Category Archives: Bible Geography

A Lesson From the Hills

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2).

Mountains have a fascinating allure to most everyone. The great mountain ranges of the world are as beautiful as they are dangerous. They are mysterious because, at certain elevations, the climate and terrain become formidable and, thus, their summits are often hard to reach and are often shrouded with thick mists and clouds, adding to their mystic. Many primitive cultures include stories about the “gods” living in the mountains. Think of Mount Olympus, for example. The Bible also mentions not a few mountains and hills that play an important role in the unfolding of the story of salvation.

In Genesis two we are told of the Garden of Eden. It is described as a beautiful paradise filled with precious stones, a grand river that flowed from it and every kind of tree that produced fruit that was good for food (Gen. 2:8-17). It was there that man walked with God (Gen. 3:8). However, it is in this place also that man gave in to temptation and brought sin and death into the world and were consequently thrust from its environs (Gen. 3:1-7, 16-19, 23,24; Rom. 5:12).

Though we normally think of Eden in a plain or perhaps a valley, when Ezekiel described the Garden, he associated it with the “mountain of God” (Ezek. 28:13-15). If, indeed, Eden was located on a mountain, this would explain the fact that many ancient cultures placed their gods and their paradise in the upper regions of a mountain. Because of this, when I think of Eden, I think not only of paradise, I also think of paradise lost!

The Book of Genesis also describes the generations of mankind that multiplied after man was driven from the Garden. While some men did begin to call upon the name of the Lord (Gen. 4:26), generally mankind spiraled out of control into a cesspool of filth and sin (Gen. 6:5). So bad was this decline, that God repented of having created man at all and determined to cleanse the earth and start anew (Gen. 6:6,7).

One man who stood above all the rest was Noah and God chose him to build an ark and to save a remnant from destruction. After the flood waters receded, the ark of Noah came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (Gen. 8:4). From here Noah and his family descended the mountain to repopulate the new world. When I think of the mountains of Ararat I think not only of God’s judgment on a sinful world, but also the hope of salvation (I Pet. 3:21).

When God called Abram from Ur of the Chaldees, he told him that his seed would bless the whole earth (Acts 7:1,2; Gen. 12:1-3). He was given this promise at age seventy-five (Gen. 12:4). It wasn’t until a quarter century later that God fulfilled His promise and gave Abraham his promised son, Isaac (Gen. 21:5). However, God commanded Abraham to take his son unto Mount Moriah and to offer him as a sacrifice to God (Gen. 22:2).

The offering of Abraham’s only begotten son, Isaac, was a type of the offering of God’s only begotten Son–the Christ (Heb. 11:17-19). It was on this mount also that David built an altar to the Lord and later his son, Solomon, built the temple (II Sam. 24:24,25; II Chon. 3:1). When I think of Mount Moriah, then, I am reminded of the grace of God in sending His Only Begotten Son to be the propitiation for our sins and of God’s Holy Temple, the church of God, in which we find salvation (Acts 2:47; I. Tim. 3:15).

When God chose Moses to lead His people out of Egyptian bondage, God led them to Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:1,2). It was on this mountain that Moses ascended and then descended with the Laws of God embodied in the Ten Commandments. When I think of Mount Sinai I am reminded of God’s law for mankind which today is the New Testament delivered to us by The Deliverer, Jesus.

Another mountain of great prominence in the Bible is Mount Zion. David originally captured Mount Zion or the stronghold of Zion from the Jebusites (II Sam. 5:6,7). Isaiah prophesied that out of it the word of the Lord would go forth (Is. 2:2,3), which is exactly what happened in the Book of Acts (Acts 2). It was out of Zion that the Deliverer would come, as well (Rom. 11:26). When Paul was describing the better nature of the New Testament and the Lord’s church, he described it as the Heavenly Jerusalem and as Mount Zion (Heb. 12:18-24).

In the Book of Revelation, John described the victorious church as standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb of God (Rev. 14:1). In the final scene of the Book of Revelation, the Heavenly Jerusalem is descending down from heaven as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:1,2). It is described as a Paradise where a river runs through from the throne of God with the waters of life and the tree of life growing on either side of it with leaves that were for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:1-3). There will no more curse there (Rev. 22:5). We will once again ascend the Mountain of God and walk in His presence amongst the stones of fire (Rev. 21:3, 10-21).

Eric L. Padgett