I love the outdoors, particularly hiking. As a child our family spent summers trekking through the Cascade Mountains in search of beautiful viewpoints, waterfalls, streams and lakes. I love the physical activity, the scenery, and the camaraderie it engendered; all of us chatting and helping each other over the rough spots and then standing in awe when we reached our goal. I remember one exhausting climb where my imaginative sisters and I closed our eyes and pointed at the mountain, commanding it to move. Even as children, we knew not to take the scriptures literally as stated in Matthew 17:20 “…you could say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it would move,” so we were not a bit surprised to find the mountain still there and continued on.
Mountains are huge, rugged, and dangerously beautiful; people try to climb and conquer them all the time. Some even die trying. But what are these mountains spiritually? Most mean great pain and hardship and our desire is to see them dealt with quickly. We may even pray that prayer for total removal of the mountain. These Life challenges are what make us grow; they can either make us or break us. However, scripture shows us powerful evidence that unfolds a new perspective on mountains, how to climb them, and what we’ll find when we reach the top.
In your trial, troubles, and conflicts that are your mountain, you can find so much more than simply an obstacle.
A Place of Vision and Destiny
In Exodus chapter 3, Moses encounters the burning bush while on Mount Horeb.” There he hears from God, receiving clear direction and calling for his future. Moses receives the divine communication through the fiery manifestation that outlines Moses’ purpose in life – the salvation of the Israelites from Egypt.
A Place of Instruction and Direction
The story of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai is famous among even non-Christians. Also, in I Kings 19, a discouraged Elijah, after confronting the prophets of Baal went to mountain cave. There the Lord converses with him, telling him to go in and anoint Hazael as king over Syria.
Jesus gave lengthy instructions to his Disciples and followers in his Sermon at the Mount. Here he outlined specific teaching that is foundational in all Christian teaching today. Again in Acts chapter 1, we see that He gave instructions, from the mount (vs. 12), to the disciples just prior to ascending to heaven. These last instructions were what prompted the disciples to wait together in the upper room where they experienced the outpouring of the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). What if they’d never gone to the mountain with Jesus to hear and obey his instructions to wait for the promise?
A Place of Divine Intimacy and Worship
One of my favorite stories is where Moses pleads to see the face of God. In Exodus 33:18 Moses beseeches, “I want to see your glory!” I have often tried to imagine Moses’ heart as he expressed his desire, craving God’s intimate touch. The Lord responds saying, “I will make my Goodness pass right in front of you; I’ll call out, proclaiming who I am.” He goes on in verse 22, “I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I’ve passed by. Then I’ll remove my hand so that you can see my back, but not my face.” Moses experienced something no other had – he saw God. Not only did Moses receive his destiny while conversing with the burning bush, he also was told by God "I will be with you. This will be the proof that I am sending you: After you lead the people out of Egypt, all of you will worship me on this mountain."
Another example is when Jesus went to the mountain to pray. Luke 9:28 – 29 says, “And it came to pass about eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.”
There’s been many a trial in my life, that once overcome, has resulted in my grateful praise and thanksgiving; awe at His ever-present mercy at work in my life. While my face might not need to be veiled like Moses’, or be glistening like Jesus’, I have no doubt that, when I’ve spent time in intimate worship, it’s not furrowed with frown lines.
A place of Victorious Views
One of the best examples of a mountainous view that resulted in victory is when Moses, Aaron and Hur stood on top of a hill and watched God miraculously deliver the Amalekites into the Israelites hands (Exodus 17:10-16). They were in a great position to be able see the battle raging below them. The results of their actions were readily apparent and they responded appropriately with support for Moses as his arms got heavy and he could no longer lift them himself. Once victorious, the Lord said, in verse 14: “I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”
The importance of this mountain is that it put them in a strategic viewpoint with which to survey the situation and make the needed changes to quickly respond. The important part is not to focus on the actual mountain, or place where we’re at (an introspective view), but rather at the surrounding environment to see what tactical strategies we can employ that result in victory.
Revelation 21:10 states, “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,” here the view is of the heavenly kingdom; truly an incredible vantage point to see the eternal future!
What is your mountain?
Is it a place of temptation? Satan took Jesus up to mountain and tempted him, Luke 4:5 states, “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.” Is your temptation one of gossip, conforming to the world, or maybe attitudes of anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness?
Is it a place of refuge? Elijah took refuge in the mountain cleft after defeating the prophets of Baal. From there he heard the voice of God.
Is it a place of death and sacrifice? Abraham was instructed to take Isaac to a mountain of God’s choosing to offer up Isaac. Is what you’re facing mean great sacrifice?
Do we really want to ask for our mountains to be removed, or even made easier? What would we miss out on if we found a short-cut or even a way to avoid our obstacles? We could be cheating ourselves out of, not only the view, but an amazing opportunity to hear directly from God about our destiny, or clear instructions about the future, and intimate worship with the lover of our souls. So lace up your hiking boots and let’s go mountain climbing!