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The Mountain Cast into the Sea

By Don Walker

    The failure of many scholars and Bible commentators to recognize the significance of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. is evidenced through much of their interpretation of the New Testament. One clear case of this is found in Matthew 21:21-22 where Jesus says: “Truly I say to you, if you have faith, and do not doubt, you shall not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it shall happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.”

  This passage has been “fodder” for many sermons on “Mountain-Moving Faith." I have heard sermons on “a mountain of debt,” “a mountain of worry,” “a mountain of problems,” “ a mountain of sickness,” on and on ad nauseam. Time and again this passage, along with Mark 11:23-24, becomes the “launching pad” for a “faith rocket” aimed in any direction we want it to go. This is a clear example of “a text taken out of context becoming a pretext for just about anything.”   As an aside, having heard many of the so-called “faith preachers” expound on these verses about how they are to be taken “literally," I have not, as of yet, heard of any one of them casting a “literal” mountain into the sea.     

In order to properly interpret this passage we must note that Jesus did not say, “a mountain.” Jesus said, “this mountain," which holds great hermeneutical importance. He is not speaking about “any mountain," He is speaking about a specific one. The Greek language is quite clear on this point, there is a definite article following the word “oros,” (meaning mountain). Without the definite article it would mean that this would be translated as “a mountain." Obviously, “a mountain,” and “this mountain” makes a difference in how one interprets what Jesus was referring to.

 

What mountain was Jesus specifically speaking about? I believe Jesus’ Jewish disciples, steeped in the language of the Old Testament, knew exactly what Jesus was referring to in this instance, and which mountain was to, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea.’

 

Mountains in the Scriptures symbolize nations and people (Isa.41:14-16, Zech. 4:7).

Exodus 15:17 tells us that God that would “plant” Israel, “in the mountain of Thine inheritance.” Throughout the Old Testament the nation was spoken of as “Mount Zion” (example: Ps. 48:11, 74:2, 125:1; Isa. 8:18, 10:12, 24:23, 29:8; Joel 2:32). The disciples were well aware of this and understood the implication of Jesus’ words. In addition, William Telford in his book, The Barren Temple and the Withered Tree, states that the phrase “this mountain” was a standard expression among the Jewish people for the Temple Mount.  

“This mountain” was understood, by the disciples, to be in reference to the nation of Israel which was directly related to the Temple. Coupled with this statement from Jesus, in the midst of His warnings about the destruction of Jerusalem (Matt. 20-25), is His cursing of an unfruitful fig tree, as a symbol of judgment upon Israel.

 

Jesus was not suddenly changing the topic, away from the destruction of Jerusalem, but focusing in on the role of His followers to pray, in faith, for its destruction. Commenting on this passage in his book, Days of Vengeance, David Chilton writes:

  “Jesus was instructing His disciples to pray imprecatory prayers, beseeching God to destroy Israel, to wither the fig tree, to cast the apostate mountain into the sea.”  

In Revelation 8:8 we see the fulfillment of the prayers of the saints (Rev. 8:3-4), when we are told, “something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea.” This is also the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the judgment of Babylon, which Jerusalem had become, “a destroying mountain” on which God unleashed His wrath. The imagery of Revelation 8:8 parallels that of Jeremiah 51:25,42; which declares:

 

“Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain,

 Who destroys the whole earth,” declares the Lord,

“And I will stretch out My hand against you,

  And roll you down from the crags

  And I will make you a burnt out mountain....

  The sea has come up over Babylon;

  She has been engulfed with its

  tumultuous waves.”

 

The apostate mountain that is “cast into the sea” speaks symbolically of the Diaspora, the dispersion of the Jewish people across the earth, into the “sea of humanity.” The mountain was not only “taken up” but also “cast into the sea” in the language of the Scriptures. It was therefore, an actual fulfillment of the prayers of the saints who obeyed Christ’s instructions.

 

The “this mountain” that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 21:21 was replaced by “the great mountain” of Daniel 2:35. We see the replacement of the Harlot with the Bride, Israel with the Church, and Babylon (earthly Jerusalem) with the heavenly Jerusalem.

