Mountains In The Bible: Why Are They Important?

The theme of mountains is woven securely throughout the words of the Holy Bible. Important events often happened between God and man on mountains. More than just a geographical formation or location, mountains were often sacred places that stand out even today, in history.  

The ark of Noah came to rest on Mount Ararat when the floodwaters covering the earth receded. Moses met God for the first time on Mount Horeb and received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. We read in the pages of Scripture about signs given, battles fought, and God’s voice thundering from many of these mountains. 

mountains in the Bible

Mountains hold a special place in the pages of the Bible, serving as more than just physical landmarks but also as symbols and settings for significant events.

Important Events Involving Specific Mountains In The Bible

These towering peaks were platforms for life-changing encounters, lessons, and revelations. Starting with some of the specific mountains mentioned in the Old Testament, let’s travel through some of these peaks and valleys as we uncover the rich depth of meaning of some of the significant mountains in the Bible.

Mount Ararat

The ark came to rest in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat.

Genesis 8:4 (HCSB)

The mountains of Ararat were the resting place of the ark of Noah after 40 days of rain plus the amount of time it took for the floodwaters to recede far enough that Noah and his family, along with all the animals, could exit the ark and be safe on dry ground. Notice that the Bible is not specific about the actual mountain the ark landed on, but says “the mountains of Ararat”.

Throughout the years, people have attempted to identify the exact location of the landing of Noah’s Ark, without much success. Several ark hunters have located pieces of wood and metal on several different mountains in the area of the Ararat mountain range. The search continues, however, and no one knows if the exact location of Noah’s Ark will ever be found. 

Mount Moriah

​Several highly significant events happened on this mountain. The first was the trip of Abraham and his son Isaac the day God sent Abraham to make a sacrifice of Isaac. On the way up the mountain, when Isaac asked where the lamb for the sacrifice was, Abraham told him, “God Himself will provide”.  

​”Take your son,” He said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about”

Genesis 22:2 (HCSB)

Abraham had nearly completed God’s command in obedience and trust when he was saved by the sudden appearance of the Angel of the Lord. The Angel told Abraham to stop and to look into the woods, where a ram was stuck in the dense bushes, waiting to be the substitute sacrifice.

Isaac’s life was spared by the substitute, just as our eternal lives have been saved by the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross many years later. After seeing the Lord’s divine intervention and provision of the sacrifice, Abraham named the place Jehovah Jireh, meaning The Lord Provides, and it is still said that “on the mountain of the Lord, it will be seen and provided.”

And Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide, so today it is said: “It will be provided on the Lord’s mountain.”

Genesis 22:14

King David purchased a threshing floor, thought to have been in the same location as Abraham’s sacrifice. He bought the threshing floor on which to build an altar to sacrifice to the Lord during a terrible plague that his own actions had brought upon the people of Israel. David made the sacrifice and the plague ended. (2 Samuel 24:b-25)

When David’s son, Solomon, became king, he carried out his father’s plans to build a temple on the site of the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, where the Mount Moriah altar was built. This temple was grand and elaborate, taking seven years to construct with all of the finest materials from all over the world. (2 Chronicles 3:!)

It was also on Mount Moriah that Jesus hung on the cross, dying as a substitute for the sins of humanity, if we will but accept his sacrifice. The above prophetic words from Genesis 22:14, after God provided the first sacrificial lamb on that mountain, were fulfilled at the crucifixion. 

Mount Sinai

The area of Mount Sinai and the Wilderness of Sinai was the area of the Israelites’ wanderings for forty extra years because of their disobedience. It seems only Moses had access to the top of the mountain, which is where He met with God many times during those years. 

Moses was given the Ten Commandments on stone tablets, inscribed by God’s hand, on Mount Sinai, also referred to as the mountain of God. (Exodus 31:18). Moses traveled many times up and back down Mount Sinai. It was there that he met with the Lord to receive the directions God had for the people. 

