“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 by men. Matthew 5:13 NIV
“ Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the LORD I give to you and your sons and daughters as your regular share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the LORD for both you and your offspring.” Numbers 18:19 NIV
Have you ever noticed this verse before? What is a covenant of salt? First, we need a little background. Imagine you are living several thousand years ago, with no refrigeration and few ways to store or keep meat safe to eat. Next, remember that salt was used as a preservative, as a means of keeping and storing meat beyond the day an animal was killed. Salt was extremely valuable; any economy that had naturally occurring salt had the means to become wealthy and powerful. Salt was desirable as payment, because it could be used as an antiseptic for wounds, and when used to preserve meat, could assure there would be food for the future.
God told Moses in Leviticus 2:13 “Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings.” Earlier in Exodus 30:34-37 God gave these instructions for making incense,
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices–gum resin, onycha and galbanum–and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you. Do not make any incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the LORD.”
Why do you think God wanted his grain sacrifices and his incense to include salt? Perhaps because salt was so valuable that including it in the grain sacrifice would demonstrate an Israelite’s devotion. This recipe for incense was to be offered to God alone; all of these ingredients were expensive – including salt.
In Numbers 18 God told Aaron and his descendants which portions of the offerings were to be burned and which portions were to be eaten by the priests and their families. Then, in Numbers 18:19, God said, “Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the LORD I give to you and your sons and daughters as your regular share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the LORD for both you and your offspring.”
When God makes a covenant with His people, it is enduring, it is everlasting, it is binding. Salt has this unusual quality that it is always salt, it cannot be changed. Even when it is diluted by water, if the water is evaporated, the salt will recrystallize and be salt again. When salt was burned on the offerings, it was still there when all the meat or grain was burned up. Salt is a picture of our everlasting God who does not change, who keeps His word and whose promises and covenants are enduring. As you pray the Lord’s prayer remember our God is everlasting and does not change.
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