 

The failure of most Bible commentators to see the significance of the fall of Jerusalem “clouds” their interpretation of this and many other passages of Scripture. It has also hindered the Church of Jesus Christ from seeing the surpassing greatness of the New Covenant, which has made the old obsolete (Heb. 8:13).

What do YOU think ?

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Date:
27 Oct 2004
Time:
15:43:29

Comments

Interesting and I had failed before to notice "THIS mountain", for which I thank you. However, I would not limit the identification of Babylon as apostate Israel. I suggest Babylon is symbolic of the entire world system (economics, trade, finance, etc), and it is this mountain too, busy destroying the earth, which will be destroyed by Christ.


Date: 21 Apr 2005
Time: 20:35:33

Comments:

I believe also that this was not a physical mountain, and it is a shame that so much text has been taken out of context by preachers for monetary reasons.
 


Date: 22 May 2007
Time: 23:48:04

Comments0:

As Don Walker observes, this is indeed a very specific mountain. He correctly identifies the mountain as national Israel and he cites support in appropriate OT texts. But its specific identification is made absolutely explicit in the immediate context when Matthew 21:1 states that they "were come to Bethphage, unto THE MOUNT OF OLIVES..." The removal of "this mountain", i.e., THE MOUNT OF OLIVES, is precisely the same event as is prophesied in Zechariah 14:4 "And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south."


Date: 27 Feb 2008
Time: 06:44:42

Comments:

wow!!! thank you so much for this !!! this a blessed me so much


Date: 18 Apr 2009
Time: 21:47:35

Your Comments:

I'm not sure what I think. Is Israel really going to be destroyed? Why would God protect them for the most part just to destroy them in the end? Plus as for mystery Babylon. It's an unclear thing, too many teachers have different beliefs on who or what that is. It could be Revived Roman Empire, Israel, America, or even the false prophets and leaders. I also believe that most things in the bible are to be taken as written, rather then us give our own meaning of what it means.


Date: 24 Jan 2010
Time: 10:32:18

Your Comments:

A thought provoking explanation, indeed.
Jesus was most likely speaking of the mountain they were on: They had left Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives is between Bethany-Bethphage and Jerusalem. Jesus spoke to Jews who knew their own history: The Mount of Olives was, according to Jewish history, used by Solomon to erect altars to false gods and the fig tree (Israel) was "shriveled" by God due to idol worship- Hosea 9:10. Josiah had to desecrate the mountain with dead men's bones to halt this pagan worship; To keep Israel's priests off the mountain (high places).
I am inclined to believe that the woman "Babylon" (Rev.18) is organized religion which profits from God's kingdom and has brought idol worship into the church. Present day Pharisees are still doing it; living sumptuously, giving power to false images and imaginations. A common thread in the Bible is God's indignation toward idolatry- It pollutes our minds and our worship; our very concept of God. The old fashioned Molech-Baal-Ishtar worship is still very much alive today, just working in a more insidious manner; we don't even recognize that half of what we profess is birthed from pagan idolatry. The pious Israelites brought pagan idols into the Temple of God to worship them, are we more devout than they? (Lest your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees...) For example, Ishtar the goddess of fertility and Ashtaroth the prince of hell are admired and feared today, polluting our worship and our minds (the temple of God.) Such horrible things (abominations) never entered the mind of God and are only a product of the carnal mind (read Jeremiah 7:31). Paul exhorts us to cast down imaginations that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.
God desires our worship to be in a pure form, the "fig tree" was shriveled because of idolatry. However, lest you would be left in fear for Israel, fear not, for all Israel will be saved (Rom.11:26). God's plan is still working toward the redemption of mankind. God's peace be upon you.
 


