Changes in the promised land

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The Creation Concept


Is the river of Ezekiel 47 literal?

How Jerusalem is raised up

Mountains that skip like rams

The valley of the mountains

What is Isaiah's high mountain?

How the desert becomes fruitful

Changes in the land

W. Harris and the stream of blessing

Hengstenberg's comments on Ezekiel's river

John Gill's commentary on Ezekiel 47:1-12

William Kelly: mired in literalism

Charles Henry Wright on the topographic changes of Zechariah 14:8-11

Patrick Fairbairn on the temple waters

Patrick Fairbairn on principles of interpretation

Interpretations of the promised land

Andrew Jukes and the land promise

F. B. Meyer's interpretation of the land of promise

John Owen on the rest of Hebrews 4:1

John Owen and the rest in Hebrews 4:3

Ezekiel and Leviticus 26

Currey's points of contact between Ezekiel and Revelation

Gardiner's Preliminary note on Ezekiel 40-48

Measuring the temple

The inheritance of the priests and Levites in Ezekiel 48

Does Ezekiel describe a literal temple?

Mountains in Prophecy

What is Isaiah's high mountain?

Isaiah said that Zion and Jerusalem will bring the good news to the world. But he could not have been referring to the literal, earthly city of Jerusalem, as most of the people there reject the gospel. And Isaiah said "Zion" and "Jerusalem" should go up to the high mountain, which would be impossible for the literal Jerusalem to do.

Isaiah 40:9
O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

The "Zion" that Isaiah spoke of cannot be the hill in Jerusalem, where the literal Jewish temples were built. But Zion, or Sion, is a name for the temple of God, which is identified with the church, in the New Testament, of which Jesus is the cornerstone, and the apostles and prophets the foundation. [Eph. 2:20-21]

The author of Hebrews said,

Hebrews 12:22-23
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.

What high mountain did Isaiah mean? Mountains are often figures, and types, in the prophecies of the Old Testament. The promise of the land, which is a prominent theme in the Old Testament, pictures the things promised to the saints, who inherit the promises of God through faith in Christ. In Genesis, it is reported that Abraham went up into various high places in Canaan to offer sacrifices. Although he lived in Egypt for a while, there is no record that he did that in Egypt.

The New Testament notes that Abraham did not receive any of the land he was promised in his lifetime, and for that reason, he was assured of a resurrection, in order that God's promises to him would be fulfilled. [Acts 7:5, Hebrews 11:39-40] The same promise of the land was made to Isaac, and to Jacob. In the dream that Jacob dreamed at Bethel, where a ladder reached up to heaven, with angels ascending and descending upon it, the promised land was shown to be a place where revelations from God would be given to man. [Genesis 28:10-19] Angels descending on the ladder probably represent revelations or messages from God.

During the centuries when Israel occupied the promised land, many revelations of God were given to various saints dwelling within the boundaries of the land of promise, and those given elsewhere were often about the land. For example, Ezekiel's prophecies, written during the exile, have much to do with the land, and Israel's restoration.

In Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah 40:9, and in other prophecies, the mountains are related to the revelations of God, that were given to the prophets of Israel. From the top of a high mountain, a wider view of the land can be obtained. More of it can be seen, at higher altitudes. Different mountains provide different perspectives on the surrounding country. And similarly, prophecy provides for the saints higher and wider views of the spiritual inheritance that is promised to them. The various prophecies offer different perspectives upon God's plan of salvation, and the kingdom of God. And so, prophecies are like high mountains. Through studying and understanding the prophecies in scripture, insight is obtained, about our hope, and destiny, and our promised rest, and the spiritual things that we may possess even now. All Jerusalem, and Zion, that is, all the saints, are exhorted by Isaiah to go up to the high mountain, which I suggest, means the spiritual mountain of prophecy, to comprehend the scope of the inheritance promised to those who believe in Christ.

Those who have an opportunity to go up upon a mountain, usually notice that the view of the surrounding country changes, and new things become visible, as the go higher. This is similar to prophecy; it illuminates spiritual things, that were formerly hidden from view.

From different mountain peaks, a land or a people may be viewed from various perspectives. The prophet Balaam uttered his prophecies about Israel from three different mountains from where he had different views of their camp; the first was "the high places of Baal" [Numbers 22:41]; then he was taken to "the top of Pisgah" [Numbers 23:14]; and last, "the top of Peor" [Numbers 23:28].

In Revelation 21 there is a parallel to John being taken to a high mountain, to view the holy city.

Revelation 21:10
And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.

Jesus was taken up into a high mountain when he was tempted, and he was shown "all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time." [Luke 4:5]

In Isaiah 55, the wisdom of God is connected with the height of the heavens compared to earth.

Isaiah 55:8-9
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Wisdom is represented by a woman in Proverbs 8, who stands in the highest place.

Proverbs 8:1-2
Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?
She standeth in the top of high places..

Wisdom is said to be beyond the reach of a fool. It is "too high."

Proverbs 24:7
Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.

Some things were "too high" even for David. He said, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it." [Psalm 139:6]

The promise that he would possess the land of Canaan, made to Abraham, was understood as a metaphor representing the wisdom of God, by the Jewish philosopher Philo. In the NT, his not receiving it in his lifetime is proof that Abraham will be raised up from his grave in a resurrection.

Mountains are the highest parts of the land, so perhaps they represent relatively higher wisdom.

Isaiah 49:11
And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.

The land where Jerusalem was located was to be raised up. In the NT, Jerusalem is put in heaven.

Mountains were to become places where streams and rivers of water flow.

Isaiah 30:25
And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.

Joel spoke of this, and he said the mountains would drop wine, and the hills flow with milk.

Joel 3:18
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth out of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.

This recalls the wine and milk that Isaiah mentioned in Isaiah 55:1. They are metaphors, and represent drinking in the words of God. Milk is food for infants, and so may picture a straightforward reading; wine represents a more mature understanding. It is associated with things hard to understand.

Psalm 60:3
Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.

The association of hills with milk connects them with a straightforward, literal reading of scripture, while the association of mountains with wine connects them to spiritual things. The promise of the land of Canaan was literally fulfilled to the children of Israel, but it also has a higher meaning and application, as a figure of the inheritance of the saints.

Isaiah 55:12
For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Understanding the symbolic meaning of mountains, as symbols of God's revelations, and profound promises, solves the mystery of many prophecies.

Ephesians 3:17-19
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

The literal mountains of Canaan are mere shadows and types of the metaphorical mountains, that represent revelations of God contained in prophecy, and other spiritual things promised to those who believe in Christ.

Copyright © 2010, 2012 by Douglas E. Cox
All Rights Reserved.