About This Lesson Plan on Mountains in the Bible
This Mountain Time lesson plan on mountains in the Bible will help youth understand the significance of the many references to mountains in scripture. We will discuss why mountains are seen as a place to encounter God and think about how we can go to the mountaintop.
Opening Game for Lesson Plan on Mountains in the Bible
Start this lesson plan on mountains in the Bible by playing Around the Mountain game (see the complete instructions). In this game, youth run around a circle based on criteria.
Follow up with a couple of questions:
- Have you ever been to a mountain?
- Do you think you could run around a real mountain?
- What words come to mind when you think of mountains?
There are several important references to mountains in the Bible. In scripture, mountains are places where people have encounters with God. Their height and size and permanence made them significant places to be near to God.
Scripture Reading for Lesson Plan on Mountains in the Bible
Keep that in mind when reading this Gospel:
Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying.
While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.Luke 9:28B-36
Discussion for Lesson Plan on Mountains in the Bible
Clearly there is an encounter with God here. But to really understand this, it is helpful to consider some of the other mountain encounters in scripture. There are many, many examples of encounters with God on mountains in the Bible. We will just look at a few.
In Genesis we hear the story of Noah and the great flood. God instructs Noah to build an ark. Noah obeys and is spared from the raging waters of the flood. When the waters recede, the ark comes to rest on Mount Ararat. At the time, to the people in this area, this was thought to be the highest place in the world.
Here God established his covenant with Noah, promising never again to destroy all life on earth.
Moriah is where God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Because Abraham trusted in God, God spared Isaac. A ram becomes a substitute for the sacrifice of Abraham. This is a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice for us as the Lamb of God.
Tradition identifies Moriah as the location where Solomon built the Jewish temple. This also ties in with the idea of this mountain being a place where sacrifices are made to atone for sins. Once again, this is related to Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
Mount Sinai is where Moses received the 10 Commandments from God. God gave these laws directly to Moses on the mountain. Sinai may also be the same as Horeb, where Moses encountered God in the burning bush.
These encounters are also revelations. Through them, Moses learns about the nature of God. Through the commandments, he learned what God expected of his people, which reveals the heart of God. And at the burning bush, God revealed his name to Moses.
This is where Elijah the prophet dwelt. During a terrible drought, he called upon the Lord to save the people. On the seventh time he prayed, God sent a storm cloud and the people were saved by the Lord. At this time, Elijah also defeated the prophets of Baal, revealing the God of Israel as the true God.
This is where the transfiguration, which we just read about, took place. So this is also a place of encounter with God and revelation. The transformation of Jesus reveals his divine nature. The voice of the Father instructs us to listen to him. Jesus brings a new set of commands to us and we are to follow them.
There are other mountain encounters in the Bible. But just from these few we can see how elements of the previous mountain encounters are tied to the transfiguration and also foreshadow sacrifice of our Lord on the cross.
So why are the mountains in the Bible places of encounter with God? And how can we translate that to our lives?
Traditionally, we think of God in heaven, and the sky is the symbol of this. So when we go up a mountain, we are trying to get closer to God. It is a deliberate act. Going up a mountain is also not easy. It requires a lot of effort go grow in our relationship with our Lord.
Mountains in the Bible also represent getting away from our everyday cares and distractions. If you have ever gone to a very high mountain, you will know that there is not much there. Even trees don’t grow on the tallest mountains. There is little there to draw our attention away. So encounter with God also requires us to focus on Him, especially in prayer.
The hardest part about going up a mountain is that you have to come back down. Retreat experiences are often mountaintop encounters with God. Or we can have amazing experiences in the sacraments where we feel so close to God.
But it is important to remember that Jesus and the apostles didn’t stay up on that mountain. They had to come back down. There was work to be done for the Kingdom of God.
When we come back down from a mountaintop experience, it is important to remember it. Just sitting in prayer with the memory of the encounter can be helpful. Journal about it. If you have any photos that can be helpful. If it was a retreat experience, listen to music from the retreat or talk to someone else who was there.
While you are remembering, you can hope and look forward to the next mountaintop encounter with God. He will call you back there in His own time. When he does, answer the call.
Reflection Questions for Lesson Plan on Mountains in the Bible
- How do you think this experience impacted Peter, James, and John in their later ministry after Jesus ascended into heaven?
- Have you ever had an mountaintop encounter with God?
- What do you like to do to keep the encounter alive in your heart after you come back down the mountain?
Challenge for Lesson Plan on Mountains in the Bible
This week, spend some time revisiting one of your mountain encounters. Go to a quiet place and remember a time when you felt particularly close to God. Don’t rush through it. Remember the sights, the sounds, the smells. After spending some time there, think about what made that time so special. Ask God to show you what to do with any insight you have.
Prayer for Lesson Plan on Mountains in the Bible
Conclude by offering petitions and praying A Prayer to God on the Mountain – Based on Psalm 121.