By Karen Thompson
Fourth in a Four-Part Series
The Mountain Symbol
This is the final entry in a four-part series on Bible symbols. So far, we’ve learned about the horn, the wing, and the flood symbols. In this last entry, we’ll look at the mountain symbol. In end time discussions, it’s imperative to know about and understand the mountain symbol. If you don’t know what the mountain symbol stands for, you’ll be unable to interpret one of the most important passages in the book of Revelation. But before we study the mountain symbol, let’s again take a look at a couple of well-known Christian symbols in general.
Faith, Hope, and Love Symbols
Another Christian symbol is the faith, hope, and love symbol which originates from the scripture in 1st Corinthians 13:13: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (NKJV). The faith, hope, and love symbol is depicted as a cross, an anchor, and a heart. The faith, hope, and love symbol is used as a reminder to believers they are to endeavor to live their lives according to these virtues. You’ll see the faith, hope, and love symbol most usually in jewelry, plaques, and surprisingly, tattoos. It’s not as widely used as the cross symbol but it is still popular.
The Dove Symbol
Another well-known and widely used Christian symbol is the dove. It’s a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The dove is always portrayed in Old Testament scriptures in a positive light. Doves and turtle-doves were the only birds that could be offered as a sacrifice because they were clean according to Mosaic law (Lev. 5:7 KJV). In Matthew 10:16, when Jesus sent out the disciples to minister, He gave them instructions: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
It is in the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John where we see the Holy Spirit manifested in the shape of the dove when He alighted on Jesus after He was baptized. Let’s look at the account in Matthew 3:13–17:
“Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
The Holy Spirit is symbolized as a dove because all four of the gospel accounts describe the manifestation of the Holy Spirit as a dove when He descended upon Jesus.
The Mountain Symbol
Now let’s look at the mountain symbol in Revelation chapter 17. This is the chapter that describes the whore of Babylon sitting upon the scarlet colored beast. It’s on this scarlet colored beast where we are told about the mountain symbol. Let’s look at that portion of scripture.
“So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. … Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth” (Rev. 17:3–9).
There is a plethora of information going on in this scenario. There is the scarlet colored beast that has names of blasphemy on it. It also has seven heads and ten horns. There is the woman referred to as a whore riding the beast (the whore symbolizes a city). Then there are the ten horns (we know the ten horns symbolize ten kings). And then there is the mysterious riddle: “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition.” But for now, the only thing we’re going to look at is the mountain symbol. So let’s get to it.
The Seven Heads Are Seven Mountains
As John was looking at this vision of the harlot riding the scarlet colored beast, the angel said, “Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns” (Rev. 17:7 NKJV). Then in verse nine, the angel gave John the interpretation of the seven heads: “The seven heads are seven mountains….”
“The seven heads are seven mountains.” How interesting. The symbolism of the heads is identified with yet more symbolism. The heads are mountains. I’m sure that when the angel told the apostle John that the seven heads were seven mountains, John understood what he was talking about. People from John’s era knew what the mountain symbolized. People from our modern era do not. Fortunately, the Bible tells us what the mountain symbolizes.
Simply put, the mountain is a symbol for empire.
The Mountain Symbol in Jeremiah
The book of Jeremiah reveals to us that the word “mountain” symbolizes an empire. However, let’s be specific. The mountain does not symbolize a nation. The mountain symbolizes an “empire.” What is the difference, you ask? A nation becomes an empire when it conquers other nations, making the conquered nations its vassals. The king of the nation that conquers other nations is then called a king of kings. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was called a king of kings (Eze. 26:7), because he ruled over an empire.
Our first witness as to the word mountain symbolizing an empire is in Jeremiah chapter 51. The prophet Jeremiah is prophesying about the Lord sending judgment to Babylon. About Babylon, Jeremiah said, “O thou that dwellest upon many waters” (Jer. 51:13). Babylon dwelled on “many waters.” The interpretation of the symbolism of many waters is found in Revelation chapter 17. At the beginning of chapter 17, an angel said to John, “Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters” (Rev. 17:1). Then in verse 15, the angel gave John the interpretation of the symbolism for the term “many waters”: “The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (Rev. 17:15). The term “many waters” is a symbol for peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. Consequently, when Jeremiah said Babylon dwelled on many waters, he was saying that Babylon had a relationship with nations that spoke different languages. The relationship he had with these nations is that he conquered them and made them his vassals. They were under his rule; therefore, he was a king of an empire, making him a king of kings.
