Mountain Men

By David Berg - December 1969

Matthew 5--Great difference in mountain and multitude. Mountain is the opposite of multitude. Jesus left the multitude behind. The mountain peaks are never crowded. I climbed many mountains, and I was almost always alone. Why?

  1. It's hard work.
  2. Not very many people desire to climb mountains.
  3. It's lonesome.
  4. You have to forsake all to do it.
  5. It's apt to cost you your life.
  6. Lots of scratches and bumps.

Long after the valley was in darkness, I could still see the sun. There is more light on the mountain. The valley is almost always dark--full of people and things, but usually in darkness. The mountain is windy and cold, but thrilling. You really have to have the feeling that it's 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 them, they have to be worth dying for, to brave wind and cold and storm, symbolic of adversities.

On the mount alone you feel so close to the Lord. The voice of His Spirit there is so loud, it's almost like it's thundering. 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, it's extremely dangerous. You're never so near the abyss as you are when you're on the brink. One little misstep will end you up right down at the bottom again. You'll hit bottom hard. Strange thing about mountain climbing--it's much easier to climb up than to go back down again. Once you're up, you may never get back--one of the prices you pay for climbing mountains. Most mountain climbers who were lost were lost in the descent, because when you are going up, you can see where you're going, but when you're going down, you can't see.

How many people who go back really see what they are getting into? They think they're going back to the easy way, but they never realize what they're getting into by going back--a terrible letdown. You have a peculiar feeling like you don't want to leave the mountain. No inspiration in it. There is a certain drive going up, almost a spiritual thing. You'll risk anything. But going down? No inspiration, no goal, no accomplishment. You're just sliding back down into the morass of humanity and the mire of the multitude.

Only pioneers climb mountains--people who want to do something that no one ever did before, who want to get above the multitude, beyond what has already been done and 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. You see the world in its proper perspective, with range after range to be conquered and a world beyond the horizon of normal men. You see distant peaks yet to be climbed. You see distant valleys yet to be crossed. You see things that the men in the valleys can never see, can't even comprehend, because they can't see it. You can see the 360-degree circumference of the horizon. 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 get over here in this little multitude and this little make-believe of mammon and you can't see anything but time and creatures of time and things of time, which are soon to pass away. But you thrust your head above those around you in that multitude and you become a mountain in their midst; and they resent you and resist you and fight you, because they can't understand you and they don't want you. They don't even want to know there are mountains. They don't want their children to hear there are mountains. When you appear to be on a mountain while they are in the valley, they resent you, because they don't want it to be known that there is any place else to go. They don't even want their children to know there is anything else or any other place to go or a way to get there. They want to keep them shut in down in the valley in the mud and the mire.

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? There have always been wars between the mountain people and the valley people. The mountain people are always tougher, huskier, hardier, but fewer. But they always survived, because they had their mountains to flee to. The valley people could never follow because they weren't tough and husky enough to climb, so they would chase them up a little way and let them go. They didn't want to conquer mountains. They just wanted to get rid of the mountain people. The mountain people were thorns in their flesh and pricks in their side. They 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. But the danger has always been that when the mountain people had conquered the valley people, they settled down in the valley. The danger is when you make peace with the valley, when it becomes safe for you to go down into the valley. The greatest danger is safety and security, because then you lose the wild freedom and liberty of the mountain.

The valley land is man's country; the high lands are God's country. Man dominates the valley; only God dominates the mountain, and the men living on the mountains know this. Men living in the valleys think they are God, because they dominate themselves. But those on the mountains live so close to the things that are frightening and terrible and dangerous, they have to live close to God. The men in the valleys have become so secure they don't need God, because they have forgotten there is any God.

It's a rough and rugged road, a hard and a heavy load, and the people you meet aren't always kind--on the way up. But they're even worse down in the valley, and in the valley they will do everything they can to discourage you from climbing the mountain.

There aren't many places to live on the mountain--little rugged shelters, lean-tos. Not much to eat, cold and windy, but it's a thrill even to die there. 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 far-off Switzerland, you'll read about in the newspapers here. Because at least he dared to try. Beaten paths are for beaten men, but mountain peaks are for the mighty pioneers.