He received not only the Ten Commandments, but also the laws of the sacrifice, the law of the Sabbath, the instructions for constructing the tabernacle that would travel with them on all of their journey, the rules for the priests, and received direction and refreshment from God there.  

These are the statutes, ordinances, and laws the Lord established between Himself and the Israelites through Moses on Mount Sinai.

Leviticus 26:46 (HCSB)

Mount Gerizim And Mount Ebal

These two mountains stand side by side, with the Valley of Shechem between them. Moses specifically relayed God’s command to the Israelites to proclaim a list of blessings and curses from between these two mountains when they entered the land of Promise. (Deuteronomy 11:29, Joshua 8:33)

Joshua built an altar on Mount Ebal and appointed half of the Israelite tribes to stand in front of Mount Gerizim to bless the people for obedience and the other half at the foot of the mountain of Ebal to recite the curses that would come from disobedience. These readings were spoken between the mountains to be reminders of the covenant the Lord had made with His people and warnings of what would happen if they violated God’s laws. 

The mountain that is mentioned in the story of the woman at the well (John 4:20) is Mount Gerizim, which the Samaritans claimed as their holy place of worship, while the Jews worshiped in Jerusalem. Because of this disagreement, the two groups would have nothing to do with each other. 

Mount Nebo

At one point in the journeys of the Israelites, Moses was punished by God for rebelling against God, where he displayed a lack of reverence for God, pridefulness in himself, and disobedience. 

Because of his sin, Moses, who had been God’s appointed leader of the Israelites to the Promised Land, was not permitted to enter the new land the they finally arrived, but was allowed to see it from atop Mount Nebo. (Deuteronomy 34:1-6)

God had a special relationship with Moses, but God also cannot and will not tolerate disobedience or any kind of evil. After seeing the land, Moses died, and the Bible says he was buried by God Himself. We will never know where Moses’ grave is located, but I like to imagine that God buried him overlooking the land he had waited so long to reach. 

Mount Zion – the site of the Upper Room

The mountain of Zion is located in Jerusalem, also known as the City of David. David captured the stronghold of Mount Zion from the Jebusites, who were living there. God states throughout the Scriptures that He Himself dwells on the holy mountain of Zion. 

“Yet as for Me, I have anointed and firmly installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain”.

Psalm 2:6 (AMP)

The Last Supper took place on Holy Thursday in a place now known as the Upper Room, located on Mount Zion, where Jesus and His disciples ate the Passover meal together. This is also quite possibly the location of the very first church of believers who worshiped Christ, started after Jesus was resurrected from the dead. 

Mount Tabor

Mount Tabor is the place where Deborah’s army killed the entire army of Sisera, the commander of King Jabin’s military forces. Jabin was subdued and eventually destroyed by God’s power infusing the Israelite army. (Judges 4:6-7)

This mountain is also thought to be the location where the three disciples watched the transfiguration of Jesus Christ (Matthew 17:1-8, 1 Peter 1:16-18). For this reason, Mount Tabor is also known as the Mount of Transfiguration. Feasts and celebrations were held there in honor of this for many years. 

Mount of Olives 

One of the most significant mountains in the Bible is the Mount of Olives. 

David took refuge on the Mount of Olives during the difficult time when his son Absalom overthrew David’s kingdom out of jealousy and selfishness (2 Samuel 15-18).

Jesus taught the people from the Mount of Olives, (Luke 21:37), giving the famed Olivet Discourse, also called the Sermon On The Mount, from this mountain (Matthew 24, 25, Mark 13, Luke 21). Since the Beatitudes were included in this Olivet Discourse, the Mount of Olives is sometimes referred to as the Mount of Beatitudes. 

On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, and after He took the feast of the Passover with His disciples at the Last Supper, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives. He spent the night there in prayer and was betrayed by Judas early the next morning, still in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:47-56)

After Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, he spent forty days preparing his disciples for the times ahead and teaching them about the kingdom of God. After the forty days, they accompanied Him to the Mount of Olives and watched while he was taken up into heaven to sit at the right hand of God (Acts 1:9-12).

