TEXT: Matthew 21:18-22
Jesus walked up to a fig tree expecting to enjoy a fig breakfast, but while there were leaves, there was no fruit. Of course, Jesus knew that. So He simply pronounced the unfruitful condition of the tree as being permanent, “You don’t have fruit and you’ll never have fruit.” And the tree shriveled up on the spot. THE WITHERED FIG TREE is a parable about fruitfulness. It means that outward activities (leaves) are worthless unless my life reflects Jesus (fruit).
But today, I want us to focus on the words of Jesus about the mountain. Notice Jesus said the disciples could speak to “THIS mountain and it would be thrown into the sea.” Jesus was walking down the Mount of Olives when He said this. The prophet Zechariah predicted when Jesus returns for the final climatic battle for Jerusalem that the Mount of Olives will split in two sections, with one half of the mountain moving north and the other half moving south. (Zechariah 14:4). That’s what I call a mountain-moving experience!
But Jesus wasn’t just referring to prophecy. He told the disciples they could speak to a mountain and it would move. This is such an amazing prediction we’re tempted to simply spiritualize it and move on. Some people think His words are only symbolic, not literal. However, there have been times in history when God literally moved a mountain. Let me give you a historical example.
I’m always careful to research illustrations, because there are so many historical and urban myths floating around. But both of these examples have a long history of verification. It took place over 1,000 years ago in a land still in news today: Egypt. As you know, God has a long history of performing miracles in Egypt. There was a Muslim majority then, as now, and the Caliph, Al-Muiz, decided to challenge group of Christians on their claim that Jesus was God. The Caliph called in the lead Pastor Anba Abram and gave him an ultimatum. The Caliph read this verse where Jesus said faith could move mountains. He challenged the Christians to prove the words of Jesus by moving a mountain. If they failed to move a certain mountain, they would be given a choice to either be killed by the sword or forced to convert to Islam. The Christians prayed and fasted for three days.
According to the story, which some of course, call a legend, there was an earthquake that day and the mountain moved and split. As a result of that miracle, many Muslims converted to Christ, and a church started meeting in the chasm that was created by the earthquake. What proof do we have today? One, Coptic Christians in Egypt still fast for those three days in memory of that miracle. Second, the name of the Mountain on the outskirts of Cairo is Mokattam, which is Arabic for “split in two.” And third, a strong church has been meeting in this same location for over 1,000 years. It’s called Cave Church. Just Google Cave Church and you can read about the miracle and see images of a space where over 12,000 Christian worshippers gather on a regular basis. (http://cavechurch.com)
I have no doubt God can literally move mountains…Never ignore this promise because there is a powerful personal application: WHEN YOU FACE A MOUNTAIN OF CHALLENGE, FAITH IN GOD CAN MOVE IT.
Mountains come in all shapes and sizes.
One of my favorite movies is The Sound of Music. Who can ever forget the wise Mother Superior singing, “Climb Every Mountain?” Peggy Wood played the role of the Mother Abbess and received an Academy Award nomination for her role. However, she wasn’t actually singing the song. The voice of Margery McKay was dubbed over her words. Those words are so inspiring, “Climb every mountain; ford every stream; Follow every rainbow, ‘til you find your dream!”
But you will tell me, “Pastor, some mountains are too tall to climb and too wide to go around.” Jesus has a better idea than climbing a mountain. He says you can move a mountain! I love the way The Message paraphrases these words of Jesus: Jesus said, “If you embrace this kingdom life and don’t doubt God, you’ll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles. This mountain, for instance, you’ll tell, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it will jump.” (Matthew 21:22 The Message)
Mountains come in all shapes and sizes. A mountain is something that blocks your path and stops your progress; it blocks your view of God. Is there a challenge you’re facing right now that looks like huge mountain?
- You may be staring up at a financial mountain—it seems as if you’ll never get out of debt.
- You may be facing a relational mountain—your marriage is on the rocks, or you are so lonely you think you’ll never find the right one.
- Or you just can’t seem to get along with some family member—it seems like an insurmountable mountain.
- Others of you are facing a physical mountain—there is sickness that you can’t seem to whip.
Let me give you some practical tips on how to develop a faith that can move mountains:
1. SPEAK TO THE MOUNTAIN.
Speak to the mountain, not about it. Jesus said we could say to the mountain, “Jump in the sea!” I wonder how many of you have ever spoken to your mountain and told it to go jump in the lake? Oh, we talk about our problems and share it to everybody. Yes, yes, yes…We even pray about them, and prayer is important. But in this particular passage, Jesus didn’t say talk about it or pray about it, He said to SPEAK to it.
