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Discovery Magazine 6/1/2001


Major Bible Mountains

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

Mountains always have played an important part in God’s dealings with His people. Consider, for example, Mt. Sinai (also called Mt. Horeb). When the Israelites left Egyptian slavery, they traveled for three months before arriving at Mt. Sinai. It was on the top of this mountain that God revealed Himself to Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19:16-20:12).

Or, think about Mt. Carmel, which is composed of several peaks. It was here that Elijah challenged the false prophets of Baal by persuading them to pray to their "god" to light their sacrifice with fire. Of course, since Baal didn’t exist, he couldn’t light the fire. But when Elijah prayed to God, He sent fire that destroyed not only the bullock on top of the altar, but the altar itself (read 1 Kings 18).

There also is an important pair of twin mountains between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan in Samaria—Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal. It was at these two mountains that Joshua assembled the tribes of Israel to instruct them in the Law of Moses (Joshua 8:30-35). And it was from these mountains that God’s blessings (from Mt. Gerizim; Deuteronomy 11:29) and curses (from Mt. Ebal; Joshua 8:33-35) fell upon His people. Mt. Gerizim always has been considered sacred to the Samaritans, because they have "worshipped on this mountain" for countless generations (John 4:20).

You may remember Mt Nebo, which is at the north end of the Dead Sea. During the Israelites’ wilderness wanderings, on one occasion they ran out of water. So God told Moses to speak to a rock and it would yield water. But Moses disobeyed God and struck the rock instead (Numbers 20:8-12). As a result, Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land of Canaan. Instead, God took him to the top of Mt. Nebo and allowed him to look over into Canaan, and after that Moses died.

There are several other mountains associated with important events of the Old and New Testaments—like the Mount of Olives (outside Jerusalem, where Jesus taught His disciples—Matthew 24:3), the mountains of Ararat (where Noah’s ark came to rest after the Flood—Genesis 8:4), and Mt. Zion, which David took from the Jebusites (Joshua 15:63; 2 Samuel 5:7) and on which he built his palace in "the city of David." As you read about these famous mountains, remember that God is not limited to just a single mountain. And be sure to thank Him "for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the everlasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth and the fulness thereof" that He has given us to enjoy while we are here on Earth (Deuteronomy 33:15-16).



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