The Dead Sea (aka Salt Sea) is about ten times saltier than ocean water. Since ancient times water from the Jordan River, and other smaller tributaries, flowed into the Dead Sea; but with no natural outflow, water evaporated, leaving behind minerals that increased the salt content.
At 1400 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea has been an important location since ancient times. Egyptians gathered minerals there to be used in mummification. King Herod the Great built a resort for people to float in the water and to cover themselves with mineral-rich mud, for recreational and medicinal purposes.
Scripture suggests the central region of the Dead Sea was the location of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 14:1-3), once part of the cities of the plain claimed by Lot (Genesis 13:10-12). Another city of the plain, Zoar, where Lot and his family fled when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:20-24). Historically, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 in caves near the Qumran Valley on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea.
Today, for all its notoriety and importance, the Dead Sea is dying1. The oxymoron between dead and dying is due to human interventions. Israel, Jordan, and Syria syphon freshwater input into the Dead Sea, causing the water level to drop about 4 feet a year. In the southern region, where most resorts are located, a chemical company extracts minerals by evaporation. The net result, over the last 50 years, is a reduction in surface area by one-third. Human remedies for the dying Dead Sea are at a standstill.
The status of the Dead Sea can be compared to our own spiritual journey. When God breathed His Spirit into Adam, man was given the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). Unfortunately, since the time of Adam mankind has resisted the infusion of God’s Spirit (Acts 7:51), leaving us spiritually dead (James 2:26).
It is bad enough to be dead, but many aspects of the world around us want us to keep dying. Temptations abound for us to believe money is the source of happiness, rather than to trust in the Lord (Matthew 6:24). We fret and worry about what to wear, to eat, to drink (Matthew 6:28-34). Such worldly endeavors keep us dead and dying because we either do not know, or do not believe, God can provide not merely a life, but life to the full (John 10:10).
A real danger is assuming the Lord is always going to keep His Spirit flowing into us, whether individually, as a family, or as a church. Like Samson we fail to realize God can justly withdraw His Spirit (Judges 16:20). When it evaporates, like the Dead Sea dying, we are doomed. As Job put it, “the dead are in anguish” (Job 26:5).
The remedy for being dead and dying is found in God’s Son, Jesus, who provides channels for living water to come into us (John 10:10-14). The Lord said that whoever drinks His living water will never be thirsty again. True, but I don’t think Jesus meant one drink is good for a lifetime. If we don’t thirst for this righteousness on a daily basis (Matthew 5:6), we may stop drinking, only to find ourselves dehydrated; good works drying up.
This parable of the Dead Sea paints the broad picture of salvation. At one time we were a dead sea, in which no real life existed because of sin. Graciously, God enables us to have faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8) by which sins are forgiven and eternal life granted. Proof of genuine faith requires good works. Though each day we face temptations that dry up our spirit, our thirst for the Lord’s living water, abundantly available, keeps us from dying. From dead and dying to spiritually revived.
Keep the SON in your eyes