Date: 21 Sep 2011
Time: 05:51:09

Your Comments:

Hello, in reading your understanding of this passage, it occurs to me that Jesus may be using the cursing of the fig tree as an object lesson. The question I have is if Jesus is saying to his disciples, curse the Jewish religion and its practices, where do we today draw the line in cursing what we have determined to be unbiblical? The point I'm getting at is this: what I consider heretical, may not be what you do, so if cursing a religious institution on the bases of disagreement was really what Jesus was saying, I think it would be more clear in Jesus words. Jesus is telling his disciples they could do the same thing if they have faith in God, I'm not advocating Word of Faith teaching, just that it appears that Jesus is giving a positive result to a negative situation. It's not faith in faith, or what you say necessarily, but faith in God's ability to do the impossible. Thanks for your teaching it is interesting. Jack Harper


Date: 03 Nov 2010
Time: 04:40:23

Your Comments:

what about Deuto 11:29.isn't this related to Mark 11:23,24.


Date: 24 Jan 2013
Time: 21:10:44

Your Comments:

I think the mountain was just as literal as the fig tree. I' think I'll go with GOD on this one.


Date: 01 Dec 2012
Time: 11:28:24

Your Comments:

interesting thought on the subject. i've always wondered about christian mountain theories. It never worked for me. "lifted up and cast into the sea" reads like jonah too. I'm so dreadfully sorry to think that you would ever believe YHWH replaced the church over Israel!! You really need to throw away your traditions of man and re read the scriptures. The word church isn't even in the word. It's called out ones and it's equivalent word in hebrew is also a called out one or congregation or assembly. That group of "church" ppl were first seen at Mt. Sinai. WE WHO BELIEVE IN Y'SHUA ARE ISRAELITES GRAFTED INTO ISRAEL. WE ARE NOT A REPLACEMENT! Stop the bleeding of lies about christianity.


Date: 21 Sep 2011
Time: 05:51:09

Your Comments:

Hello, in reading your understanding of this passage, it occurs to me that Jesus may be using the cursing of the fig tree as an object lesson. The question I have is if Jesus is saying to his disciples, curse the Jewish religion and its practices, where do we today draw the line in cursing what we have determined to be unbiblical? The point I'm getting at is this: what I consider heretical, may not be what you do, so if cursing a religious institution on the bases of disagreement was really what Jesus was saying, I think it would be more clear in Jesus words. Jesus is telling his disciples they could do the same thing if they have faith in God, I'm not advocating Word of Faith teaching, just that it appears that Jesus is giving a positive result to a negative situation. It's not faith in faith, or what you say necessarily, but faith in God's ability to do the impossible. Thanks for your teaching it is interesting. Jack Harper
 


Date: 03 Nov 2010
Time: 04:40:23

Your Comments:

what about Deuto 11:29.isn't this related to Mark 11:23,24.


Date: 03 Mar 2013
Time: 08:55:54

Your Comments:

Scripture should be interpreted in context. Read the verse immediately following verse 23, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received[c] it, and it will be yours." You cannot say this is not a lesson about praying to God in faith without doubting for what you need. This is consistent with the message of Jesus.


Date: 17 May 2013
Time: 09:11:50

Your Comments:

I think that us NOT wanting to believe or "to have faith" is our mountain which needs to be cast into the sea. The word says, and I take it literally that without faith it is impossible to please God! I must be a child here as I believe the word of God to be true! We are afraid of having faith and we need a way out. Some would use different distractors, be it deeper theological thinking, science, etc, to dissuade us from faith. I myself will pray and believe as I know that people "having faith" or "Christ seeing their faith" is pretty big in Gods eyes as a precursor to God moving in situations. Signed ...a believer
 


Date: 27 Jun 2013
Time: 13:19:48

Your Comments:

Mount sion "is" mount hermon. 200 sons of God decended there and had a summit meeting. And after they made a vow there to take wives of the daughters of men giants were born to them. See Genesis chapter 6 and the book of Enoch chapter 6. Now there is a sion that "can" be touched with hands. And a spiritual Zion that "can not" be touched with hands. And I am against the destroying one where marriage vows got started! You can't get married under the law and live under grace. That is... unless someone named grace lives above you.

"And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God."
 


Date: 02 Aug 2013
Time: 08:17:12

Your Comments:

so beautiful. thank you!


 

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