Episode 010 – Salt of the Earth

 
 
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Have you ever built a house? Even the thought of that kind of project makes me a little nauseous. All the details! But God built a house that got torn down and rebuilt again. Then, it got destroyed and raised up in all of us! We are the new temple of God and Jesus is our chief cornerstone. Listen in as we explore the old Temple, the new temple, and the salt that had its own place in both! thatmakestotalsense.com

Episode Transcript:

Alexis:  Hey everyone and welcome to That Makes Total Sense! This is Alexis Busetti and I’m so glad that you have joined me again today. So today I want to talk about salt and the Temple. So I know that may sound like kind of weird, but there were like all sorts of these connections that I feel like God was helping me make and so I’ve put them all down and I hope that we can make some of those connections together. 

So I’m telling you, it was bouncing all over the place from Ezra to the Sermon on the Mount to Nehemiah. And so I’m like, I have tried with His help, hopefully to bring all of this together, rein it in so that we’ve got some cohesive thoughts here about salt because we see it all over the scripture. We see salt. So anyway, let me take you back to where I was when I first, when I first kind of started getting these ideas and we’ll just move forward from there because I was walking the neighborhood, I was listening to as the book of Ezra on my, um, on my Bible app. And I was just like a little bit kind of overwhelmed with this particular part of Ezra when there is some opposition and we’ll talk, we’ll talk about that just in a minute. But at the same time I’m looking around my neighborhood and I’m seeing, we live in a really kind of old neighborhood, I guess for, for this part of the country. 

Not compared to like New England or something like that, but we live in kind of an old neighborhood for this part of the country. It was built in the ‘60s and so most of the houses here are older, but there are some new ones. And so I’m listening to Ezra, I’m listening about rebuilding, you know, rebuilding the Temple, rebuilding the walls, and I’m seeing some old houses and I’m seeing a couple of new ones and I got to start thinking, I kind of feel like maybe there’s two kinds of people or maybe two kinds of couples in this world. Okay, follow me. There’s the kind who could build or remodel a house and there’s the kind who just can’t people. And I am here to tell you that I fall hardcore in the category. My husband and I, we have been married for over 16 years we have owned some houses. We have never built a house. We have never remodeled a house. Not only that, we have never done like a remodeling project like we haven’t Mike put new flooring in. I think the closest thing we did in our previous house was we replaced the windows because the windows were original and we replaced the windows and that was it. And that was not really a remodel. That was like an afternoon project where we didn’t have to do anything but say yes to the estimate and let the people in the house. So we have never done it. I have said more than once that I think that the entire process of building or remodeling would just completely overwhelm me. Now we’ve had a lot of friends who have done both. They remodeled or they’ve built and every single one of them has survived. 

But I cannot fathom making all of those decisions. It’s the details and like, okay, I’m a detail oriented person, but the thought of tending to each individual minute element of any of those types of projects, it just makes my head spin. It probably has to do with the fact that I can be somewhat indecisive. I mean I’m going to say, can we say Enneagram six? Anybody else? But even thinking about like tile and flooring and light switch plates, it just kind of, it makes me a little nauseous. Anyway, so saying all that, since we’re not interested in building anything new, you’re probably guests. We love older homes, um, with characters. So we have purchased three homes throughout our marriage and they have all been older homes that were put on the market after someone else remodeled them. So our first one was actually built in the ‘30s. 

It was this tiny little house in Oklahoma. We just felt like it was really cute and as what we could afford when we first got married. And so that one, and then we had one that was built in the ‘80s again and completely gutted, remodeled. And now we live in this 50 year old house, um, 50 something year old house. Um, anyways, so in our neighborhood, because our house is 50 years old, some of the houses are even older. There is some remodeling that goes on, um, in our area, in our neighborhood. But there’s not a ton of brand new construction. Now every once in a while it does happen that a property owner will decide instead of renovating or getting a house that for whatever reason they just need to tear it down and start over. And there’s one house like that that was built just down the street from us right before we moved in. 

