Identifiable hills or mountains of significance in the Bible include:
Mount Ararat, (5165 m) in Eastern Turkey is where Noah’s ark landed after the flood (Gen 8:4).
Mount Moriah, located in the NW of Jerusalem, is considered to be where Abraham was to offer up his son Isaac (Gen 22:2). Later Solomon’s temple was built here, but destroyed in 587 BC (2 Chr 3:1). It was rebuilt, yet again destroyed in 70 AD. Although it is currently off limits for the Jews, as it is in a Muslim controlled area, a third temple will be built here, according to the Bible (Dan 9:27). This important religious area (past, present and future) is considered sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims; it is the location of the Jewish Temple Mount and the Western (Wailing) Wall, as well as the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque.
Mount of Olives (also called Olivet), a ridge of hills to the E of Jerusalem. Often frequented by Jesus, as place of retreat and renewal, it was here, in the Garden of Gethsemane, that He was arrested, and after His resurrection He ascended to heaven (Lk 22:39; Act 1:12).
Mount Sinai (also called Horeb or the Mountain of God), in the Sinai Peninsula. It was here God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, then later he received the 10 commandments, and the nation of Israel came into existence. Here too, Elijah heard God in “the sound of a small whisper” (Ex 3:1, 19:2,3; 1 Kgs 19:8).
Mount Carmel, a range in N Israel stretching from the Mediterranean to the SE. It was here the Israelites were challenged by Elijah to follow God and not Baal (1 Kgs 18:18-46).
Mount Zion (also called Sion or the Mountain of the Lord), the hill of SW Jerusalem. The psalmist said, “God lives in Jerusalem on Mount Zion” (Ps 74:2, 76:2; Isa 8:18). Jesus will stand on Mt Zion at the end of the world (Rev 14:1).
Unidentified mountains include the place where Jesus taught (Mt 5:1); the high mountain of temptation (Lk 4:5); the place where Jesus was transfigured (Mk 9:2-13). However, as with any experience the place is not as significant as what happened.
The symbolism of mountains is they speak of stability and permanence, and from where we can see further afield, "Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever" (Ps 125:1). They can also indicate difficult paths and obstacles in life with their removal a human impossibility that is only achievable by faith in God, hence don’t talk about them, talk to them, “Be cast into sea” (Jer 13:16; Mt 17:20, 21:21,22; Mk 11:23). The natural mind makes mountains out of molehills, so endeavour to keep things in perspective. It is easy to loose one’s footing on the upper slopes – in the high profile and public positions of life – with serious consequences, so take extra care and be in accountability with others.
We meet God on the mountains yet minister to people in the valleys
divine transaction are symbolically termed ‘mountain top’ experiences where we encounter God in an intense emotional and life transforming way. Although we desire to remain in His tangible presence, away from the reality and problems of daily life which await us in the valley of humanity, it is as we serve others we actually minister to the Lord (Mt 25:35-45). We need times of refreshing and encountering God to sustain us so we can effectively minister to those around us who are in the valley of despair and defeat buffeted by the humdrum of daily life. These infrequent yet significant occurrences in our lives are not to be idolized nor are we to try and replicate them rather our focus should always be on God. There is always a price to pay for such encounters as we place something of ourselves on the altar in our connecting with Him. Following this is our responsibility to allow the touch of the Master's hand to affect us in our ongoing Christian walk as we give ourselves more fully to the purposes of God.
The Israelites kept going through the same hill country (and maybe around the same mountain) for forty years in their wilderness journey that could have been completed in eleven days (Deut 2:1-3). Unbelief, grumbling (complaining) and disobedience were the reason why they had to repeat the route. These are often the same reasons why we also go round in circles and not get anywhere. We must hear and do what God tells us to do in order to get to the destination He has for our lives, which is to fulfil our God given purpose.
See also: altar, high places, minister, presence of God, surrender, wilderness wanderings.