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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Seventy-Seventh (Salt)

One more interesting week on the global scale. If there's anything the past two years should have taught you, it's to take everything you see an hear out there with a huge grain of salt. I've said previously that it's important to keep tabs on what happens in the world, so we can see where we are on the scriptural timeline. We just need to make sure we're not being deceived by any media, or political, hype about worldly events that are meant to cause fear. There is an abundance of that on both sides of the political aisle, and we should not be influenced by it.

Have you ever been asked what you think about what's going on in some country or some other political situation? The conversation can quickly become divisive with certain personalities. In fact, in general if you get too involved in what's being shoved in your face out there, it's easy to start to worry about if some country is going to invade or attack us or if you'll be able to afford buying necessities in the near future. We should be focused instead on the blessed hope of the return of Jesus (Titus 2:13).

Taking politics and media with a grain of salt is important, but have you taken a look at salt in scripture? The word is used 41 times in 35 verses of the KJV. The compound is so ubiquitous, you can find it as an ingredient in nearly any recipe. It flavors food, it preserves food, tenderizes meat, help dough rise, and controls fermentation during pickling and making cheese, among other things.

In the old testament, salt was required to be used to season meat offerings (Leviticus 2:13, Ezekiel 43:24). In fact, Yehovah specified that the salt shall not be lacking on the offerings. It's also used to describe a covenant that lasts forever (Numbers 18:19, 2 Chronicles 13:5). On the opposite end of the spectrum, it makes a land barren (Deuteronomy 29:23, Judges 9:45).

The first reference of salt in the New Testament is from Jesus. He tells us we are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). Interestingly, the gospel of Matthew is the only gospel that says this, even though Mark and Luke both record the second half of what Jesus said at this time (Mark 9:50, Luke 14:34). In the second half, Jesus talks about salt losing its flavor and how it's useless once that happens. It then gets thrown out to be walked on.

How would salt lose its flavor? Have you ever tasted salt that had lost its flavor? I haven't. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but I do know that salt is a compound made up of sodium and chloride. I also know that you can dissolve salt, which means the sodium and chloride ions are separated and attach to the water molecules. But salt, by itself as sodium chloride, does not lose its flavor because its molecular makeup is what gives it its flavor.

So, if salt, just sitting in your cupboard or on your table, can't lose its flavor by itself, what is Jesus talking about here? To figure that out, we need to know what kind of salt Jesus was talking about. Being near the Dead Sea, its likely much, if not all, of the salt used by Jerusalem and the areas surrounding came from there. Why does that matter? Well, the salt from the Dead Sea isn't just your normal sodium chloride salt. It contains many other components whereas table salt is simply sodium chloride. In fact, it's only about 30% sodium chloride by weight.

Knowing this, we can see that it's entirely possible that with other ions being present in Dead Sea salt, the chemical reaction among them as a result of the environment the salt is stored could cause the sodium chloride to break down. This would cause the sodium and chloride ions to interact with the others to form new compounds and reduce the percentage of the salty sodium chloride, reducing the Dead Sea salt's saltiness.

So we now know how salt can lose its flavor, but what does that have to do with us? To find out, let's take a look at another "salty" verse. In fact, it's a verse recording another statement by Jesus in this same train of thought. He tells us everyone will be "salted" with fire (Mark 9:49). As a side note, He continues by saying every sacrifice shall be salted by salt, and similar to last week's verse, many translations leave this part out...

Remember, we've talked about fire being representative of trial a couple times. In this case, Jesus is using this representation to say that we will be given "flavor" through trials. In 1 Peter, we see that these fires purify our faith in Yehovah (1 Peter 1:7). So, our flavor, or saltiness, is our faith. When we combine this with our Dead Sea salt knowledge, we can make the analogy that the trials, or fires, we are put through burn away the other ions of our Dead Sea salt, so the salty sodium chloride becomes a larger percentage by weight. This gives us a more salty flavor. More faith.

But, this is not always the case during trials, and we can't forget that being in this world gives the opportunity for us to have extra ions added to our Dead Sea salt. Sometimes during trials we don't look to Yehovah for strength, help and direction. Sometimes we forget about Him because of our focus on what's happening, and as a result our faith, or saltiness, does not get stronger. Sometimes the things of this world take our focus even without times of trials, and we add impurities to our lives that reduce our faith, or saltiness.

Make sure you keep growing your saltiness by keeping yourself untainted by the world (James 1:27) and focusing on Jesus during trials (1 Peter 5:10). Oh, and one more thing about salt. We're also told to make sure our speech has grace, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6). So make sure you've got salty speech, too!

Shabbat Shalom and God bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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