I love the excited tone in the voice of friends and family when they call and say, “Come on! Let’s go!” It’s the joy of being together and anticipating the experience. Where will we go? What will we do? Or my favourite, “What will we eat?!”
In an inspired poem, Old Testament prophet Micah of Moresheth paints a
vision of a grand invitation. Micah predicts a time when people the world over will acknowledge God as the matchless source of hope. Echoing his contemporary, Isaiah (Isaiah 2:2-4), Micah envisages people in search of truth streaming to the “house of Jacob’s God” saying, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord” (Micah 4:2). It is a picture of people from surrounding nations recognising Israel’s blessings and, surprisingly, forsaking their gods to pursue the God of Jacob. They extend a clarion call, “Come on! Let’s go! Let’s go up to the mountain of the Lord.”
This is not a “let’s go out and grab something to eat” invite. In fact, the neighbouring nations are not drawn to good times and riches, but to a rubric. The specifics of the invite involve hard work and sacrifice. At the mountain of the Lord, they are to become disciples of Israel’s God and commit to learning His ways and walking His paths (Micah 4:2). They will leave their mountains to hike an alternate elevation—a shift from individual gain to godly endeavours.
Author David Brooks refers to the scaling of “the mountain of the Lord” as the “Second Mountain”. The first mountain in life is of personal ambition. We make our trek upward, intent on accumulating achievements and planting the conqueror’s flag at the mountain peak. However, the inevitable ravines of life topple us from the dizzying heights. Whether temporary like missing a career opportunity, or as enduring as a crippling illness, or—God forbid—the tragic passing of a loved one, such devastating events bring us to our knees. The dark valleys bring perspective to our quest for greatness.
Micah is appealing to his nation, in effect saying, “Come on! Let’s go! Stop chasing other mountains. Come, let’s go up to the mountain of the Lord.” I challenge myself and invite you to consider which mountain you are climbing. Which mountain are you climbing solo? And which mountain are we, the church, climbing together?
Pastor Edward Tupa’i is the president of the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference.