June 12, 2015
Good Morning! Gotta share a recent event that took place as an illustration of our continuing study of what it means to be "the salt of the earth."
A couple weeks back, our daughter, Shelley, stopped in to see us and brought a friend of hers (whom I will call "Arlene" for the sake of this discussion). Arlene had pretty obviously been through the mill and had been battered emotionally, mentally, spiritually -- and possibly even physically. Drugs and alcohol had played a big role in recent years and the destruction of the Enemy showed.
Nevertheless, at some time in her past she had been exposed to the Gospel and had at least made some kind of mental assent to the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Shelley and Arlene walked in the front door, they were scarcely through the living room and into the dining room when Arlene began to cry. She said, "The peace in this house is unbelievable! I've never felt anything like this. There are angels in this place."
Shelley had brought her friend over so she could shower and clean up, and Della told her to help herself. After a lengthy period, she finally came out of the shower and sat down on one of the bar stools in our kitchen. She continued to struggle with her composure and kept reiterating that she'd never felt anything like what she was feeling.
It gave Della and me a perfect opportunity to share with her, and Holy Spirit gave us some direct words of knowledge about her that we were able to utilize in ministering to her. The occasion was ready-made by the Lord. Arlene had never actually accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, but she readily prayed with us and wept buckets as she invited Jesus Christ to take over her life. The glow of His presence was all over her as she left with Shelley later that afternoon.
It was a perfect illustration of what happens when we are in Christ, and He is in us. The saltiness of God's presence so affected the atmosphere that even though this perfect stranger -- Arlene -- had never met us and knew nothing about us, other than the fact that we were Shelley's parents, it brought change and the savor of the Lord into this young woman.
It's not unlike the story of the FedEx driver I shared with you not that long ago who had this startled look on his face when he visibly saw an angel standing behind me when he answered the door. We can't help but chuckle over the fact that he still reacts that way when he comes to the door with his packages, glancing up over my shoulder to see if the angel is still visible.
OK, time to get back to our discussion. Here again is the amplification to Matthew 5:13-16.
"In the same way that salt personifies the need for seasoning, restraint and protection from spoilage or rotting, and preparation for soil to produce; in the same way that salt represents wisdom and grace in one’s speech and behavior, you are that grace and wisdom, that seasoning and protection for the world. You are that which restrains and holds back the execution of my judgment upon a world corrupted, spoiling and decaying in sin. If you lose the ability to season and influence the world around, you lose your usefulness [to the Kingdom] and, like salt that has lost its ability to make things palatable, and winds up being thrown out, you become worthless [to the Kingdom] and cease to have (spiritual) value, requiring that you be cast aside." (Matthew 5:13, RAC Translation and Amplification)
"[When I said, “Light be,” that was the light that brought this world into being. I AM that light.] (Because you are in me, and I AM in you, you are — likewise — the light of this world. That is a light one cannot hide.
"[As representatives of the New Jerusalem] you are like that City which is elevated on a high hill or mountain and cannot be hidden from view. (You have been made and destined to be visible to this world.)" (Matthew 5:14, RAC Translation & Amplification)
"No one lights a candle, and then hides it under some kind of covering or utensil. Rather, they put the candle on some kind of lampstand or decorative piece in order to elevate it so as to give light to the whole room.
"Let that light (My light) which is in you, therefore, radiate brilliantly in front of all men and women so that the value of your relationship with and in Me — manifested in the works, the signs and wonders — is demonstrated. That, in turn, will cause Father in Heaven to receive glory and honor and praise!"(Matthew 5:15-16, RAC Translation and Amplification)
Let's take a different approach to the concept of being the salt of the earth.
In Genesis 18 and 19, we have the story of Abraham pleading with the Lord concerning the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God tells Abraham that His intention is to destroy the cities because their sin is “very grievous.”
The Hebrew text uses the word, kabad, to describe the weight of their sin and its impact on the region.
These two cities resided in the “Vale of Siddim.” That translates to “the Valley of Salt.” These two cities were supposed to be “salt” in the region — an influence for good. Instead, they had become the epitome of all that is evil and wicked in the earth. Their “salt” had become perversion of every kind and God would no longer tolerate it.
Consider Abraham’s plea. In cities numbering an estimated population of more than 50,000 people each, Abraham — understanding the significance of the righteous as salt to preserve those cities — began with 50 righteous in asking God if He would destroy the cities were there 50 righteous. God agreed with Abraham that if 50 righteous were to be found between the two cities, it would suffice to keep them from being wiped off the map.
Abraham took it step after step after step until he reduced it to ten righteous — five for each city, or one righteous person for 10,000 wicked. God promised him that if there were even ten righteous found among the two cities, He would preserve them.
Genesis 19:24 makes clear that He did not! We are told that He “overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.”
Talk about destruction! The destruction with fire and brimstone so reduced the area to ash that absolutely nothing has been able to live there ever since. In 1987 and 1988, a friend by the name of Henry Gruver accompanied the archaeologist, Ron Wyatt, as he surveyed the area and found that the ash remains as a kind of burned salt — and it is the only place on the planet where that kind of ash exists! The brimstone produced a valley of salt unlike any anywhere else in the world.
