When Jesus climbed the mountain, He left the multitude behind. “And seeing the multitudes, He [Jesus] went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him” (Matthew 5:1) Mountain peaks are never crowded. I’ve climbed many mountains, and I was almost always alone. Why? Because it’s hard work. Not very many people desire to climb mountains. It’s lonesome, and you have to leave everything behind to do it. You’re likely to get lots of scratches and bumps, and it might even cost you your life.
There is more light on the mountain. Long after the valley is in darkness, you can still see the sun. The valley is almost always dark — full of people and things, but usually in darkness. The mountain is windy and cold, but thrilling.
If you’re going to climb a mountain, you have to have the feeling that it’s really worth dying for! Any mountain — the mountain of this life, the mountain of accomplishment, the mountain of obstacles, of difficulty — if you’re going to climb it, it has to be worth dying for, to brave wind and cold and storm, symbolic of adversities. But on the mountaintop alone, you feel so close to the Lord. The voice of His Spirit there is so loud it’s almost like it’s thundering! But the voice of the multitude is so loud in the valley, you can’t hear the voice of God. The silence on the mountain peak is deafening. You get a real “high” on top of a mountain. It’s a thrill! It’s almost terrifying!
Of course, mountain climbing is extremely dangerous. You’re never so near the abyss as when you’re on the brink. One little misstep will send you right down to the bottom again. It’s a strange thing about mountain climbing: It’s often much easier to climb up than back down. Once you’re up, you may never get back. That’s one of the prices you pay for climbing mountains. Most mountain climbers who die are lost in the descent, because when they are climbing up they can see where they’re going, but when descending they often can’t see ahead.
Once you have climbed a mountain and reached the peak, you may not want to leave. There’s no inspiration in going back down. Whereas there is a certain drive, almost a spiritual inspiration going up, and you’ll risk anything to reach the top. But going down? — There’s little motivation, no goal, and no accomplishment. You’re just sliding back down into the slough-back into the morass of humanity and the mire of the multitude.
Only pioneers climb mountains — people who want to do something that few have ever done before, people who want to get above the multitude and go beyond what has already been accomplished. Pioneers must have vision — vision to see what no one else can see; faith — faith to believe things no one else believes; initiative — initiative to be the first one to try it; courage — the guts to see it through!
On the mountain you are the first to see the sun rise and the last to see it set. You see the full circle of God’s glorious creation, the 360-degree circumference of the horizon, the entire scope. It’s like seeing all of life from its beginning to its end and understanding.
You feel like you’re living in eternity; whereas down below they’re living in time. You see the world in its proper perspective, with range after range to be conquered, and a world beyond the vision and horizon of normal men. You see distant peaks yet to be climbed, distant valleys yet to be crossed. You see things that the men in the valleys can never see, or even comprehend.
In the valley, people get so caught up in the multitude and the little make-believe world of materialism that they can’t see anything but time and creatures of time and things of time, which are soon to pass away. But if you thrust your head above the multitude, you become like a mountain in their midst, and they will resent and resist and fight you because they can’t understand you and don’t want you. They don’t even want to know that there are mountains! They don’t want others to hear there are mountains, nor to have a breath of fresh air from those crystal peaks. They want to keep everyone shut in down in the valley, in the mud and mire.
When you appear to be on a mountain while they are in the valley, they hate you, because it’s obvious you are above them, and they don’t want anyone to be above them. They want to keep you stuck in the mud like the rest of them. They don’t want it to be known that there is any other place to go than the valley, and they will do everything they can to discourage you from climbing the mountain.
Do you realize that since time immemorial, wars have been fought between the people who lived in the valleys and the people who lived on the mountains? That’s history. The mountain people were always hardier and fewer, but they survived, because they always had their mountains to flee to. The valley people would rarely follow, as they weren’t tough and husky enough to climb, so they would chase the mountain people up a little way and let them go. They just wanted to get rid of them. The valley people didn’t want to conquer the mountains; they just wanted to get rid of the mountain people, who were thorns in their flesh and pricks in their side. The mountain people proved someone could live somewhere other than in the valley, something they said was impossible. History is full of examples of mountain people conquering valley people, but seldom of the valley people conquering the mountain people.
However, the danger has always been that when the mountain people had conquered the valley people, they themselves settled down in the valley. The greatest danger is when the mountain people make peace with the valley, when it becomes safe for them to go down into the valley. The greatest danger is safety and security, because then you lose that freedom and liberty of the mountain, the wild freedom of the mountain!
The valley land is man’s country; the highlands are God’s country. Man dominates the valley, but only God dominates the mountain, and the men living on the mountains know this. But men living in the valleys think they are God, because they dominate themselves. They have become so secure that they think they don’t need God. They have forgotten there is any God, for they can’t see the sky any longer. But those on the mountains experience things that are so frightening and dangerous that they have to live close to God.
