The stories of the Bible were set in a hilly and mountainous landscape. For this and many other reasons, mountains and hills are mentioned so many times in the Bible – over 500 times. Both the Jewish and Christian cultures attach a significant logical symbolism to the mountains. So what do mountains symbolize in the Bible?
What You'll Learn Today
Mountains In The Bible
To give you a sneak preview of the various mountains mentioned in the Bible, here are some of the prominent ones.
- Mount Ararat: This is the mountain where Noah’s ark rested after the flood had subsided. It is said to be 16,845 feet in height. Its story can be found in Genesis 8:1-5.
- Mount Sinai: In Exodus 19:20,24, the Bible records that Mount Sinai was the venue where Moses received the ten commandments from God. It is 7,497 feet.
- Mount of Olives: This is a 2,710 ft tall mountain and served the site where Jesus prayed before was crucified. Later, the Bible records that Jesus ascended to heaven from here.
- Mount Zion: Slightly shorter in height compared to the Mount of Olives, Mount Zion-2,510 feet, is captured by David and becomes the city of David’s kingdom. 2 Samuel 5:1-10 and 1 Kings 8:1 capture the story very well.
- Mount of Transfiguration: On this mountain -Mount Tabor-Jesus is transfigured, joining Elijah and Moses as recorded by Saint Mathews in Mathew 17:1-9, by Saint Luke in Luke 9: 28-36 and Saint Mark in Mark 9:2-8. Mount Tabor measures 1,886 feet in height.
- Mount Carmel: This is another famous mountain as recorded in 1Kings 18. On this mountain, Elijah the prophet calls on fire from heaven in front of the prophets of Baal to consume a sacrifice. It was a demonstration of the supremacy and sovereignty of God. This mountain is approximately 1,724 feet.
There are other mountains mentioned in the Bible such as the location of the Sermon on the Mount. This is an unnamed mountain where Jesus delivers the teaching on the beatitudes. The symbolism of mountains in the Bible is so powerful and vast. In the sections that follow, we shall look at the most prominent of the symbolism.
Symbols of Physical Impossibilities
In Mathew 17:20, Jesus invokes a human impossibility that can only be achieved through faith in God. The Bible records:
‘And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.’
Mountains were created not to be moved because they are symbols of stability and permanence. Whatever moves them must be under the authority of the creator – God. In Mathew 21:21 Jesus again invokes a spiritual possibility to handle a physical impossibility.
Nearness Of God
There is a desire in man that draws him closer to God. Apart from the majestic nature of mountains and the fact that they surpass ordinary humanity to pierce into the clouds and extend to the heavens, mountains have drawn men to God.
In Psalm 121:1-2, the Bible records:
'I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.’
Nearness to God was always associated with divine breakthroughs and help.
In Mount Sinai, Moses met with God on the mountain. In Exodus 19:3, the Bible says:
‘Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel’’’.
Symbol of God’s Protection
Being a mountainous region, the middle east, and the neighboring areas where the Bible was set had people hide in mountains to escape attacks by enemies and marauding gangs. In one of the most epic demonstrations of the scripture, God encapsulates the concept of protection and brings it out through the mountains that surround Jerusalem.
In Psalm 125:2, the Bible reads:
‘As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.’
This is a clear demonstration and endorsement of Gods protection upon his people.
The book of Matthew 24:16 speaks of the inhabitants of Judea running to the mountains to save their lives. Mountains were a place of refuge where people under threat could seek protection whether spiritual or physical.
Symbol of Worship
The people of both the Old and the New Testament frequented the mountains for prayer and worship. We see Jesus alluding to this when speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob. He says in John 4:21:
’ “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.’
Jesus was redirecting and reforming the worship experience as the woman used to practice. He was pointing to the true form of worship.
Jesus himself frequented the mountains to go and pray. In Matthew 14:23-24, the Bible points to an incident where Jesus had to isolate himself and go by the mountainside to pray. The mountain. Hosea the prophet in Hosea 4:13 speaks of sacrifices and burning of incense on mountain peaks as part of the people’s idolatry.
Symbol of Permanence and Trust
In Psalm 125:1, the Bible likens the people who trust in the LORD to Mount Zion. It says:
“Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”
Mount Zion was a symbol of permanence and endurance. Therefore, the people who trust in the LORD would be established the same way as Mount Zion.
In the spiritual realms, this performance meant absolute conviction in the existence and sovereignty of God.
The mountain as the Bible mentions is a very symbolic feature. God says in Micah 4:1 that:
“In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.”
It shows that the mountain is important not just to us as humans but to God as well. Mount Zion was the chosen place of dwelling for the LORD.
Are you looking to understand more about the bible symbolism? Here is our guide to deer in the Bible.