The Saints Are the Salt of the Earth
Almost from the beginning, as the Gentiles began to prosper in the “new world,” as they called America, their faith in the Bible, containing the record of the Jews, the story of the creation, the calling of Abraham and the seed of promise, the death and resurrection of the Savior and the promise of his return to rule and reign on the earth, in the latter days, began to come under attack.
Although they did not completely understand, yet, how the Lord promised Enoch that he would call upon the children of his great-grandson Noah, and, as a result, a remnant of his posterity would be preserved among all the nations, so long as the earth should stand, the Gentiles were prepared to receive a basic knowledge of these things, through what was left of the corrupted record of the Jews, which they had received from that great and abominable church, the Holy Library of Sacred Writings, the Bible, which they carried with them.
They didn’t fully realize that what God was doing, he was doing because he would not suffer them to completely dwindle in unbelief and perish, because of their sins, as had the rebellious children of Adam before the great flood, when the righteous were removed from the earth, leaving the wicked without protection from the wrath of the justice of God. Unknown to them, the Gentiles were being prepared to receive a greater knowledge of these things, the beginning of which they had learned through the Holy Bible.
In that record, we learn of God’s work in fulfilling this promise to intervene in the affairs of the nations of the earth, for the sake of the children of Noah, from the ancient writings of Moses, the author of the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, meaning “the beginning.”
From Moses’ account in the Bible, we learn of Abraham, who sought for the right of the fathers before him, the fathers who had kept the commandments of God, and who had a great knowledge of things that were, that are, and that are to come, such as was had by Enoch, which knowledge came to them by the power of revelation, because they were ordained High Priests, the highest office in the “Holy Priesthood After the Order of the Son of God.”
The ordination to this office was the right of the firstborn, Adam, who was the first father, and who was ordained by the hand of God, to be a rightful heir of all things, to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, a man of holiness, desiring to possess great knowledge and to be a great follower of righteousness, asking and receiving, according to the promises of God. This was also Abraham’s desire and so he received the priesthood from Melchizedek, the great High Priest of that day.
When Abraham received this priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, back to Noah, who received it from his fathers back to his great-grandfather, Enoch, who received it through the lineage of his fathers to Abel, who received it from Adam, who received it from God, he became a rightful heir, receiving his appointment, according to the appointment of God unto the fathers, concerning the continuation of the seed of mankind, which had no beginning of days and shall have no end.
With the power of this priesthood, men are able to administer the gospel of Christ, because it holds the key of the mysteries of the kingdom and the key of the knowledge of God. Consequently, as long as there are men on earth who are ordained to this priesthood, the children of men can be taught the truth, and, through obedience to the light and knowledge they receive, they can prepare to meet God, to dwell in his presence forever, where they become members of the Church of the Firstborn, seeing as they are seen, knowing as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace, through the mediation of the Only Begotten Son of God. They are identified with the “firstborn,” by virtue of receiving the right of the firstborn, who was Adam, who was literally the firstborn, the first father on this earth, with the right, inherited from his Creator, to receive all things.
Unfortunately, however, not all men have the faith of Abraham, who found that there was greater happiness, peace and rest for him in these things of God than there were in the things of the world. No doubt Abraham had read and heard of these things and was taught by his own fathers, before they “turned from their righteousness and from the holy commandments, which the Lord their God had given unto them.”
Of course, after receiving his ordination to the priesthood from the great High Priest, Melchizedek, Abraham taught the commandments in turn to his own children, especially to Issac, who was to inherit the right to administer the “blessings of the fathers,” which was the literal right of the first born.
Reading in Genesis, Chapter 12, we see that the Lord calls Abram, his name originally, and makes great promises to him, but without understanding the previous history of Enoch, and the promises made to him, the calling of Abram is harder to appreciate fully. When we know that the Lord made a sacred decree to Enoch, though, the high and holy calling of Abram makes so much more sense:
Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. (Genesis 12:1-4)
So we see that Abram, is to be the progenitor of “a great nation,” which will be highly favored and blessed of the Lord, in that all the families of the earth shall be blessed by it, and knowing what the Lord promised Enoch, we can now understand why. But why Abram? Why not his father, or someone else? The answer to this question is the same as the answer to many other questions like it: Why was Adam chosen to be the first man on earth? Why was Enoch chosen and sent to preach to the children of Adam, who were translated before the flood? Why was Christ chosen to be the Savior of mankind?
