Jesus’ ministry often occurred near seas and water. There are many accounts of him teaching on boats. But many of the pivotal sermons occurred on mountain tops. In the Old Testament, we find that worship occurred in the temple, but that many significant moments happened on mountain tops. In those days, God was in Heaven and mountains were a way to get close to the heavens. Between the breathtaking views and the important revelations, mountains became symbols of being close to God. Even those who are non religious find themselves in awe of the experiences on the tops of modern mountains. Mountains became a place to experience God, and they still are.
1. Mount Ararat
Mt. Ararat is the mountain mentioned in Genesis 8. It is the mountain where Noah’s ark landed and Noah saw the rainbow of God’s promise. Noah and his family came out of the ark and made offerings and praised God. God promised never to destroy the earth with a flood of that magnitude again.
The exact location of the Ark landing is still a mystery. Many translations of the Bible describe the landing place as Mt. Ararat, but the original versions simply mean the mountain chain of Ararat. It refers to a region that covers Turkey and Iran.
Regardless of whether the actual site of the ark is ever discovered, the mountains of Ararat continue to be held in high regard. People from all over go to see the mountains where the ark landed; though the exact site is still unknown.
2. Mount Moriah (Mt. Gerizim)
In the Old Testament, Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his Son, Isaac in Genesis 22. In order to properly present the sacrifice, Abraham and Isaac ascended Mt. Moriah. It was on this mountain that God saw Abraham’s faithfulness and rewarded him, sparing Isaac.
No one is quite sure where this mountain is because the names of mountains have changed over time. However, many believe that Mt. Moriah is the same mountain as Mt. Gerizim. The Samaritans considered Mt. Gerizim to be the same as Mt. Moriah, and have considered it a holy place since ancient times. They went to Mt. Gerizim to worship and present their offerings.
3. Mount Sinai
Mt. Sinai is the mountain where we received the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy and Exodus. The people of Israel had been delivered, but were in great need of structure and assurance. Moses went to the top of the mountain and talked with God. He returned with the Ten Commandments.
There is a mountain called Mt. Sinai on the Sinai Peninsula. This has traditionally been accepted as the location of Mt. Sinai. Here is the mountain that people visit to see where God remembered his distressed children. Mt. Sinai is the epitome of the mountain top experience because Moses met God but then had to descend the mountain and return to regular life.
4. Mt. Pisgah/Mt. Nebo
After many years of wandering in the desert, Moses saw the Promised Land. It was a bitter sweet moment because he would never set foot in it. However, Moses must have felt a great deal of relief in seeing the fruits of his lifetime. He saw this from Mt. Pisgah. Most scholars believe that Mt. Pisgah is the same as Mt. Nebo.
Mt. Nebo is in Jordan and it offers a breathtaking view of the Jericho and, on a clear day, Jerusalem. It is not just a place to see a good view. It is a place to remember that sometimes it takes a lifetime to accomplish our purpose. It is also a reminder that God keeps his promises to his children.
5. Mount Carmel
In I Kings 18, we see a great spiritual victory won on Mt. Carmel. It was on Mt. Carmel where Elijah proves to people that God is the one true god. He does this by calling down fire from Heaven to ignite a water soaked sacrifice. After that, the drought that had besieged the land was ended. Mt. Carmel has remained a sacred mountain over the ages, and people from all over the world consider this a holy place.
Mt. Carmel is located in a mountain range in Northern Israel. It is full of culture and history. There are several towns in the area, and it has been inhabited for thousands of years. It is rich in history and culture, but has never lost the beauty of the mountains.
6/7. Mount Hermon / Mount Tabor
Mt. Hermon is a series of three peaks on the border of Syria and Lebanon. It is one of the proposed mountains for the transfiguration. Mt. Tabor is another mountain that has traditionally been considered the Mount of Transfiguration. Mt. Tabor is found in Lower Galilee. The Transfiguration was an event in the New Testament when Jesus’ glory was revealed to those with him. It was also a visual representation of Heaven meeting Earth.
Tradition claimed Mt. Tabor as the Mount of Transfiguration, but Mt. Hermon is the most likely candidate for the location. The Romans had a military installation on Mt. Tabor at the time. Additionally, in the previous chapter of Matthew, Christ was in Caesarea Philippi. Mt. Hermon is the closest mountain to this.
Mt. Olivet is most commonly known as the Mount of Olives. It is one of the key places mentioned in the New Testament. It was a pivotal mountain in Jesus’ life. It was the foot of this mountain that held the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christ prayed before his crucifixion. It was also this mountain that saw his last days on Earth. He ascended into Heaven from the Mount of Olives.
There are many other mountains in the Bible. They varied in size, shape, and location, but they all brought us one step closer to God. They bridged the gap between God and man for just the briefest of moments and served to give humankind clarity and direction.