Home > Literalism, mount of Olives, Mountains in prophecy, New covenant, The Gospel > Why would the mount of Olives be cast into the sea?

Why would the mount of Olives be cast into the sea?

September 20, 2011

When the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith, he told them that if they had faith as a grain of mustard seed, they could say to a sycamine tree, that was nearby, “Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea,” and it would obey them. Then he explained that a servant who does merely what is required is unprofitable.

Luke 17:7-10 NIV
“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'”

The reference to food and drink suggests that in this parable, Jesus meant that the disciples were the servants, who were told to prepare the meal for their master. Jesus often used food metaphorically to signify spiritual nourishment. The disciples were the servants, who were plowing, and looking after the sheep. This also alludes to ministers who look after the spiritual welfare of believers. Doing only what is required, Jesus said, is being unprofitable. Preparing the meal in the parable likely alludes to interpreting the scriptures, which ought not to be forced into a strictly literal interpretation. When Jesus said that they could say to a sycamine tree, be plucked up by the roots, and planted in a completely different context, in the midst of the sea, perhaps he used the sycamine tree to represent his teachings. Taking his words literally is doing merely what is required, but Jesus expects his disciples to go beyond what is literal, and to be creative, and fruitful, and fully understand the message of the gospel.

Consider the somewhat related account in Mark, where Jesus cursed a fig tree that grew upon the mount of Olives, and it soon withered away. Jesus used the event to teach the disciples about faith. He said if they would say unto this mountain, “Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea,” and believe, it would happen as he said.

Mark 11:1
And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples,

Mark 11:12-14
And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:
And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.
And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

Mark 11:20-23
And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

 Applying the lesson that Jesus taught in Luke 17:7-10, it would be unwise to suppose that Jesus wanted his disciples to literally cast the mount of Olives into the sea. So, what could it mean? There are several facts which suggest that the mount of Olives was symbolic of the New Covenant. Jesus outlined the major events to occur in the age of the church upon the mount of Olives, in his Olivet Discourse. Jesus was crucified upon the mount of Olives, as only from the viewpoint of the mount of Olives could the centurion standing nearby at the cross have observed the veil of the temple being rent from top to bottom. [Mark 15:37-39] Jesus ascended to heaven from the mount of Olives. [Acts 1:12] The author of Hebrews encouraged his readers to “go forth unto him without the camp” which implies going from Jerusalem to the mount of Olives, where Jesus was crucified.

Hebrews 13:12-14
Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

This is possible, for most Christians, only if the mount of Olives is understood figuratively. The revelations and covenants of God are represented by mountains in scripture; Jacob said, when he blessed Joseph, “The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.” [Genesis 49:26] The mountains are durable, and the blessings and promises given to Jacob were, like the mountains, durable and eternal, and spiritual in nature, hence they are associated with mountains.

The mount of Olives represents the everlasting covenant that Christ confirms with his church during the present age.

Wherever the saints dwell on earth, they may “go forth therefore unto him without the camp,” to mount of Olives, which represents the New Covenant. The spiritual river flowing from the temple in Ezekiel 47, is deepest where the mount of Olives stands, probably about where Jesus was crucified. The mount of Olives being cast into the sea in Mark 11:23 evidently represents the promises and blessings of the gospel becoming available to Gentiles as shown in the New Testament. It is part of the promised land, which represents the spiritual inheritance of believers.

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