Were you “rubbed with salt” when you were born again?
The story of the birth of the Hebrews:
The “newborn child” was a new people, with a new faith, a new generation considered abandoned by others, fragile and uncared for, vulnerable to the elements, and to their enemies.
3 And say, Thus says the Lord God unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.
4 And as for thy nativity, in the day thou were born thy navel was not cut, neither were thou washed in water to supple you; thou were not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.
5 None eye pitied you, to do any of these unto you, to have compassion upon you; but thou were cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person, in the day that thou were born.
God rescues the newborn people
6 And when I passed by you, and saw you polluted in thine own blood, I said unto you when thou were in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto you when thou were in thy blood, Live.
7 I have caused you to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou were naked and bare.
8 Now when I passed by you, and looked upon you, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over you, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I swore unto you, and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord God, and thou became mine.
9 Then washed I you with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from you, and I anointed you with oil.
Concept of salting a newborn
The newborn infant, then, free from defect in his entire constitution, should first be powdered moderately [with salt]a and wrapped in swaddling-clothes, in order that his skin may be made thicker and firmer than the parts within.
For during pregnancy everything was equally soft, since nothing of a harder nature touched it from without, and no cold air came in contact with it, whereby the skin would be contracted and thickened, and would become harder and denser than it was before and than the other parts of the body.
But when the baby is born, it is necessarily going to come in contact with cold and heat and with many bodies harder than itself.
Therefore, it is appropriate that his natural covering should be best prepared by us to exposure.
a. συμμέτροις ἁλσὶν περιπαττόμενον = summetrois halsin peripattomenon
Rashi‘s comment on Ezekiel 16:4 displays this understanding, and seems to imply it is a current custom in his own day (12th C. France):
From here it is derived that we salt the newborn so that his flesh hardens.
C.F. Keil’s 19th century commentary echoes Rashi’s and adds an ethnographic dimension:3
After the washing, the body was rubbed with salt, according to a custom very widely spread in ancient times, and still met with here and there in the East (vid. Hieron. ad h. l. Galen, de Sanit. i. 7;Troilo Reisebeschr. p. 721);
and that not merely for the purpose of making the skin drier and firmer, or of cleansing it more thoroughly, but probably from a regard to the virtue of salt as a protection from putrefaction, “to express in a symbolical manner a hope and desire for the vigorous health of the child” (Hitzig and Hävernick).
So salting a newborn is needed to protect the skin from the new elements it will come in contact with.
This way the newborn is less vulnerable to injury and sickness.
Need for salt in the new born believer
For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Mark 9:45
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Matt 5:10
Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltiness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another. Mark 9:50
Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Col 4:6
Unless the new believer is salted after salvation, with “fire” of testing and learning, he remains vulnerable to the devils’ devices, and prey to every false doctrine.
His approach to others when presenting the gospel must also show preparation, with much time in prayer, education in the Word, presence of the Holy Spirit, humility, and experience by testing.
While being taught by others is helpful, and a good beginning, the individual must travel his own path, mature, learn on his own, and stand firm in his own tests.
While he can ask for prayer support, no one can take his tests for him. This is a private experience.
The new believer must also learn to fight in spiritual combat.
Many of the problems we see today in the church reflects a “lack of salt.”
People may get saved, but then the experience ends there, and they remain immature.
They do not pray, and they do not even know how to pray.
They depend on their pastors to spoon feed them each week, if they attend that often.
They know little about their own faith, and cannot defend it to others.
Many fall away with false doctrine.
They offend easily, and respond offensively.
They may know facts, but they do not understand deeply.
While maturity has one walking in the spirit, the immature walks in the flesh.
It would be easy for this unsalted person to fall back away from the Lord.
It is the duty of each believer to grow up, and be able to stand on one’s own feet, not depending on others.
It is their duty to toughen up, and be able to withstand the hot and cold extremes of life.
This lesson must start on day one of salvation.
And it is the responsibility of every mature believer around them to steer the new born in the right direction.
Do you have salt in your life?
Have you been salted with the fires in life?
If not, you have much to endure ahead of you, and you need to seek God in your life, or you will not pass the tests coming.
I wish you success in your tests.
More importantly, know that the Lord will be with you.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.