What makes this so fascinating to me is the fact that this fits exactly what Jesus was saying, “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.”
The “salt” of Sodom and Gomorrah had long since ceased to have the savor that God wanted for the land. It became “good for nothing.” In order to demonstrate to the land — and to the world of that day — just how critical our role is in seasoning and making the area around us palatable to the Lord (and I’ll address this more, momentarily) and how abominable these cities were to the region, God sent fire and brimstone to rain down upon those cities of the Valley of Salt and render their salt worthless for all time!
Ever wonder why God considers it so important for us to be palatable and to make the world around us palatable to Him? One only has to go back to Creation to see that the world and all that God created were nothing but perfect.
Genesis 1:31a: And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.
The Hebrew word translated “very” in this passage is the word, meòd.
There is a vehemence in this word, indicating that everything was finished to perfection. The world wasn’t simply palatable to God, it met His definition of “finished, complete, whole, perfect!”
When Adam ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and brought sin into Creation, it was no longer palatable to God. The smell and taste of the Earth had become corrupted. It smelled rotten because of Satan’s presence and influence, and tasted even worse!
In 1996, when the Lord enabled me to travel backward and forward in time, and I was transported into the Garden of Eden, the beauty was indescribable. It was stunning! But there was more.
There was a fragrance to the Garden that I have only smelled a very few times in my life when that presence of the Lord flooded the atmosphere where I was. There was a peace and a quiet that the world of today does not know. That peace and quiet was punctuated by the sounds of birds singing or chirping musically — harmonically. Their sounds were not discordant or strident.
Eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil changed all that! It seems strange that a single act like that could bring such corruption, but David expresses it quite succinctly in the Psalms when he writes:
Psalm 115:16: The Heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath He given to the children of men.
That brings us back to the origins of that rulership.
Genesis 1:26-28: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
God had given man absolute dominion over the earth and everything in it. With Adam’s disobedience, there was a consequence. That consequence was death. Nothing about God’s Creation was ever designed to corrupt and/or die.
If the DNA of humans, plants, animals, birds, fish, etc., is corrupted so that it now begins to break down and die, there is a rottenness and a stink that comes with it.
Salt greatly slows the breakdown. Salt will, in some cases, eliminate the odor of spoilage. Salt changes the flavor and causes things that might otherwise not be palatable or edible to be consumed easily and tastily.
When God covenanted with Israel, therefore, His covenant with them was a Covenant of Salt. They were to make the earth tolerable to Him. They were to be the seasoning in the earth that provided seasoning to those peoples and nations that didn’t yet know Him. He required the priests and Levites to add salt to the sacrifices as a symbol of the necessity of their restoring what had been lost.
At the same time, He required that the priests offer up incense in order to make the fragrance of the earth around them “a sweet-smelling savor” to Him. Each sacrifice and each offering had an enormous spiritual significance which related back to God’s original Creation, the dominion which had been given to man, and the corruption that came into the earth as a result of sin. Each sacrifice and each offering was designed as a prophetic symbol of the redemptive plan in which each aspect of Creation would be restored. No offering, and no sacrifice, was offered without salt. Salt was a symbol of the coming redemption.
Now, let’s return to Jesus’ statement:
In the same way that salt personifies the need for seasoning, restraint and protection from spoilage or rotting, and preparation for soil to produce; in the same way that salt represents wisdom and grace in one’s speech and behavior, you are that grace and wisdom, that seasoning and protection for the world. You are that which restrains and holds back the execution of my judgment upon a world corrupted, spoiling and decaying in sin. (Matthew 5:13a RAC Translation and Amplification)
This may seem like a deviation from our sharing, thus far, (and what I’m about to share may fly in the face of some traditional doctrines) but consider something that Paul wrote to the Ekklesia in Thessalonica:
II Thessalonians 2:3-7: Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
You see that word, “letteth”? That’s an archaic English word which, in today’s usage, means the exact opposite. The word in the original Greek text is, katecho.
This word means, to restrain, to hold back, to hinder, to hold fast. Get it? So who is doing the restraining? Who is doing the preserving? Who is hindering the full-blown rottenness and decay in society and in the world? Right! You’ve got it! The salt of the earth! The people of God who, as Daniel so appropriately puts it:
Daniel 11:32b: But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
That means that those people will truly season, add savor, and alter the status quo in the earth the way they are supposed to. We have been commanded to be the salt of Heaven in the earth. We have been commissioned to be God’s salt to restrain, to hold back, to preserve this earth.
We have been commanded and commissioned to season the societies that live therein until the day our role as salt has completed that purpose. That role can never be minimized or degraded, or else we suffer the consequence of losing our “saltness,” and cease to fulfill the destiny He has set before us.
Obviously, we never got to the second part of Jesus’ statement concerning our being the light of the world. That’s where we will pick this up in our next Coffee Break.
I remind those of you in need of ministry that our Healing Prayer Call takes place on Mondays at 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific). Once again, the number to call for healing is (805) 399-1000. Then enter the access code: 124763#.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (559) 726-1300, and the access code is 308640#. We hope to make these gatherings available by Skype or Talk Fusion before long.
Blessings on you!
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