The Mountain Tree
--by Brian McGrath
A few years ago I saw a mountain tree for the first time. While driving near Denver, Colorado, I noticed a road that ascended Mount Evans. A sign indicated that this is the highest mountain in North America whose summit, about 15,000 feet, could be reached by automobile. I was not able to resist driving to the top. The higher I went the more uninhabitable the environment became. At one point I had to stop, having become dizzy from the thin atmosphere. I noticed that the trees at the higher elevation were distinctly different from those at lower elevations.
A few hundred yards from the top I discovered one isolated, lone mountain tree which had somehow managed to survive. The view and vision of that tree was magnificent, for it could indeed see the far horizons and the stars. This tree somehow planted itself far above all others. It won for itself not only a glorious vision of the heavens above and the earth below, but also became a tree of renown amongst all the trees on that mountain.
It brought to memory this poem and the following thoughts which are for those who are able to identify with this "mountain tree."
The far horizons and the stars,
May never know a sheltered place
Nor grow symmetrical in grace.
Such trees must battle doggedly
He blasts, and bear the scars.
--Loyal Marion Thompson
The mountain top speaks of a place of separation. It represents those who are climbing that they might obtain the promises that are associated with dwelling in "Mount Zion." It identifies those few who are willing to become mountain trees that they might abide in this realm of eternal gain.
These "mountain trees" are seeing on the distant horizon a glorious vision of what God is about to do in this hour. Some are already speaking of the vision which they are beholding, while many more are yet to come forth. These are the ones who, as yesterday's "mountain climber," became rooted to become today's "mountain trees" of vision.
Though its vision may be glorious and its stature elevated above others, how does all this profit the tree, if after its growth all that is left is a twisted, lonely, "mountain tree" life? And how effective is the testimony of this mountain tree's vision to other "trees" if the fruitfulness of its life "appears" to be less productive than those other symmetrical trees of lesser vision? There are good reasons why we are not hearing more from today's prophets and visionaries.
Let's face it, mountain trees have a difficult time. Not only are they fruitless and barkless, most barely have any leaves. The mountain top, where they are growing, is usually so cold and lonely that visitors seldom come for a visit. They feel conspicuously out of place when they come down from the mountain top to fellowship with their "symmetrical tree" brethren.
Their lives show the marks of the intense spiritual battles that they would not have faced had they stayed planted in the safety of the valleys. Also, they usually have a difficult time trying to relate to all of the activities in the valley. Fellowship in the valley of "brother trees" is often so painful that these twisted mountain trees retreat to the isolation of the mountain top to revive a healing fellowship with the Lord. Although the environment of the lonely mountain top is almost un-endurable, these know that what they see from their vantage point is not seen by others and is close to the heart of the Lord. This is their joy and satisfaction.
As we consider the sufferings that must be endured by these "mountain trees" as they climb toward a higher realm of vision and understanding, and then struggle to maintain their lonely place of vision in spite of the spiritual storms that rage against them, a question must be asked. Are today's "mountain climbers" climbing in vain? Are today's twisted and gnarled "mountain trees" seeing in vain? Let us search the Scriptures to see.
Moses was a mountain climber. The children of Israel had just been delivered from the bondage of Egypt into a dry and barren wilderness. They had a critical need to have an unprecedented revelation of this God with whom Moses spake. They needed understanding concerning the purpose for which they had been brought out of Egypt. They needed vision that they might have direction concerning the land that was before them. They were in a position much like the Body of Christ today.
The burden of this need rested on the shoulders of Moses. Seeking a personal encounter with God, Moses was driven to mountain climbing. While Israel camped in the valley at the foot of he mountain, "Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel" Exodus 19:3.
On the mountain top, God showed Moses His purpose for the children of Israel. "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel" Exodus 19:5-6. Moses heard the heart-cry of God, which has echoed down through the ages, seeking again to be heard in our day to find its greater fulfillment.
Again, Moses was called to ascend the mountain. "And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the LORD CAME DOWN upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses WENT UP" Exodus 19:16-20.
This "mountain climbing" Moses had a revelation of God hitherto unknown to man. He pressed through the dark thunderings of God until he broke through into the might of His glory and the splendor of His holiness. As Moses pressed through these mighty displays of power he must have wondered what greater revelation could God give of Himself. Since the fullest revelation of God always comes through His words, Moses soon found out. The first thing that God spoke concerned the well-being of His people.
"And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish" Exodus 19:21. Hiding behind this God of thunder, darkness, and quaking, who says "stay away" (judgment), is a God of tender mercies who says "come" (mercy). One might ask what made Moses so special that he could gaze upon the Lord and live, yet if the people gazed, they would perish.
