Salt


Table_salt_with_salt_shaker_V1
I’m pretty sure I could spend all day, without success, trying to write an intriguing first line to make people want to read what I’ve written about salt. It’s just not a “sexy” topic.

But I came across something in Scripture that I think is cool, so bear with me.

In Exodus Moses has gone up the mountain to meet with God. There he receives the Ten Commandments but also instructions about the Tabernacle and all its furnishings, the priestly garments, and the process for consecrating Aaron and his sons before they begin their service.

Among all those instructions is a recipe for the incense that they were to burn before God–a recipe that was not to be used for any other purpose. Tucked between the list of ingredients and the warning not to use it like a common perfume was this:

With it you shall make incense, a perfume, the work of a perfumer, salted, pure, and holy. (Ex. 30:35 – emphasis mine)

Salted. And it’s not grouped with the ingredients but with the quality of the incense—the pure and holy mix that would be placed before God day in and day out.

I’m no chemist and have no idea what effect putting salt in with the other ingredients would cause. Would it act as a preservative? Would it enhance their natural aroma? Would it kill off bacteria?

In context, I lean toward the latter, but the fact is we don’t really know. Later, in Leviticus, we read that God commanded salt to be included with every grain offering, and there it is tied with the covenant of God (see Lev 2:13).

Which brings me to the take-away nugget from this verse in Exodus. Thousands of years after Moses met with God, Jesus calls us—His disciples—the salt of the earth. What did Jesus mean by this? He was speaking to a Jewish crowd who most likely knew about the place of salt in worship. According to Strong’s Lexicon salt as a symbol in an agreement was, and is still, common:

Salt is a symbol of lasting concord, because it protects food from putrefaction and preserves it unchanged. Accordingly, in the solemn ratification of compacts, the orientals were, and are to this day, accustomed to partake of salt together

Perhaps the best understanding, then, especially considering the context and what Jesus next said about us being light, is that, as salt, presented before God day after day, pure and holy, we are to stand as a witness to His faithfulness. We are the sign to the world that God has changed the course of things. Destined to face judgment, Man can now be reconciled with God, and we are the proof this is so.

Unless …

Salt loses its saltiness.

SaltInWaterSolutionLiquidReminding you again that I’m no chemist, I’ll suggest the one way I know that salt can become unsalty. It can be diluted, particularly with liquid. I suppose heat or cold might also break apart the basic elements and the salt would cease being salt, but I don’t know.

Anyway, that doesn’t seem to be what Jesus is saying. Apparently the salt He referred to was still salt, just not salty. Without the quality that characterizes it, salt is worthless, Jesus said (see Matt. 5:13). Salt that isn’t salty could no longer be detected by those looking for evidence of God’s faithfulness.

Some years ago, author and speaker Rebecca Manley Pippert wrote a book about lifestyle evangelism entitled Out of the Saltshaker & into the World (IVP). The premise is that Christians should “let our lives provide the witness to our faith.”

It’s a great concept . . . unless we’ve lost our saltiness.

This post originally appeared here in September 2012.

Published in: on July 8, 2016 at 6:06 pm  Comments (1)  
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When Christ Shall Come


sunburst-in-cloudy-sky-1395122-mI realized when I was writing posts about inclusivism some weeks ago that the position of the Christian today is not so different from that of the Old Testament saints. They waited for the coming of Messiah and we wait for the return of Messiah.

They had God’s promises, given to His prophets, assuring them that their Redeemer King and that their Suffering Servant would come. We have God’s sure written word telling us of the arrival of our Suffering Servant Savior and the promise of His return as King eternal.

So we wait today, much as Daniel and Micah and Joel did.

The cool thing is, as the people of Israel looked back to how God rescued them from Egypt, we now look back to how Christ rescued us from sin and death. They looked forward to Messiah coming to establish His kingdom, and we look forward to His coming again in power and glory to reign supreme.

One of the best loved hymns, certainly of the twentieth century, “How Great Thou Art,” captures the jubilation of Christ’s return in the fourth stanza.

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home—what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, my God, how great thou art!

I wonder if Christ’s return will be similar to the really big earthquakes which you hear at the same time you feel them. Maybe those shouts of acclimation will rend the heavens as we see Christ with His entourage of angels.

As an aside, this particular hymn, was written by Stuart K. Hine, an English missionary to Ukraine. From time to time something would occur which inspired him to write another stanza. Here’s the story behind the third stanza:

It was typical of the Hines to inquire as to the existence of any Christians in the villages they visited. In one case, they found out that the only Christians that their host knew about were a man named Dmitri and his wife Lyudmila. Dmitri’s wife knew how to read — evidently a fairly rare thing at that time and in that place. She taught herself how to read because a Russian soldier had left a Bible behind several years earlier, and she started slowly learning by reading that Bible. When the Hines arrived in the village and approached Dmitri’s house, they heard a strange and wonderful sound: Dmitri’s wife was reading from the gospel of John about the crucifixion of Christ to a houseful of guests, and those visitors were in the very act of repenting. In Ukraine (as I know first hand!), this act of repenting is done very much out loud. So the Hines heard people calling out to God, saying how unbelievable it was that Christ would die for their own sins, and praising Him for His love and mercy. They just couldn’t barge in and disrupt this obvious work of the Holy Spirit, so they stayed outside and listened. Stuart wrote down the phrases he heard the Repenters use, and (even though this was all in Russian), it became the third verse that we know today: “And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in.” (“How Great Thou Art”)

But back to Christ’s return, of course we don’t know the day or hour, but we do know a few things about it. For one, He’ll come to rule. That’s the great and ultimate fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and the New Testament promise.

