Date: June 15, 2016 (Training)
Bible Text: | Betty Swann
Series: Pillar One
What are the mountains in your life? Too often we think of the obstacles we have to overcome and we say, “Just a mountain, I’ll never get over it.” Or, we think about the things that God is trying to do in our life and we cannot seem to ever get it done and we cannot ever seem to learn our lesson. Somebody will say, “Well, take another lap around the mountain.” They are talking about the children of Israel and how hard it was for them to learn what God was trying to teach them. They just seemed to repeat the same things over and over. Think about those things in your life that you would love to have accomplished and you look out there and you see “mountains, I’ll never be able to get down and conquer them.”
There is another way to look at mountains. That is security, stability, comfort, protection. You see God has mountains surrounding Jerusalem. They are there for various reasons and the history of the Bible talks about how God used each one of those mountains for an important thing in the life of a believer at that time, whether it was in the Old Testament or the New Testament. We are going to study some of them today. I am really excited to talk to you about this, because just like the lesson that I taught you on the weather and how important it was, I feel the same about this lesson about the mountains. I never heard anybody teach on them. That is why I got so excited after I did this study on them. I have done the best I could to show you how God used different mountains for different purposes. He does the same thing in your life. He uses different mountains that you encounter for different purposes in your life. God has a plan to it. It is not just hit or miss or anything like that. There is a definite plan to it.
Recently, I was in Israel and I saw these mountains. They were a lot bigger than I anticipated. Do you think about Israel as being flat and desert? I certainly did. But here were these mountains and I was shocked at how some had beautiful pine trees all over them. Some were not as big as I thought they should be, but they were closer to Jerusalem than I thought. The first mountain that we are going to look at is the Mount of Olives. It is only a half a mile from Jerusalem yet Jesus did so many great things there. He did not do them in Jerusalem, He did them on the Mount of Olives. (Look at this chart that I have for you. If you look at this chart, you can see on the right a really tall mountain. That is Mount Hermon. It is the tallest mountain. It is 9,232 feet above sea level. It is a very tall mountain. The mountains progress down toward the Dead Sea. If you will look right there in the middle, you will see the Mount of Olives. That a half mile from Jerusalem, the Old City.)
What did God say happened at the Mount of Olives? Did anything in the Old Testament happen there? It did. I did not know it until I did this study but it did. What is the significance of the Mount of Olives? In 2 Samuel 15:30, “After the rebellion of Absalom where he proclaimed himself as the King instead of King David. Rather than fight David, it says, “He walked up the road to the Mount of Olives.” (Now, look at these two pictures I have. The first picture is looking up the mountain from Jerusalem.) When it says in the Bible, “David walked up the road to the Mount of Olives” that is the actual way King David went. It says, “He went weeping. He was the King. His head was covered, his feet were bare, as a sign of mourning, and the people that were with him covered their heads and wept as they climbed the hill.”
(Now if you look at this second picture, you will see the Mount of Olives looking down toward Jerusalem, so you are up on top of it.) In 1 Kings 11:1-8, it says, “On the Mount of Olives East of Jerusalem, Solomon even built a pagan shrine for Chemosh, the detestable god of Moab and another for Molech, the detestable God of the Ammonites. You know, Molech, you know how they worship Molech? They sacrificed and burned their children. Solomon built such sacrifices for all his foreign wives to use for burning incense and sacrificing to their gods. Here is the Mount of Olives that, in a little bit we are going to talk about how much time Jesus spent there. I am showing you the Old Testament history.
There is an incredible promise about the Mount of Olives. Zechariah 14:4 says, “On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west. Half the mountain will move toward the north and half toward the south.” (As you look at this picture, notice you are looking down from the top of the mountain down toward the city of Jerusalem.) There is going to be a wide valley. This is something that has never happened before. God is going to do that when Jesus’ feet stand on the Mount of Olives. This is very important in the future. It has not happened yet. It is a day we are all looking forward to.
What is the New Testament importance of the Mount of Olives? You just need to know where things happened to get an idea of what is really going on. When I work with people, one thing I do that is really important to me is I try to go to their homes. How a person lives or where they live gives you an idea of what they are like and what is going on in their life. It says in Matthew 24:3, “Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives and his Disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, tell us when will all of this happen? What sign will signal your return in the end of the world?” After the last supper, which was on Mount Zion, it says, “They sang a hymn (at Mount Zion) and then they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (By looking at this chart, you can tell they had to walk a pretty good distance up a hill.)
In Luke 19:37, it says, “When Jesus reached a place where the road started down, down the Mount of Olives, all of His followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles.” I wanted to be on that road. I wanted to see what did it feel like when those people were there. It is so important and it was a tiny road, barely wide enough for one car and it wound all the way down the mountain. Look at Luke 21:37, “Every day, Jesus went to the temple to teach and each evening, he returned to spend the night on the Mount of Olives.” Here is another one: Luke 22:39 “Then accompanied by the Disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went, as usual, to the Mount of Olives.”