And of course like it sticks out, you can see this as a brand new house in an older neighborhood. And then there’s one a few blocks away that is actually just now being finished. So they’ve been working on it for a long time. And when we would drive by cause it’s on one of the main streets in our neighborhood, so every time we would drive by they were building and every at every phase, like from the slab to the framing to when they were putting the roof on. Every time we drive past, our kids would say, Oh my goodness, look at the house. It’s almost done. Like, like every time like they have a slap, it’s almost done. Look at the house and I’m like, okay, I’d smile and nod. But inside I’m thinking, Oh my goodness, it is not even close to almost being done. 

That’s crazy. I couldn’t help it. I just kept thinking about everything that was still left. The carpet, the tile, the baseboards, the fixtures, the ceiling, fans of paint. I mean, all of these things almost done. I’m thinking, no, not by a long shot. Kids, there’s just way too many details left. Okay. So back on course, you’re probably thinking, well, Alexis, what does this have to do with salt and the temple? Okay, well, listen, back in the day, God’s people had a house to build too, right? So I know I took kind of a long way getting there, but you probably remember that King Solomon, who is King David’s son, built a temple for God to dwell. And this was going to replace the tabernacle that the people had had from the time that they left Egypt and they went into the wilderness. So remember that Moses was instructed by God to build a tabernacle. 

And there were lots of details you can read about that in Exodus. It was very beautiful and very symbolic. Um, and he was instructed to build a temple, or I’m sorry, a tabernacle. But then King Solomon, um, took it on himself after, after King David was denied, um, that privilege. He took it on himself to build a temple. So this would be a place that was not going to move anymore. It would be, it was stay in Jerusalem and it was going to be massive and magnificent. And so King Solomon saw to it that this temple was built. Um, but throughout the years that followed that, um, the people of Israel, their hearts, they, there’s no easy way to say it. They really rebelled against God in their hearts. And God had warned them and sent profits, but they were actually overtaken by some of their neighbors and they were shipped off as a people into exile. 

And when their land was conquered, the Temple was also conquered and destroyed. And all of this happened in Jerusalem before the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. But then as you’re in Nehemiah, after having been an exile, they were actually commissioned to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, rebuild, um, the walls that surrounded Jerusalem. And so, you know, like I’ve just kind of set the stage. I personally cannot imagine what kind of undertaking this was because it overwhelms me to think about replacing the floors in my house at some point. And I can’t imagine the, the huge, like the vastness of this project, I mean not just was it big in scale and size, but you want to talk about details. I mean God had given very, very specific instructions for how they’re tabernacle and then the temple were to be constructed originally and what would be kept inside. 

So not just like the construction but also the furnishings. And so then as I mentioned, there was also the build business of rebuilding the wall that surrounded Jerusalem for protection. So this kind of thing couldn’t easily happen again. And so this was a really, really big deal and it actually took years and a few phases of construction to rebuild everything that had been destroyed. And you can go back and read and Ezra and Nehemiah at every step along the way as rhe and his contemporaries actually faced opposition. And so it’s like, it’s not enough to take on this city sized building project with everything that comes along with that. But to have your friends and some of your fellow citizens actually come against you. I just can’t imagine how much harder that would make everything. You know, this wasn’t like the, your local government office was being like slow about issuing a plumbing permit or something, or the builder ran out of your favorite wood flooring and it’s on back order. 

Like this was people seeing what you’re doing and trying to convince the governor to make you stop. So let me show you what I mean in scripture. And Ezra four, there is a recording of this letter that the opposition wrote to the King to try and get the building activities stopped. So let’s just go straight there as chapter 4 verse 7- 16 first let me say, let me give you a little bit of background that this King Artaxerxes is actually the one who had seen, if you remember, he had seen as his face. He had seen this sorrow and he had originally commissioned him, given him permission, and said, go, go back, go to your land, rebuild your temple, help your people. Um, and then, and these verses, and I’m about to read. Some people come along and they try and convince him. They try and convince the King that he’s actually made the wrong decision. 