Now you might feel a little foolish speaking to a real mountain, much less an invisible mountain. But Jesus often spoke to things some would think are foolish. He spoke to demons and commanded them. He spoke to the wind and the waves. He spoke to a fig tree. You may be thinking, “Yeah right Pastor…Well, yes, but He’s God.” But remember, Jesus told the disciples that the same thing He did to the fig tree, they could do to a mountain.
In fact, the more you talk ABOUT your mountain, the bigger it gets. It grows and grows until sometimes you really do turn a molehill into a mountain. And if you don’t speak to your mountain it will speak to you—it will taunt you, “Look at me! You can’t get past me! You’ll never be healthy! You’ll never get out of debt. You’ll never kick that habit!” (David facing Goliath…Goliath taunted David…he also spoke to David, but David had believed in the voice of His God, saying that He will have the victory…with that, he spoke to Goliath…he didn’t pray…he spoke to Goliath saying, “Today, I’ll defeat you in the name of the Lord God Almighty.”) Brothers and sisters, when your mountain is speaking to you, taunting you…you talk back…as a matter of fact you should be speaking first, saying with faith, “Mountain, there’s not enough room for both of us in this life, so you gotta go! Be gone in the name of Jesus!”
2. FOCUS ON GOD’S POWER, NOT ON THE SIZE OF THE MOUNTAIN.
The Bible is full of stories of people who faced mountains. Sometimes mountains are disguised as difficult people. When David was a teenager, he brought food to his brothers who were soldiers on the front lines against the Philistines. David faced a mountain of a man who challenged the Israelites. His name was Goliath. He insulted and taunted the God of Israel and the armies of Israel. Nobody spoke to Goliath—they were all too afraid. But everybody spoke about him. And the more they talked about the size of the giant, the more impossible he seemed to beat.
But little David spoke to the giant. As David approached the giant, Goliath started talking to him. He joked, “Why did you send this runt to me? Am I a dog that you think you can chase with a stick? I’m going to tear this scrawny kid to pieces and feed his flesh to the birds.” Pretty scary, huh? Mountains try to scare you away. But David spoke TO the giant. He said, “You come against me with a sword and spear, but I’ve got something better, big guy! I have a NAME! And this hill isn’t big enough for both of us. I come against you in the NAME of the Lord God of Israel. And this day the Lord will hand you over to me and I’ll knock you down and then I’ll cut off your ugly head from your fat body. And I’m doing this so everyone will KNOW that there is a God in Israel and the battle is the Lord’s! … Now, Mountain, outta’ my way!” And you know the rest of the story.
Why David was so confident? Why is he speaking so boldly against Goliath? Because David wasn’t focusing on the size of the mountain; HE WAS FOCUSING ON THE SIZE OF HIS GOD.
- The other soldiers said, “Look how much bigger Goliath is than me!” David said, “Look how much smaller he is than God!”
- The other soldiers said, “Goliath is too big to fight!” David said, “He’s too big to miss!”
Do you remember the story in the Bible where Jesus walked on water? Oh yeah, right…Jesus was on a solitary place praying, and the disciples were trying to cross on the other side of the lake. Suddenly a squall, a storm, hit them…they were so afraid, but they saw someone, and they say, “It’s a ghost.” But Jesus said, “It is I, be not afraid.”
Peter, being the bold one, decides to come to Christ. His heart no doubt was in the right place. He did know that it is better to be with Christ than stay in the boat. So he beckons to go to Christ. Jesus says, “Come.” So Peter steps out onto the water.
Mt 14:29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 but when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!””
He took his eyes off Christ and placed them on the storm. He was looking at the mountain instead of looking at God.
Now we can’t fault Peter. How many times have we looked at the storm and felt hopeless. How many times have we looked at the mountain and said, “I just can’t do it.” How many times have we said in our heart, “God send someone else I have this handicap that hinders me.”
Yet if we are going to have a heart full of faith we have got to get our eyes off the mountain and on Christ.
- Christ will not heal until we take our eyes off our sickness and on Christ.
- Christ will not bring deliverance until will take our eyes off the problem and put them on the DELIVERER.
Whatever roadblock you are facing Jesus says “GET YOUR EYES OFF THAT MOUNTAIN AND FOCUS ON ME…” What did the song written by Chris Tomlin says, “Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God, You are higher than any other, Our God healer, awesome in power, Our God…” That’s not just a poetical style of describing our God…That is our God! He is greater than all your fears, greater than all your worries in life…greater than your financial challenge, greater than cancer, greater all the heartaches you are having right now…our God is bigger than all our combined circumstances! So if you are still complaining and whining about the bigness of your mountain, you shut up! Why? Because every page of the Bible describes the glory, the awesomeness, the majesty and the power of the Almighty God…And if you are reading your Bible, no weapon, no problem, no one, not even nature had stopped the hands of our God in accomplishing His will and purposes in His children’s lives! HALLELUJAH!!!
Are you complaining to God about the size of your mountain? You should be telling the mountain about the size of your God!
3. UNDERSTAND THAT IF GOD DOESN’T MOVE THE MOUNTAIN, HE MAY MOVE YOU.
Faith may not always change the outer circumstances of life, but it always changes the inner landscape of your life and my life.
Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 1, says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
And, frankly, that makes all the difference. It’s not always what’s on the outside that matters, but what’s on the inside that really makes the difference.
I remember reading a book about General Hannibal. You probably remember the story of this African General by the name of Hannibal crossing over the Alps and the great mountains and within Italy.
And in this little story, I can remember the pictures of the elephants and the donkeys and the army of the African Hannibal crossing the Alps to Italy. This was indeed a great feat of military courage. In fact, it was one of the greatest acts of military courage in human history.
I don’t know, whether this story was true or false, but there was a story that went along with the various pictures in the book.
And according to the story it said that Hannibal, when he got to the Alps with his army and was about to cross over his army began to rebel.
The soldiers saw these gigantic mountains before them. They saw this incredible barrier in front of them and they were afraid to move. They were ready to turn around and go back home.
But according to the story, Hannibal rallied his troops and his armies by standing before them pointing toward the Alps and declaring, “Forward march, we see no Alps! … We see no mountains!”
And with these words of encouragement the army of Hannibal went forth over the mountains and into Italy.
Now it may not always be that easy when we are facing MOUNTAINS, but the truth of the matter is sometimes you got to go through life and just declare, “Forward march, I don’t see no Mountains!
Forward march, I don’t see that problem.
Forward march, I don’t see that obstacle.
Forward march, I don’t see that hardship.
Forward march, I don’t see that cancer.
Yes, Faith can change the inner landscape. And if the inner landscape has been changed, it don’t matter what’s on the outer horizon.
Paul was a man of faith who moved many mountains, but in Acts 16 he faced a mountain that didn’t move. Paul wanted to go into Asia Minor, but he faced a mountain of opposition and difficulty. In this case, God didn’t move the mountain, He moved Paul. Instead of going in that direction, Paul took the Gospel to Greece instead of Asia. This was the first time the gospel penetrated into what we call Europe.
As contradictory as it may sounds, sometimes God will not move the mountain out of our lives. But He will sometimes guide you around the mountains, or He will give you the strength to climb over the mountains, or better yet God will bless you to go through the mountain. But know this one thing: IF GOD DOES NOT MOVE THE MOUNTAIN, IT WILL BE FOR YOUR BENEFIT TO BUILD YOUR CHARACTER, AND IT WILL BE FOR HIS GLORY! For the scripture does say in Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
And throughout the Bible we read about people who were faced with mountains in their lives, but yet God was able to help them overcome the mountains.
- For example, Joseph, who was rejected by his brothers, sold into slavery, lied upon and was put in jail, but in due time Joseph went from the prison house to the Pharaoh’s palace because while Joseph was going through the storms of this life, God was able to help him overcome the mountains in his life.
- Another example is Job. Job was a God fearing man and a wealthy man, but one day Job lost everything that he had including his ten children by death. His health went bad, and his wife wanted to deserted hm. But in due time, Job was blessed with a new family , new children, and was blessed with more stuff than he had before because while Job was going through the storms in this life, God was able to help him overcome his mountains.
- Another example is Daniel and the three Hebrew boys. Daniel was thrown into the lion den, but God saved Daniel from getting eating up by the lion. The Hebrew boys were thrown into the furnace of fire, but God was with them in the furnace of fire and kept them from burning up. Why? Because God is able to help them overcome their mountains.
God may not remove the mountain; He might move you to a different viewpoint about the mountain. While your mountain may not move, God will certainly move you…He strengthens your faith…He changes our attitudes towards our circumstances…and hold on to this, He would even open up doors of opportunities and favors, instead of us waiting for that mountain to be moved! And the only thing that you and I will do is to stand in awe of His greatness and goodness in our life!
YES, you can be free from all mountains.
- Mountains of Doubt
- Mountains of Misunderstandings
- Mountain of Confusion
- Mountains of Sickness
- Mountains of Pain
- Mountains of Poverty
- Mountains of Loneliness
- and Mountains of Shame.
My friend, speak to your mountain…focus on the bigness and power of your God than the greatness of your mountain, and remember, you may not move the mountain, but God will move you…He will open up new doors for you…
- Dr. David Dykes
- Levi Wright
- Charles McCall
- Chris Tomlin – “Our God”