enjoyed his message so much and today both of them are growing and are even joining a cell group there.
• SALT PRODUCES THIRST
Jesus made people thirsty for God. Jesus attracted people to God. He repelled the Pharisees and the legalists, but the ordinary sinners and the ordinary people were attracted to the Lord Jesus. Now, do we make people thirsty for Christ?
Application: You know from taking one slurp of your soup, or one bite of your dinner, whether it has been salted or not. The question is: when people take one bite of us, do they taste Christ? There is a thirst that salt causes.
• NO SALT IN THE DIET LEADS YOU INTO AN ENERGY GRAVEYARD
If there is totally no salt in your diet at all, you will die a slow agonizing death within a month. Sodium in the salt regulates the passage of nutrients into the cells. Without it, nutrients cannot enter your cells and you will have malnutrition and exhaustion no matter how good your diet is.
E.g. Salt famine during Europe’s Dark Ages
During Europe’s Dark Ages, due to glacial melting, the ocean levels rose, flooding all the salt flats of Europe causing a salt famine. The daily average ration fell to less than two grams per person and caused many to die from dehydration and madness. To get salt, some who were stronger would assault the weak, cut their jugular vein and drink the victim’s salty blood, giving birth to the myth of vampire.
Even during the Roman Empire, salt was of great value. The Roman Soldiers had salt rations and they would revolt if the rations were changed in any way. The English word that we have ‘salary” literally means ‘salt money.’ You have heard the saying that a man “is not worth his salt” or that a man “is worth his salt’ – and really what you are saying is exactly what the ancient world said about salt – IT IS VALUABLE and we can measure a man’s work by it.
Application: Without our Creator, we would be spiritually starved and morally exhausted.
• SALT CRYSTAL IS AN ENDURING MINERAL
Large salt mine deposits, surviving thousands of years, and under great pressure, still hold their flavor and taste.
Salt can also be subject to extreme heat and it still retains its particular chemical composition.
Application: Christians though under great pressure and great fiery trial, can still hold the flavor of Christ and our Christian faith. Your Christian influence and legacy survives the passage of time as well as the fiery trials.
• SALT MELTS THE ICE
In the snowy countries, they get ice there. Salt is used to melt the snow and ice so it is easier for people to get around. It works in temperature well below freezing.
Application: The word of God can melt the icy cold hearts of its hearer like nothing else can.
Psalms 147:16-18- He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes. He casts forth his ice like morsels; who can stand before his cold? He sends forth his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.
If you have to deal with grumpy people, mean people, hard people, people who put up walls as a defense, the best thing you can do is to melt their ice with the word of God.
• SALT CAN BE RUINED IF IT REACTS CHEMICALLY WITH SOME OTHER SUBSTANCE
If you take soil and mix it with salt, it will lose its purpose. Or if you keep diluting the salt with water, it will lose its taste.
Application: This means Christians should not be influenced by the deceitful riches and the material cares of this world. Christians are not allowed to intermingle or intermarry the values of Christ with the world. No “halo halo” for Christians.
E.g. Just recently God gave me a warning on 28 March 2018 during my devo, to pass to Jan who is now in a dating relationship with a “Christian” guy. “But if you turn away from him and cling to the customs of the survivors of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry with them, then know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive them out of your land. Instead, they will be a snare and a trap to you, a whip for your backs and thorny brambles in your eyes, and you will vanish from this good land the Lord your God has given you.” (Joshua 23:12-13)
Like salt that cannot be mixed with other chemicals, we as the salt Christians cannot mix our Christian principles and values with the customs and values of the fallen world and to intermarry with them (to be unequally yoked with those who are not born again). If we mix wrongly, there will be adverse reactions such as:
1. No more spiritual victory and conquest in our lives – “KNOW FOR CERTAIN [know assuredly -RSV] the Lord your God will no longer drive them out no your land” Verse 13)
2. Your unsaved mate will be a SNARE AND A TRAP (verse 13) to you.
3. Your unsaved mate will be a WHIP FOR YOUR BACKS (verse 13) like Pharaoh’s taskmasters whipping the children of Israel in Egypt. Your marriage will be ENSLAVING.
4. Your unsaved mate will be THORNY BRAMBLES IN YOUR EYES (verse 13). Many things that your unsaved mate will do, will cause pain to your sight. It will be UNBEARABLE FOR YOU TO SEE the mismatch and he/she will be a constant PAIN AND IRRITANT TO YOUR EYES.