So this is Ezra 4:7-16, “In the Artaxerxes,  Bishlam and Mithredath and Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia. The letter was written in Aramaic and translated. Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows: Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, the judges, the governors, the officials, the Persians, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the Elamites,  and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River. This is a copy of the letter that they sent.” So here’s the where the quote begins. 

“Here’s the letter to Artaxerxes, the King, your servants, the men of the province beyond the river, send greeting and now be it known to the King that the Jews who came up to you, it came up from you to us, have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. Now be it known to the King that if this city is rebuilt and the wall is finished, they will not pay tribute, custom or toll and the Royal revenue will be impaired. Now because we eat the salt of the palace.” So take note of that phrase. “Now because we eat the salt of the palace and it is not fitting for us to witness the King’s dishonor. Therefore, we send and inform the King in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. 

You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to Kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in from in it from old. That was why the city was laid waste. We make known to the King that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province beyond the river.”

Seriously. So basically what they’re saying is they’re asking the King to check his records. They’re saying they’re thinking if they can get the King to check his records, they’re betting that once he sees the history of Jerusalem and the people who used to live there, then he’ll be sure that he’s going to cut off this building project because he won’t want that kind of people to thrive. Again, they’re saying to the King, you need to remember who these guys are that are rebuilding this city. 

They’re rebellious. They’re probably not going to pay their taxes, and if that’s the case, you won’t have enough money to do your Royal business. So just stop them. Stop them in their tracks. Now again, like I mentioned before, they know that they’re writing to the very same King who gave his permission and his blessing for Ezra to begin the project and the first place. So they’ve got to be convincing and respectful at the same time because they don’t want the King to think that he’s indiscriminate, right? They can’t say like, you’re an idiot. Why did you let them start rebuilding in the first place? So they’re kind of saying, listen, I’m sure you just didn’t realize, but these are bad news. You’ve got to check the history. And Israel was exiled, exiled because of their rebellion. So they do have a bit of a point, but God is merciful and he’s the God of second chances. 

I’m all right. So anyway, once the King receives this letter, he does change his mind. The guys who thought this whole thing up and wrote the letter, make their way over to the building site and tell the workers that it’s the King’s order that they have to stop working at once. Are you kidding me? So the story of the real building actually goes a lot like this throughout the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, different leaders on the buildings, teams face different levels of opposition, kind of many of the steps of the way. But after the long battle, her really long battle of work and repairing and rebuilding, the temple of God finally got finished. And when they finished, I think they did what is to be expected. They threw a party, they celebrated, they actually read the law, they held a feast and everybody was so excited. 

And even the King, yes. The same King Artaxerxes the one who had seemed so fickle kind of throughout the process. Maybe yes, maybe no, he expressed his congratulations with some super generous house-warming gifts. I mean there were kind of like temple house warming gifts. So anyway, this is because I started thinking again about like the remodeling process and I’m like, I mean we all like to watch HGTV, right? And I’m like, you know, houses can be finished or it can either be like magazine finish. So there’s finished like paint on the walls and knobs on the cabinets and then there’s finished Mike bowls of fruit on the counter and throw pillows on the furniture and flower vases on display. And so at the end of all of their hard work and they’re interrupted labor King Artaxerxes really? I believe he really wanted to show honor to the people of Israel and because of this he decided to provide a lot of the supplies that they would need and a lot of the lavish details for the temple himself. 

