Some Mountain Top Scenes: A Short Review

 •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 11
Knowing as we do, how much the place has often to do with the truths unfolded in Scripture, it cannot be without interest to observe some of the scenes that the tops of the mountains have witnessed, both in former times and in the later days of New Testament revelation.
How blessed, for example, to take one's place on Ararat's summit (Gen. 8:44And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat. (Genesis 8:4)) at the moment when the force of the waves of judgment was abated, and the ark with its precious freight is at length able to rest in safety; and the dove can be sent forth to return with its olive branch, to tell of peace and happiness once more; and then to learn, by means of this wondrous scene, the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and its blessed results to those who make Him their ark of refuge.
Dear reader, can you say, This portion is mine, and I can see that every billow of the judgment that was rightly due to me has rolled over the head of that precious One that came to be my ark of safety, and now in resurrection He has borne me up and placed me beyond the reach of condemnation?-I can look back and say the time of wrath is over, and the time of peace and happiness has come?-the Holy Spirit bears witness to me of this?-and I can now erect my altar and send up the incense of praise into my Father's ears, while His bow in the clouds tells me of security as eternal as Himself? Surely it is well to ponder this ere we pass on to the not less interesting scene of Gen. 22
The time had come for Abraham's faith to be tested, and God demands his only son from him. How beautiful to see the unmurmuring, unselfish surrender of his all to the will of God-his patient journey, his simple faith, and Isaac's willing obedience to, and childlike acquiescence in, his father's will. One scarcely knows which to admire most-the simple trust of Abraham, or the docile willingness of Isaac. We know the story, how, when given up to God, the respite came, and henceforth Isaac is a resurrection child. But how much more precious does this scene become when we regard it as a truthful picture of God's willing surrender of His only begotten Son, and that blessed One's submission to His Father's will. Not three days alone, but three and thirty years did their journey last, and then to find no respite from the stroke of judgment. Not the less painful for the one to inflict than for the other to endure. But love sustained both Father and Son, and together they return to us as witnesses that eternal happiness is theirs who own the Lamb of God's providing.
If we have in any measure apprehended the meaning of the mountain scenes already glanced at, we shall not be afraid to go with Moses to the top of Sinai (Exod. 19) and hear the blessed revelations God had to make to him. He was beyond the reach of the voices and thunderings and lightnings that made the people tremble. He was with God and in His presence at perfect ease. How blessed then to hear type after type unfolding the glories and excellencies of Jesus, and to learn in the light the shadows that certainly, though dimly, point to Him that was yet to come. Was there a slave whose devotedness was such that when his period of service was completed, would not go out free, but in love to his master, wife, and children, remained a slave forever? (Exod. 21) Jesus was the One alluded to. For our sakes He took a servant's place, and in perfect love, His earthly service over, devotes Himself to our cause though absent from us; and when He comes again, will not even then remit the exercises of His heart in our behalf (John 13; Luke 12).
The ark of the covenant, too, has its tale to tell of the glory of His Person; the manifestation of the Godhead; the One in whom all fullness pleased to dwell; where mercy and truth are met together, and righteousness and peace have kissed each other; while the table of showbread and candlestick speak respectively of the glories of His perfect humanity in connection with His people, and the light He ever bears on their behalf during the time even of their grossest darkness. Not less do the tabernacle and veil tell of His glories as God manifest in flesh, whether seen as Messiah, Son of man, or Son of God, or in all the varied graces ever displayed in Him; while Aaron's clothing and appointment not less plainly unfold to us a priesthood of a higher and a heavenly order; and the incense altar and the laver of brass likewise speak of Him who ever lives and makes intercession for us, and while He does so, sanctifies us by the washing of water by the Word. Surely this is a blessed mountain scene, and one that well repays a visit of less brief duration than that we have just accorded to it.
Let us pass on now to another place and stand with Balaam and Balak on the high places of Baal (Numb. 23; 24) and hear what God has to say concerning the people of His choice. Peacefully they were resting in their tents below while God and Satan were waging war concerning them above. Satan had failed to hinder their departure from Egypt, and now he will not suffer them to enter the land without a contest; but, as is ever the case, his opposition only tends to bring out more fully the counsels of God's grace on their behalf. Separated unto God were they, beyond the reach of Satan's power, taken out from the masses of the human family, to be a peculiar people, a holy nation to Jehovah. Perverse they had been in all their ways and abundant in their transgressions, but a God of perfect love can yet refrain from beholding iniquity in Jacob or perverseness in Israel. Beautiful to Him likewise were they, as seen in their pilgrim character, grouped in all the perfect order of His own arrangement; and possessed of hopes of which the world knew nothing, no less than the coming of Him whose scepter should rule the universe until all enemies were subject under His feet. How blessedly does this fourfold prophecy concerning Israel suggest to us our own position in the sight of God. The special subjects of Satan's hostility, but the peculiar objects of the Father's care. We, too, are a people separated unto Him-chosen in the Son of His love before the world's foundation. He can see us from the heights of His own counsels and maintain our cause accordingly. Of us, too, it is said, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?" for "Whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified." Our standing is not less certain than our calling; and this, blessed be God, not by our works, but because of the purpose of Him that calls. Then, too, we have our beauty and order in His sight-accepted in the Beloved-the expression to principalities and powers in heavenly places of the manifold wisdom of God, we are seen as the epistle of Christ-known and read of all men; and this, until the promise dear to every one of us is fulfilled, and the hope of our hearts, the bright and morning star appears to change our mourning into gladness, and the tears of midnight into the day-beams of His own presence. Surely the "top of the rocks," the "high places of Baal" are well deserving of our attention, whether as unfolding the privileges of the ancient people of God, or as revealing in figure our own more favored heavenly calling.
Let us pass on to another and a different scene. The days of Israel's prosperity have passed away. Moses and Joshua, David and Solomon, have gone to their rest, and the people's testimony has been less and less apparent for the Lord, though His love for them had in no wise lessened; and though Ahab's wickedness exceeded that of all his predecessors, still the Lord had preserved a witness in the person of Elijah. And now the moment had come (1 Kings 18) to test the people's faithfulness, and Elijah stood alone as the representative of God on Carmel's summit in antagonism to the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 that ate at Jezebel's table. What a scene it is! Like Moses on a former occasion (Exod. 32), he thought only of Jehovah's glory. Having gained strength "in the sanctuary," he is calm and confident when "in the sea," and before all Israel he rebuilds, and according to the due order, the ruined altar of the Lord; and a blessed answer did his faith receive, for Jehovah maintains the honor of His name, and the sacrifice is burned to ashes, and once more the people bow their hearts in the presence of the display of the Lord's majesty. Surely this picture, too, may bring before our minds what God expects of us in the present day. It is true, alas, that collective order has been displaced by admixture with the world and consequent failure in testimony, but only the more brightly to display the tender mercy of God in the faithfulness of the twos and threes that He has gathered around the Person of His Son. They, too, have learned that the secret of power without the camp must come from constancy within the veil, and thus, too, their strength in God; they are not afraid to confront the masses that swell the ranks of a profession that is fast ripening into open apostasy. They, too, can own no altar but the Lord, and no circle of unity but that of the one body joined by the one Spirit; and they also have found out the truth of the Lord's faithfulness, and know not merely that their sacrifices are acceptable, but that Jesus, according to His Word, is in their midst; and thus encouraged, they stand their ground as in the place of testimony for Him until He comes again to bring them to Himself in glory.