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THE SALT AND ITS SAVOUR

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” - Matt. 5:18

In the East salt was the universal remedy for decay, rot, and corruption. Salt was the life of life as it must be in everything to keep the food of man and beast from rapid decay and corruption. In the East salt became the very word for uncorruptness, sincerity, and loyalty. Salt was used in food for man as well as for beast. (Job 6:6 & Isa. 30:24) Salt makes food good and pleasant to the taste. Salt was of great importance in all Hebrew worship. Washing new born infants in salt water was considered by the Israelites as a Must. (See Ezek. 16:4) The Israelites used salt to preserve; as a medicine; in moral and religious functions; in fact: salt was an emblem of partnership, friendship, and fellowship. Salt is a symbol of that which is necessary for the salvation of man: the unrevokable covenant of God to save His people eternally. The salt of God’s Covenant shall never lose its savour.

“And every oblation, of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine off erings thou shalt offer salt.” (Lev. 2:13) The salt of the covenant of thy God was and is a pact that cannot be made void. every good work must be inwrought by the Spirit of God which was symbolized by oil: in other words, the good works of the faithful are those works which the Holy Spirit inspires, energizes, and matures. Oil was used to symbolize this. Frankincense was used to symbolize that the graces and gifts of the Spirit are graciously received by the recipient and borne heavenward in prayer. Salt is the symbol of the incorruptible, perpetually abiding signs and fruits of God’s covenant of grace.

A Covenant of Salt was considered as the most solemn and binding bond that could be entered into ‘by the covenantor and the covenantee. The Lord performs perfectly and thoroughly every particle of His covenant. All His purposes in creation, providence, and glory shall be’ perfected in due time. The eternal happiness of the whole family of God’s elect shall be the climax which will prove the perfect work of God. He foreknew his own. He predestinated them to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is the essence of His will that each and every one of these shall be called, justified, and glorified. Jesus verifies this statement in saying. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” It behooved Jesus to perform the elect’s part in this covenant because God’s people failed to keep the law and greatly sinned. The counsel of His will demanded that the law be kept and violators punished. No sin could be tolerated. God is merciful and forbearing. He gave the law to the first Adam. He broke it. He gave it to the second adam which was Jesus Christ. He kept it. God wrote the law two times on tables of stone. The ten commandments were twice written by the finger of the Lord Himself. These were written upon enduring tables of stone. This shows how deeply and permanently they were to be engraved upon the heart of His people. Once it was written upon a tablet that was broken. Again He wrote these commandments upon an unbroken tablet. This symbolically sets forth the truth that they are written first as the whole duty of man in nature which he brakes willfully; secondly, they are written in regenerated man which he prays to be enabled to keep first, as a duty: secondly, as a desired privilege. When given to man they were broken, not kept. The second writing of the commandments were by special command deposited for safe keeping in the Ark of the Covenant, the most inviolably sacred place outside the courts of Heaven. Thus it was salted, or preserved. Natural man hates these laws. The regenerated man loves them.

The One who knows the universe because He made it, and all eternity because He inhabits it, has condescended to tell us in these laws things that are good, true, pure, and right. When the Holy Spirit gives us the inner meanings of these laws we constantly pray that our hearts be trained, our minds disciplined, and our very beings sanctified, to obey these laws in noble Christ-like behaviour.

The salt of the covenant is that the second writing of these laws by the finger of God’s love should be preserved in the Ark of the Covenant. “At that time the Lord said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me in the mount, and make thee an ark of wood. And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark.” (Deut. 10:1-2) Read the 5th verse of Deut. 10, and you can with your mind’s eye see Moses pointing at the ark and saying, “There they be”. The Ark and the Mercy Seat tabernacle. These with the two cherubim at each end, formed originally the whole were placed in the most holy place in the furniture of the tabernacle. All other furniture placed later were subordinate to them. Only high priests could commune with God in this place only once each year. These two things were hidden by a veil from the people. These two tables of the testimony were placed in the ark, not as an object of worship but as a basis of all moral dealings between God and man. These symbolized the Divine Law of Holiness, covered by the Mercy seat, the type of reconciliation. The law remains even now as good and right. It is now just as when in the Ark. The law’s thunders were hushed by Jesus Christ. Its lightnings were laid. It remains in all its perfections now as then, yet through Christ it ceases to be our enemy and condemnation. It is with Christ in us as the basis for righteous living. There is no condemnation from the Law to them that are in Christ Jesus; for what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God hath done by sending Jesus in the likeness of sinful flesh, to be the propituary or the mercy seat for us. Jesus is at once high priest and victim. He is at once mercy seat and victim. In His offering made once for all we are complete. The Throne of Judgment becomes a Throne of Grace in Him. Jesus is the SALT of the Covenant to every heaven-born child of God who earnestly desires to do the will of God which is to keep His laws. The salt of the covenant is God’s innumerable mercies which makes even His chastisement sweet to us.