Here is one that occurred after Jesus died and was resurrected, “and the Disciples went about doing their business of starting the work of the Kingdom.” Acts 1:12 is where they picked Matthias to replace Judas. It says, “And after they did that, they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.” A lot of important things that you might have thought happened in Jerusalem, at least I did, actually happened up on the Mount of Olives.
(Look at this chart again and see if you can see Mount Zion. There is Mount Hermon on the right, Mount of Olives in the center and moving toward the left, Mount Zion.) It is about the same height as the Mount of Olives. I had a hard time recognizing that is what it was when I was in Jerusalem because it just all looks like city now.
What is Mount Zion referring to? Any time you read about Mount Zion, whether it is something in the Bible that happened or it is futuristic, what does Mount Zion represent? It represents government; the government of God in your life, in the life of any believer, in the life of God’s people. It is a term that represents Israel and the capital, Jerusalem. After David conquered the city, it began to be called the City of David. It was known as Zion or the stronghold of Zion.
What do mountains represent? What do mountains signify in your life? Mountains can be something beside trouble, fear or whatever you are worried about. Mountains represent God’s rules. Mountains represent God’s rescue of you. The Mount of Olives represented a place of privacy, introspection and overview. Mount Zion represents God’s rule in your life. How God has chosen to live in you. What an amazing thing. It is a Holy Mountain. It represents justice.
It says in the Bible that God has pronounced a blessing on Mount Zion. In fact, it says it is the place of the Lord. It is the place where the Lord of Heaven’s Army will dwell there. It is the place where the Lord’s teaching goes out. (Look at this picture. This is Mount Zion, the City of David.) It is the sight of the Last Supper, too. It is just amazing. The thing that surprised me the most about Israel is that one event in history is stacked on top of another, stacked on top of another, stacked up on top of another in such a tiny area. Look at Psalms 48:2, “It’s high and magnificent. The whole earth rejoices to see it. Mount Zion, the Holy Mountain is the City of the great King.” It is talking about Jesus. The whole earth rejoices to see that mountain. Have you ever thought about that? A mountain and the whole earth rejoices to see it. In Psalms 76:2, it says, “Jerusalem is where he lives. Mount Zion is His home.”
Recently, the Lord spoke to me while I was in Africa giving out Pennies from Heaven to feed people. I knew I was going to Israel and I wanted to collect money to feed people in Israel because I thought that would be a good thing to do. The Lord spoke to me in my heart and said, Betty, Israel is My home. Give your best gift there. I can remember thinking, “This is really a big deal to God. I have to do this. How am I going to get all this money? How am I going to get everybody to help me. I cannot do it by myself. All kinds of people helped me. Al Cooper, with God’s Learning Channel helped me. He ran a video of Gush Katif and said, “Help Betty.” Do you know that in a two month period, over $14,000 came in to feed people of Israel. You see, God notices who cares about Israel. God notices who watches out for them. I understand just like you do that there are a lot of secular Jews in Israel. They do not know anything about God. They are not interested in God. But we do not base our life on people, we base our life on the Bible. What does the Bible say about Israel? What does it say about Mount Zion? It is a seat of government. God blesses those who bless that land. If you help do that, it is talking about you. But there is even the future about Mount Zion. You see, all these mountains have a past, a present and a future.
Hebrews 12:22 says, “But you have come to Mount Zion to the Heavenly Jerusalem, the City of the Living God.
You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly to the church of the first born whose names are written in Heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. If you do not know who Abel was, that was one of the first children of Adam and Eve and Jesus’ blood means even more. You see we do not really understand the importance of Mount Zion to God. We have never really thought much about it. Just remember, the whole earth rejoiced to see Mount Zion and we need to, too. We need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Here is another Scripture and this is future. It has not happened yet. Revelation 14:1 is talking about the Lamb of God and the 144,000 that will do righteous things for God, do what God wants. It says, “Then I saw the Lamb standing on Mount Zion.” John, the revelator saw the Lamb of God standing on Mount Zion. With Him were 144,000 who had His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads. That is kind of hard for me to figure out how that is going to happen because it was not that big of a mountain. I guess it took up more area than I realized, but somehow 144,000 people were going to be there. They are going to have the name of Jesus and the name of God on their foreheads. Wow, it is just strange how God does things.
How does God say He feels about Mount Zion? Zechariah 8:2 says, “This is what the Lord of Heavens Army says: My love for Mount Zion is passionate and strong. I am consumed with passion for Jerusalem.” So you see, for the 144,000 to be on Mount Zion, it means not just that mountain but all of Israel there in that area. Just praise God. We are just so blessed to get to know all of this. It is just wonderful how God teaches us things.
