Mountains in the Bible
We live for the mountain-top experiences in our lives. Adrenaline junkees are famous for this. They spend their entire lives concocting plans to one-up their last elevated experience. For the average person, mountain-top experiences may come in the form of marriage, having children, or being promoted.
For many believers, feeling invited into God’s presence is the ultimate mountain-top experience. This can happen at a camp, a revival, or even when they are on their knees beside their bed.
God uses actual mountains throughout the Bible to display His power, His provision, and to allow many people to experience amazing mountain-top experiences.
Current Elevation: 16,945 feet
Scripture: “ At the end of 150 days the waters had abated, and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.” - Genesis 8:1
Context: The earth had turned into an all-out Carnival festival. Imagine never having seen rain before and all the sudden God’s heart was broken over how the people He created were acting on the earth He created. He gave them 120 years to turn back to Him, and the people just did not get on board. Noah, however, had walked with God during these troubled times, and God saw Him. God tasked Noah and his family to build an ark because He was flood the entire earth with water. So, Noah’s family got to work. And the rest of the world laughed. This is one of many times in the Bible where God asked someone to do something super uncomfortable, knowing that in the end, the discomfort would be well worth it. Noah, his family, and tens of thousands of animals and insects embarked when God said it was time. Torrential downpours cascaded from above and spews of water burst forth from below for forty days straight. This was like the ultimate body jet spray shower system on steroids. There was so much water that the ark could float above mountain tops. It took 150 days for the water to finally begin to subside, and that’s when the ark came to the mountains of Ararat. Noah’s family and all these lovely creatures ended up spending over a year on the ark waiting for the water to dissipate. Once God gave the all-clear, Noah, his family, and a slew of creatures disembarked. Noah built an altar for the Lord and God made a covenant to not flood the earth in such a way again. God sealed this covenant with a rainbow, a sign to remember His promise. Anyone ever seen a rainbow from the top of a mountain? What a glorious sight to behold.
Current Elevation: 1,791 feet
Scripture: “‘Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table.’" - 1 Kings 18:19
Context: Elijah gave God the opportunity to perform the biggest mic drop ever on Mount Carmel. King Ahab had turned away from the one true God and followed pagan gods, including Baal. Elijah calls King Ahab out on this and tells him to send 900 prophets of these false gods to Mount Carmel. Once the prophets and a bunch of spectators show up, it’s showtime. Elijah tells the prophets, “Let’s have a match. You guys set up a wood altar with an animal sacrifice, and I’ll set up one, too. But we won’t set them on fire. Then, you call out to your god and I’ll call out to mine. Let’s see whose God answers.” The prophets of Baal agreed and started yelling, “Baal, answer us! Light this wood on fire! Show Elijah who’s boss.” No answer. Hours go by. Still no answer. Elijah gets a real kick out of this and starts calling out, “Maybe you’re too quiet…try shouting a little louder! Perhaps he’s taking a nap!” Okay, Elijah, a little egotistical there…Elijah finally decides to draw the pitiful spectacle to a close. He gathers everyone together and builds an altar out of stone to the Lord. Now, here comes the crazy part-Just so everyone doesn’t come up with any outlandish excuses, Elijah has the altar doused with water. He has them put so much water on this altar that it fills up a trench around it. No random spark is setting this altar on fire. And then Elijah prays, “Lord, show these people You’re boss.” 1 Kings 1:18 says, “Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.” And everyone falls down crying out to Yahweh. There was no question who was in charge.
Mount Moriah/Temple Mount Region
Current Elevation: 2,430 feet
Scripture: “He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’” -Genesis 22:2
Context: After 100 years of waiting (and trying at times to take things into his own hands), Abraham’s son Isaac was born. He was Abraham’s pride and joy. Everywhere they went, Abraham would call out, “Hey, have you met my son, Isaac?” “You know my son Isaac, right?” “Now let me tell you guys what amazing thing Isaac did last night!” Sometimes when we hold people or things so close to us, God has to do a little heart check-who’s number one: Him or that person/thing? So, God commanded Abraham to take Isaac to the top of a mountain in Moriah and sacrifice him. And Abraham said okay. Early the next morning, Abraham and Isaac made their journey up the mountain. As they are trekking up this mountain, Abraham has time to think about what’s going on here. If Isaac dies, that means he no longer has his precious son. It also means that God’s promise to bless Abraham and His children’s children would be extinguished. But Abraham had faith. He knew His God would provide. He always had. During the journey, Isaac starts looking around and says, “Hey, Dad? Where’s the lamb we’re going to sacrifice?” Abraham chokes up, collects himself, and responds, “God will provide the lamb.” After binding up his son on the Lord’s altar, knife is hand, posed and ready to kill, the Angel of the Lord calls out, “Abraham! Put that knife down. Don’t you dare kill your son. I know who’s number one in your life.” And the Lord provided a ram for Abraham and Isaac to sacrifice. The most amazing part of this is that God provided a substitute sacrifice for Abraham-a foreshadowing of God one day giving up His only Son as a sacrifice for all of us so we could spend eternity with Him.
Current Elevation: 2,300 feet
Scripture: “Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar.” - Deuteronomy 34:1-3
Context: Moses had always had a problem with his temper. He killed an Egyptian when he saw him beating a Hebrew slave. When he descended from Mount Sinai with the 10 Commandments in his hands, he busted the tablets out of anger. And after hearing the Israelites complain for the millionth time, he struck a rock in anger instead of obeying God’s instructions to speak to the rock to bring water out for the people to drink. Moses’ outrageous anger had tough consequences. Because of Moses’ temper tantrum in the Desert of Zin, God told Moses that Moses would not be the one bringing the Israelites to the land God had promised them. However, while Moses would never enter the Promised Land, God in His loving kindness showed it to him from the top of Mount Nebo. After so many years of hearing God’s promise, Moses finally saw it in HD. After wanting this land for God’s people for so long, Moses finally had a taste of the end of the desert and the beginning of a land filled with milk and honey.
As if mountains themselves are not a big enough display of God’s awesome power, His use of them to bring people closer to Him is awe-striking. Next time you find yourself on the top of a mountain-or maybe even a small hill (Baby steps…)-take the time to remember God’s majesty and His provision. He is always fulfilling His promises. And He is always waiting for us to come and seek time in His presence.
"'For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,'
says the Lord who has compassion on you.'" - Isaiah 54:10
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