The answer is that the Father knew them all before they were born, before the earth was created (see: Opposition to the Plan of Happiness). He knew all of his children, and he chose from among them those he would call to fulfill his plans to accomplish his great work, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. He chose those whom he sent to execute various parts of the plan, before they were born.
Abram was to eventually learn this, but in the beginning of his account, as recorded in the Pearl of Great Price, the LDS scripture that has come to us from ancient archeological finds, he knows only that he has an earnest desire to be a follower of righteousness, to possess great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, to be a prince of peace, a father of many nations. He understood and sought for the blessings of the fathers and the right to officiate in the divine ordination of fathers, which belonged to the fathers before him. He writes:
In the land of the Chaldeans, at the residence of my fathers, I, Abraham, saw that it was needful for me to obtain another place of residence;
And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.
It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me. (Abraham 1:1-3)
We notice in this passage that Abram (meaning “exalted father”) refers to himself as Abraham (meaning “father of multitudes”), the name God gave him, when he was 99 years old, as recorded in Genesis, Chapter 17. God also told Abraham to change the name of his wife Sarai (meaning “my princess”) to Sarah (meaning “princess”), and he told him that she would bear him a son in her old age, which caused Abraham to laugh at the thought, but the Lord even gave him the name for the boy, which was to be Isaac (meaning, ironically, “laughter”).
Looking back, after so many thousands of years have passed, we clearly see how ironic the name of Isaac is, giving us a precious glimpse into the character of God, for Isaac was the father of Jacob, and Jacob was the father of twelve sons, who were the fathers of the tens of millions of their descendants who have been scattered throughout the world. But, as leaven is to the loaf of bread, so the descendants of Jacob, or Israel, are to the families of the earth.
How is it that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are blessing “all families of the earth?” Both in the Old and New Testaments of Jesus Christ, and in the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, and in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Latest Testament of Jesus Christ, the Lord explains to the saints, the house of Israel (for the Father only sends him directly to the house of Israel): “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of the earth.”
Through the image of this simple statement, we can understand how all the “families of the earth” are blessed by Abraham’s descendants. Salt preserves and imparts savor to meat and this metaphor was used early on to teach the house of Israel their special calling to serve humanity in this capacity. In the book of Numbers, in the Old Testament, God explains to them:
All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer unto the LORD, have I given thee, and thy sons and thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: it is a covenant of salt for ever before the LORD unto thee and to thy seed with thee. (Numbers 18:19)
And, again, in the book of Leviticus:
And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt. (Leviticus 2:13)
In the 1st Book of Chronicles we read:
Ought ye not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even a covenant of salt? (Chronicles 13:5)
And in the New Testament, we read the words of the Lord to the saints of his day:
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, 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 5:13)
The Lord explains even more explicitly to the Latter-day Saints, in the Doctrine and Covenants:
When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men. (D&C 101:39)
Thus, we see that the plan of God is to call upon the children of Noah, to preserve a remnant of them among the nations, so long as the earth shall stand, according to the decree he made, when Enoch wept so bitterly, and refused to be comforted, seeing the loss of the wicked in the great flood.
He calls upon them, from generation to generation, sending his angels to the prophets of Israel, commanding them to teach that all people are to repent, and to come unto him, the God of the whole earth, and be baptized in the name of his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who is full of grace and truth, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation may come unto the children of men, and if they do this, the promise of God to them is that they shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in his name, and whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be given them.
But men do not always listen to the voice of God, because, as in the days before the flood, Satan comes among them, saying that he is also a son of God, commanding them to believe it not, and many of them believe it not, and they love Satan more than God, becoming carnal, sensual, and devilish. Hence, in the wisdom of God, in calling upon the children of Noah, according to the promise he made to Enoch, the descendants of Abraham were chosen to be special witnesses of him.
They were singled out and called to be the special servants of God in carrying out his plan to counter the subtle craftiness and deception of Satan. Through the children of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants, through the twelve sons of Jacob, the Lord would establish and preserve the truth of his word for a witness unto all nations that he is the Ruler of the Universe, and that all men must come unto him, or perish.
But, to be sure, as the salt of the earth, Israel was to be a suffering servant.