Have you ever wondered why God created mountains? And so many of them! I live near the Appalachian range along the eastern part of the United States. I was raised in Knoxville Tennessee and the Great Smokey Mountains were a huge part of my growing up. We went to the mountains and played in the cool mountain streams. We had picnics at the various pull – overs along the mountain roads. And we all knew where to go for the moonshine made by mountain people hidden deep in the valleys.
I have visited the Black Mountains in North Carolina and the Green Mountains in Vermont. Stone Mountain in Georgia provided a breathtaking family climb. Each mountain provides its own beauty and its own perils.
Often we look at the hardships of life as mountains. And I completely understand that. As an adult I have sat in many traffic jams due to road work on the mountain passes. Parts of the roads fall off into the abyss or rock slides leave massive boulders on the road that will need to be blasted away. There are many hardships in the mountains that may simulate the uncertainties in our lives.
Let’s open the Bible and see some of the references to mountains. My first thought is when Satan took Jesus into the mountains for his first ministry trial in Matthew 4:8 – 11.
“…the devil took Him (Jesus) to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these I will give You, if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’ Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to Him.“
Satan tempted Jesus first in the desert, then from the top of the temple, before taking Him to the mountains. Jesus was tired. He was hungry. And Satan knew that the climb up the mountain would add to this physical condition. Satan figured that since Jesus was not at His best, He would be weak enough to want comfort, pleasure, release from His current situation. But he was wrong. When Jesus went up the mountain He took God with Him. He took the Holy Spirit with Him. The Trinity met Satan on the mountain and the strength came from inside. It came from a reliance on who He was to overcome these temptations.
Jesus used the mountains to teach. One of the most beloved teachings comes from Matthew 5; we call it the Sermon on the Mount.
“Seeing the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and when He sat down, His disciples came to Him.“
Jesus had called His first disciples and started His ministry. He went throughout Galilee teaching, healing, and casting out demons. The disciples followed Him through the streets watching and learning. But when Jesus wanted to teach these disciples, He didn’t want the distractions of the crowds so He pulled them away to the mountain. And in the quiet of the mountain with nothing but the birds, soft breeze, and water flowing gently over the rocks in the creek, He taught them how to live as Christ.
Matthew 14:23 tells us that Jesus used the mountains to pray. To be one – to – one with His heavenly Father. To rid Himself of the cares of the world and to rejuvenate His spirit.
“And after He had dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone.”
Jesus was famous. The people knew He could heal them. They followed Him begging for deliverance from demons. They crushed around Him everywhere He went. He needed space to commune with God. The mountains offer solitude and peace. They offer a setting where your thoughts are not disturbed by the everyday.
I have often gone to the mountains to write my books. Especially when I come to a blank paper. Often I need to go to the mountains to hear God speak the words I need to write. There is nothing quite like sitting on the deck of a cabin overlooking the mountain range when you need to get away from the crowds of life.
Just as in anything, mountain connotations depend on our experiences. If we have been stuck in traffic, or chased by a bear, we may have the idea that mountains are hard and dangerous. In this case, we may feel that every difficulty we face is a mountain we have to climb. And we do have to climb it to go on with our lives. But as we are climbing, huffing and puffing with each step, imagine if you will, the solitude, peace, and renewed strength that awaits us once we reach the top of the mountain. Create a vision of Jesus teaching His disciples in the tranquility of the mountain. Or Jesus sitting on a rock while talking with His Father in heaven.
Where do you go to get away from it all and be alone with Jesus? Maybe it is a cabin in the mountains. But it may just as well be a designated prayer room in your home. Or walking along a path in your back yard. It doesn’t matter where it is, but it does matter that we use it. Mountains are high and mighty. But with the power of the Holy Spirit, we can climb them until we get to a place of peace. We have the same power inside us that Jesus had when He followed Satan up the mountain of temptation. We can overcome each obstacle, each temptation, each trial with the Word of God and prayer. We can make each mountain a beautiful chance to commune with Jesus.