While upon the subject of salt we wish to do what Jesus said: “Remember Lot’s wife”. (Luke 17:32) Many centuries after this fact of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt Jesus directed that it should be kept in memory. These dark monuments have obtained a place in the word that liveth and abideth forever, that their warnings may be available in all times to all nations. We read in Gen. 19:26: “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” What is the significance of this? Let us first consider how that Abraham cautiously and persistently prayed for Sodom. We find in the last ten verses of Genesis 18th chapter that Abraham repeats his intercession for Sodom on the plea of justice for the righteous. Six times he intercedes with such earnestness and heart-felt yearning, that in his great anguish and desire he trembles as he plants each footstep in advance. He fears to offend Cod, yet because of being love-impelled ― Abraham ventures further. Humility is the keynote to this prayer. Persistence is the Salt of the prayer. His continued praying shows his unshakable confidence in a wisdom, a holiness, a purity, a love and power, whose ways were different, but yet infinitely higher and better than the ways and thoughts of man!!! Abraham persisted and God continued to grant that He would not destroy Sodom for the sake of five righteous. When he got down to five, Abraham did not have the heart to ask more. Sodom was destroyed, yet there were four who were delivered from its destruction. You may conclude there were just three because Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt when she looked back. ‘Let us list some of the mercies of God toward Lot’s wife: 1. She was numbered with the righteous. 2. She left Sodom. 3. She followed the leader. 4. She was more favored than her neighbors. 5. She was a monument of distinguishing mercy in her deliverance. 6. She was not destroyed by fire and brimstone. We are not so much amazed that the men of Sodom refused to listen because it harmonized with their unbelief. We are not so amazed by the fact that Lot’s son-in-law refused to listen because they were confirmed infidels. It is strange and sad, as well as amazing, that Lot’s wife-warned, and believed the warning, alarmed, moved to escape, yea brought by the hand of God Himself to the very verge of safety ― should linger, disobey, look back, and become a pillar of salt. She certainly became inactive. She was no more useful other than a monument of dis-obedience. When we remember Lot’s wife we must realize that disobedience to God’s laws make us unfit for active participation in the Kingdom in this world to say the least of it. The smiles of God’s kind providence is experienced by those of His people who are obedient to His commands. Disobedient children of God know from experience the terrible pangs of a condemned conscience. Elder Gilbert Beebe says in referring to: “If any man defile (or destroy as in the margin) the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of Cod is holy, which temple ye are.” (See 1 Cor. 3:17 & page 69 of March 69 SIGNS) ― “The destruction of which the apostle warns us to beware is not the interminable perdition of the ungodly, but that destruction which is parabolically compared to salt that has lost its savor, and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under the foot of men. Paul says, ‘I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.’ It is in this sense Christians may be destroyed as to their usefulness in the church, their communion and sweet fellowship with the saints, and enjoyment of the approving smiles of their God. This is indeed a sorer punishment than Moses ever inflicted on those who despised his precepts, though they died, or were put to death without mercy, under two or three witnesses. None but the chastened sons of God can know how sore a plague is sin, and how terrible the strokes of God’s chastising rod.” (Portion of editorial by Elder Gilbert Beebe March 15, 1880, reprinted March, 1969.)

We dare not pry into the secrets of God to tell you the eternal refuge or dwelling place of Lot’s wife. Her eternal abode is not revealed unto us. However, it is plainly revealed that, “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62). Jesus told his disciples, “Remember Lot’s wife.” We can say, Remember Judas. We do not know his eternal abode but we do know that he was one chosen of Jesus as one of the twelve. We do know the bitter end of Judas here in the world. Rock salt has lost its saltness.