5. Your unsaved mate will cause you to lose your DESTINY IN GOD WHICH IS YOUR GOODLY AND GODLY HERITAGE IN CHRIST – “You will vanish from this good land the Lord your God has given you” (verse 13).
(III) WHAT IS THE COVENANT OF SALT IN THE NT?
Let’s go back to our Key Text: “Ought you not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel for ever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt? (2 Chronicles 13:5)
In the NT, it means when we accept Christ as our Savior we make a covenant with Him. We become salt for Him – “You are the salt of the earth but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men” (Matthew 5:13).
Salt could be diluted or it could be adulterated by mixing some sand or soil or dirt with it. Either one of those two things would do one thing: it would make the salt lose its preserving influence.
Someone has said: “If we are not affecting the world, the world is affecting us.” Are we exporting or are we importing? Are there greater influences coming into the church than going out of the church?
E.g. God revealed to me during my devo on 18 March 2018 about churches that have prospered. “They offered sacrifices to demons, which are not God, to gods they had not known before, TO NEW GODS ONLY RECENTLY ARRIVED, to gods their ancestors had never feared” (Deuteronomy 32:17).
Deuteronomy 32:15 talks about how God’s blessing had made Israel (Jeshuran) waxed fat. Once they waxed fat, they kicked, grew thick and became sleek and then they forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation. Then in verse 17, God listed down the “gods” that fat Jeshuran turned to:
1) They offered sacrifices to demons
2) They bowed to gods they had not known before
3) They worshipped NEW GODS ONLY RECENTLY ARRIVED
4) They worshipped gods their forefathers had never feared.
The rhema that caught my attention was the phrase- “new gods only recently arrived.” This is a warning to many churches who have grown fat and prospered by the blessing of God and they will embrace these “new gods that only recently arrived.” What are they?
1) Prosperity gospel
2) Hyper- grace gospel
4) Worldly trends like tattoos, men wearing ear-rings, drinking, smoking and gambling, I-phone, FB, computer games
5) Worldly songs and pyrotechnics during worship service – crossover project to the entertainment world by the church
6) LGBT – same sex marriage in the church
7) Fashion and make- up being a must in order to attend the church
8) Casualness with the things of God like our dress code on the pulpit and even the lyrics we use to write songs about God and the way we address God as “Daddy God”.
9) Ministers owning private jets and planes – isn’t this Jeshuran waxing fat and kicking (being unruly in their audacity to enjoy opulent lifestyle and indulging in sleek living?)
10) Travelling abroad alone as unmarried couple and cohabitation – the fat and prosperous churches “stir God to jealousy and anger with strange gods and with abominable practices” (verse 16).
If we are not salting the world, do you know what it means? The world is rotting us. Matthew Henry said: “Salt is remedy for unsavory meat but there is no remedy for unsavory salt.” Now please don’t dilute the words of the Lord Jesus Christ because He says: ‘If the salt”, and the salt is the believer, “if the salt has lost its taste, there’s nothing can be done!’ It has to be thrown out and trodden under foot of mean! Why does He say that? Because if the salt is adulterated or diluted – the purpose of the salt to fight deterioration, it has been deteriorated itself, and that purpose is lost! Do you know what He’s speaking of? USELESSNESS – and he says that uselessness invites disaster.
There are some substances and when they become useless for one thing, they can useful for another. Like grapes, if they are not sweet enough for fresh fruits, you can plunge them and make them into wine or vinegar or even fertilizer. There are many uses for many things that become useless. But there is NO USE FOR SALT THAT BECOMES TASTELESS. For it is cast out and trodden under foot of men in the streets. The street was the rubbish dump of Palestine. Do you know what the Lord is saying today – You can become a rubbish Christian if you do not live up to your purpose as the salt.
E.g. Churches that lost its salt and are thrown out
The nation of Israel. The Churches in Asia Minor. Go to the Asia Minor (Turkey) now and you will not find any of the 7 churches there. Why? Because they lost their salt and they were thrown out and trodden under foot of men.
Application: If the Christian loses his zeal for the things of God, becomes backslidden and is full of sin, then he is not useful to God or the cause of Christ. He cannot reach the lost because he has lost his salt. A ruined testimony is only good for one thing- to be trodden under the foot of lost men. And a lost man will take advantage of it.
You are the salt of the earth. You are the preserving influence. You are the savoring factor to society. You are the one that will rub life into this world. We need to find our saltiness again. That will only happen when we live a holy life and that holy life is brought into contact with a dying, decaying, depraved world.
E.g. What good am I if I have lost my flavor as the salt of the earth?
