In 1924, British climber George Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. He famously answered, "Because it's there." Sadly, that did not prove to be a good enough reason, and he disappeared on his way to the summit.
An old Spiritual says, "I'm climbing up, up the rough side of the mountain; climbing up to Zion to see my Lord." Indeed, the journey to heaven, although secure and safe, is often stormy and strenuous.
Mountains figure prominently in the Bible. They are often used as pictures of strength and protection: "As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people from this time forth and forever" (Psalm 125:2). They also indicate governmental power. Speaking of ancient Babylon, God said, "Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, who destroys all the earth." (Jeremiah 51:25). Speaking of the coming kingdom of Christ, Daniel's dream revealed, "And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth" (Daniel 2:35).God manifests His power on mountains, from the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 1931) to the foundation of His holy city, Jerusalem: "Thus says the LORD: 'I will return to Zion, And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the LORD of hosts, The Holy Mountain'" (Zechariah 8:3).
When we were kids, we played King of the Mountain. The "king" would stand on a hill while the other kids would try to pull him down and ascend the hill. Satan intended to play King of the Universe with God. "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:13, 14).
Professional climbers need a mountain of equipment to safely climb the heights: camming devices, crampons, carabiners, quickdraws, belays, and rappel devices, to name a few with unusual names. This makes mountain climbing rather costly but a bit smoother.
Those who wish to ascend to God's heights, not to usurp but to please Him, also need the proper equipment to succeed: "Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation" (Psalm 24:35). In order to reach the summit of God's blessing, you must be prepared.
Just as the path to the top of any mountain is rough and steep, so is the path of life. Climbing up to Zion is not a walk through flowery beds of Elysian ease. Jesus warned his disciples, "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). It isn't until our earthly journey is over that we will find our base camp. "Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write: 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.'" 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them'" (Revelation 14:13).
Believer, take heart, although the climb is arduous. We have a better purpose than "Because it's there." We endure the hike because God is there. Once we reach the peak of an earthly mountain, there is no where to go but down. Once we reach the summit of Zion, the journey has only begun.
Alan is a freelance devotional writer for Lifestyles Over 50 and the Allentown, PA, Morning Call. He is also the Peer-less Reviewer (General Editor) for Bridgeway Homeschool Academy in Catasauqua, PA, a Christian homeschool academy. Passionate about reviving theology and church methodology.
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