“Your country is waste, your cities burnt with fire,” the prophet Isaiah rails in the opening chapter of his scroll (1:7a). Judah and Jerusalem are riddled with injustice, hypocrisy, murder, thievery, rebellion, and every sort of corruption. Yet the Lord does not abandon his people.
In days to come,Isaiah 2:2
The mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
With piercing vision beyond the smoke of destruction, the prophet beholds the mountain of the Lord, Mount Zion, rising above the rubble.
The theme of the mountain of the Lord spans the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. The garden of Eden blossoms at the summit of a mountain, the source of a single stream of water that divides into four rivers flowing over the entire earth (Genesis 2:6-14). The prophet Ezekiel also envisions the creation of adam (humankind) in Eden, on the mountain of the Lord (Ezekiel 28:13-14).
St. Ephrem the Syrian, a fourth-century patristic poet familiar with the sources of Judaism, composed his Hymns on Paradise according to the image of a mystic mountain.
With the eye of my mindSt. Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on Paradise I.4 (trans. Sebastian Brock)
I gazed upon Paradise;
the summit of every mountain
is lower than its summit…
In the book of Revelation, a vision of the new Jerusalem, the bride and wife of the Lamb, is given to John by an angel atop a mountain:
He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal.Revelation 21:10-11
The “mountain” of the Lord is equally the “house” of the Lord, another oft-recurring symbol throughout Scripture. Both images draw us into the dwelling and presence of the Lord.
One thing I ask of the Lord;Psalm 27:4
this I seek:
To dwell in the Lord’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the Lord’s beauty,
to visit his temple.