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Life is a series of mountains and valleys. Each day brings new experiences. Some days are rife with struggles, and some are plentiful in joy. Other days are a mixture of both. Just as the earth isn’t just a globe of flat land, life has its ups and downs, too. Mountains in the Bible can teach us lessons about life and God’s goodness and grace.
Mountains in the Bible and Valleys in the Bible
In the Bible, mountains are mentioned 570 times and valleys 28 times.
Mountains, of course, are a natural elevation of the earth’s surface, but they also represent, sometimes small and sometimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles in life. They could be anything from missing car keys to facing a cancer diagnosis. They might be the car stalling or not having enough money to pay your bills. We all have mountains, but we all have God to get us over them.
Valleys are defined as an elongated depressions between uplands, hills, or mountains, especially one following the course of a stream. They are our rest, or time of joy, between the mountains. After climbing a mountain, we sure are relieved to see a valley! The valleys in life could be receiving good news from the doctor, an unexpected windfall of cash, finding the missing car keys, or receiving a promotion at work. Or they might be a time where life seems smooth sailing with no major mountains in the distance.
As mentioned, scripture is filled with mentions of mountains, but for this post, we are going to focus on eight named mountains and their significance in God’s Word.
Eight Important Mountains in the Bible
Mt. Ararat is the first mountain mentioned in scripture. We find it in Genesis 8. It is the mountain where Noah’s ark landed, and Noah saw the rainbow of God’s promise.
Noah and his family emerged from the ark, made offerings and sacrifices, and praised God. The rainbow in this scripture was God’s promise to us never to destroy the earth with a flood of that degree again.
Mount Moriah (Mt. Gerizim)
When Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son, Isaac, in Genesis 22, he climbed Mt. Moriah. Of course, we know that God provided a substitute sacrifice.
Mt. Moriah is where Abraham proved his faithfulness to God, and God blessed him, saving Isaac.
Most people are familiar with Mt. Sinai. This is the mountain where Moses received the Ten Commandments, as we read in Deuteronomy and Exodus.
God had already delivered the people of Israel, but they were disobedient and needed more structure. Moses spoke with God on Mt. Sinai, and God gave him the Ten Commandments.
Mt. Pisgah/Mt. Nebo
Many biblical scholars believe that Mt. Pisgah and Mt. Nebo are one in the same.
Moses, after many years of wandering in the desert, finally saw the Promised Land. It was both a pleasant and painful moment for him because he would never set foot in the Promised Land, but he surely felt some relief about finally seeing the fruits of his many years of labor in his lifetime. It was on Mt. Pisgah. That he finally saw the Promised Land.
Mt. Carmel is where Elijah proves to the people that our God is the one true God.
Elijah called down fire from Heaven to ignite a water-soaked sacrifice. When he did, the drought that they had been facing for some time ended.
You can read about this great spiritual victory in I Kings 18.
Mt. Carmel continues to be a sacred mountain, and people from all over the world consider this a holy place and visit it.
Mount Hermon / Mount Tabor
Mt. Hermon and Mt. Tabor are two of the three peaks on the border of Syria and Lebanon.
Many biblical scholars agree that Mt. Tabor was the mountain for the transfiguration. The Transfiguration was when Jesus’ glory was revealed to those with him. It is also representative of Heaven meeting Earth.
It is in Lower Galilee.
Mt. Olivet, most known as the Mount of Olives, is mentioned prominently in the New Testament.
This mountain has great significance in the life of Jesus. It was at the foot of Mt. Olivet, in the Garden of Gethsemane, that Jesus went to pray before his crucifixion.
It was also here that Jesus ascended into Heaven.
More About The Significance of Mountains in The Bible
Mountains hold great significance in the Bible, not just as places referenced but where important biblical events occurred.
For example, in both Mark and Luke, we read that Jesus appointed the twelve disciples on a mountain, and in Matthew, we learn that Jesus delivered the Beatitudes in his Sermon on the Mount.
Additionally, the Book of Matthew shares several other important events in Jesus’ life occurring at, near or on mountains:
Matthew 4:8, Jesus’ temptation
Matthew 15:29-31 many healings
Matthew 24:3 Jesus’ final conversation with the apostles
More Facts About Mountains in the Bible
- A mountain was Satan’s headquarters when he ruled before Adam (Ezekiel 28:13-16).
- God chose a mountain as the site for the earthly temple (Genesis 22:14, 2 Chronicles 3:1).
- God denoted mountains as for mountains of cursing and blessing (Deuteronomy 11:29, 27:4-13).
- Both Moses and Aaron were commanded to die on mountains (Deuteronomy 32:49-51).
- Mountains are used throughout the Bible as places of refuge (Genesis 14:10, 19:17, 30, Matthew 24:16, Hebrews 11:38).
- The capital of Israel was located on a mountain (1 Kings 8:1, 2 Chronicles 5:2).
- Christ will return on a mountain (Zechariah 14:1-5).
It is interesting to note, that many biblical scholars believe that mountains refer to churches and church government in scripture.
For example, Hebrews 12:22 ties this symbolism together:
Here, Paul refers to Mt. Sinai as the seat of God’s government under the Old Covenant.
Additional scripture that refers to mountains or hills as governments include:
When we are facing mountains and life gets tough, remember that God will pave a way for you. In Isaiah 49:11 ESV, He says
See? He is literally paving the way for us over the mountains! We must always keep in mind that His grace, His leading, and His mercy will never fail. His way may not always be the same as the one we would have imagined. He is the ultimate heavenly architect and road builder!
God is dryland. Our stronghold, our mountain, our security, our rock.
Mountains represent both God as our refuge and the obstacles we face in life.