It was because he had spent 40 years in the wilderness under the heavy hand of God, making him the meekest man on earth (Numbers 12:3). This meekness in Moses' spirit enabled him to respond to the tenderness of God's intimate fellowship without grieving His Spirit. Meekness is the key that liberates the Lord to fellowship intimately with His people, individually or collectively, in all of His glory and holiness, without their being destroyed by the God of judgment.
Moses, the mountain climber, enduring the seemingly un-endurable stormings of the Lord, communed with His glory in heavenly places and was transformed from "glory to glory" (II Corinthians 3:18). This same Moses fellowshipped with the greatest of all mountain climbers, Jesus, who was transfigured, in his presence, upon the highest of the high mountains, Mount Zion.
"For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness and darkness, and tempest, ...But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living god, the heavenly Jerusalem," Hebrews 12:18,22.
Zion speaks of the eternal habitation of the Lord. "For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it" Psalm 132:13-14. This speaks of Heaven, the realm of the fullness of the presence of the Lord. Although heaven is a place, the environment of heaven can be made available on earth because the Holy Spirit, when poured out upon the earth, is able to convey all the fullness of God. The Holy Spirit creates an environment that Paul calls the heavenlies, the realm of the fullness of the Spirit.
Mount Zion speaks of the place where the heavenlies touch the earth and interact with the affairs of the earthly realm. Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand (immediately available). Jesus, who came from heaven, lived in the heavenlies on earth. The sick were healed, the blind saw, the lame walked, five loaves and two fishes fed thousands, the dead were raised, taxes were paid from a fish's mouth, and more. He ascended back to heaven and poured out His Spirit, that we also would be able to walk in the heavenlies as He did.
"Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool:" Isaiah 66:1. Mount Zion is the place where the Lord is establishing a "foot-hold" in this world, a place from which He will once again intervene in the affairs of men. It is the place where He will exercise His "Kingdom Throne Rights" and bring forth a demonstration of heavenly power as a witness to the nations in these last days.
The children of Israel were at a dead-end, apart from what God revealed from Mount Sinai. So also is the Body of Christ today, apart from a fresh revelatory word from Mount Zion. For those who dare ascend Mount Zion to hear what God is saying, the cost is great. Just as Moses endured the stormings of the Lord who manifested Himself through thunderings and fire, the "mountain climbers" of Mount Zion will endure the stormings of darkness and fire. For these are the stormings of principalities and powers, spiritual powers of darkness and wickedness, the very fires of hell that would seek to turn them back.
These powers of darkness, under no circumstances want these mountain climbers to become a mountain tree with clear vision in the heavenlies. To ascend into the heavenlies is to invade the usurped domain of the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), and to obtain a position from which he can be confronted and brought down. The storms are, at times, brutal. They take their toll, yet they bring forth a crucified life within those who climb.
Merely climbing to the top of the mountain (the end of self and the resultant spirit of meekness) does not necessarily mean entering into the presence of the Lord's Zion. It is presumptuous to believe that Zion's gates can be entered through one's strenuous efforts. The best that the mountain climber can do as he comes to the top of this mountain is to wait upon the Lord. Just as Moses depended on God to COME DOWN to fellowship with him, so also are today's mountain climbers dependent on God to COME DOWN to fellowship with them in the splendor of His holiness and glory, thus transforming them from glory to glory (II Corinthians 3:18). Be encouraged, mountaineers, we are living in the hour of intervention. The Lord is already DESCENDING. "He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under His feet. And He rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, He did fly upon the wings of the wind" Psalm 18:9-10. He is coming quickly to this earth with the powers of darkness under His feet. It is encouraging to know that as we rise above these powers of darkness into His presence, they also will be under our feet.
And with whom will the Lord choose to make His abode? "For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, I dwell on a high and holy place, and ALSO with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly," Isaiah 57:15. Has climbing high brought you low? Rejoice, the God whose dwelling place is above the stars also chooses to establish His dwelling place on earth with those who are lowly of spirit and meek.
As God's glory envelopes the mountain tops it will also envelope that ugly "mountain tree life" that we became. Our "tree" will be embraced, resurrected, and empowered with living waters and divine life. As the Son of Righteousness breaks the far horizon, He will shine upon us first and we will behold His glory, face to face. This will cause the Daystar to arise in our heart, transforming us from a terrestrial to a celestial glory.
Our twisted tree "trunk" will again become erect. We will no longer appear to be naked, for new "bark" will grow and we will be covered with a heavenly righteousness. Twisted branches will again come into divine symmetry. Leaves will grow, which will compliment and enhance that special person we have become in Him. Fruit will grow that is most pleasing to the Father. We will discover that our seeming ugly mountain tree life has become a Tree of Life through which the ministry of Jesus is once again restored on earth.