The Mountain of Yahweh

The Mountain of Yahweh

The Mountain of Yahweh.

“Your saving grace and your righteousness are like the mountains of God.” (Psalm 36:6).

Yes, God lives in heaven. But all through Scripture He appears to have a second home here on the earth, in the mountains. God’s personal involvement on mountains deepen the meaning and significance of what mountains have come to symbolize through the ages… stability; safety; permanence; majesty; beauty; spiritual inspiration. One of God’s names in Scripture is El-Shaddai (Genesis 17:1), and an ancient meaning of that name is “God of the Mountain.” It’s easy to see why. God’s attributes can clearly be seen in mountains, including the fixed foundation of His faithful love. “For even if the mountains move and the hills disappear, even then my mercy for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken, says Yahweh Lord, who has mercy on you.” Isaiah is saying that we all know how next to impossible it would be for a mountain to totter and fall. But it’s more likely for mountains to move away than for God to withdraw His unshakeable love for you.

God is like the mountains: He doesn’t change, He stays the same, He is consistently steadfast and stable. Mountains are referenced over 500 times in Scripture. Not only are mountains the go-to place for momentous events all through the Bible, but God Himself made it clear from the beginning that mountains are His first choice as a site to reveal Himself and His favorite place to meet with people. “I lift my eyes to the mountains; where is my help to come from? My help comes from Yahweh Lord who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2).

Down through history people have assumed that since God is in His heavens, the closer one can get to God on high, the more spiritual enlightenment one can receive. There have been pagan shrines and mountaintop gurus as long as we can remember. People have always climbed to the “high places” for heavenly insight and personal contact with the gods, or with God. Irish Christians consider mountains to be one of those sacred “thin places” where the layer between heaven and earth is so thin that a believer can easily step from one to the other. As one person excitedly told Barbara Brown Taylor, ‘You’re sinners going up, but you’ll be saints going down!” People still refer to a special time with God as a “mountaintop experience.” As we study the Mountains of God in Scripture, we come to appreciate how central mountains are in the Word, how important they are to God himself. Mountains will be seen as a sacred part of nature that consistently has seen powerful events and profound conversations between us mere mortals and the Almighty God. Let us rejoice and applaud the God who is the Rock, who has a glorious history of preferring His own mountaintop experiences with us.

“How great is the Lord Yahweh, how deserving of praise, in the city of our God, which sits on His holy mountain! It is high and magnificent; the whole earth rejoices to see it! Mount Zion, the holy mountain, is the city of the great King! (Psalm 48:1-2).

Mt. Zion is like a sacred bar of soap. Every time we think we grasp at its meaning, it slips out of our grasp and means something else. Mt. Zion has morphed from the mountain stronghold that David conquered (2 Samuel 5) to the New Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22-23), and everything in between. As the Bible story progresses, Zion added to its meaning. Yes, it is a rather smallish mountain in Jerusalem, along with Mt. Moriah. A little backstory… Those two mountains were separated by a valley in ancient times, but through the centuries that valley has been filled in so much that those two mountains in Jerusalem have been more-or-less joined together. Mt. Moriah has remained a literal, physical location in the minds of the Jews, the place where the holy Temple Mount is located. But Zion is as much a spiritual place as it is a physical place. Modern Zion is the highest point in Jerusalem, just outside the walls of the Old City. No one seems to mind that Zion has been moved, figuratively, from being an Eastern mountain to a Western Mountain to being in the Southeast of the city. Mt. Zion is a symbol as much as anything else, so they don’t mind if modern Zion might actually be in a different locale than ancient times.

