Monday, May 4, 2009

Three Mountains

One of my favorite passages in Scripture is Psalm 121. Here are the first two verses from the NASB:

1I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
2My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

Growing up, we had a view of a mountain range some 7000 ft. higher in elevation. It was a lovely sight, especially in winter when it had snow cap. At any rate, I have always had an interest in mountains, having spent a lot of time in them before moving away from Arizona. This passage caught my eye when I first read it many years ago. At first I thought the second line was a statement, since in the KJV it does not have a question mark. I always imagined a soldier in battle, seeing the enemy getting the upper hand, looking towards the mountains to see if reinforcements were coming. Then I got a NASB as a gift and saw my error. My help comes from God.

There are many references to mountains in the Bible, and one look at a map of Israel tells us why: it is a very mountainous land. While several are mentioned, three come to mind for their significance, either in what happened there, or their symbolism. One can think of Mt Carmel, where Elijah challeenged the priests of Baal to prove which god was real. There is Ararat, where the ark rested and Noah and his family began the rebirth of the human race. But I want to focus on these three: Moriah, Sinai and Golgotha.

We read of Moriah in Genesis 22, when God told Abraham to take his only sin Isaac and sacrifice him "in Moriah, on a mountain which I will show you (vs 2). I believe this mountain is also in Jerusalem, where the great temple of Solomon was built.The event is a picture of God giving His Son as a sacrifice in our place. Rather than putting His wrath for sin where it belongs- on us- He placed it on Jesus. Moriah represents also the sacrificial system established in the Law of Moses and carried on today in the Roman Catholic mass. It does nothing to rid us of sin, but makes us feel good anyway.

Sinai represents the Mosaic Law. "Do this and live," says the Law, but there is no way anyone could ever meet the requirements. Yet men continue to try. How many say that we just need to follow the Ten Commandments to be saved, fialing to read James 2:10 "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all (NASB). What do these people do to atone for their sin when they break one of the commands? Do they also realize what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount about adultery and murder? He says: "...I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart " (Matt 5:28) and "...I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty" (of murder) (Matt 5:22).

Neither Moriah or Sinai, nor all they represent, are anything compared to Golgotha. It was on this mountain that the Lord of all creation, God as man, in the form of Jesus Christ, died once for all sin. "(W)ho, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2:6-8) Though I understand it, I cannot explain how the eternal creator would come down to us and give Himself in our place. Charles Wesley said it best: " 'Tis mercy all, the Immortal dies! Who can explore His strange design?"

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