If you climb a mountain, it’s usually a rough and a rugged road, and often means carrying a hard and a heavy load. And though the people you meet on the mountain aren’t always kind, they’re even worse down in the valley. There aren’t many places to live on the mountain — just little rugged shelters and lean-tos. There’s not much to eat. It’s cold and windy, but it’s a thrill even to die there. It’s better to die on the mountain than to live in the valley! Whoever read in the newspaper about the man who slipped and fell on the city street? But the man who dies on the mountain, even in a faraway country, makes the news because at least he dared to try!
Joshua and Caleb, two of the Old Testament Hebrews who scouted out the Promised Land, were real pioneers and mountain men. When the other scouts expressed fear of the dangers and hardships before them, Caleb as good as said, “Let the unbelievers take the valleys. I’ll take the mountain!” (Numbers 13:30). He was a fighter and a pioneer. He and Joshua were the only two of the older generation who survived the forty years in the wilderness with Moses and were allowed by God to enter and enjoy the Promised Land.
Beaten paths are for beaten men, but mountain peaks are for the mighty pioneers.
If you take the mountain, you’ll leave the multitudes behind. We read that when Jesus climbed the mount, only His disciples “came to Him” (Matthew 5:1). They were the only ones who had the priceless privilege of hearing the world’s most famous sermon. The only ones who really heard from Heaven that day were the ones who left the multitudes and took the mountain — the disciples, the ones who followed Jesus all the way.
I wonder how many tried to go along with them for a while and got left by the wayside huffing and puffing. I’m quite sure it weeded out all the people who were just looking for Him to give them more loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:14-21), and “What’s in it for me?” because the price was too great! “What’s the use of climbing this big mountain with those crazy people! They’re fanatics anyway or they wouldn’t be climbing this mountain! They’re fools! Don’t they know it’s never been climbed before? Don’t they know you can’t do it? Why should we go up there and risk our necks even if we do see a miracle or get another fish sandwich? No use wearying ourselves with this mountain. Let’s just sit down here and see if they ever make it back down again. We’ll sit here and enjoy a nice rest while they climb the mountain. Wait and see if it can be done first.”
Well, you rarely ever hear about the people who wait to see if it can be done. You only hear about the people who either made it or died trying. But when you make it, the mouth of God will be opened unto you! He’ll speak to you face to face and He Himself will teach and reveal to you the greatest of His secrets!
So what do you hear on the mountain? Things that are going to echo around the world. What do you hear in the stillness? Whispers that are going to change the course of history! The greatest laws ever given to man, whereby most of the world is still ruled, were given to one man alone on a mountain. One man, Moses, came down from a mountain with the Ten Commandments, and the Hebrew nation was never the same, nor was the world!
The greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount, was given to a handful of mountain men by the greatest mountaineer of all, Jesus, who finally climbed His last mountain — Mount Calvary, Golgotha — and died alone for the sins of the world. That was a mountain that only He could climb for you and me, but He made it!
After Jesus’ disciples heard His “Sermon on the Mount,” they came down and changed the world. They were never the same. What changed them that changed the world? They heard the voice of God teaching them things that were completely contrary to what was being said in the valley!
On the mountain, Jesus was saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit [the humble], for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven ” ( Matthew 5:3). Simple little illiterate fishermen were listening to a carpenter tell them something that would make them greater rulers than the Caesars of Rome-rulers of a greater empire than Rome! “Blessed are the poor in spirit” — His poor ignorant and unlearned disciples-“for theirs is the Kingdom” that is going to rule the universe!
In the valley they were proclaiming the opposite, “Blessed are the Romans — the proud, the haughty and the powerful. Look what they’ve done! They’ve conquered the whole world. It pays to be a Roman!” And their attitude towards Jesus and His followers was “How dare you intrude upon our valley and tell us things said upon the mountain? How dare you tell us that there is any other king but Caesar! Away with you! We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:15). — And when they martyred Jesus’ disciples, they merely promoted them to the Kingdom of Heaven-which will one day obliterate the kingdoms of this world (Daniel 2:44).
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Blessed to mourn? More blessed to have problems and sorrows? Yes, because you will be comforted. In the valley they are saying, “More blessed to rejoice and be happy and have a parade! This is our rejoicing. How dare you come among us with warning, telling us to change! ” But you, the mountain people, will be comforted and they will be judged.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). Those who are meek, who don’t fight back violently and are willing to suffer for the Gospel, are going to win the greatest battle of all — that for the whole world! Those who have to go to jail for their faith, take it on the chin and be persecuted are the rulers of the next world, the world to come (2 Timothy. 2:12). The poor in spirit are a mountain people. They that mourn dwell on the mountain. The meek are from the mountain.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). The people on the mountain hunger and thirst for the truth, and only God can satisfy them. The people down in the valley can’t see any further than the end of their nose and are satisfied with themselves and are full — and He sends them away empty (Luke 1:53).
