Home > Book of Isaiah, Mountains in prophecy, The Gospel > Clarence Larkin’s mountain peaks of prophecy

Clarence Larkin’s mountain peaks of prophecy

September 23, 2011

The Mountains of Prophecy

Clarence Larkin (1850-1924) published a series of charts on prophecy that promoted the premillennial view of Scripture, and dispensationalism. In his chart, “The Mountain Peaks of Prophecy,” a larger-than-life, bearded figure stands on a plain at the left, looking towards the right. The scene is a timeline, which represents the progress of time. The bearded person clearly sees the birth of Jesus, Calvary, the descent of the holy Spirit at Pentecost, which are represented by symbols upon the top of a mountain ridge representing the coming of Christ in the first century. Behind the first range of mountains is a valley that is hidden from the view of the bearded prophet. In the middle of the valley, called the Valley of the Church, there is a church building, that is obviously meant to represent the Christian church. A note states that the prophets did not see this. Beyond the Valley of the Church, there is another range of mountains, representing events at the end of the age, and the return of Christ. Antichrist stands near the summit. Beyond him, over the mount of Olives, is an image of the sun, and farther beyond it another valley, called the Millennial Valley. A circle floating above the valley contains the kingdom of God, which is visible to the prophet. At the far right, suspended in the air, are the New Jerusalem and the new earth.

Clarence Larkin’s “The Mountain Peaks of Prophecy”

A one-eyed perspective

In the book of Revelation, John’s prophecies incorporate lots of material from the Old Testament. In Hebrews, the prophets and saints are collectively called a great “cloud of witnesses.” [Hebrews 12:1]

Did the prophets see the church age?

James applied a prophecy found in Amos 9, about restoring the house of David, to the church. If James was right, Larkin’s chart is incorrect. The apostle Peter said that the prophets ministered “unto us,” meaning the church. [1 Peter 1:9-12] The present age of the church is prominently featured in prophecy, but this is hidden from some. [Daniel 12:10] Larkin’s chart was designed to promote dispensationalism, and does not represent a true picture of things.

Jerusalem was raised up

In Larkin’s chart, the New Jerusalem should be located not at the far right, but at the beginning of the church age. Similarly the kingdom of God should correspond to the ascent of Jesus to heaven, not removed to an age following the present church age. The chart seems to imply that the whole corpus of prophecy is defective, and in need of the enlightenment that is provided by dispensationalism. Larkin represents his chart as a “view from the side.” In fact, prophecy provides the view from above, the divine perspective.

Mountains and the gospel

Jacob associated mountains and hills with spiritual blessings, when he blessed Joseph. The mountains are both durable, and high. Jacob said that his blessings extended to “the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.” His blessings were eternal, and spiritual in nature. This suggests how we may interpret the metaphorical mountains and hills in other scriptures.

Genesis 49:26
The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

The covenant given at Sinai is represented by mount Sinai. Promises, prophecies and revelations about the gospel are represented by mountains. High mountains are associated with profound spiritual revelations in Ezekiel 40:2, and Revelation 21:10. In Isaiah, lofty thoughts are related to height above the earth; God  says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:9]

In the table below, some examples of prophecies that refer to mountains are listed, along with explanations.

Prophecy Fulfillment
A stone cut out without hands destroys  the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and it grows into a mountain that fills the earth [Daniel 2:35] Jesus established his church, and his kingdom will be established in the earth
The mountain of the Lord’s house will be established in the top of the mountains [Isaiah 2:2] Jesus ascended to heaven. The church has come to the heavenly Jerusalem
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low … the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. [Isaiah 40:4, Luke 3:5] mountains are made low, when prophecies and promises that refer to spiritual things are mistaken for material, earthly, temporal things… God’s glory is revealed when the hidden meaning of prophecy is discovered
The mount of Olives cleaves in the midst; half moves north, and half moves south [Zechariah 14:4] Theories of preterism and dispensationalism misinterpret the Olivet Discourse, and the covenant Christ confirms with the church for one week.
Mountains and islands moved out of their places [Revelation 6:14] Prophecies are misinterpreted; they are applied to the wrong people, at the wrong time
Mountains drop wine [Joel 3:18, Amos 9:13] Prophecies are given a fresh interpretation
God’s enemies are slain, and mountains are melted with their blood [Isaiah 34:3] Mistaken interpretations fulfill prophecy
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  1. jerryshugart
    November 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    The present dispensation of the grace of God was not revealed in the OT prophecies, and therefore represents a “gap of time” between the end of the 69th week and the beginning of the 70th week. The OT prophecies completely overlook these twenty centuries of our era, the time of the “dispensation of the mystery”:

    “And to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God who created all things” (Eph. 3:9;ASV).

  2. December 9, 2012 at 11:01 am

    jerryshugart :

    The present dispensation of the grace of God was not revealed in the OT prophecies, and therefore represents a “gap of time” between the end of the 69th week and the beginning of the 70th week. The OT prophecies completely overlook these twenty centuries of our era, the time of the “dispensation of the mystery”:

    “And to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God who created all things” (Eph. 3:9;ASV).

