Between the mountains

Mountains and valleys. These are often figuratively applied to the state of our lives. The valleys in our lives are frequently the result of choices of some sort and they are between two mountains—representing the wise choice or the unwise choice. Think about how many times in your life that you have made a choice that results in descending into a valley of life, or a choice that allowed you to walk along the top of one mountain to another. Throughout the Bible, mountains and valleys are used to teach us about the choices we make. Indeed, in the end of days, there will be choices as depicted in Joel 3:14, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision; for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.”

In Genesis 12, the Lord appeared to Abram in Canaan and promised to give the land to Abram and his descendants, so Abram built an altar to the Lord there. He moved on to a hill east of Bethel, and pitched his tent between Bethel and Ai, built an altar, and called on the name of the Lord.  Bethel, or Beit-El, means House of God, a place of worship and communion with the Lord. Ai, however, means “heap or ruin.” Ai was the second city that Joshua and the Israelite army conquered after entering the Promised Land, but at a great cost due to the catastrophic “sin in the camp” choice of Achan to disobey God by hiding spoils of war. Herein, the valley between Bethel and Ai are symbolic of choosing between God and the world—both for Abram and Achan. Abram made the right choice. Achan, a disastrous choice fueled by greed.

The mountains also serve symbolic of blessing and cursing. In Deuteronomy 11, Moses instructed Joshua that when the Israelites entered the promised land Joshua was to hold a ceremony to affirm the statutes and judgments given by the Lord. The blessing was upon mount Gerizim and the curse upon mount Ebal, separated by the Ark of the Covenant. Half of the people were to stand on mount Gerizim and half on Ebal. This ceremony was conducted per Moses’ instruction in Joshua 8. Verse 34 says Joshua had the people take their place and “he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.” The people were to respond “Amen” as they affirmed them.

We often find ourselves between the mountains, where on one mountain is fellowship with the Lord and on the other is the world. While there may be trial and tribulation on our journey with the Lord, there most certainly is tribulation in following the world—both physically and spiritually, mortally and immortally. It’s all about choices. In Joshua 24, Joshua addressed the Israelites with a message from God about his wonderful acts and blessings. Joshua says in verse 15, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Whenever you are between the mountains, may you always choose wisely to serve the Lord.

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Bill Wilson