The metaphorical meaning of mountains as symbols of God’s promises and blessings is based upon the words of Jacob in Genesis 49:26 where he said, as he blessed Joseph:
The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.
Mountains, rivers, valleys, hills, coasts, wilderness, desert, are all part of the land that God promised to give Abraham, and to Isaac, and to Jacob. Belief was required for the Israelites to enter the land of promise. [Heb. 3:19] Jacob discovered that the things that must be believed, promises of spiritual blessings, are represented by mountains and hills.
The promises he received were lofty and spiritual, and so were high like high mountains, and also durable, or eternal, so he compared them to the “everlasting hills.”
The table below lists many prophecies that refer to mountains, with brief explanatory notes.
One of the symbolic meanings attached to mountains in prophecy is connected the fact that the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. In many prophecies the mountains are symbolic of blessings, promises, and revelations of God. The Genesis account of the flood connects mountains with rest. After the flood men tried to build “a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven.” The progressive revelation of God’s plan in prophecy focuses on mountains, especially mount Zion, and a city, Jerusalem, which were raised up to heaven in a spiritual sense. These contrast with the tower of Babel, a kind of man-made mountain, and the city of Babylon. In the table below, references to mountains are listed, and the possible symbolic meanings attached to them in prophecy are noted.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Four things are brought together in the prophecy: good tidings, mountains, the feet of the messenger, and the fact that God reigns. The meaning of good tidings was identified by Paul, who applied the scripture to those preaching the Gospel. [Rom. 10:15-16]
Dispensationalists say that the 70 weeks prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 applies to Jews, not the church, because the prophecy says “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city,” in Daniel 9:24.
Patrick Fairbairn observed, “There are many passages in the prophets in which the application to them of a strict and historical literalism would not only evacuate their proper meaning, but render them absolutely ridiculous and inconsistent one with another.”
The prophecy of Ezekiel chapter 34 distinguishes between the mountains of Israel, and the mountains of other lands.
Ezekiel 34:6 says, “My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.”
God’s sheep are scattered upon the face of the earth, in tens of thousands of sects and denominations, and ministries, with many different beliefs.
Isaiah said in the last days, referring to Judah and Jerusalem, that the mountain of the Lord’s house would be raised up, to the top of the mountains, and exulted above the hills.
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
When we compare this with Ezekiel’s prophecy about the river flowing from the house of the Lord, a paradox appears. Any tectonic event that would elevate Jerusalem in a literal sense, would increase the slope in the surrounding area. But in Ezekiel’s description, the river in the vicinity of Jerusalem is shown to have a very gentle gradient, comparable to that of a football field, where a minimal slope is needed for drainage. In about half a mile, the depth of the river increases by only about three feet. [Ezek. 47:1-7]
Bible scholars have suggested various meanings for the mountains of Israel in Ezekiel 36:1-15. These include (1) the land; (2) the people of Israel; (3) either the land or the people; (4) they are metaphors representing God’s promises. Correctly interpreting the mountains is key to understanding the prophecy. Daniel I. Block wrote on the theological significance of this prophecy:
When the disciples asked Jesus, “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” in Matthew 24, his immediate response was to list a series of events to set the scene, and to indicate both the scope, and the timeframe for events that he subsequently described. Events mentioned at the beginning of the prophecy, in verse 4-14, are listed in clear, unambiguous language, in contrast to events mentioned after verse 14 which are expressed in symbolic, prophetic terms.
David wrote, in Psalm 36:6, “Thy righteousness is like the great mountains.” The great mountains of the earth are regions of snow and ice, that remained inaccessible to men until the nineteenth century when adventurers developed mountaineering skills, and began to discover routes to the tops of the high peaks of the European Alps, and other mountains of the world.
The reason David compared God’s righteousness to high mountains must have to do with their altitude, and their metaphorical connection with high and lofty thoughts, such as the prophet Isaiah referred to when he described God’s thoughts as higher than those of man.
How prophetic mountains are perceived
Commentators have long claimed that mountains in prophecy represent nations or kingdoms, and it is true that God’s kingdom is often represented by a mountain. However, scripture supports a more fundamental interpretation of the mountains; they represent God’s blessings, and covenants, and promises.
Natural mountains may appear differently, when viewed from various directions, and prophecy is similar. Promises of blessing, and covenants, may be represented by mountains, which are prominent parts of the promised land. The kingdom of God is a prophecy, and a promise of blessing, and so it can be represented by a mountain.
The antichrist spirit, and apostasy becoming dominant in the church, are described in Daniel’s prophecies. The reign of Antiochus IV, the Seleucid king of Syria in the 2nd century BC, was typical of events of a spiritual nature, not a repetition of events of the same kind. Because of his policies, the temple at Jerusalem was made desolate, and dedicated to Zeus, which was typical of the desolation of the true temple, which is the church. Daniel referred to this desolation as the abomination of desolation. In Daniel 7 it is represented by the little horn that emerged among the ten horns of the fourth beast. In chapter 8, a king of fierce countenance who “understands dark sentences” destroys many of the holy people.
In his Ezekiel 36 Commentary, Bruce Hurt quoted from the works of numerous authors who support dispensationalism. However the author identified himself as a literalist rather that a dispensationalist. In his comments on verse 1 he wrote:
Isaiah wrote about making a highway in the wilderness, and mountains being made low.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
Interpreting the encoded message of prophecy correctly reveals the glory of God. In Isaiah’s prophecy the mountains are symbols of the prophecies and promises of scripture. Those who investigate Bible prophecy are a lot like explorers or mountaineers seeking a way through unexplored, rugged country.
A connection between the mountains and the gospel exists, because David wrote that God’s righteousness is like the great mountains, and the apostle Paul said that the gospel reveals God’s righteousness. [Psalm 36:6; Romans 1:16-17]
In August 2011 Mike Vlach posted a three part series of blogs on Zechariah 14. Part 1 was Zechariah 14 and the Timing of the Kingdom; part 2: Zechariah 14:10-21 and the Nature of the Coming Kingdom; part 3: Theological Implications of Zechariah 14. His concluding comments seem mainly intended to discredit the idea that Christ now reigns as king on the throne of David.
The theological position Vlach defends is dispensationalism, and his posts seem chiefly designed to prop up dispensational dogma, rather than to expound the true meaning of Zechariah’s prophecy. For example, he does not mention the significance of the day of the Lord at all.
In the table below, some common beliefs connected with dispensationalism are contrasted with the teachings of the prophets and apostles.
Revelation 16:17-21 describes the events that occur when the seventh angel pours out his vial with the last of the seven last plagues. In verse 19, John wrote of a great earthquake, unprecedented in scale, and connected with it, he said, in verse 20: “And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” The earthquake must be viewed as spiritual in nature, just as the mountains and islands are spiritual.
In his Olivet Discourse, Jesus exhorted those who are in Judea to “flee to the mountains.” This implies that they are able to find the mountains. In each prophecy, the mountains meant are not literal mountains, but they represent promises of God to the saints, who are represented by “them that be in Judea.” The mountains Jesus intended us to seek are invisible ones.
Paul explained in 2 Corinthians 1:20 that all the promises of God are made available to us through Christ; he wrote: “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” In the Old Testament, these promises were given to God’s people Israel, but the New Testament shows that those who believe in Christ share in them, as they have become part of the true Israel of God through faith. Some of these promises are listed in table below. The notes in the right hand column suggest how they are fulfilled by Christ and his church.
In Romans 8:32 Paul wrote: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” But there is something that many Christians adamantly deny that God has ever given to the church: the land and mountains of Israel. Therefore, they implicitly reject the above statement of Paul; they do not believe it. Read more…