Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Mountain of God

Purple majesty off in the distance, the rise and fall of a distant tree line, jagged edges and rugged terrain—this picture of beauty displays itself when I venture on the highway toward the mountains of North Carolina. I love the mountains and my heart soars when I approach the Appalachian chain. What is it about the heights of an impressive landscape that give us pause to gaze in awe?

Staring at the topography, we possibly gain a greater understanding of a Creator God. Maybe our hearts feel closer to God as we near the mountains. Perhaps it’s the fact that believers in Christ make their hearts His home, and seeing the mountains convey awareness that God is in our midst. Conceivably mountains call us home. 

Whether Greek mythology or Jewish Scriptures, mountains reflected the majestic quarters of unseen power for ancient people. The gods of the Greek myths supposedly resided in a palace on Mount Olympus. The Old Testament Israelites believed that God’s coming kingdom would inhabit Mount Zion, the mountain of God that symbolized God’s dominion over the whole earth. Regardless of what anybody believed, mountains revealed (and still do) a fortress of refuge and strength. 

The word “Zion” means “fortification.” The fortress of Zion actually surrounded the city of Jerusalem, and eventually
Jerusalem itself was referred to as Zion. When David captured the fort of Zion (walls and all), it was renamed “the City of David.” Once David’s son, Solomon, built the temple in Jerusalem, the name Zion grew in meaning to refer to the temple. Eventually the land of Judah and the people of Israel were known as “Zion.” Is it any wonder that the name “Zion” later took on a New Testament meaning of God’s spiritual kingdom, the heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God? Even Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, referred to Christ as the Cornerstone of Zion (1 Peter 2:6).

Jerusalem and the city walls, the temple, the land of Judah, the Israelites, the kingdom of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God, Jesus our Cornerstone—all referred to as Zion and it means fortification. God Himself was, is, and will be a refuge for His people. Jesus Christ, Immanuel—God with us—came to earth to live among His people and revealed the kingdom of God. After Jesus’ resurrection, He sent His Holy Spirit to reside in the hearts of believers. God is in our midst and He is our refuge. 

That’s why a view of those prominent mountains takes our breath away. Not only do we see strength, but we feel it in our souls. We know who God is and believe He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). We should not be afraid of anything.

Read Psalms 46 and 48. Know that God dwells with us, offering sanctuary and safety. He is our fortress, a mighty fortress, and He will never fail us! Offer God your thanksgiving and praise; He is most worthy of adoration and honor. Let’s glorify our Lord together through His Word. 

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells. 
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire. 
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
   I will be exalted in the earth.”                                                                                                                                                                              
The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46 (NIV)

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
In the city of our God, His holy mountain.
Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth,
Is Mount Zion in the far north,
The city of the great King.
God, in her palaces,
Has made Himself known as a stronghold.

For, lo, the kings assembled themselves,
They passed by together.
They saw it, then they were amazed;
They were terrified, they fled in alarm.
Panic seized them there,
Anguish, as of a woman in childbirth.
With the east wind
You break the ships of Tarshish. 
As we have heard, so have we seen
In the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God;
God will establish her forever. 

We have thought on Your lovingkindness, O God,
In the midst of Your temple.
As is Your name, O God,
So is Your praise to the ends of the earth;
Your right hand is full of righteousness.
Let Mount Zion be glad,
Let the daughters of Judah rejoice
Because of Your judgments.
Walk about Zion and go around her;
Count her towers;
Consider her ramparts;
Go through her palaces,
That you may tell it to the next generation. 
For such is God,
Our God forever and ever;
He will guide us until death.
Psalm 48 (NASB)

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