1.)  The City of David. The city of Jerusalem in ancient times was a Canaanite fortress in an excellent location for David’s purposes. It was built on a small mountain called Zion. So David decides to conquer this stronghold and claim it as the capital of Israel in his kingdom. After this victory, the city was named thereafter as “the City of David.”  (2 Samuel 5);

(2.)  The City of Jerusalem. Zion came to represent the city of Jerusalem in the minds of the Israelites, and those two terms were pretty much interchangeable. (Isaiah 33:20; Isaiah 40:9; Psalm 51:18);

(3.)  The Nation of Israel. Zion also came to symbolize the Jewish nation as a whole. The entire population of the nation was collectively referred to as Zion, being called the “sons of Zion” as well as the “daughters of Zion.” (Isaiah 33:14; Zechariah 9:13;

(4.)  The Messianic City. Zion has been the central site of the future messianic rule since the time of David and then the prophets. “I have set my king on my holy hill of Zion.” (Ps. 2:6). Also refer to Ps. 48:1; Isaiah 1:26, 2:2-3; Joel 2:32);

(5.)  The Dwelling Place of God. Because generally speaking the Temple rested on Mt. Zion, with Mt. Moriah right there with it, Zion was mentioned in Scripture as where the Lord dwelt with man. Zion represented God’s presence on earth. Time and again, the words of Isaiah 8:18 are repeated through Scripture, “… The Lord of Hosts, who dwells in Mount Zion.” (Ps. 74:2; Ps. 9:11; Ps. 50:1-2).

(6.)  The New Jerusalem. Christian believers have long believed that Zion represents what we have waiting for us in heaven. “What you have come to is Mt. Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where millions of angels gather in a joyful celebration, with the whole Church of first-borns, enrolled as citizens of heaven. You have come to God Himself… and to Jesus.”  (Hebrews 12:22-24). Also Isaiah 35:10, Micah 4:7, and Revelation 14:1.

Yes, Zion has been referenced as a symbol in many, many ways: the fruitful spouse of Yahweh (Isaiah 66:13); the visible sign of divine favor; the pledge of messianic promises; the unity of the Chosen People; the restoration of Israel; the site of the triumphant Messiah; the holy place of salvation; a sanctuary and safe homeland. Zion has been used figuratively since biblical times as well. During the slavery era in the United States, for example, the slaves were referring to Zion as the safe place they could escape to, the sanctuary they were seeking, the welcoming homeland that would protect them. Note the number of spirituals that refer to Zion.

So how did Zion evolve into meaning so much to so many different people? To a spiritual location as well as a physical location? What started in Scripture as a pagan fortress grew into an eternal fortress, from the City of David to the City of the Son of David.

The Mountain of Yahweh. “This is the vision that Isaiah, son of Amoz, prophesied concerning Judah and Jerusalem around the year 760 BC: ‘In the last days, the high mountain of Yahweh’s Temple will be established as the chief mountain that towers above the rest, the most important place on earth; people from all over the world will stream to the House of Yahweh sitting upon His mountain, and gaze on it with joy; the people will say, ‘Come, let’s climb God’s mountain! Let’s go up to the House of the God of Jacob! He will teach us there about His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.’ For God’s instructions will come out of Zion, and the word of Yahweh will come forth from Jerusalem. The Lord will settle things fairly between the nations, and will mediate justice between all the peoples. They will hammer their swords into plow-blades and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not take up sword against nation, nor will they study for war anymore.” (Isaiah 2: 1-4).

Study War No More (

Pete Seeger Down by the Riverside (

Envisioning the future for God’s Chosen People, Isaiah is foretelling in this short passage of the time in the latter days when Israel’s restoration will finally be complete. Yahweh and his House, the holy Temple on the highest mountain in the area, will draw people from all over the world, like a spiritual magnet. All the nations will flow to the mountain of Yahweh to receive revelations from the Lord, to sit at His feet in His Temple as He teaches about His ways and thus know enough about God to follow in His paths. Isaiah speaks briefly about the glorious future of Jerusalem, when God’s plans will finally be realized and celebrated, when the believers will be redeemed, and the “government will be on His shoulders.” (Isaiah 9:6) During this Messianic Age, Yahweh Himself will be the source of truth and wisdom, and the word of God will be easily available and accessible. During this time, too, Yahweh will be the judge, the divine peacemaker, settling national disputes and establishing harmony between warring factions. With the Lord as judge, wars will cease, instruments of war will be repurposed into farming implements, and the nations will never again war against each other. Finally, Jerusalem, the City of Shalom, will truly know peace.

Though Yahweh Lord is very great and lives in heaven, He will make Zion His home of justice and righteousness. In that day He will be your sure foundation, providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom and knowledge. The reverence of the Lord will be your treasure.”  (Isaiah 33:5-6).