“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them'” (Mark 11.23 NIV).Like any great writer or orator, Jesus chose His words carefully. He paints an awesome picture of faith in the above promise, but I think we miss so much when we don’t explore why Jesus would choose the metaphor “mountain.” If a mountain were to fall into the sea, it would be a natural disaster of monstrous proportions, destroying everything in its wake.
Since I don’t think that Jesus really wanted Christians calling mountains into the sea, I have to believe that He chose this word for a specific reason. As we dig for understanding in His Word, so much treasure comes up that it’s hard to take it all in.The symbol of a mountain is used many times in the Old and New Testament. God’s glory appears on the mountain and people experience supernatural phenomena; but I’ve noticed that most of the time, the people have to climb up the mountain to be a part of what God is doing.
Abraham climbed a mountain to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22.2). Moses saw a burning bush (Exodus 3.1), received God’s laws (Exodus 24.12), and saw God Himself (Exodus 33.21-22) on a mountain. Elijah heard the voice of God on a mountain (1 Kings 19). Isaiah and Micah both promise that the Lord’s Temple will be established on a mountain and God’s people will make their way to it (Isaiah 2 1-5) (Micah 4.1-5). Jesus led Peter, James and John up a mountain and transfigured (Matthew 17.1-11).
So many times we want God to move our mountain, but from reading Scripture, I think God wants us to climb it first. I quickly researched the process of climbing a mountain, and it is not easy. Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world. In order to ascend it, you must sacrifice a lot of money and time, find guides who are knowledgeable and go through a strenuous and lengthy acclimation process.
Mount Everest is 8,848 meters above sea level, and anything above 8,000 meters is called the “death zone,” because one cannot survive for more than two or three days in it. Complete oxygen saturation in the body is impossible, even when taking three times as many breaths. Most people bring portable oxygen to ease the stress on the body. The wind, weather, freezing temperature and slick ice all add to the implausibility of reaching the top.
When climbers start out, they must move slowly so that their bodies can assimilate to the ascension. At sea level our bodies have 98% – 99% oxygen saturation. At the base camp of Mount Everest (5,380 meters) the oxygen saturation is already at around 85% and there is still a mountain left to climb! In order to acclimate to the altitude, climbers will “climb high, sleep low.” I find this interesting because it sounds like wasted time, but the climbers push their bodies during the day and retreat to lower altitudes during the night to help their bodies get used to the height.
When we imagine mountains in our spiritual lives, we think of Exodus 15.17: “You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance—the place, LORD, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.” God plants our inheritance or His promises on the mountaintops. Often times we beg God to fulfill His promises to us; yet if He did, we would surely die. We will NEVER get acclimated to His anointing for our lives if we don’t climb up the mountain–the climb is what prepares us for the summit!
Many people wonder why God would put His promises on mountaintops if mountains are so difficult to climb. Why wouldn’t He make it easier on us and simply lay our promises at our feet? The one human condition that robs us of serving God is serving self. If the promises were strewn at our feet, we would stay in our self-idolatry state. Instead, God plants His promises on His mountain at His feet (Psalm 132.7-8), so we can have an encounter with Him. This earth, our souls and life in general were created to know Him; because in forming a personal relationship with our Creator, we find our purpose, our joy and our true love.
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”
– Isaiah 52.7 NIV
When we finally reach the mountaintop, our own feet become beautiful because we have finally discovered the meaning of our existence. We are to proclaim God’s peace and salvation to the world. We are to use His promises for our lives to tell the world about Christ–any other reason would be idolatrous. We are to yell from the mountaintops that God created us because of His glory, Jesus sacrificed Himself for our sins so we can commune with a perfect God, and the Holy Spirit lives in each of us, guiding us through the mountains and valleys of our lives.
The climb to the top changes us. We sacrifice all we have and are then filled with God’s glory because now our emptied selves have room for Him. And when we finally make it to the pinnacle, our faith causes the mountain to fall into the sea! Jesus gives us a beautiful promise: the highest point of that mountain — a place where we can’t survive on our own — supernaturally becomes sea level. We can now function at 99% oxygen saturation on a mountaintop that we could never have survived before we started our journey up.
But don’t get too comfortable on that sea-level mountain for long. God will place another mountain in your horizon. Don’t worry, though, I’m sure He’ll let you rest before He expects you to gather your climbing gear. And just remember, “climb high, sleep low.” God will give you rest on the mountain, and He’ll never push you beyond what you are capable of doing.The climb may take years, but Jesus never mentioned a timetable when He promised the mountain would be moved. Take a good look at the mountaintop before you start your ascension; you won’t be able to see it until you make it to the “death zone,” and God supernaturally throws the summit into sea level for you. You’ll have to press forward by faith, knowing that God gave you a vision of the mountaintop and planted your inheritance at His feet.