So kind of like those things that make a house feel like a home. King. Artaxerxes came in and supplied a lot of those things for the temple out of his own wealth, the King gave Ezra gold and silver vessels for worship in the temple, which obviously was super extravagant. He also gave them wheat and wine and oil. And then there’s a phrase in Ezra seven he gave them quote salt without limit. So here’s that wording again. We’re hearing more about salt. So earlier the opposition had used a saying about salt that from the research I did, it sounds like they were trying to kind of kiss up to the King. So they mentioned almost in passing that they quote, eat the salt of the palace. And they definitely didn’t want anyone to dishonor the King. So the work of the thieves, right, the Israelites should be stopped immediately. 

But eating the salt of the palace is another way of saying that they were in service of the palace. They were reminding the King of their standing, of who they were in relationship to him, and they were saying with their words that they were under his authority by saying that they ate the salt of the palace where they were in service of the palace. They were saying with their words that they were under his authority, but really they were trying to manipulate his authority at the same time. So by saying that they ate the salt of the palace, they were restating their position. They were servants in Aramaic. The phrasing is quote, the salt of the palace is our salt, meaning they understood and they wanted the King to know that they were provided for by him, by the King. They understood that their livelihood came from him. 

So now let’s go back to King Artaxerxes and his gift to Ezra. Never ending salt may not seem like that big of a deal like that. Great of a house warming present, but I can’t help but wondering if the King was in a way symbolizing his belief of his honest position to the King of Israel. Maybe his gift was a way in a way, like a representation of his position in relation to the King of Kings. I wonder if he was declaring himself as a servant to the God of Israel and saying to him that the salt of his palace with his salt as well, like maybe he was recognizing in his own way the salt of your temple God of Israel provides for me too because you see salt had a very special place in temple worship and I think that King would have known that it was prescribed for every grain offering. 

They had to include salts, but it was also used for making the incense. So Exodus 30 verses 35 and 36 say this and make an incense blended by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and Holy, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I shall meet with you. Salt wasn’t necessary for worship in the temple. And the King was obviously well aware of the stagnant state of worship in Israel since he was the one who ordered for the construction then interrupted it, then returned to give it his blessing at the completion. I think he wanted to see worship reinstated and to have some part of that himself. So fast forward now to the time of Jesus where we see in the gospels that the temple was still in service when Jesus walked the earth and he talked with his, he talked about salt as well. 

When they listen to his teachings, though, they definitely had a context for how important salt was to their everyday lives, but also to their worship. We just saw that salt was used in every grain offering and was a major ingredient in the incense that was burning literally every single morning and every single evening when the priest took care of the lamps, Jesus told crowds of people in the sermon on the Mount. They were looking to him. They were, they were following his teaching and they were wanting to model their lives after God and he told them that they were to be the salt of the earth. In Matthew five 13 we are to be the salt of the earth. Now listen, the last thing I want to do here is put words into the Messiah’s mouth. So I’m just going to say I wonder. Okay, so I wonder if he was pointing us in the direction of the details of the temple with all of this talk of salt. 

I understand it was used as a preservative. It was used for seasoning, but I’m wondering if there was a deeper message there. I’m wondering if he was wanting to point us to the details of the temple because there was an unending salt supply for the temple and the incense, which had salt in it. It had to be lit every morning and every evening by the priest. And this incident mixture was positioned every day in the very place where God said he would meet with his people every morning and every evening, every single day the salt had to be there. So maybe when Jesus was instructing the people who were listening to him and he and when he was instructing us, when he is instructing us to be the salt of the earth, maybe he’s giving us an invitation to be an additive that’s used to help the people of the earth meet with himself. 

Just like the insect incense mixture was positioned everyday in the same place where God said he would meet with his people. Maybe we get to do that job to maybe part of our job as assault is to pray for the people of the earth. Listen in revelation five eight this is awesome. In revelation five eight it says this and when he had taken the scroll, we know there’s only one who’s worthy to open the scroll and when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. The salt is in the incense and we are the saints. The incense was the prayers of the saints. Maybe part of our job as the salt is to go and tell people the good news of salvation so they can meet with God at the place he’s prepared for each of them. 