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). The merciful are from the mountain. You rarely hear of Saint Bernard dogs in the valley. These famous rescue dogs are mountain dogs; they save and have mercy on the mountain people, and they obtain mercy and glory and even fame!
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Melted snow is the purest water in the world. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah.1:18). Pure in heart. King David wasn’t always pure, but because he loved the Lord, knew he was a sinner and relied on God’s forgiveness, he obtained mercy. Despite David’s sins and mistakes, God called him “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22). He was pure in heart. On the mountain the air is pure, the water is pure, and the people are pure in heart. They see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). Peacemakers with whom? Make peace with the enemy, with the valley? How can you be at peace with them? How can you be at peace with the valley when the valley refuses to be at peace with you? You come to preach peace but what happens? They are for war! You cannot make peace with those who want war (Psalm 120:7).
Who then can you make peace with? — Peace with God and peace with the peacemakers, those who want peace. At the birth of Jesus, the angels sang, “Peace on earth toward men of good will” (Luke 2:14) — not “good will toward men,” but as some other translations of the Bible say: “toward men of goodwill.” How can you have peace with men of evil will? With them it is impossible! There is seldom peace between the mountain people and the valley people because they don’t even begin to understand each other. The only thing the mountain people can do is conquer the valley people, and the easiest way to do that is to let those who won’t listen rot in their own iniquity, so they become weak and lazy, corpulent and sick with their own sin. Then they’re no match for the mountain people! This is history for thousands of years. Mountain people conquer the valley people.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. …” (Matthew 5:10a). They come down from the mountain and offer the peace of the mountain to those in the valley, and they are mobbed and jailed and crucified!-But they are blessed. It is more blessed to be mobbed and jailed and crucified when you know you’re from the mountain and you have the truth and you know you’re right, than it is to live a lie in the valley in leisure and security.
You are persecuted because you are right and they cannot stand the right. The valley people have been in darkness so long that the light blinds them. They cannot stand to find out you are right and they have been wrong. They don’t want to be exposed!
“For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:10b). We end where we started. The poor in spirit are the persecuted, and either way, they wind up with the Kingdom of Heaven!
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake” (Matthew 5:11). The valley people say, “You are disturbing our false sense of security, disturbing our peace.” What you were really trying to do is give them peace. You’re disturbing their confusion. To them, confusion is peace. That’s the kind of peace they understand. They hate for you to come along with real peace, because it reveals that they don’t have real peace. So they’ll lie and deceive and say all manner of evil against you falsely.
But “rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:12)-Not here always, unless you live in the continual Heaven of the Lord’s peace and joy. Then you can get a lot of that reward right now. You can already be in Heaven in spirit. Jesus said, “the Kingdom of Heaven is within you” (Luke 17:21), so great is that reward of Heaven in your heart, and great is your reward in the Heaven hereafter.
“For so they persecuted the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:12a) — those other prophets like you, other prophets like yourselves. Jesus was telling His followers that they, too, were prophets. You have attained the ranks of prophets when you receive persecution for your prophesying, and “great is your reward in Heaven” (Matthew 5:12b).
“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be cast out and to be trampled underfoot by men” (Matthew 5:13). Some members of the established churches think they are the salt of the earth. There was a time in the days of the Early Church in the Book of Acts when Christians were hunted, persecuted and crucified — but they were the salt of the earth! But now most of those mountain men have come down to live in the valley and they have lost their savor.
So what is going to be your vow?-Like Caleb and Joshua, “I’ll take the mountain!” — Or would you rather live in the lush luxury of the valley with the spiritually dead valley people who got that far and didn’t want to go any further?
Which nations have stayed free longer throughout history than most nations in the world?-Those like Switzerland in the top of the Alps, Afghanistan in the Hindu Kush mountain range, and Nepal in the top of the Himalayas. Other civilizations have come and gone, but they are still here! They may not be very numerous or powerful or very famous, but they are still here!
In the Scriptures, mountains, not valleys, symbolize power and greatness. The Lord speaks of the Kingdom of God as a mountain that becomes so great it fills the whole earth (Daniel 2:35, 44). It speaks of the Lord’s house as a mountain, where the whole earth shall come and worship and from where the Word of the Lord shall go forth (Isaiah 2:2).
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters” (Psalm 23:1-2). Where have you pictured those pastures? I’ve always envisioned them as mountain meadows with beautiful crystal mountain pools. “He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). What is His path like? — A narrow and rugged mountain path! “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” (Psalm 23:4). There’s death in the valley! Life is on the mountain! Get out of the valley! “Flee as a bird to your mountain” (Psalm 11:1).