Then right after that, Jeremiah called Babylon a mountain: “And I will render unto Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, saith the Lord. Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the Lord, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain” (Jer. 51:24–25). Babylon was called a destroying mountain because its king, Nebuchadnezzar, successfully invaded and conquered many nations, destroying those nations in the process.
Matthew 18:16 says, “…in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” We need at least two witnesses that say a mountain symbolizes as empire. We just read our first witness in Jeremiah, so let’s look at another one.
The Mountain Symbol in Daniel
For another witness, we need to go to Daniel chapter two. This is the chapter that tells us about the time when King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed about a metal man. In his dream, he saw a man made up of different metals. Each of the different metals represented an empire that would rule after him. The metal man’s head was gold, representing Babylon. Its breast and arms were silver, representing the Medo/Persian Empire. Its belly and thighs of brass represented the Grecian Empire. Its legs of iron represented the Roman Empire. Then we see its feet made of iron and clay, which represents the end time kingdom of Antichrist. The whole of the metal man symbolizes a period of time referred to as “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24).
The king didn’t know the interpretation of his dream, so Daniel prayed and the Lord gave Daniel the interpretation of the dream and then he shared it with the king. The metal man symbolizes a period of time when Gentile empires would rule over the nation of Israel. At one time, all these empires—Babylon, Medo/Persia, Greece, and Rome—ruled over Israel. The last Gentile kingdom to do so will be the Antichrist kingdom.
The Stone Grew Into a Mountain
Let’s talk about the stone. In the dream, Daniel saw a stone smash the metal man’s feet. When the feet were smashed, the entire image came crumbling down. Jesus, of course, symbolizes the stone (Ps. 118:22). The feet made of iron and clay symbolize the end time Antichrist kingdom. When Jesus comes back at His Second Coming, He defeats Antichrist at the battle of Armageddon. This is symbolized by the stone smashing the feet of the image. When the Antichrist kingdom is defeated, it brings to an end the “times of the Gentiles.” The entire image of the metal man falling down to the ground symbolizes the times of the Gentiles coming to an end. When the times of the Gentiles comes to an end, Israel will never be dominated by Gentile powers ever again.
Now we come to the mountain symbol in verse 35. Daniel goes on to describe what happened to the stone after it smashed the feet of the metal man: “the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” The stone, who is Jesus, grew into a great mountain that filled the earth. Verse 44 gives us the interpretation of the stone becoming a mountain:
“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”
At His Second Coming, Jesus will destroy the end time kingdom of Antichrist. God will set up a kingdom on the earth with Jesus as its king. He will rule and reign over all the nations of the earth, making Him King of Kings and Lord of Lords! His kingdom will fill the earth, which means all nations will be under His rule. The stone growing into a mountain is symbolic of Jesus becoming a king of an empire, making Him a King of Kings.
The Identity of the Seven Mountains
Let’s go back to Revelation chapter 17 and look again at the beast with seven heads. John said he saw “a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” (v.3). And about the heads, the angel said, “The seven heads are seven mountains” (v.8). We now know the seven heads/mountains on the beast are seven empires. Who are the empires? This post is already too long so I’ll just cut to the chase and identify for you the seven empires without explanation. The seven heads/mountains are empires that have dominated the children of Israel, from their beginning in Egypt all the way to their future end. The seven heads symbolize Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo/Persia, Greece, Rome, and the end time kingdom of Antichrist. And, yes, each of these nations were all empires when they dominated the nation of Israel.
This concludes our series on end time Bible symbols. There are many more symbols relating to end time prophecy, but this is a good start in helping you understand prophetic symbolism.
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