Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Mountain of Yhwh

Mountains. Bulwarks of strength. Towers of majesty. Heights where the wind frolics freely, where the air is thin, fresh, cold. Where the lightning zig-zags down to electrify, where the sky may be touched by the reaching of a hand, where the clouds descend to fog the senses.

Mountains. The towers of myths. The ever-present home of the Olympians. The home of the altars of pagans throughout the ages. The treasure-store of Atlantis. The earth reaching to Heaven. The eye of the horizon. The observer of the worlds, the galaxies.

Mountains. Mentions of mountains are replete throughout the Biblical documents. From the very first chapters of Genesis, we are told of the mountain of God in the midst of the Garden of Eden, from whence Yahweh descends to speak to Adam and Eve. It is the mountain 'where God lived'.

When Moses was looking after the flock of Jethro, he came to 'Horeb, the mountain of God.' (Exodus 3:1) There God encountered him in the form of the burning bush. Years later, Moses and the Israelites returned to God again on Mount Sinai, or Horeb. The pillar of Cloud covered the mountain. It shook. God's voice pealed from the heights, commanding that no one could approach the foot of its base except Moses, lest they die. For the mountain was holy. Moses said, 'You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain which is your heritage, the place which you, Yahweh, have made your dwelling, the sanctuary, Yahweh, prepared by your own hands.' (Exodus 15:17)

The chosen city of God, Jerusalem, was set in the midst of seven mountains. God chose out of those seven mountains the Mount Moriah to establish His Temple, His Holy of Holies on. This was the same mountain on which Abraham was called to sacrifice a ram in lieu of his son Isaac as a burnt offering to Yahweh.

David took refuge from the persecution of his son Absalom by fleeing to the Mount of Olives. Ezekiel says that 'the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city [the mount of Olives].' David sang of Yahweh's mountain repeatedly in his Psalms. I myself have anointed my king on Zion my holy mountain.…I cry out to Yahweh; he answers from his holy mountain.…Send out your light and your truth; they shall be my guide, to lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.…Why be envious, haughty mountains, of the mountain God has chosen for his dwelling? There God will dwell forever.…Exalt Yahweh our God, bow down at his holy mountain; holy is Yahweh our God!

Elijah walked for forty days and forty nights to take shelter from persecution on Mount Horeb, God's mountain. (1 Kings 19). When he reached there 'he was told, "Go out and stand on the mountain before Yahweh." For at that moment Yahweh was going by. A mighty hurricane split the mountains and shattered the rocks before Yahweh. But Yahweh was not in the hurricane. And after the hurricane, an earthquake. But Yahweh was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, fire. But Yahweh was not in the fire. And after the fire, a light murmuring sound. And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face.…'

Isaiah prophesied about God's mountain, Horeb or Sinai. He spoke that Yahweh would prepare a banquet for His chosen on this mountain, that on this mountain He would tear the veil 'which used to veil all peoples'. (Isaiah 25:6) That when the Day comes, the Chosen will pilgrimage to the mountain, where they will worship Him and be joyful in His 'house of prayer'. (Isaiah 27, 56)

Jesus, when He came to the earth, loved the mountains. He was born underneath a mountain. He would rise early in the morning and go 'on the mountain to pray'. He wept for Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. He preached from the Mount of Olives. The Transfiguration took place on the Mount of Olives. Jesus was betrayed on the Mount of Olives. He was crucified on a mountain. He was buried in a mountain. He flew away from the Mount of Olives, which is the highest mountain out of the seven hills of Zion.

And, when Jesus returns to Earth, 'his feet will rest on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west.'


Monday, January 3, 2011

From the Heart of Samuel Johnson

A Prayer

Almighty and most merciful Father, who hast created and preserved me, have pity on my weakness and corruption. Let me not be created to misery, nor preserved only to multiply sin. Deliver me from habitual wickedness, and idleness, enable me to purify my thoughts, to use the faculties which thou has given me with honest diligence, and to regulate my life by thy holy word.

Grant me, O Lord, good purposes and steady resolution, that I may repent my sins, and amend my life. Deliver me from the distresses of vain terror and enable me by thy Grace to will and to do what may please thee, that when I shall be called away from this present state I may obtain everlasting happiness through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.