(Look at the chart again. Over on the right is Mount Hermon, that big tall, tall mountain.) It is the tallest mountain in Israel and on the left side of the ridge are the foothills, Caesarea Philippi. If you know much about Israel, it slopes down. Remember the story about the Good Samaritan, the man went down to Jericho from Jerusalem. It slopes all the way down to the Dead Sea. Then the Dead Sea is about 1300 feet below sea level. It is the lowest surface on the earth.
What is so important about Mount Hermon? What happened there? Something wonderful, really wonderful happened there. First of all, Jesus fed the 4,000 in villages near Caesarea Philippi, so near there. The foot of Mount Hermon is one of the places He fed people. But probably the most important thing is that most scholars think that this is where the Mount of Transfiguration took place. Peter, James and John were selected by Jesus to go and watch something so very, very special happen to Jesus right before he began to go through the process of being crucified, condemned, beaten and everything. He was on a high mountain. It says His clothing became so white that He began to shine, brighter than the sun. This is possibly where it happened on this mountain.
What does it say in the Old Testament about Mount Hermon? Psalms 133:3 says “Harmony, getting along with people is as refreshing as the dew on Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion.” So, the dew from Mount Hermon falls down on the government. Harmony is so important when you have government issues going on and there on Mount Hermon, the Lord has pronounced His blessing, even life everlasting.
Psalms 42:6 is where David is so discouraged he would like to give up. Do you ever feel that way? You think, oh, Lord, life is so hard. Well, here is what David said. “My soul is downcast within me, therefore, I will remember you from the land of the Jordan (talking about the Jordan River) the heights of Hermon from Mount Mizar. There is something about mountains that make you think of God. Have you ever gone to the mountains just to get away from your problems, to get away from the hubbub to have peace and quiet, serenity. There is just something about the mountains that causes you to think about God. The air feels better, lifts your spirit and you are able to come back and go at life again.
The next mountain is very important in today’s news. It is in the news all the time. (I want you to look at this chart again and this time I want you to look for Mount Moriah. It is kind of in the middle, in between Mount Zion and the Mount of Olives. Can you see it there on that chart?) It is in Jerusalem in the Old City. It is where the Dome of the Rock is. What happened in the Old Testament that was so important on Mount Moriah? It is the place that God told Abraham to take Isaac and slay him to test Abraham to see, does the most important thing in your life take second place to Me? You know, God says that to you. He says it to every one of us. We can say, “God, I give it all to You. You have it all.” God says, “Really, how about that thing?” And you say, “Oh, well, I didn’t want to talk to You about that one.” He says, “I want it all.” “I want all of your heart.” You see, 90% obedience is 100% disobedience. God wants everything. Is He selfish? No, because once everything belongs to God. He can handle it in such ways that your life is not ruined. You know, Isaac could have become so important to Abraham because he had to wait so long for it to happen. He could have meant more than God meant to him and God just was not going to stand for that.
This is also the place that Solomon built the original temple. (Look at this picture of the Dome of the Rock.) It is all solid gold. Right now the Muslims control that area and you cannot go in there if you are Jewish. But some day God is going to take it back. Some day, some way, God is going to have His temple again in that area. Some people think it is right there, some people think it is just right next to it. All we know is that God is going to restore that temple.
Look at 2 Chronicles 3:1 to see how God built the Temple. “So Solomon began to build a Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah where the Lord had appeared to David.” There is another thing that happened. The Temple was built on the threshing floor of Arunah, the Jebusite, the sight that David had selected. It is a very important in today’s world. Lots of battles will be fought over it. It is a very valuable piece of property, is it not? As time goes on, it is almost as if it is the most important spot in the whole world.
(Let’s look at some more mountains and see how they apply to your life. Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal. Can you see them in there? They are kind of in the center.) This is where Joshua read the Blessings and the Curses and the people responded. You should read in Deuteronomy the Blessing and the Curses that are promised to people who follow God. You are blessed if you follow it and you are cursed if you do not. Deuteronomy 11:29, “You must pronounce a blessing over your life.” What happened in the New Testament at this very same place? The woman at the well was talking about Mount Gerizim in John 4:20.
The last mountain we want to look at is Mount Carmel. The Mount of Olives is by far my favorite, but Mount Carmel is next. Mount Carmel is so beautiful. It is full of pine trees. God has mountains around you to protect you.
QUIET TIME QUESTIONS
1. How does God use the mountains of Israel?
2. How do you view mountains in your life?
3. What has happened on the Mount of Olives and what is the incredible promise of what will take place there in the future?
4. How does God say He feels about Mount Zion?
5. What do we know about Mount Hermon?
6. What happened with Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah?
7. What building is currently on Mount Moriah and what will be there in the future?
8. On what mountain did Joshua deliver the blessings and the curses?
9. How do the mountains of Israel tell God’s story about the past and the future?
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Topics: Basic Discipleship