But there’s more:

Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might,
With His arm ruling for Him.
Behold, His reward is with Him
And His recompense before Him. (Isaiah 40:10)

He’s coming to give His reward. Hard to imagine what that will be like. Jesus used the analogy of a banquet. David also talked about our Shepherd preparing a table for us. The idea here is lavish abundance, provision beyond our means. This is fare fit for the King of Kings, yet He seats us at His table.

Without a doubt, Christ’s return is going to be the pivotal moment in all of history. Again from Isaiah 40:

Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

The event will be worldwide, it will be dramatic, even cataclysmic, but mostly it will reveal God’s glory. This is the Shekinah glory which Moses experienced in a secondary way at the giving of the Ten Commandments and which the people of Israel experienced as a pillar of fire at night. This is the glory Paul likely saw and wrote of in 2 Corinthians that outshines what those in the Old Testament experienced:

But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory. (3:7-11, emphasis added)

OK, here’s the real shock, at least to me. I don’t know what this will look like:

When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Col. 3:4)

It just dawned on me that this may be why God wants to involve us in His work. I’ve wondered why He bothers giving us fallible, weak humans the important task of preaching His word and proclaiming His truth and even of loving our neighbor when obviously God could miraculously care for each one in a far better way than we can. But repeatedly He has given us work to do. Maybe that’s because, in His love for us, He wants to shower us in glory. What a concept! What a God!

Maranatha, Lord Jesus. Come quickly!

Salt


I’m pretty sure I could spend all day, without success, trying to write an intriguing first line to make people want to read what I’ve written about salt. It’s just not a “sexy” topic. But I came across something in Scripture that I think is cool, so bear with me.

I’m reading in Exodus. Moses has gone up the mountain to meet with God. There he receives the Ten Commandments but also instructions about the Tabernacle and all its furnishings, the priestly garments, and the process for consecrating Aaron and his sons before they begin their service.

Among all those instructions is a recipe for the incense that they were to burn before God–a recipe that was not to be used for any other purpose. Tucked between the list of ingredients and the warning not to use it like a common perfume was this:

With it you shall make incense, a perfume, the work of a perfumer, salted, pure, and holy. (Ex. 30:35 – emphasis mine)

Salted. And it’s not grouped with the ingredients but with the quality of the incense—the pure and holy mix that would be placed before God day in and day out.

I’m no chemist and have no idea what effect putting salt in with the other ingredients would cause. Would it act as a preservative? Would it enhance their natural aroma? Would it kill off bacteria?

In context, I lean toward the latter, but the fact is we don’t really know. Later, in Leviticus, we read that God commanded salt to be included with every grain offering, and there it is tied with the covenant of God (see Lev 2:13).

Which brings me to the take-away nugget from this verse in Exodus. Thousands of years after Moses met with God, Jesus calls us–His disciples–the salt of the earth. What did Jesus mean by this? He was speaking to a Jewish crowd who most likely knew about the place of salt in worship. According to Strong’s Lexicon salt as a symbol in an agreement was, and is still, common:

Salt is a symbol of lasting concord, because it protects food from putrefaction and preserves it unchanged. Accordingly, in the solemn ratification of compacts, the orientals were, and are to this day, accustomed to partake of salt together

Perhaps the best understanding, then, especially considering the context and what Jesus next said about us being light, is that, as salt, presented before God day after day, pure and holy, we are to stand as a witness to His faithfulness. We are the sign to the world that God has changed the course of things. Destined to face judgment, Man can now be reconciled with God, and we are the proof this is so.

Unless …

Salt loses its saltiness.

Reminding you again that I’m no chemist, I’ll suggest the one way I know that salt can become unsalty. It can be diluted, particularly with liquid. I suppose heat or cold might also break apart the basic elements and the salt would cease being salt.

That doesn’t seem to be what Jesus is saying. Apparently the salt was still salt, just not salty. Without the quality that characterizes it, salt is worthless, Jesus said (see Matt. 5:13). Salt that isn’t salty could no longer be detected by those looking for evidence of God’s faithfulness.

Some years ago, author and speaker Rebecca Manley Pippert wrote a book about lifestyle evangelism entitled Out of the Saltshaker & into the World (IVP). The premise is that Christians should “let our lives provide the witness to our faith.”

It’s a great concept . . . unless we’ve lost our saltiness.

Published in: on September 12, 2012 at 6:22 pm  Comments (1)  
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