When the mountain of God bends to save us
As we read through scripture the one geographical image that should get out attention are mountains. Some identified with specific names while others have an area only. It isn’t so much that the name becomes significant as to what appeared in the sequence of events that each one is mentioned.
After Abraham is selected to follow God’s guidance and have his faith tested, he leads Issac, his first born son to a place called Moriah meaning the hill country. God asks Abraham to take his son Issac and offer him as a sacrifice. Abraham agrees and once Issac is bound to an altar Abraham readies himself to kill his son as a sacrifice when an angel steps in telling him not to kill his son. “Abraham! Yes, Lord, he answered. Do not lay your hand on the boy, said the messenger. Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.” (Gn 22: 11b - 12). Of course, this mountain experience comes generations later when God the Father calls his Son Jesus for a similar sacrifice. This begins a pattern of a mountain bending to save mankind.
Moses sees a burning bush that is not consumed. As he approaches he hears the voice of God speaking and realizes he is in the presence of God. From the mount of Horeb, Moses journeys to Egypt to lead the Israelites to freedom and back to the land of milk and honey; the land God has promised to each of us, thousands of years later. He has a task of handing the people God’s directives on Mt. Sinai. God hands the Ten Commandments on stone tablets written by his own hand. Through all this we can see the parallel of Moses to Jesus. Another event that comes to us through the significance of a mountain experience.
As the history of salvation keeps moving forth the prophet Elijah, like many prophets, encounters a difficult situation when to show God’s greatness encounters Baal’s prophets and challenges them to a test matching his God to their god. After he wins by asking God to intervene by burning a sacrifice and all the water surrounding an altar he set up. After that he killed the 400 prophets of Baal making Jezebel angry and looking to take Elijah’s life. He ran to the mount of Horeb hiding from his accusers. While in a cave the word of the Lord spoke to him asking why he was hiding. He was told to go to the entrance of the cave and the Lord would be passing by. “A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing the rocks before the Lord - but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake - but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire - but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound . When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went to the entrance of the cave.” (1 Kgs: 19: 11 - 13). Again from a mountain we find God’s presence does not require violence, just peace. Even with the crucifixion of Jesus, we find peace that can only come from a love that goes beyond warfare.
“I raise my eyes toward the mountains, from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” (Ps 121).
Mount Tabor is the sight of the greatest sign of Resurrection next to the sight of Mary Magdalene on Easter Sunday; Jesus standing with Moses and Elijah before Peter, James, and John. The Transfiguration where the Risen Christ stands in his glorified body after the Resurrection. A sight on the mountain, the meaning of rising above the earth bound conditions of a promise each one who believes and accepts Christ will also share
Ralph B. Hathaway