"So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more" Joel 3:17 (KJV)
The other day I decided to dig into the occurrence of mountains in the Bible. There are a lot of them. But it didn't take me long to stumble on to what God wanted to say to me, and I'm going to try and fit most of it into what is on my mind this morning. And if not... well, there will plenty of other days to talk about these mountains.
There are two kinds of mountains spoken of in the Bible. There are the physical mountains- like Ararat and Sinai, and then there are the spiritual mountains. The places where people met God. Jesus was said to have gone away on a mountain more than once- the transfiguration happened during one of these times. It's the spiritual mountains that I want to focus on, because it really is the place to meet God. Daniel speaks of wanting to meet with God on His mountain.
"And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God" Daniel 9:20 (KJV)
Daniel was wanting understanding and revelation, and he knew that meeting with God on the mountain would get him the answers he was seeking. So where does this word mountain come from? I can't say for sure, but when I think about climbing a mountain, it's something that's done with complete focus. When people climb a mountain their focus is 100% on their activity. It has to be, because if they're focus is not there, their very lives may be in peril. And that's what I think of when I think of the idea of meeting God on a mountain. 100% focus, a time when you literally and physically put everything else and all thoughts aside, and simply spend time purposing to meet God.
Mountains speak of majesty.
"Exalt the LORD our God
and worship at his holy mountain,
for the LORD our God is holy." Psalm 99:9
Mountains used as a metaphor can also make a problem seem like something that is insurmountable. Something that will take great effort to overcome. Yet it doesn't always have to be that way either.
"To the LORD I cry aloud,
and he answers me from his holy hill." Psalm 3:4
God is waiting on His mountain for His children to cry out to Him and purpose to meet with Him. That's what He really wants! He wants His children to want to meet Him on that mountain, and when we will take that step and turn our full attention towards Him, He will meet us partway and He will give us rest and what we need.
Which brings me to the verse that began this whole exploration of the mountains. I was reading about Lot and his wife being taken out of Sodom just before its destruction. The angel turns to Lot and tells them to flee to the safety of the mountains.
"As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, "Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!" Genesis 19:17
Even though they were talking about a physical mountain in this case, they also were speaking spiritually. There are two keys which I see right here in this verse. The first is to flee to the mountains- where they will find safety. There is safety in God- He is our refuge at all times. The other key, which I think is equally as important, is "don't look back". Don't. Look. Back.
This. This is where so many people struggle. Christians and non-Christians alike struggle with this idea of looking back. So many of us look back and wish for the days in the past, or we replay events in our past and wish we could have made different choices. We think of people, places, things in our past, and when we think of them, we give them importance. When we look back at the past, we're not looking forward! It's as simple as that! When we look at the past and think on it, we're wasting thought process time that we could be using to think on Him and all His goodness.
We live in a strange time where we are spoon fed this idea that our past has to come out of the past in order for us to experience some kind of release from it. Our bad yucky skeletons need to come out to be on display for a time before we can set them aside. Why can't we all just listen to the great advice the angels gave and not look back? When we become children of God, when we confess our sins and ask Him to save us, everything that is in our past is wiped clean. It is gone, as if it has never happened- we are new creations in Him, and there is no need for us to look back.
It's the devil who whispers in our ears that those things are still important. The devil tries to convince us that because of the things we've done in the past, we will never be good enough for God. These are all lies!! God wants us to flee to His mountains, where we will find safety and peace and rest. No harm can come to one who turns to the Mountain of God!
"They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea." Isaiah 11:9
"But the man who makes me his refuge
will inherit the land
and possess my holy mountain." Isaiah 57:13
God loves us- and He wants us to meet Him on His mountain. And He wants us to get there by looking forward- not by looking back at our past and dwelling on it. Because sometimes, when we dwell on our past, we re-live it. We can re-live the experiences in our mind, and our worldly self may begin to crave some of that past life here in our new life. But God sent His messengers to say "Don't look back!" Leave the past in the past, and look ahead to the glorious future we have with our God! Lot's wife looked back. Lot's wife, I imagine, looked back and wished she could take a part of her old life with her- she wasn't looking forward to her future, and God saw her heart and gave us all an example of what He thinks of those who dwell in the past.
"But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt." Genesis 19:26
Someday I really want to study this little bit further. Why salt? Why a pillar of salt for someone who looked back? What I do know is that I don't want to look back. My past is done. It's there, it's been, and it's gone. I can't change a thing now, and I just need to let it go and move on. Even yesterday can't be done over, which is a shame to me because it was such a wonderful day of worship! But even then, when we dwell on the wonderful worship of yesterday, we can't look forward to the new worship of today and tomorrow! It will be even better, even more of what God wants us to be.
I think there's a reason so few people actually climb all the way to the tops of mountains. Because as long as they stop partway up, there will always be more to come. And that is how God is. The more we spend with Him, the more we spend getting to know Him, and the more we are transformed into what He wants us to be, the more there will be. As long as we live, we will never "arrive" if we have the right mindset. As long as we want more of God, we will constantly be moving forward. Forward progress without looking back. Doesn't that just sound wonderful?
I chose to leave the past in the past and not look back. I choose to look forward and praise God every step of the way,because each step is going to be greater than the one before it. I choose to make my escape to the mountain.
"Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise,
in the city of our God, his holy mountain." Psalm 48:1