Where Does the Phrase “Salt of the Earth” Come From?
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot” (Matthew 5:13).
I heard an imaginary knock at my front door. I sat up in bed and leaned my body towards the direction I thought I heard the sound. “Tap, tap, tap”, I heard it again. What is going on, I quizzically mumbled. It’s 1:00 a.m. in the morning? Immediately, I scooted out of bed and tip-toed toward my front door. “Who is it?” I quietly asked. No answer. I repeated the question. “Who is it?” Still no answer. Then, suddenly, without provocation, and in my minds eye, I saw a picture of my license plate on the back of my car. It reads: “MY JAH”. So instantly, because there was no answer at the door, but only in my heart, I made an assumption that MY Lord (My Jah) wanted to speak to me through the Holy Spirit.
True, I had fallen asleep while reading my Bible, but I was not in a quandary when that happened. Neither was I perplexed nor uncertain about anything (I thought). Nevertheless, I left the area of the front door and went straight into my office and sat down in front of my computer. I offered up a quick prayer and then said, “Speak Lord, thy servant is listening”. I was lead to brows through my file cabinet where I found an article on “Household Uses of Salt”. I was surprised to learn that all of the uses for salt in the article had to do with household cleaning and for medicinal purposes…and nothing about foods.
Then it hit me. The Holy Spirit spoke and whispered, My child, you are the salt of the earth. Do you know what that means?
I quickly grabbed my Bible and searched the scriptures for references to salt. The following facts below are what I learned that increased my understanding and worthiness in the Kingdom of God.
Three Scripture Examples:
Matthew 5:13 Jesus is speaking to His disciples and uses a metaphor to describe them as salt. In ancient times salt was a valuable commodity and in some regions it was worth more then its weight in gold. The expression "He's not worth his salt", was originated by the Greeks during their slave trading sales. The Romans used salt to pay wages to their soldiers. And from salt we get the Latin word salarium, which when translated into English becomes "salary". Job 6:6 It also is very important to remember that during Jesus' times, there was no refrigeration, and salt was used to preserve and to flavor food, especially fish. Ezekiel 16:4 Here we learn that salt was used to wash newborn babies and disinfect open wombs. Jesus was actually describing in these scripture the preserving qualities of a true disciple.
Something else I saw in the “Sermon on the Mount” scriptures in Matthew 5 was the identity of the classes of people God would especially be talking about. For example, it is written that ‘Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth’. (Matthew 5:5) The actual meaning comes from what this verse is not saying. You will recall that one of the reasons why most of the ancient peoples did not receive Jesus was because He preached ‘meek and mild’ sermons, and ‘turn the other cheek’ reprimands. And the people wanted a Messiah that would demonstrate attributes of a soldier and go to war against Rome and bring freedom from oppression to the Jews and their converts. Not so according to Jesus. It would take a meek leader to do that.
So, in my conversation with God through the Holy Spirit, I believe I was awaken from my sleep to be reminded that I am (as well as all of God’s people), are the salt of the earth. We have been assigned by God to act like salt and be preservers of the land and extend our disinfectant qualities to the wounds of those inhabitants in our sphere of influence. But if God’s people looses their good spiritual salt qualities and become like rock salt that lies along the Dead Sea and is often impure and harsh, they become good for nothing. In fact, in ancient times, rock salt was used only to spread on the temple courtyards in wet weather to make them less slippery.
I smiled as I came to a close of writing this blog. I whimsically said to the Holy Spirit, now in addition to improving my sticky iron by sprinkling salt on a piece of waxed paper and running the hot iron over it a few times to clean it up, I can sprinkle a pinch of salt over my shoulder and implore the Holy Spirit to improve my approach to my fellowman and pray for strength to be more of a godly salt-servant in the household of our Lord and Savior. Amen!
Scripture Lesson: “For God speaks again and again, in dreams, in visions of the night when deep sleep falls on men as they lie on their beds. He opens their ears in times like that, and gives them wisdom and instruction, causing them to change their minds, and keeping them from pride, and warning them of the penalties of sin, and keeping them from falling into some trap.” Job 33:14-18
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