There are times when we build mountains for ourselves. Those are the times that we do things which are not God-honoring or perhaps self-sabotaging. Or the times that we are “fighting” with God as He is paving a road for us, and we are resisting. Can you think of a time that God was delivering you over a mountain, yet you resisted? We pray to Him to ask Him to solve a problem or provide a need, but when He answers, we don’t like His answer. His ways are not our ways. We don’t always understand, at the time, or sometimes, ever His ways, but He always has plans to prosper us and not harm us.
I particularly love this verse from Isaiah 54:10:
There WILL be mountains, but God’s love for us is unfailing! No matter what we do, no matter how awful our sin, we cannot be separated from the love of our Heavenly Father! No matter how high the mountain before us, how treacherous the climb may seem, He is paving the way for us for hope and a future, and He and His love will be our constant companions along the way. How incredible is that to realize? Do you know just how deeply you are loved by God?
If you mountains before you seem insurmountable, ask God to pave the way for you. I pray that you will feel His loving arms around you as He takes you by the hand and leads you over the mountain.
I have the Jesus Calling Desk Calendar on my desk. This was today’s mini-devotional. I had to share it as it perfectly reflects the concept of mountains and valleys that I wrote about:
July 14 – Excerpts from “Jesus Calling”, by Sarah Young
Keep walking with Me along the path I have chosen for you. Your desire to live close to Me is a delight to My heart. I could instantly grant you the spiritual riches you desire, but that is not My way for you. Together we will forge a pathway up the high mountain. The journey is arduous at times, and you are weak.
Someday you will dance light-footed on the high peaks; but for now, your walk is often plodding and heavy. All I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction. Though the path is difficult, and the scenery dull now, there are sparkling surprises just around the bend. Stay on the path…
Click the image below for a four-page free printable with sixteen significant Bible verses about mountains and valleys in the Bible.
Seven Important Valleys in the Bible
With mountains, we have valleys. Both metaphorically and geographically.
The most recognized verse about valleys in the Bible is, of course, Psalm 23:4
Valleys are the times when life is going along smoothly or even when our lives are filled with sin. They have several meanings in the Bible.
The Bible references seven great valleys:
Siddim, Eschol, Kidron, Elah, Achor, Gehenna and Jezreel.
Let’s look at each of them and what these valleys in the Bible represent.
The Valley of Siddim
This is the valley that represents sin and wickedness.
The valley of Siddim is located where the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were. God saw what was happening in Sodom and Gomorrah and knew He had to do something, which, of course, was to destroy them with fire and brimstone.
This valley is where sin is prevalent. This represents a valley in our lives, too. This same valley of sin.
But God is with us, even when we are in a valley of sin. He is always there.
The Valley of Eschol
The Valley of Eschol is located just inside the Promised Land. This is the valley of decision.
In scripture, the valley of Eschol is where the Israelites made an important decision: to go forward or go backward. Basically, do they obey the Lord or go back into the wilderness?
God is with us in every decision we face. Ask God to help you. To lead you. To help you do His will.
The Valley of Kidron
The Valley of Kidron is what is now known as the Valley of Jehoshaphat. It is located just outside the east wall of the city of Jerusalem. The valley between Jerusalem and Mt. Olivet.
This is the valley of suffering. And God is always with us there.
Life is filled with struggles. With heartache, burdens, and obstacles. These times are when we are in the valley of suffering, and yes, my friend, God is always with us.
He will be our stronghold and refuge during these times. Just ask Him to walk with you and pull you out. He can, and He will.
The Valley of Elah
The Valley of Elah is where David heard Goliath shout his challenge to him across the valley. It is where David, with his seemingly insignificant slingshot, felled Goliath. It is the valley of the battle.
When we face battles of every type in life, be it temptation, or difficulties (relationships, finances, health, etc.), God is with us.
Grab the eBook on Nature Symbolism in the Bible, including Clay in the Bible – 209 pages of scripture, meanings, and deeper study!
I love the song, Surrounded (Fight My Battle) by Michael W Smith. What a poignant reminder that He will fight with us and for us no matter the battle we face.
Lean into God. Let Him fight your battle. In the valley of battle, He is there!
The Valley of Achor
The Valley of Achor is the valley of punishment. It is where Achan was stoned to death.
The Lord said, “Do not take anything that is in Jericho,” yet, Achan stole from Jericho and was stoned to death.
We never like to be disciplined, yet discipline is a way that God lovingly corrects us and puts us on the right path.
The valley of discipline may seem like a tough place to be, but it is a critical destination for us as Christ’s followers.
The Valley of Gehenna
The Valley of Gehenna was “the garbage dump of Jerusalem. There was a fire going on there all the time. When our Lord spoke about hell, He said there shall be “eternal Gehenna.” In other words, there is going to be an eternal fire there.” Pastor Jack Hyles called this the valley of death.
We all will face the time of death, and, yes, God will be with us. But, as Christians, our time on earth is only a small part of our story. We are promised eternal life in Christ Jesus!
The Valley of Jezreel
The valley of Jezreel is significant as scripture tells us this is where the end-time battle will be fought.
At the Valley of Jezreel, we find Mt. Megiddo, which is derived from the word “Armageddon.”
It is in the valley of Jezreel where the Antichrist shall rise as the victor and conqueror of the entire world. The valley of Jezreel is where our Lord will descend from Heaven and come back riding on white horses. He will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and reign forever. He will be with us in the Valley of Jezreel.
God will be with us on every mountain and in every valley of our lives as He ordained.
I adore the song, Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells. Look at these beautiful and meaningful lyrics:
On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
For deeper study, consider one of these recommended resources:
Mountains of the Bible by Joseph James Summerbell
I am praying for you, my friend.
Anchored in Christ, Because He Lives,
ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”