Saturday, January 12, 2008
Pass the Salt
by Chris Cos
Leviticus 2:11-13 "Every grain offering you bring to the LORD must be made without yeast, for you are not to burn any yeast or honey in an offering made to the LORD by fire. You may bring them to the LORD as an offering of the firstfruits, but they are not to be offered on the altar as a pleasing aroma."
Question: Why are yeast and honey clearly adulterants when making a grain offering, but salt is not?
Practically thinking as a food scientist...in an environment without refrigeration and other modern food preservation technology, yeast can over-ferment and ruin a grain product if not handled properly. Honey, a simple sugar, can provide food for bacteria and mold, which would spoil the grain product...especially since the priests would be eating portions themselves. However, salt not only provides flavoring, as we all know, but also acts as a preservative by lowering the water activity (free water) in the product and making the environment less hospitable to mold and bacteria growth.
Yet, this cannot be what God has in mind here. If there is some practical benefit, it is only a bi-product of the fact that God commands this:
--Yeast and honey in a grain product are not to be offered "as a pleasing aroma" to the Lord;
--Seasoning with salt commemorates the covenant!
So what is the bigger picture here? Why salt and not yeast or honey? How does the use of salt commemorate the covenant?
Well I may not have THE answer, but Paul does use yeast with a negative connotation with respect to sin (Gal. 5:9). And Jesus uses salt in a positive way, commanding the disciples to be "salt and light" in Matthew 5:13. So my meditation was: In a world marred by sin, our own propensity to sin can multiply unhindered the way yeast grows in a hospitable environment. But the Holy Spirit within us acts like salt, creating a hostile environment for our sin nature. Thank you Lord for providing a practical reminder of the spiritual truth that is your Word. We are to be holy and free of sin, because you are holy...never touched by sin.