Matt 5:13 Ye are the Salt of the Earth CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Most preachers that teach on this verse apply it to Christians. However, this verse does not apply to the Church, it doctrinally applies to Israel. When teachers apply it to Christians, they say things like, “Salt keeps meat from corrupting, so when we preach the gospel we keep the world from corrupting.” But the converse is true. We have been preaching the gospel for centuries and the world is just as corrupt as it always has been. They say, “Salt cleanses, thus we have a cleansing affect on the world.” To the contrary, the world has crept into the Church and defiled it.
You have to remember that this passage is in the Sermon on the Mount, a sermon that was preached to Jewish disciples about the kingdom of heaven, a literal, visible kingdom on this earth in which the Jews will be the ruling nation and over which Jesus will be the King. So, the reference to “ye” is a reference to Israel.
1. Why are they the salt of the earth?
They are the salt of the earth because of God’s covenants of salt with them.
Lev. 2:13 records God’s covenant of salt for sacrifices.
Num 18:19 records God’s covenant of salt for the Aaronic priesthood.
2 Chr 13:5 records God’s covenant of salt for the Davidic kingdom.
These are perpetual covenants that go through the millennial reign of Jesus. In Eze 43:24, Levitical priests will still be sacrificing during the millennium.
2. How did they lose their savor?
We were told by a Christian chemist, Dr. Morvant, that Jewish women used salt on meats and vegetables to preserve them since they had no refrigeration. Salt (NaCL) has ways of stopping bacteria and fungus by dehydrating meats and vegetables. The women would use the salt over and over because it was an expensive commodity.
In the dehydrating process, the salt would take on impurities, chemicals like calcium and potassium, from the meats and vegetables. The result was that the salt would lose its ability to “preserve” because its chemical composition would change with the addition of other chemicals. And the way the women could tell that the salt was not “good” anymore is that it tasted different – it was unsavory.
The compound that was formed from the mixture of pure table salt with these other chemicals was still salt but it had lost its savor. It was good for nothing. It wasn’t good for the land, although there are some salts that are good for the land; they are used to stabilize the soil. And it wasn’t good for the dunghill (the dump, 1 Sam 2:8; Ps 113:7), although certain salts like baking soda would actually hasten the decomposition of the waste. So, the salt was just cast out and trodden under foot like salt that would keep a path clear of grass or like we use salt to deice sidewalks.
The picture then shows us that when the Jews picked up impurities in their covenants of salt, they lost their savor. For instance, instead of sacrificing to the Lord God according to their covenant of salt, they sacrificed to idols (Ps 106:36-38). Instead of following priests in Aaron’s line according to their covenant of salt, they followed other priests (1 Ki 12:28-31). Instead of being under a king from David’s line according to their covenant of salt, they put themselves under tribute to a foreign king (i.e. Jn 19:15).
Thus, they lost the savor of their salt and were good for nothing (Jer 13:10). They were cast out of the land by Nebuchadnezzar (1 Ki 9:6-7, Neh 1:9) and by Titus in 70 AD and those that are not saved will be cast out into hell (Matt 8:12). They were trodden under foot in Lam 1:15 and will be trodden under foot again in the Tribulation (Dan 8:13).
3. Why do they receive such treatment?
They get cast out and trodden under foot because they cast Jesus out of Jerusalem (Matt 21:39) and trod him under foot by rejecting him (Heb 10:29). They violated their covenants of salt. Jesus was their high priest who offered himself as their sacrifice. And he was their king in the line of David.
It is amazing how a passage clears up as soon as it is studied according to its place in the right divisions of God’s word (2 Tim 2:15).