You take the mountain and you'll leave the multitudes behind, and then you'll know who the disciples are. Only Jesus' disciples came unto Him (Matthew 5:1). When He went up into the mountain, the only ones who had the priceless privilege of hearing the world's most famous sermon were the ones who left the multitudes and took the mountain--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 looking for the loaves and fishes and "What's in it for me?" because the price was too great. "What's the use of climbing this big mountain? 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 to see a miracle or to get another fish sandwich? No use wearying ourselves with this mountain. Let's sit down here and see if they ever make it back down again. Wait and see if it can be done first."

You never 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. He will teach you and reveal to you the greatest of His secrets.

The greatest laws ever given to man whereby most of the civilized world is still ruled were given to one man on a mountain--Moses. The greatest so-called sermon ever preached 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.

So what do you hear on the mountain? You hear 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. Eight people came down from one mountain--Noah and his family from the Ark on Mt. Ararat--and they were never the same, and the world was never the same. One man, Moses, came down from a mountain and a whole nation was never the same, and they changed the world. And Jesus and His disciples came down from this mountain and changed the world. They were never the same.

What changed them that changed the world? When they heard the voice of God teaching them things that were completely contrary to what was being said in the valley. In the valley they were saying, "Blessed are the Romans--the proud, haughty, and powerful. Look what they've done. They've conquered the whole world. It pays to be a Roman." But Jesus was saying on the mount, "Blessed are the poor in spirit (the humble), for theirs is the kingdom." (Matthew 5:3). Simple 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."--For theirs is the kingdom that is going to rule the universe!

"Blessed are they that 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. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). Those that don't fight back are going to win the greatest battle of all--that for the whole world. Those who are persecuted for their faith are the rulers of the next world, the world to come.

The poor in spirit are a mountain people. They that mourn dwell on the mountain. The meek are from the mountains. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6). The people on the mountain hunger and thirst, and only God can satisfy them.

The merciful are from the mountain. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7).

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). There is no condemnation on the mountain. Melted snow is the purest water in the world, distilled water, straight from God. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). Pure in heart. There is no smog on the mountain. The air is pure. The water is pure. The people are pure in heart. They see God.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9). Peacemakers with whom? How can you be at peace with the valley, when the valley refuses to be at peace with you? You cannot make peace with those who want war. Who then can you make peace with? Peace with God and peace with the peacemakers. Peace with those who want peace, as the angels sang, "Peace on earth toward men of good will" (Luke 2:14). How can you have peace with evil men and men of evil will? You cannot make peace with those who want war.

"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake" (Matthew 5:10). They come down from the mountain and offer the peace of the mountain to those in the valley, and they are maligned and jailed and crucified. But they are blessed.

"For theirs is the kingdom of heaven." We end where we started. The poor in spirit are the persecuted, and both wind up with the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely" (Matthew 5:11). But "rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven" (Matthew 5:12). Not here always. Of course, if you live in the continual heaven of His peace and joy, you get a lot of that reward right now, don't you? You're already in heaven in spirit. "The kingdom of heaven is within you," so great is that reward of heaven in your heart, and great is your reward in the heaven hereafter (Luke 17:21).

"So persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Matthew 5:12). All my life I read that and took it to mean, "So persecuted they the prophets which were before you." What it really means is "So persecuted they the prophets which were before you"--those other prophets like you. You too are prophets. This is a part of your reward, because they persecuted them too. You have attained the ranks of prophets when you receive persecution for giving people God's Word and prophesying, and "great is your reward in heaven!"

Did you know what nations have stayed free longer than any others?--Switzerland in the top of the Alps, and Afghanistan and Nepal in the top of the Himalayas. Other civilizations have come and gone, and they are still here. One reason they are still free is that they don't have much anybody else wants. Nobody wants their mountains but them. "I'll take the mountain!" (Joshua 14:12).

Power and greatness were symbolized by mountains in the Scriptures, never valleys. The "mountain of the Lord's house" (Isaiah 2:2). God's house is a mountain. You are a mountain. He speaks of the kingdom of God as a mountain that becomes so great it fills the whole earth (Daniel 2:35). It speaks of Zion as a mountain. "Out of Zion shall go forth the word of the Lord" (Isaiah 2:3). The word of the Lord shall go out from the mountain of the Lord's house. The whole earth shall come and worship at the mountain of the Lord's house.

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures" (Psalm 23:1-2). Where have you pictured those pastures? I've always pictured them as mountain meadows with beautiful little crystal mountain pools. "He restoreth my soul … He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake" (Psalm 23:3). What is His path like? A narrow and rugged mountain path. "Yea, 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 the mountain, ye who are weary of sin." (Psalm 11:1).