Mountains have been considered as the place of God. In many places we find God intervening into human lives on mountains. In India there is a strong belief that God lives on high places. Sages go to the high Himalayan Mountains to lead an austere life on Mount Kailash, where Lord Shiva resides. In South India literatures say that high hills are the dwelling places of God. All over the country we can find temples on hills and mountains.
In the Holy Bible, we find in many examples the contact between man and God on hills and mountains. Seeking God on mountains has been an expression of human innate thirst for God. It is a symbolic expression to take us above, from this ‘valley of tears’. The God experience on these high places takes us high in our thoughts and deeds.
Three Mountain experiences in the Old Testament
1) Abraham meets God on mountain of Moriah
Mount on the land of Moriah was the place where Abraham’s faith was tested and made him the Father of Israel. God said to Abraham, “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 I shall point out to you.”(Genesis 22:2) What a change it brought in the life of Abraham! A simple man Abraham, who climbed up the mountain as the father of the only son Isaac, came down as the Father of Israel in millions! The Moriah meeting was a confirmation of Faith.
2) Moses meets God on Horeb, the Mountain of God
Moses met God, while he was on his duty of pasturing the sheep on a mountain called Horeb. God “appeared to him by means of a flame of fire in the middle of a bush… Yahweh saw that Moses was drawing near to look, and God called to him from the middle of the bush,… ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ (Exodus 3:4, 6) God introduced Himself as the One Who is always with us in all our trials and tribulations.
3) The experience on Mount Sinai
Chapter 19 of Exodus in the Old Testament describes the contact between God and Moses on the Mount Sinai. It is there that God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. “When Yahweh had come to the summit of Mount Sinai, God called Moses who went to the summit.”(Exodus 19:20) When Moses went up to Sinai he had the God experience. But we find the impatient people who remained on the surface made god for ‘themselves to walk ahead of them’. They made a gold-molten calf for themselves and ‘sacrificed offerings’ to it. (Ref. Exodus 19 &32)
Three mountain experiences in the New Testament
4) Transfiguration of Jesus on Tabor
The transfiguration of Jesus, in fact, has much significance in Christian life. It is the summary of all revelation. Moses and Elijah, the spokesmen of the Law and the Prophets present the Christ of the Gospel to the three apostles, who formed the core group of Jesus. In short it was the presentation of the whole Old Testament. As Moses and Elijah were led by God to the Holy Mountain, to witness His glory (Exodus 33:18 and 1 Kings19: 9), the apostles are led apart by Jesus. It is also a call for us to climb up the mountain of God to manifest the glory of God and witness Jesus in our life.
5) Mount Olives calls us to ‘pray that we may not be put to test’
MountOlivesis the testing part our life. It leads us to the Calvary for our crucifixion. It is there that a condemned criminal was promised paradise at the last minute. It is our refuge of repentance. It is there that we are assured of resurrection.
6) Again at Mount Olives with a promise
Jesus meets his disciples for the last time and sends them to announce the Gospel everywhere. Through them he promises us, “I am with you always until the end of this world” (Matthew 28: 20)
We can see a mountain from far away. It is quite visible. It is high and we have to climb up to have a mountain experience. It is a symbolic call for us to lift our heart up towards God.