“You and I, as Christians, are called the salt of the earth because our lives enhance and give meaning to this existence we call life. Before salvation, we were like grains of sand, too numerous to count. But, after receiving Christ, we were transformed – no longer like minuscule debris of rock having little or no difference from another piece of sand, to something distinctive in TASTE, TEXTURE AND AROMA.
It may be an odd analogy, but Jesus compared believers to salt for a reason. Salt is a dietary mineral, used for flavoring and preservation – needed by all known living creatures. If abused, it can be harmful. However, it is also detrimental to have no salt intake because it regulates the water content in our bodies. Jesus used salt to describe how Christians are needed to bring balance and hope to an otherwise dying world.
The question He asked however is, “What good is salt if it has lost its flavor?” In other words, if a Christian has lost his or her gusto and fervor, then what’s the difference between the old grain of sand they once were and the so-called salt they are now? The answer is: VERY LITTLE.
Trials can cause us to become weary if we are not careful. And just like salt can become diluted in water, Christians can become diluted or altered by their experiences.
For example, what we believe before a traumatic event is sometimes not the same as afterwards. Why is that? There could be many reasons, but the most common is depression, fatigue, self-doubt and ultimately reservations about what we believed in to begin with. And we have to clearly understand there is an enemy at work in these cases. If we are the salt of the earth and it is possible to lose our flavoring, then it is no secret the Devil will do his best to make sure our effectiveness (our flavoring) isn’t what it used to be. And if he had his way in every case, we’d have no flavoring left at all – returning to transparent grains of sand with no threat to him or his kingdom.
Jesus said, “Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”
Consider this: the sea is full of salt but it is only extracted through the process of boiling (removing the water to retain the salt). I don’t like the idea of going through fiery trials, but if that is what it takes to recapture the “salt” in my life, then maybe I’m okay with that. What I’ve learned is that God is not the destroyer in this life. He said the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. God is not the thief. God is the “Restorer” of broken lives and broken hearts.
The boiling process will either prove or disprove the amount of salt contained in a substance. In the same way, the trials of life will either prove our lives are flavored by God or they will reveal how much we truly lack. Either way, if handled correctly, the end result can be beneficial. For the one, their revelation of Jesus Christ and His grace and faithfulness will increase; for the other, a realization of their small faith can push them to a deeper relationship with God because despite their lack, He remains faithful. The only problem is: God has left the “salt containers” (you and I) to decide.
How much salt is too much salt?
I have learned I can’t always control the trials I face but I am the keeper of my salt. Will I be bitter or better? Less seasoned or more flavorful? Will I disappear into the background or stand out as an overcomer? Because in the end, what good am I if I have lost my flavoring?
Have you lost your flavor as the salt of the earth?
Its availability to us is unlimited.
Ezra 6:9- And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them DAY BY DAY WITHOUT FAIL.
Ezra 7:22- Unto a hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.”
Application: We must put before the lost world the things of God and give them the gospel every day without fail. We are to give them as much as they need in order for them to get saved and get right with God before it is too late.
God has made a covenant of Salt with us. ENTERING INTO A COVENANT OF SALT means binding oneself to another in utmost loyalty and truthfulness, even suffering death, rather than breaking the covenant.
Jesus Christ has bound himself to us in utmost loyalty and truthfulness, even suffering death so that He can pass on His salt-quality legacy of preservation, purity and divine influence to us.
When we accept Christ as our Savior we make a covenant with Him. It is a Covenant of Salt -we become salt for Him – “You are the salt of the earth but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men” (Matthew 5:13).
Jesus was and is a salt to us:
• He preserves us from decay and decomposition
• He flavors our lives with His goodness, grace and mercy
• He purifies our lives because He is pure
• He causes us to thirst for Him
• He is an enduring God – nothing can change his love for us
• He melts our icy hearts
• He is holy – never mixing with sin or values of this world.
Today, Jesus declares that all of us here is SALT. Just as he is a salt to us and the world, He wants us to carry His salt in us and be salt to the world. We have to go out and scatter the salt of the gospel to the people around us. Jesus is the salt. We are the salt. The word and the gospel are the salt. Don’t clump together as believers always in this church. We will become too salty if we always gather together as believers. This quarter – go and scatter ourselves and give salt in dashes to the rotting communities around us. Stop the decomposition of this city. We are the salt. Don’t lose our flavor. Don’t lose our fervor. If not, we’ll become useless to God and uselessness invites disaster.
Fulfill this covenant of salt that Christ has made with us.