    The mystery Paul refers to is the one he described in verse 6, “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” They would be included in the Israel of God, and made heirs to the promises by faith in Christ. Paul said those Jews who did not believe the Gospel were no longer included in Israel; “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel,” he wrote. [Rom. 9:6] He described them as branches broken off their tree. [Rom. 11:17]

    The notion that the present era was “completely overlooked in Old Testament prophecy” is refuted by the words of Peter, who said, “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.” [Acts 3:24]

  3. jerryshugart
    December 9, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Doug, you said:

    The notion that the present era was “completely overlooked in Old Testament prophecy” is refuted by the words of Peter, who said, “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.” [Acts 3:24]

    The present dispensation of grace did not begin at Acts 2. You are so ignorant of the basic Biblical dispensational arrangment that you are unaware of when the dispensation of grace began. You do not know why the present dispensation is called the “dispensation of grace” so you certainly do not know when it began.

    According to you a “mystery” is something that was hidden from the beginning of time but at the same time it was revealed in the OT!!!

    You never have learned to use your brain when it comes to interpreting the Scriptures, Doug.

  4. December 9, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    jerryshugart :

    Doug, you said:

    The notion that the present era was “completely overlooked in Old Testament prophecy” is refuted by the words of Peter, who said, “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.” [Acts 3:24]

    The present dispensation of grace did not begin at Acts 2.

    Dispensationalists disagree with one another about when the present church age began; some say at the day of Pentecost after Jesus ascended to heaven, when the Spirit was given; others say when Stephen was martyred; others say it began when Cornelius was baptized; others say when Paul was converted; others say the Jerusalem conference described in Acts 15; others say it was in Acts 28, or after the book of Acts ends. Since they cannot agree, how can their theory be true? Their predicament fits the prophecy of Zechariah 14:13, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.” Also in Ezek. 38:21, “every man’s sword shall be against his brother.”

    You are so ignorant of the basic Biblical dispensational arrangment that you are unaware of when the dispensation of grace began. You do not know why the present dispensation is called the “dispensation of grace” so you certainly do not know when it began.

    The truths about the Gospel revealed to Paul were not intended to be used in the way dispensationalists misuse his teachings. “Dispensation” in Eph. 3:2 does not refer to a particular period of time at all. Paul’s phrase “the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me” in Eph. 3:2 has disappeared in the J.B. Phillips translation: “For you must have heard how God gave me grace to become your minister.” His role in the church, preaching to Gentiles, was a remarkable contrast to his former role as persecutor of the saints, by the grace of God. The revelation that Gentiles were to be brought in too was given first to Peter, as described in Acts 10.

    According to you a “mystery” is something that was hidden from the beginning of time but at the same time it was revealed in the OT!!!

    You never have learned to use your brain when it comes to interpreting the Scriptures, Doug.

    Peter said that the prophets foretold the things that were preached by the apostles. They “prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.” [1 Pet. 1:10] Peter said, “unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you.” [vs. 12] By the Spirit of Christ, the apostles interpreted their prophecies; for example they applied things said of David to Jesus Christ. They showed that the promised land was a figure or a type of the spiritual inheritance of the saints, for example in Heb. 3:12-4:12 and 11:16. They understood that Jerusalem and mount Zion were raised up to heaven. [Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22] This was foretold in Isaiah 2:1-2. Promises to Israel were applied to the saints. [Eph. 2:12]

  5. Jon
    January 1, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Your critique of Larkin’s “Mountain Peaks” chart identifies some valid points, but they are minor and do not address the point of the chart. The primary point of the chart is to attempt to explain why prophesies of the first and second advent can be side by side in Scripture, yet not mention significant number of years and events that happen between and after.

    In response to the critique “Larkin’s chart depicts all the prophetic revelations of the OT as the point of view of one individual, a giant in the garb of a prophet” The point was to show the perspective that God gave to prophets (depicted as an individual for simplicity, representative of the whole group of the OT prophets). His (Larkin’s) point was not that God revealed all He knew, but that He (God) revealed portions of His knowledge to the individual prophets. Again your critique is somewhat valid, there was more than one prophet, but still minor in that it does not address the main point of the chart.

    This critique: “The chart seems to imply that the whole corpus of prophecy is defective, and in need of the enlightenment that is provided by dispensationalism.
    I don’t see how you get this from the chart. The chart is attempting to explain a question that is raised by men about God’s revelation to us. I think it would more correct to say that an underlying implication of the chart is that men do not fully understand God’s revelation. Not that it is an implication about the nature of prophecy, except that individual prophecies do not explain the totality of history nor the totality of significant events in God’s plan.

    Larkin represents his chart as a “view from the side.” In fact, prophecy provides the view from above, the divine perspective.”
    Once more your point has some validity, but only about Larkin’s technique. Giving us the side view is an attempt to explain some of the limitations in the perspective that the OT prophets had. The side perspective is not depicting God’s view. I could see revamping the entire chart to give a top view that shows mountain peaks (prophetic events) showing through clouds that obscure the valleys (other events in history that God has chosen not to reveal to OT prophets).

