What Is God’s Holy Mountain?

Citizenship in God’s holy city belongs only to those who are sanctified by God.

Viewed in its broader literary context, the whole exodus-Sinai story looks forward to the restoration of the harmonious situation that existed between God and humanity prior to Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden. With its emphasis upon the need to be made holy in order to ascend into God’s presence, the exodus-Sinai story provides a model of how salvation will come through the death of Jesus Christ, the ultimate Passover sacrifice.


God’s Holy Mountain

The concept of God living on a holy mountain is a significant theme in the Old Testament. However, this same theme frames the entire Bible. It begins with the Garden of Eden in Genesis and ends with New Jerusalem in Revelation. In Genesis the elevated location of the Garden of Eden is indicated by the fact that a single river flows out of Eden, before dividing to become four rivers. Genesis 2:10–14 provides a short and enigmatic description of these rivers.

While there is some uncertainty about the identity of all four rivers, the description implies that the garden of Eden occupies a raised position in the middle of the world. In keeping with this picture, the prophet Ezekiel designates Eden as both “the garden of God” and “the holy mountain of God” (Ezek. 28:13–16).

A New City

Leaping to the New Testament, the concept of a holy mountain city is linked to New Jerusalem. The author of Hebrews passionately exhorts his readers to remain faithful to the new covenant inaugurated by Jesus Christ, rather than returning to the older covenant associated with Mount Sinai. In doing so he makes a brief but noteworthy comment: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22).

A similar picture is found in the book of Revelation. In chapter 21 the apostle John records that an angel carried him away “in the Spirit to a great, high mountain” and showed him “the holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God” (v. 10). In both contexts, the mountain location of New Jerusalem resonates with the pattern found in the Old Testament. God dwells in a holy mountain city, and those who will dwell with him must be holy in order to live within this exalted metropolis.

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