I was reading a book about camel caravans in the desert and the kinds of goods that they transported from one place to another. It reminded me of the time when I lived in the desert in the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman in 1965-1966. At that time, living conditions in many places in Oman were still very much as we imagine them to have been in Bible times.
Near our project site at the Gulf of Oman, there was a long, flat beach which almost totally flooded at high tide. When the water receded, there would be many shallow pools in which there would be a few inches of sea water. During the day in the very hot sun, this water would evaporate, and a quantity of sea salt would remain. This would be gathered up, put into bags to sell locally, and was also taken to the interior on camels. We used to see these camel trains going into or coming out of the desert quite often. The traders also took other commodities such as dried fish, imported goods, and foodstuffs brought in by boat from other areas along the coast. These items were not available to the people in the interior, and the traders would bring back dates and figs, as well as other goods which were grown or made by the desert people. There was a healthy trade between the people living near the sea and those living in the towns and villages in the interior, and salt was of high value as a commodity.
Likewise, salt was also important in Bible times as well:
Leviticus 2:13a – Season all your grain offerings with salt. (NIV)
Salt was an important part of the offering because it signified purity, preservation, and expense. Salt was expensive and hard to come by. Then Jesus compared His followers to salt:
Matthew 5:13a – You are the salt of the earth. (NIV)
Jesus was saying to His disciples and His followers, "You are the salt; you are precious and pure; you are valued. You should be a preserving influence on your culture. Without you, the evils of the world would permeate through all of society."
And then Jesus continued His statement on salt:
Matthew 5:13 – But if the salt loses its saltiness, how shall it be made salty again? (NIV)
Back in Jesus' day, if the people discovered that their salt had lost its preserving qualities, they would just throw it out on the streets, and it would be trampled into the ground by those people and animals using the street.
This passage is a warning to us Christians: if we lose our flavour — or we could say, if our beliefs become watered down — if our words and actions do not display true faith in Christ, then we lose our influence, and we are of little value to the kingdom of God.
Think about it: has our religious practice lost its flavour? Are we still of value to do God's work?
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You that You have chosen us to be the salt of the earth. It is our prayer that we will not lose our faith in You and be trampled under foot by the sins of the world. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
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