    As a dispensationalist I recognize it for what it is: Man’s attempt to explain God’s revelation. In their attempt to explain, systematize and represent God’s perfect revelation, I understand that a man’s limited intelligence can end up misrepresenting some portion or element of God’s plan. We should point out those limitations within dispensationalism or covenant theology or any of mankind’s attempts to understand the perfections of God. Gut can we at least attack the substance of the attempt?

  6. January 8, 2013 at 4:51 am

    Jon :

    Your critique of Larkin’s “Mountain Peaks” chart identifies some valid points, but they are minor and do not address the point of the chart. The primary point of the chart is to attempt to explain why prophesies of the first and second advent can be side by side in Scripture, yet not mention significant number of years and events that happen between and after.

    In response to the critique “Larkin’s chart depicts all the prophetic revelations of the OT as the point of view of one individual, a giant in the garb of a prophet” The point was to show the perspective that God gave to prophets (depicted as an individual for simplicity, representative of the whole group of the OT prophets). His (Larkin’s) point was not that God revealed all He knew, but that He (God) revealed portions of His knowledge to the individual prophets. Again your critique is somewhat valid, there was more than one prophet, but still minor in that it does not address the main point of the chart.

    Larkin’s Mountain peaks of prophecy charts represent the OT prophets by an enlarged human figure of a bearded prophet who stands on a plain in a valley at the left, and looks towards a series of distant mountain ranges on the right, that represent prophecies about various future events.

    The mountain ranges are separated by valleys, which he implies represent obscure or hidden topics of prophecy, and the bearded prophetic figure does not see what is in the valleys. Larkin’s chart provides the missing information, for example by inserting a church building in the midst of the valley beyond the prominent mountain range that represents Christ’s ministry in the first century.

    In a note of explanation in one of his charts, Larkin stated: “The Old Testament prophets spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Pet. 1:19-21. They did not understand what they prophesied. 1 Pet. 1:10-12. They believed that their prophecies as to Christ were all to be fulfilled at his “first coming.” This accounts for why the people of Christ’s day looked for him to set up a “temporal kingdom.” They did not see that this dispensation was to intervene between the “cross,” (the sufferings of Christ), and the crown (the glory that should follow) 1 Pet. 1:11. The prophets saw the events they foretold as separate peaks of one great mountain. This chart reveals the valley and the time element that lay between those peaks.”

    Larkin’s charts promoted the dispensational interpretation of John N. Darby, William Kelly, C. I. Scofield and others who Larkin viewed as his mentors and teachers. Larkin was a suckling of the dispensationalist school of writers who continues to “give suck” to others, through his drawings.

    Color mountain peaks of prophecy chart

    This critique: “The chart seems to imply that the whole corpus of prophecy is defective, and in need of the enlightenment that is provided by dispensationalism.
    I don’t see how you get this from the chart. The chart is attempting to explain a question that is raised by men about God’s revelation to us. I think it would more correct to say that an underlying implication of the chart is that men do not fully understand God’s revelation. Not that it is an implication about the nature of prophecy, except that individual prophecies do not explain the totality of history nor the totality of significant events in God’s plan.

    Larkin stated that the Old Testament prophets did not understand what they prophesied and cited 1 Pet. 1:10-12, but those verses do not confirm or support his claims.

    1 Pet. 1:10-12
    Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
    Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
    Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

    There is no long age, or valley intervening between the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Larkin and dispensationalism are in denial that Christ has ascended to his throne of glory, and that he now reigns forever on the throne of David, in mount Zion, and the heavenly Jerusalem. Peter said that Christ is “by the right hand of God exalted” and the gifts of the Spirit and wonderful events at Pentecost were evidence of it. [Acts 2:33]

    Larkin represents his chart as a “view from the side.” In fact, prophecy provides the view from above, the divine perspective.”
    Once more your point has some validity, but only about Larkin’s technique. Giving us the side view is an attempt to explain some of the limitations in the perspective that the OT prophets had. The side perspective is not depicting God’s view. I could see revamping the entire chart to give a top view that shows mountain peaks (prophetic events) showing through clouds that obscure the valleys (other events in history that God has chosen not to reveal to OT prophets).

    Larkin’s approach generates thick dark clouds that obscure the mountains, as well as valleys. The “glory that should follow” the sufferings of Christ include his resurrection to immortality, and receiving an eternal kingdom. Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” [Matt. 28:18] This was at the beginning of the present age of the church not after it.

    As a dispensationalist I recognize it for what it is: Man’s attempt to explain God’s revelation. In their attempt to explain, systematize and represent God’s perfect revelation, I understand that a man’s limited intelligence can end up misrepresenting some portion or element of God’s plan. We should point out those limitations within dispensationalism or covenant theology or any of mankind’s attempts to understand the perfections of God. Gut can we at least attack the substance of the attempt?

    Larkin’s work is indeed a human perspective on prophecy and a defective one that misrepresents it in a number of ways.

  7. Chad Ray
    October 26, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    “You never have learned to use your brain when it comes to interpreting the Scriptures, Doug.” So sad that having eyes to see they cannot see. Your brain seems to pretty much engaged to me.

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