Mountains were used as a backdrop for many of the biblical stories. In Exodus 19:20 the mountain top was a meeting place with God. Prophets and holy men went to the mountain top to die. The Transfiguration, described in Matthew 17:1-2, occurred on a mountain top, also. The Ascension of the Lord into heaven was described in Acts 1:9-11, and it happened on a mountain top.
The Ark rested on the mountain of Ararat. The commandments were given on Mt. Sinai. Mount Zion was mentioned in Micah 4:1. Why are mountains so important in the Bible?
The mountainous areas of Palestine were mixed with valleys and flat areas. Galilee, Jerusalem and Judea were hilly areas, also. The mountains served as a place for solitude for many of the prophets and holy men. The quiet of nature provided time for prayer, just as Jesus did when he went to the mountain to pray. Jesus, along with the other inhabitants of this area, believed that praying on the mountain was bringing him closer to God and the heavens.
Mountains also served Jesus and others in more practical ways. The flood caused rivers to rise and Noah’s Ark sat on the top of Mt. Ararat, until the flood waters receded.
The Lord sat on the mountain in Matthew’s Gospel teaching the people the eight beatitudes. The mountains served as a stage for the Lord to be seen and heard, among the crowd of hundreds that always congregated wherever he went.
Jesus spent his final day walking to a mountain, to die on the Cross. His trek, carrying a large wooden beam, was through the winding streets of the town. These streets were steep and led to the mountain, where Jesus and two thieves were crucified. The reason that the Jews used the elevation of the mountain was to make sure that the road was difficult, and that the entire area could see the crucified criminals hanging on the crosses.
There are many famous mountains in the Bible, and churches often use the biblical mountains when selecting a name for their church. The definition of a mountain, according to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, is “a landmass that projects conspicuously above its surroundings and is higher than a hill.” Even though there were many hills in the area where Jesus lived, the mountains were taller and presented a closer contact with God.
“Where to find it in the Bible,” Ken Anderson
The New American Bible