A Covenant of Salt
Matthew 5:13 [Full Chapter]
[ Believers Are Salt and Light ] “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
To understand Jesus’ words, we need to understand a salt covenant.
God always works in conjunction with His Word, the OT is shadow and type of the NT
The first time this phrase is found is in Leviticus 2:13 where the order of the words is “salt of the covenant.” The context of this passage is the grain offering, which was to have salt added to it. But the Spirit didn’t stop with just the grain offerings. He had Moses write in the same verse that the Israelites were to “add salt to all your offerings.”
Thus, all offerings made by the Israelites to the LORD, not just grain offerings, were to have salt added to them.
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.”
The second usage, found in Numbers 18:19, is also in the context of offerings. This time, however, the word order has been changed to “covenant of salt”. In Numbers 18, the LORD tells Moses to instruct Aaron and the Levites that it is their responsibility to take care of the Tabernacle.
This was their allotment, as they were not going to receive any inheritance in the Land because God was their inheritance. All the offerings, except for the burnt offerings, belonged to them. God was letting them know that He Himself was going to provide for them through the offerings given by the people.
Numbers 18:19 New King James Version (NKJV)
19 “All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer to the Lord, I have given to you and your sons and daughters with you as an ordinance forever; it is a covenant of salt forever before the Lord with you and your descendants with you.”
The last time the phrase is found is in 2 Chronicles 13:5. In this particular passage the LORD gave the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever through a “covenant of salt.” Although the previous two usages are found in the context of offerings, this one is clearly devoid of them making the Covenant of Salt MORE than an offering.
2 Chronicles 13:5New King James Version (NKJV)
5 Should you not know that the Lord God of Israel gave the dominion over Israel to David forever, to him and his sons, by a covenant of salt?
Here we see the power of this ancient covenant in action. Abijah, the king of Judah, stands with his 400,000 men ready for war against Israel’s 800,000-soldier army, led by King Jeroboam. Most leaders in Abijah’s position would think again before fighting an army twice its size, yet he seizes the opportunity to warn Israel that it should reconsider attacking because of a divine covenant Judah has based on … salt. “Should you not know,” he asks, “that the Lord God of Israel gave the dominion over Israel to David forever, to him and his sons, by a covenant of salt?” Israel didn’t heed the warning, and as a result 500,000 of Jeroboam’s men died—the largest single-day slaughter in history to this day.
The next two places where salt is used are also very insightful. Here we see Elijah bringing forth LIFE from death through salt.
2 Kings 2:20-21New King James Version (NKJV)
20 And he said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 21 Then he went out to the source of the water, and cast in the salt there, and said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘I have healed this water; from it there shall be no more death or barrenness.’”
Salt was used to heal a body of water so it could be drinkable. Now think about this for a second. When salt is added to water, one gets salt water, not fresh.
Job 6:6New King James Version (NKJV)
Can flavorless food be eaten without salt?
Job makes the point that salt is added to tasteless food to make it worth eating.
The first word in the phrase, “covenant”, is the Hebrew word “bĕriyth” (בּרית). This word basically means an agreement or alliance between two parties where each party makes a pledge to keep their end of the bargain. The first time this word is found is in Genesis 6:18. Noah was to build the Ark and gather the animals. If Noah would fulfill his end of the bargain, God would get them safely through the coming storm. This took trust. In order to go through the embarrassment of building a boat so far away from water, in order to start gathering supplies for animals which he had quite possibly never seen or even heard of before, Noah had to trust God to keep His end of the bargain.
This agreement was based upon mutual trust. If Noah did his part, would he trust God to do His part? The answer is given right after God writes up the contract. Noah “did everything just as God commanded him.” Noah showed his trust in God through his actions of living out the words of the contract, or covenant.
Now, sometimes these agreements are applied to both parties, as previously mentioned; at other times it was totally conditional upon one party. This is seen in Genesis 9:9 when God made a deal with Noah to never destroy the earth again by water. The passage never says Noah had to do anything but trust his God to fulfill His word.
Trust is the basis of any “bĕriyth”, or covenant. It’s an agreement between two parties, based in trust, to fulfill their end of the deal.
The Hebrew word for salt, “melach” (מלח), a noun that comes from the root word “malach” (מלח) which means to rub to pieces or pulverize, to disappear as dust, or to season or rub with salt.
Melach is primarily used for the Salt/Dead Sea, which will one day be made fresh again according to Ezekiel 47.
There is an important clue here for our understanding of the phrase “covenant of salt.” Keep something in mind: this body of water was once salty or dead, but will one day be made fresh or alive again.
Interesting about melach, however, is the first time it is used in the Bible. In Genesis 19:26 Lot’s wife is turned into salt for looking back. Though the word for covenant is not used in this story, the angel had an agreement with Lot. The angel would only destroy Sodom and Gomorrah after Lot and his family was out of town and had safely reached the city of Zoar. What did Lot’s wife do? She did not keep her agreement to “not look back.” It appears that she left her heart in Sodom with the accompanying lifestyle she left behind. In her heart, she didn’t want to leave and thus was judged for it when she was turned into salt, or disappeared as dust.
Salt was poured over a city signifying its destruction. Abimelech did this in Judges 9:45
Ezekiel 16:4New King James Version (NKJV)
4 As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths.
After the washing, the body was rubbed with salt, according to a custom very widely spread in ancient times, and still met with here and there in the East and that not merely for the purpose of making the skin drier and firmer, or of cleansing it more thoroughly, but probably from a regard to the virtue of salt as a protection from putrefaction, “to express in a symbolical manner a hope and desire for the vigorous health of the child” (Hitzig and Hävernick).