Romans ten four says, but how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him and how can they believe in him if they’ve never heard about him and how can they hear about him unless someone tells them, I think this is our job. I think this is our job to tell them maybe this never ending salt supply that we hear about. It’s reserved for the temple worship. Maybe it’s us. We can pray. We can go. We can tell. We can be kindled. We can be lit up for worship every morning and every evening and we can be found in the very place where God wants to meet with us but not alone. He wants to meet with, he wants to meet with the people of the earth, the salt of the earth. Are you following me? We are the salt of the earth and we can get sprinkled around and then gathered back up, bringing with us our friends and family so they can meet with God. 

Maybe as we declare ourselves to be the salt of the earth. As Jesus said, we were. We’re offering ourselves up to his Holy service just like that incense. We are the salt of the palace and we can say to the whole earth, come taste and see that the Lord is good. We are the means by which the invitation to worship Jesus reaches the lost world because it’s just like Jesus told the Samaritan woman in the, well in John chapter four the day is coming, yet it is even here that people will not worship on this mountain or on that mountain, but they will worship the father in spirit and in truth she was concerned. She was like, wait a minute, you say it’s over here. My people say it’s over there. We could see the temple, we, we know where it is and he completely changed the game on this. He completely changed the game for what worship would look like. He was saying to her in that moment, and he’s saying to us, this is no longer confined to the temple with its rituals and its special furniture and all of the things that belonged there. Worship now belongs in each of us because we are the house of the Holy spirit. It’s our bodies and just like it’s not the fruit bowls or the throw pillows or the flowers or the other details that make a house into the home. It’s not the rituals or the rules or the locations or the things or that make us into a suitable home for the Holy spirit. It’s our relationship with God through Jesus. Those other things may be pretty and they may be good and they may be an additive, but they’re not. What makes our body our house into a home for the indwelling of the Holy spirit. It’s our relationship with God through and we saw that the previous temple, it was made of stone and wood and it was in a one stagnant place, and that temple people were actually excluded from worship. They couldn’t come in based on sometimes their background or if they had a disability or their gender or their heritage, but the temple that Jesus is making out of us, it’s intended to be fully inclusive. There’s no one excluded anymore. Any of us can come to him. Any of our loved ones can come to him. It’s not the things that you put inside your house that make it a home. It’s the people inside and it’s the same with God’s kingdom. It’s the people we invite inside to share in everything. He’s worked so hard to build that matter most. Remember he is the chief cornerstone of this thing. He’s the chief cornerstone and the Bible said some people will trip over him because they don’t understand. They think it’s about all of the things they think it’s about the place, but it’s not. He worked so hard and he gave his body and his life so that we would understand that it’s about the people and he’s invited all of us. It’s about their future and our eternity together, and Ezra and his compatriots, they risk their very lives to rebuild the temple and the walls of Jerusalem,  but I’m convinced that Jesus didn’t have an interest in a pretty building just for the sake of the architecture, just for the sake of it being a pretty place or a big place or an extravagant place or a magnificent thing to look at. He, he built and made his home beautiful, but then he tore it down. When you go to Jerusalem, there is no temple standing right now. It was torn down and Jesus prophesied and proclaim that it would be just like his body was torn down so that he could expand his dwelling to include every single believers heart. You see, his desire has always been to open up his home to anybody who would want to join him so that we could dwell with him together, us and him and him and us. And the good news for me is that the details aren’t up to me. 

The details aren’t up to me. It’s God’s privilege. It’s his job. It’s his joy to clean out our hearts, to, to remodel us, to make us into a new creation in him, so that we can walk around as a testimony of what he has done so that we can join ourselves to the chief cornerstone of the new temple and say, come and worship. Everybody is welcome.

So thank you again so much for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. Share the link with your friends. You can visit us at thatmakestotalsense.com and until next time, this is Alexis Busetti remembering to do well for ourselves so we can do good for others. 

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