When a city was salted it meant perpetual desolation. This followed destruction. Those who have once tasted of the mercy and goodness of God, and have drunk of that Spiritual Rock, Christ Jesus, can never have satisfaction again in following after their lusts. Every time they follow the lusts of the flesh they keenly feel that they have displeased God. Habitual following the world will make them neither. fit for the world nor the Church. They are mis-fit. When one has brought shame and reproach upon the church to the extent that he is cast out, he has lost his savor! I do not mean that this is always the case when men cast one out of communion; it is when God casts one out. Even though he may have an abode of happiness after this life ― he will suffer unending misery here. Read the last half of the 9th chapter of Mark and you will find that Christ’s disciples were disputing among themselves the question, Who should be the greatest? Surely these had been regenerated, yet they needed conversion. No ones but the regenerated could really hear the teachings of Jesus. This dispute showed ambition, strife, and selfishness. Pride is the mother of contention, quarrels, and wrangling. These things are offensive. They had gone so far as to forbid one from doing miracles in the name of Christ because, “He followeth not us” (Mk. 9:88) Many of us are guilty of offending Cod’s people because they are not in our particular sect. The greatest punishment seems to be the lot of the offender of humble sincere conscientious believers in Christ who feel so little and insignificant. Jesus said, “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and we were cast into the sea.” (Mk. 9:42) What a hell experienced through life here for regenerated children to offend humble believers!!! What a hell, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched”. (V. 44) This worm is that worm of conscience which pangs the soul with bitter reflections of the happiness once enjoyed and lost, and the perpetual misery experienced. This anguish causes weeping and gnashing of teeth that only the child of God can experience here. Yes, it would be better for you to cease to live here than to have this sin ever before you, - tormenting you both day and night. Jesus adds, “For everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with, salt”. (V,49) The persecutions, struggles and sufferings of the disciples were to be as salt to preserve and. freshen the divine life in them. Continued pangs of guilt were good for them.

The burning fire which consumes the ungodliness in every new-born child of God was to make them more and more fit sacrifices to be consecrated to God. No one can ever quench this fire. One may think his conscience will soon quit its fiery darts. One may surmise that he can continue to disobey God until his conscience will bother him no more. If one be given a Holy Ghost conscience he can never quench it. To have peace of mind he must obey it. Your faith is tried by fire. Do not think that something peculiarly strange has happened unto you. Everyone’s faith is tried. The trial never ends in this life. The warfare never ceases. Every time you think of rebelling, you keenly remember rebelling before ― and there is a fresh pang of conscience. You painfully re-live every rebellion! What is the consequences? You say, Lord, not my will but thine be done. You are ready to persevere trusting the consequence with God. You are ready to make the supreme but reasonable sacrifice of your body to Him. You are careful that each and every word said, and each and every action performed, will be to the glory of God and the right influence to others.

Everyone either effects a good influence upon others or a bad influence. We may be firm in the theological doctrine of the bible that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was: “For us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour” (Eph. 5:2); yet, if we are not followers of God as dear children, and do not walk in love: our firmness loses its savor. See verse one. The predestinated purpose of God is to make His children like unto Himself. Jesus Christ was that salt with savor that made His people before God of good and pleasant taste and smell. Paul exhorts to unity, holiness, humility, and love. If we folk~w as dear children and walk in love “what ia savory influence it has ofl our fellow-man ‘and in 6ur souls. This is the intent desire of every heaven-born child. How far we fall short of it! May we breathe a prayer coming from the very depths of our innermost soul in the name of Jesus Christ for His blessings in our walk and talk and thoughts.

Father of Mercies: Give us feeling of kinship with Thee. Make us to realize that the sum of all that is true, beautiful, and good comes from Thee. Harmonize our will with Thine. May we, like children, believe without suspicion, love without distinction, and hope without limitation. Grant that we should turn away wrath with soft answers, glorify Thee with our whole life, be peacemakers in Thy kingdom, and spread good will to men. Make us to realize the value of right use of our God-given talents, and enable us to use them rightly. Teach us to separate the precious from the vile, right from wrong, truth from error, and wisdom from foolishness. Lead us in the old paths of righteousness for Thy name’s sakes. Forbid that we should offend, cause one to err, speak unkindly, or do anything to cause our brother to stumble. Bless us to comfort sensible sinners, encourage the timid, strengthen the weak, feed the lambs and sheep, rightly divide the word of truth, teach those who desire to learn, reprove and rebuke willful offenders, and denounce heresy. May our writing, talking, preaching, acting, and thinking be sanctified by Thee that those who read, hear, and observe, ― may experience a deeper feeling, have a better understanding, a new insight into some department of the spiritual life, and have nobler aspirations of life.

Lord, bless the labor of our hand and mind in preparing this article that our research, prayers and dilligent persistence may have a savory effect. Bless Thy people everywhere and revive us again that we be willing to sacrifice ourselves for peace among true believers and that there will be an end to unseemly strife as to which shall be the greatest Grant this, Lord, and Thine shall be the praise forever more. AMEN!

Elder E.J. Lambert
Signs of the Times
Volume 137, No.7
July 1969