The Borobodur temple of Indonesia, the Acropolis of Greece, the Shinto Shirne of Chureito overlooking Mount Fuji. What do these sacred places of worship all have in common? Their foundations all lie on the top of a mountain face, as high into the heavens as humanly possible. Religious traditions both past and present, have always viewed mountains as sites on the mortal plane, at which the immortal or the divine communicate; a bridge to the supernatural. It was from mountains that the human and the divine connected, and humanity could reach up into the heavens. Even Scripture makes frequent mention of the surrounding pagan nations, noting that their places of worship took place on ‘high places’ (2 Kings 17:11; 2 Kings 23:5; 2 Chronicles 28:25).
But apart from the high altitude which all of these temples and monasteries share, they also exhibit one fundamental commonality, that makes them distinct from any Christian place of worship: man takes the initiative to climb towards God.
As if reclaiming the meeting place of the mountain, the God of the Bible also communicated to his people on numerous occasions, on a mountain. God instructed Abraham to perform his test of faith on Mt. Moriah (Genesis 22:1-3), God spoke to Moses and the Israelites through a fiery cloud of smoke and lightning atop Mt. Sinai (Exodus 3:1-5; Exodus 19:10-12), God revealed Himself to Elijah both on Mt. Carmel and Mt. Horeb (1 Kings 18:1-2, 17-19; 1 Kings 19:7-13), and Jesus; God in flesh taught his disciples from a mountain, as well as died on a hill (Matthew 5:1,2; Matthew 27:33). The fundamental component of each of these examples is: God took the initiative to come down to man.
It is clear, that God wished to communicate to humanity that unlike the pagan religions in which man ascended the mountain of their own ambition, God would only allow those he had personally invited to ascend His mountain. God sought to teach his people a lesson in humility and willful submission, by showing them they could not ascend to God’s mountain, without first being invited.
CLIMBING THE LADDER
However, despite God’s clear command to not ascend towards Him, humanity seems intent on becoming more than they currently are. I find the following chart to be helpful in illustrating this point.
This chart demonstrates the hierarchy of value for God’s created beings, found within Scripture. Notice however, that there are no vertical lines on either side of the horizontal. This chart does not resemble a ladder, which you can climb up. Every human being is on the exact same horizontal line and is of the exact same inherent value. There is no way to climb any higher, and yet humanity continually tries to climb up to the mountain of God.
Take for example the Tower of Babel, in which architects built an enormous structure to physically reach up to heaven itself. What was the punishment for such pride? God humbled the proud visionaries who aspired for divinity and confused their languages (ref.).
Consider even the original sin committed by Lucifer. Lucifer expressly stated that he desired to ‘ascend to the Mount of God’ (Isaiah 14:12-15); the punishment for which was Lucifer’s banishment from Heaven. Even Satan’s first temptation to humanity was an appeal to the desire to ‘become like God’. All throughout history, humans and angels have been dissatisfied with their position in the hierarchy, and aspired to be greater by achieving godhood, only to be humbled to something less.
THE MIND OF OURS
So, what is the remedy to this human condition of pride, that drives us to climb up to God’s mountain? We discover the antidote in Scripture, in the final example of where the human and the divine meet. In the first chapter of John, we read that God Himself became a human being, in order to save humanity from sin. Imagine if you were to take two steps down on the hierarchy and become a plant? In the same way, God took two steps down the hierarchy, and became a man, and not only that, a servant.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
In order to combat our pride, we must have an attitude of humility and servanthood, just as Jesus did. Then and only then, with a heart of humility and service, will God call us to his mountain.
The final piece of good news to us is this, God has extended the invitation to all, to come to His mountain, and find forgiveness through the sacrifice of Christ.
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Will you accept the invitation to come to the throne of God?
By Christopher Petersen
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