Many who have not the privilege of living near them, will likely at some point travel to see the mountains. Rightly so. Immense, beautiful, towering, majestic, rugged, wild, and permanent, they are awesome visual spectacles the Lord created for us to enjoy, and also as enduring earthly pictures of spiritual realities. In general, mountains represent kingdoms and people that inhabit them, but more specifically they are a type of the everlasting, universal, kingdom of God.
From the beginning, our Creator gave mountains a prominent place in old covenant history. Some are known mainly for their descriptive names: Halak (smooth), Seir (hairy), Jearim (forested), Shapher (beautiful), Zalmon (shady), Paran (cavernous), Hermon (sanctuary—also highest and northernmost mount in Canaan). Others are named after tribes (Naphtali, Ephraim, and Judah) or nations living nearby (Amorites, Amalek, and Lebanon). Still others are associated with significant covenant events—Hor (where Aaron died), Abarim (where Moses saw Canaan), Nebo (where Moses died), Gerizim and Ebal (where Israel read the curses and blessings of God’s law), Gilboa (where Saul and Jonathan died), and Carmel (site of the Lord’s great victory over Baal).
No mountains are mentioned more than Sinai (Horeb) and Zion (Moriah). Importantly, both are called the holy mountain of God, upon both He descended to dwell with Israel, and from both are derived the clearest spiritual pictures of mountains. At Sinai, God appeared in the burning bush to announce deliverance of Israel (Acts 7:30). After He redeemed them; He came down on it with lightning, earthquake, cloud, and trumpet (Ex. 19:18-19); His glory was a devouring fire (Ex. 24:16); He lived with Moses (Ex. 24:16); the people met with God (Ex. 19:17); He made covenant with them (Deut. 5:2); and He gave judgments and laws (Lev. 26:46). Whereas Israel could not approach Sinai and saw God only from afar (Ex. 19:11-12), on Zion God graciously makes a permanent, safe home for His people to worship Him through atoning sacrifice. It is where Abraham sacrificed his only son (Gen. 22:2), and the Lord established David’s kingdom as a mighty fortress and built His temple (II Chr. 3:1). Collectively these mountains represent the everlasting kingdom God establishes graciously with His elect church, redeemed, sanctified, and blessed by His living presence through the Spirit of Jesus Christ and brought to glorious perfection in the new creation.
Essentially the Lord is the mountain of Israel (Is. 30:29). More glorious than the mountains, before they were brought forth, He is God (Ps. 76:4, 90:2). By His strength He sets them fast, weighs in the balance, and is praised by them (Ps. 65:6; Is. 40:12, 14:23). His righteousness is like the mountains (Ps. 36:6), and His covenant more enduring (Is. 54:10). Thus, when God in Christ comes to dwell personally with His church, it is the mountain of His holiness, beautiful for situation, joy of the whole earth, city of the great King (Ps. 48:1-2). As mountains drop dew, His people are blessed by His Spirit and their souls satisfied, for death is swallowed up in victory (Ps. 133:3; Jer. 50:19; Is. 25:8). Sanctified by His presence, it is a goodly mountain (Deut. 3:25), city of truth (Zech. 8:3), habitation of justice (Jer. 31:23). It is also a house of prayer (Is. 56:7). Made joyful and full of the knowledge of God, Jew and Gentile are brought to this holy mountain to worship lifting up voices with strength so the noise of a great people is heard (Is. 13:4, 40:9, 11:9).
Neither shall anything hurt nor destroy in all this holy mountain (Is. 11:9). It is the Lord’s kingdom, city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Is. 24:23; Heb. 12:22). In it the Lamb stands with His redeemed 144,000, the elect, inheritors of His mountain (Rev. 14:1; Is. 65:9). His glory is their defense, His presence a shelter in the storm (Is. 4:5-6). They stand strong as Mt. Zion which cannot be removed but abideth forever (Ps. 30:7, 125:1). But it is not fully perfected until the great day of the Lord when this mountain of humble beginnings fills the whole earth (Dan. 2:35). In the last days, although all other mountains shall be moved out of their place (Rev. 6:14), this mountain of the Lord will be established, exalted over all, and the nations flow unto it. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. The Lord will teach us of His ways and we will walk in His paths, for out of Mt. Zion shall go forth His law (Is. 65:25, 2:2-3).