Zechariah prophesied that when Jesus returns at His second coming, His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). Many Jewish people have been buried on the western slope of this mount, which looks over the Holy City, Jerusalem. 

Other Significant Mountains Mentioned In The Bible

The mountains discussed above are far from the only mountains mentioned in God’s Word. 

There was Mount Carmel, where the showdown between the God of the prophet Elijah and the false gods of the Israelite prophets of Baal were matched with no contest, and the Living God won hands down, as He always does. (1 Kings 18:16-39)

There was Mount Hermon, a high mountain where the refreshing spring waters run down to the Sea of Galilee, providing nourishment to the lush greenery of northern Israel. God’s blessing of eternal life is compared to the enlivening effect of these waters in Psalm 133:3. 

Other mountains we read about in the Word of God are Mount Bashan, Mount Abarim, Mount Gilboa, where Saul and Jonathan died in battle, Mount Seir, and Mount Pisgah. 

High Places – Fake Holy Mountains

Worshiping and offering sacrifices from atop a mountain was not started by the Israelites. The ancient people of Canaan worshiped false gods and offered gifts and human sacrifices in their “high places”. The most evil practices were carried out there. But God had forbidden His people from worshiping any false gods, expecting them to worship only Him. 

God gave intricate instructions to Moses for the Israelites to construct a tabernacle which would be their place of worship. This first tabernacle traveled with the people as they journeyed in the wilderness for forty years. 

When God’s people arrived in the “land of milk and honey”, the Promised Land, God commanded them to conquer all of the heathen nations that were there so that His chosen people would not adopt the evil worship practices of the surrounding nations. 

They only partially conquered, and they strayed time and time again from the true worship they had been taught and instructed in. After they settled in the land God had promised them, they were too far apart to travel to one tabernacle, so they adopted the practice of worshiping God in high places. 

The worship of God alone in these high places would not have been sinful in itself, but over time, their worship practices became entangled with the evil types of worship of other gods, the false gods of the pagans, which often included human and child sacrifice and perverted sexual customs that God’s people had learned from these idolaters. 

In essence, the people thought they were doing alright because they were worshiping the Lord, however, they were also committing idolatry by adding in the worship of false gods and the wicked practices of the pagans. 

Time and again in the Bible we read of “good’ kings going back to the true worship that God had commanded, destroying all of the high places in the kingdom, only to have them built back again when another king was crowned. Many kings are noted in the Scriptures as having done “what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but failed to remove the high places”. 

These high places were not necessarily holy, just places that inspired worship and awe in the people.  Many misguided people failed to aim their worship toward the true Creator but at powerless figments of their human imaginations. 

Mountaintop experiences are written about, which sometimes, but not necessarily, take place on a mountain peak. These mountaintop experiences generally refer to a time or a place when someone felt closest to God. In these cases, the “mountain tops” are a wonderful place to be, and generally are left as a pleasant memory when the person returns to the valleys of daily life. 

Mountains have long been seen as amazing and wonderful, but as God’s people, we must be careful to recognize that these peaks historically hold the stories of God’s people. We must remember that it is God who created the mountain heights. He is the One our worship is due to – the One God, the only God, whose divine presence offers each of us forgiveness, wisdom, truth, and transformed lives. 

As you can see, mountains in the Bible played many different parts in the lives of God’s people. Mountains were known as places of worship, places of refuge, places of beauty, places where God showed up, places of deep sorrow, of tragedy, of redemption, and so much more.

For more on having a close relationship with God, read Walking With God Quotes And Verses.

In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established at the top of the mountains and will be raised above the hills. All nations will stream to it, and many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us about His ways so that we may walk in His paths.”

Isaiah 2:2-3 (HCSB)

If you’re interested in a new Bible for yourself or a gift for a new Christian or someone special, I recommend The Jeremiah Study Bible in the ESV translation or the Life Application Study Bible in NIV.

mountains in the Bible

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