Mountains. Vast, mighty and majestic, mountains cover a fifth of the surface of the earth, and there are more beneath the oceans than above them. They are on every continent, and some 80% of the world’s drinking water flows down from their lofty heights. Mount Everest, whose peak is the highest above sea level (though not the furthest from the centre of the earth: that honour belongs to Mount Chimborazo in the Ecuadorian Andes) is estimated to have a mass of 6,400 billion metric tonnes. That is rather meaningless perhaps, until we remember Isaiah’s lovely description of God’s mighty power:
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? (Isa 40.12).
How pathetic and trivial the approximations of men and their mathematics must be to the God who knows exactly how much Mount Everest weighs! He has weighed all the world’s highest peaks, and the lower hills, but He has not done so retrospectively: He did so as He formed them and set them in their appointed place. Men stand in awe at their grandeur but, alas, they so often choose to worship the created thing, rather than the Creator (Rom 1.25). If only they would acknowledge that “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Ps 90.2). If they will not bow to Him in repentance, whose “righteousness is like the great mountains” (Ps 36.6), then they will face the judgment of the One who “drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting” (Hab 3.6). Did you notice Habakkuk’s play on the word “everlasting”? The mountains seem to be everlasting from the human perspective, but they scatter before the God who made them. Only “his ways are everlasting.” What a dreadful day it will be when men will say to the mountains and rocks,
Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (Rev 6.16-17).
Mount Hermon, the highest point in Israel, is pictured at the top of this page. Its snow-clad heights give birth to the River Jordan which, in turn, brings life to Israel’s fields. When brethren “dwell together in unity” (Ps 133.1), the blessing cascades down to others “as the dew of Hermon … that descended upon the mountains of Zion” (v 3). Many scholars believe that Hermon was the site of the Lord’s transfiguration. If that be so, there was a Man on the mountaintop whose fragrance “like the precious ointment upon the head” (v 2) brought forth the Father’s cry “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mt 17.5). When He came down from the mount, however, another father cried “Lord, have mercy upon my son” (v 15), and “as the dew of Hermon … the Lord commanded the blessing.”
Mountains are the theme of the images in this month’s issue. So often the unity of God’s people is spoiled because we love to make mountains - out of molehills! Strife and division cause everybody to lose out, especially those who are ‘downstream’ and longing for refreshment. As you read the article about Faith on page 9, remember the Lord Jesus said “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Mt 17.20). Look again at the picture of Hermon, for it was probably the mountain the Lord alluded to! Do we want to make mountains, or move them?