Daily Archives: 05/13/2019

What is the “mountain” to be removed in Matthew 17:20?

WHAT IS THE “MOUNTAIN” TO BE REMOVED IN MATTHEW 17:20?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The concept of “moving mountains” actually appears thrice in Scripture. What does it entail? Let us scan the contexts for answers.

  • Matthew 17:20: “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
  • Matthew 21:21-22: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”
  • 1 Corinthians 13:2: “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”

As the Oxford English Dictionary testifies, the phrase “move mountains” is often interpreted to mean “achieve spectacular and apparently impossible results.” The sample expression supplied is, “faith can move mountains.” Of course, we can see the Scriptures have greatly influenced the dictionary and our English language. Nevertheless, if we compare verses, we can refine that definition. A mountain in Scripture often symbolizes a kingdom—whether a good one (God’s rule) or a bad one (Satan’s rule).

Perhaps the easiest example of Scripture connecting mountains to kingdoms is situated in Daniel chapter 2: “[35] Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth…. [44] 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. [45] Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.” (This describes Jesus Christ, the “stone cut out without hands,” at His Second Coming, demolishing the current evil world system and establishing God’s earthly kingdom. The “great mountain” is that kingdom, a worldwide kingdom!)

Let us now look closer at the Matthew chapter 17 example: “[14] And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him [the Lord Jesus] a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, [15] Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. [16] And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. [17] Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. [18] And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. [19] Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? [20] And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. [21] Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

What the Lord is saying here is that His disciples can overcome Satan’s kingdom by prayer. The Apostles can cast evil spirits out of their Jewish brethren by placing their faith in God’s Word to them. Since they were not walking by faith in what God had already revealed to them, they were unable to perform the exorcism on the young man. (See our related study linked at the end of this article.) Now, we re-read Matthew 21:21-22: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.God has given His Apostles the ability to rid their nation of satanic influence… if only Israel would let them by believing their Gospel message (Jesus is Christ/Messiah/King)!

Likewise, as concerning us in the Dispensation of Grace, when the Apostle Paul spoke of “removing mountains” in 1 Corinthians 13:2, he was writing with respect to Satan’s current operations. Paul received revelation from the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ for over 30 years (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:1). Eventually, he gained all Divine information for this dispensation. That was not true at the time of 1 Corinthians 13:2 (as we can see in 2 Corinthians 12:1). Paul argued that, even if he had all the truths needed to conquer Satan in the mystery program, and he did not have charity (love motivating his ministry endeavors), it would profit him nothing and his work (Christian service) would be worthless. “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”

Also see:
» Why could the disciples not cast out the devil in Matthew 17?
» “I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?”
» “O ye of little faith?”