WHY UP THE MOUNTAIN

Sapphire was talking on Sunday past about the invitation from God to go up the mountain this year.

The last time I checked, there were a lot of unfit people here in the room, including myself, who wouldn’t even make it up a hill, let alone a mountain.

We better check what we are letting ourselves in for.

Most of the time, a mountain or a range of mountains symbolizes:

  1. Obstacles.
  2. Climbing over one or passing through a mountain range could indicate overcoming obstacles or making progress in an area of your life.
  3. Climbing up a mountain or other height often indicates spiritual or mental “rising” or improvement.
  4. We know that High ground is often a place of worship.

So why go up the mountain in the first place

In the Bible, mountains are often the places where God encounters people, changes their lives and sends them back down to the world with a prophetic message.

Noah’s ark settled on a mountaintop and he offered God a sacrifice there, and they entered into a new covenant on the mountain (Genesis 8:4, 20-22).

On another mountain, Moriah, where Abraham willingly attempted, at God’s command, the unthinkable sacrifice of his son Isaac, and it was there that God’s angel stayed Abraham’s hand and provided a ram for sacrifice instead (Genesis 22:1-14).

After murdering the Egyptian he found beating a Hebrew slave, Moses fled to Midian. While he was tending sheep for his father-in-law on Mount Horeb, God spoke to him from a burning bush, revealing the most sacred name of Israel’s God. It was there that God told Moses that he was to lead the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3:9-10, 12).

As God delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Horeb (frequently referred to as Sinai as well), the mountain was shrouded in smoke, shook violently, and the people heard volleys of thunder (Exodus 19:18-20). Centuries later, when God spoke to the prophet Elijah on the same mountain, it was with “a light silent sound” (1 Kings 19:12).

When the Israelites crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land, they entered between two mountains. From Mount Gerazim they received the blessing that would be theirs for serving God and from Mount Ebal the curse that would come by rejecting God (Deuteronomy 11:29; Joshua 8:33-34).

In Luke, Jesus teaches the beatitudes on a plain (6:17-23) , but in Matthew, we are given the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, and the mountain setting is used by Matthew to help demonstrate that Jesus is a prophet and teacher greater than Moses (5:1-12).

Jesus’ glory is revealed to Peter, James and John on “a high mountain” while Moses and Elijah confer with Jesus. The disciples want to build three booths in honor of Jesus, Moses and Elijah, but a heavenly voice proclaims that Jesus “is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matthew 17:1-5).

While Mount Zion is mentioned more than any other mountain in Scripture, in the Gospels it is the Mount of Olives that is most associated with Jesus, especially in the final days before his crucifixion, when he would retire there after teaching in the Temple area (Luke 21:37). Most importantly, Jesus completed his ministry on a cross on a hill known both as Calvary and Golgotha (Mark 15:22-25). 

Are you getting the point that some really good stuff happened on the mountain in biblical times

But it was none of these verses that stood out for me and Papa highlighted the verse about the VEIL, and so I assume He wants us to look at it before we embark on this journey.

The prophet Isaiah assured Israel that their holy Mount Zion would be the site of a feast unlike any in the history of the world: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations. He will destroy death forever” (Isaiah 25:6).

I really believe that God is going to UNVEIL us individually and as a ministry through this next step.

There are many different descriptions and interpretations of what the veil is, but for me the teaching that stands out is that, the Veil is “SELF”, It is “SELF” understanding, and it is “SELF” limiting

I don’t know how many of you have seen Stephen King’s “Shawshank Redemption” In the story there is a guy called Brooks.

He is not the main character but he was in prison for so long that when he was eligible for parole he actually fights to stay in prison.

When he fails to stay in prison and gets parole, he reluctantly leaves and moves into a halfway house and gets a job packing groceries. His life on the outside is worse than it ever was on the inside. He is terrified of the busy traffic, intimidated by his boss and customers, and lonely, with only the birds to keep him company.

Finally, tired of a world where he no longer belongs, and sure that no one will miss him, he hangs himself in his room.

He found himself in a prison worse than the actual prison of “Shawshank”.

He found himself imprisoned by two sets of bars.

“It is said that at first, he was sentenced to life behind metal bars that separated him from the freedom outside. But after a while, he found himself encaged behind mental bars that prevented him from enjoying the freedom of the outside.”

This appears to be quite a serious problem for mankind.

It took God days to free the Israelites from the Egyptians. But it took him years to rid them of their slave mentality.

Year after year they kept on passing up the entrance to the “Promised Land “ the “land flowing with milk and honey,” because they weren’t yet free to believe in God’s power to establish them there as the rightful owners of the land. It is far easier to release a person from prison than it is to release a person from the prison mindset. And true Freedom requires both.

I was reading up on different sources on the veil and came across a book called, “The Pursuit of God”, by Aiden Tozer, where he asks some very interesting questions, which I believe is important for us to ask ourselves for this next chapter, and I think I could even stop here because these questions are quite profound;

  1. “What do you want more than anything else in the world?” This question really probes your priorities.
  2. “What are you willing to pay for that which you want most?”
  3. “What is keeping you from laying hold of what you want most and are willing to pay for?”

These are really questions about the barriers between us and God — barriers that we have willingly erected and carefully maintained.

Tozer’s speaks in the book about tearing down the wall of self that separates us from God which he suggests is the VEIL

I need to read this directly from the book because it makes so much sense:

 “A veil “woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit. They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and their power.” This “self-life” he is referring to is simply the title of an entire catalog of self-sins: “self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, and self-love.” And from our modern self-addicted society we could easily add: self-absorption, self-abuse, self-analysis, self-centeredness, self-content, self-destructiveness, self-help, self-gratification, self-hatred, self-indulgence, self-service, self-willed — the list keep growing as long as “self” is alive.”

God made us for Himself and our hearts will stay restless until they find rest in Him. We can busy ourselves with all kinds of SELF but we will never find what Papa really has for us. He is not only the cause of our creation, but he is the purpose of our existence.

It is the veil of self that needs to still be torn down that continues to stand between us and where He wants to take us. The problem for many of us is that our heart’s desire is too closely entwined with the aspirations of the fallen world. We are so entrenched in this world that letting go of it is not easy. And I have a feeling that whilst we love the world so much, we won’t be able to let go in order to go on this journey up the mountain. The idea of losing our false self, even though it has been nothing but trouble for us, is terrifying to most because it is all we know.

Imagine what He can do if we can let go of everything that we held on to for dear life, our jobs, our income, our houses, our ideas, our opinions, our judgements, our inadequacies, our status.

There comes a point in our spiritual walk where we hit a barrier. This barrier blocks our way to the best of what God has prepared for us. Everything we hope to have in Christ is on the other side but somehow nothing we do can get us over that wall. Getting rid of this wall involves the total and voluntary sacrifice of self, offered to God without condition.

Romans 12:1, “I urge you therefore, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual act of worship.”

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

The Romans 12 decision is the only pathway through the barrier of self for us to be able to see what it is that Papa has for us.

We should be running to go up the mountain but we are still living this imprisoned existence, free from sin on the outside but confined by self on the inside. Our only limits to all of what is waiting for us is ourselves. We don’t go up the mountain for ourselves, we go up for Papa.

The one thing we can be sure of from the Bible is that those who go up the mountain come back changed. I have news for you if you think you just going for a stroll up the mountain to check out the scenery. Those who go to the mountain come back changed and empowered. They come back ready to work for God’s vision: to make that vision a reality.

So maybe you want to ask yourselves those three questions again and make sure you prepared for how you answer.

Written by Andrew Holdsworth

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