While the Israelites camp at Mount Sinai, God commands them to present a number of different offerings in worship—each one with specific instructions.
“Do not use yeast in preparing any of the grain offerings you present to the Lord, because no yeast or honey may be burned as a special gift presented to the Lord. You may add yeast and honey to an offering of the first crops of your harvest, but these must never be offered on the altar as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. Season all your grain offerings with salt to remind you of God’s eternal covenant. Never forget to add salt to your grain offerings.
“If you present a grain offering to the Lord from the first portion of your harvest, bring fresh grain that is coarsely ground and roasted on a fire. Put olive oil on this grain offering, and sprinkle it with frankincense. The priest will take a representative portion of the grain moistened with oil, together with all the frankincense, and burn it as a special gift presented to the Lord.”
God gave Moses a few stipulations for grain offerings. These instructions were full of meaning.
Why was no yeast allowed in the grain offerings? Yeast is a bacterial fungus or mold and, therefore, often symbolized sin. It grows in bread dough just as sin grows in a life. A little yeast will affect the whole loaf, just as a little sin can ruin a whole life. Jesus picked up on this analogy when he warned about the “yeast of the Pharisees” (Matthew 16:6; Mark 8:15).
In the ancient Near East, crushed grain baked with oil was a typical food for the average person. This grain offering drew on that commonality. Even a poor person could fulfill this offering. In this way, people acknowledged God as the provider of their food. Similarly, the Lord’s Prayer includes the phrase, “Give us today the food we need,” echoing the intent of this grain offering.
The salt added to these offerings served as a reminder of the people’s covenant with God. In ancient Middle Eastern lands, agreements were sealed with a gift of salt to show the strength and permanence of the contract. Jesus drew on this idea in Matthew 5:13 when he named believers “the salt of the earth.”
Salt is a good symbol of God’s activity in a person’s life because it penetrates, preserves, and aids in healing. God wants to be active in your life. Let him become part of you, penetrating every aspect of your life, preserving you from the evil all around, and healing you of your sins and shortcomings. Let the salt you use each day remind you that because God is active in you, you can live your life to preserve and purify the world around you.