- hygiene, including cleaning and strengthening the baby’s skin;
- a spiritual function, warding off evil spirits (“apotropaic”); and
- a different hygienic function, this to do with preventing the souring of the infants “swaddling cloth”
So this “Covenant of Salt” would be well known to the Israelites of Jesus’ day when He said,
Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men (this is that judgment part).
According to Leviticus, which foreshadowed things that were to come in and through Christ when He FULFILLED the law, every sacrifice to God is “seasoned with salt”—
Our life, now, as a LIVING SACRIFICE is to be seasoned with salt.
Romans 12:1 [ Living Sacrifices to God ] I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
1 Peter 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
- YOU are the sacrifice. Are you salted?
When we hear the term salt, the understanding is that the things Jesus addresses are eternal, enduring, never changing, and abiding forever. All salt covenants then are eternal, and eternally binding on those who are called the sons and daughter of the Most High.
Jesus is looking for sacrifices from our lives with eternal, long term, and abiding commitments in our lives and lifestyles.
He does not want any offerings made out of the emotional need of a moment or a knee jerk action.
We must approach Him with an understanding that any commitment, and any offering cannot be reneged upon or made into any short-term arrangement.
Count the cost!
For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?
Mark 9:49 [ Tasteless Salt Is Worthless ] “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.
- Are you trusting God? This the FIRST and MAIN part of our covenant with God.
Salt was carried by many travelers. They each had a pouch containing salt. When two travelers came into agreement on something, they’d seal the agreement with an exchange of salt. I give you a pinch of mine, you give me a pinch of yours, and we both place that salt in our pouches. It implies that for either of us to break the agreement, we’d have to find the salt that we gave you, to take back our agreement. Or, in other words, it was a lasting agreement.
You cannot get back your salt! God is holding to His end, are you holding on to yours to TRUST HIM? (This is your end of the bargain—TRUST and then act on that trust and OBEY)
WILL you trust Him no matter what the outcome looks like?
Exodus 13:17-18New King James Version (NKJV)
Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.
HE purposely LEAD the Israelites by way of the Red Sea. He knew He was going to open the water.
Will you trust Him when He tells you to GO where you have never been and DO what you have never done?
- Are you living a holy and pure life, free from corruption and sin?
A salted life is a holy life, one where the HS reigns supreme and you move and breath in alignment with His will.
All of the offerings not only had to be seasoned with salt but had to be void of leaven, a type of sin, and of honey, a favorite appeasement tool offered in almost all pagan nations in their sacrifices. Pagan deities were known to have an appetite for honey, a sweet but false substitute to the sweetness that can only come from a close relationship with Jesus. The honey was used to appease the false deities, as well as to humanize them by feeding them honey! By giving them sweet offerings, mankind thought that the deity would be more apt to respond favorably.
Are you bribing Jesus by offering Him honey and lip service?
Jesus cannot be bribed or convinced to do our desire by candy and honey offerings or by any other sacraments. The Israelites tried it in the past by offering cakes of honey and oil (Ezekiel 16:19) to the “queen of heaven”.
Honey is symbolic of manipulation by the worshipper towards the Heavenly Judge.
Salt on the other hand is a time proven and consistent preservative that prevents decay and corruption with enduring quality
1 Peter 1:13-16 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”[c]
Leviticus 20:26New King James Version (NKJV)
And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.
A salted life is a life lived in His righteousness and not according to your flesh.
- You were dead, but NOW are alive. Are you bringing LIFE to dead things?
A salted life supernaturally brings AND preserves life!
Salt is a time proven and consistent preservative that prevents decay and corruption with enduring quality. Israel preserved their food with salt in place of the modern refrigerator. The important things of sustenance were preserved with salt. Israel’s health was often preserved with baths in the Salt-Sea, which preserved their skin and appearance. Just as in the physical, so it is in the spiritual.
Salt typifies abiding, eternality, steadfastness, stability, and permanence and even the very character and reliability of Jesus Himself!
Salt offerings were known to be everlasting due to the eternal and enduring nature of salt’s preservation power.
Are you speaking life over dead people? Are you preaching the gospel of LIFE to a lost and dying world?
Are you preserving the Body of Christ? Are you calling back the backslidden Christians?
Colossians 4:6New King James Version (NKJV)
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
This is “speaking the truth in love”
Seasoned with salt implies speech that is appropriate, marked by purity and preservation.
- Through Jesus, we are heirs to the Davidic Covenant of Salt because it is NEVERENDING. Therefore, are you putting your enemy to flight?
A salted life puts the enemy to flight
Leviticus 26:8New King James Version (NKJV)
Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight;
your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.
Joshua 23:10New King James Version (NKJV)
One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you.
Hebrews 11:32-34New King James Version (NKJV)
And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
We serve an AMAZING SUPERNATURAL AWESOME GOD who can DO ALL THINGS– so why are we not a victorious church in the face of our enemy?
Some of you have lost your salt because you are FEARFUL of man an rejection.
You can’t put the enemy to flight because you refuse to stand up for GODLINESS.
Unlike David, you are the Israel army standing on the sidelines watching the giant taunt and defy the things of God, too afraid to come against him.