Sitting on the Mountainside-Studies in The Sermon on the Mount

Day 15: “Salt and Light” Part Two 08.21.18

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV) “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. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Previously, we pointed out that salt can preserve, add flavor and heal. Curiously, there is one other statement about salt that is less pleasant. It can be the condition of the person who has turned away from faith. Salted can be a state of death both physical and spiritual. So, we want the Lord Jesus Christ to see us as the “salt of the earth” pointing others to God Himself. But not the salt of the earth who has turned away and become dead salt.

Consider the unsettling story of Lot’s wife. In Genesis 19, we read that God sent angels to destroy the wicked city of Sodom. Because of His mercy, the Lord was prepared to deliver Lot and his family from the destruction. But Lot felt compelled to debate the plan and he asked the angels if he could flee to a small town nearby:

Genesis 19:21-22 (NIV) He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)

Apparently, Lot and his wife were not on the same page. She was not sure they should leave Sodom so after they turned to run away, she hesitated. Here is the unhappy account of her death:
Genesis:23-26(NIV) “By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land.
Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah–from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus, he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities–and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”

The Hebrew wording suggests that she was staring at the city about to be destroyed with affection. She was not convinced that they should be leaving and/or uncertain that destruction would really come. Had she been “salt and light” in that darkened place? We cannot know but the statement that she “looked back” means more than she “glanced.” Apparently, she had very mixed feelings about their departure. Why did she turn into salt?

It is likely that the intense and destructive heat turned the whole place into salt. I’m not a chemist but I have read that such a catastrophic climactic event can reduce everything to powder. The landscape after the bombing at Hiroshima was perhaps pristine to compared to what was left of Sodom. My point is that we disciples, to remain salt and light, had better keep marching forward without any of the spiritual ambivalence that characterizes the half way believer.

The Lord Jesus Christ said these things:

Luke 17:30-33 (NIV) “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”

She was trying to hold onto her previous life! Jesus also spoke to three different men who said they wanted to follow him. Notice the third exchange:

Luke 9:57-62 (NIV) “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

The farmer who plows a field must look straight ahead. Looking back will simply create a poorly tilled plot and may even take one into a ditch! We must look straight ahead and put to death any thoughts of “going back.” Lest we become the salt of death instead of life. Hands on the plow and no looking back!

Next discussion: being “THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!”

Blessings! Pastor Alberta

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