What is the Mount of Olives? One of Jerusalem’s City’s most famous landmarks is the Mount of Olives. It separates the most Holy place - the TempleMount, from the JudeanDesert to the east. We know it to be the place from which Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah ascended into heaven (Acts 1:11) …and where He WILL one day soon return. Also called the “Mount of Anointment,” the hill owes both of its names to its olive groves. That is to say, they served the city in making olive oil to anoint Israel’s kings and temple priests.
The Mount of Olives is one of the most fascinating places found in Scripture... It is regarded as sacred and mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments. Horror and hope collide on the Mount of Olives. There, Yeshua (Jesus) prayed before His betrayal and Crucifixion, however, it is also from there that the Lord triumphantly ascended into Heaven (Luke 22:39-44; Acts 1:11). The Mount of Olives also holds the HOPE of His victorious Second Coming (Zechariah 14:4). It is a sacred Biblical location that still exists today and is central to God’s plan of redemption. The Mount of Olives is a mountain range that is made up of three peaks located on the Eastern border of the city of Jerusalem. The highest peak is 2,684 feet and offers a scenic view of Old Jerusalem. The Eastern side of the slope is at the beginning of the JudeanDesert, and it separates the TempleMount in present Jerusalem from the desert.
The Mount of Olives and the Temple Mount… God chose to reveal His redemptive plan and purpose through a small country ISRAEL …on the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. He chose a region known as the Middle East. Israel is about the size of the KrugerNational Park in South Africa or New Jersey in America. Its Capital Jerusalem, though often referred to as the City of Peace, has had this name challenged over and over through the years as many battles and unresolved conflicts have battered it for years. …and the “battle of Armageddon” at the End-times is yet to come!
The Mount of Olives was named for the olive groves that lined the hillside…And, to this day, there is an olive tree over 2,000 years old on the hillside. Imagine what could that olive tree could tell is if it could speak? It has also been called “The Mount of Anointment” …because of the pressing of “olives” for the oil that was used in the anointing of Kings. It is significant and symbolic that Yeshua (Jesus) likely knelt under the covering of olive trees and prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane - located on the Mount of Olives right before His betrayal. The “King of all Kings” being pressed so that we might know His rule in our lives. The process by which olives are beaten and crushed to produce olive oil contains spiritual significance as well. Christ was beaten and crushed on the Cross so that His Holy Spirit would be poured out on the Church after His ascension to Heaven. In essence, Yeshua - Jesus Christ is God’s olive tree, and the Holy Spirit, His olive oil. It is not mere coincidence that Christ’s agonized prayer, just before His arrest, occurred in Gethsemane, a place of many olive trees and whose name means “olive press.”
Many Jewish people throughout history have requested to be buried on the Mount of Olives… The Jewish people believe that when the Messiah comes, He WILL come on the Mount of Olives, and therefore those buried there will have a front-row seat to the Messiah. The belief that the Kidron Valley is the future Valley of Jehoshaphat (“The Lord Judges”), where God will judge humanity (Joel 3:2, 12), has inspired thousands of Jews to make their graves on the adjacent slopes. Two cemeteries and two purposes; The world’s largest Jewish cemetery spreads across the Mount of Olives, and Muslim graves dot the slopes across the Kidron Valley below the TempleMount. Many graves line the hillside some very old. The large Muslim cemetery blocks the Eastern Gate, or Golden Gate, which itself is even bricked closed. They believe that after the Jewish Messiah appears, He will enter Jerusalemthrough this gate. The graves therefore represent an attempt to “defile” anyone who would ascend the hill in order to enter the gate would block the Second Coming of Israel’s (and our) Messiah.
The “olive tree” is mentioned frequently in the Bible, from as early as the time of the FLOOD …when the dove from the ARK brought an olive branch back to Noah - Genesis 8:11 to Revelation 11:4 where the two witnesses are represented as “two olive trees.” As one of the most highly valued and useful trees known to the Ancient Israel the “olive tree” is significant for several reasons in the Bible. Its importance in Israel is expressed in the parable of Jotham: “One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’ But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and humans are honoured, to hold sway over the trees?’” – Judges 9:8-9.
The “olive tree” and “olive branch” have been symbols of SHALOM – “peace” and reconciliation ever since the account of Noah’s flood! When the dove brought Noah “a plucked olive leaf in its beak” - the olive branch represented new life sprouting on the earth (Genesis ). The olive tree was alive and growing. The promise of the dove’s olive branch was a new beginning for humanity, peace and reconciliation with God, renewal, and revival. The slow and hearty growth of the olive tree also implies establishment and peace. Some of the oldest olive trees in the world still grow today in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.
The flowering olive tree is a symbol of beauty and abundance in the Bible… The tree’s fruitfulness and ability to thrive suggests the model of a righteous person (Psalm 52:8; Hosea 14:6), whose children are described as “vigorous young olive trees” (Psalm 128:3). Olive oil was also used in the anointing and coronation of kings, making it an emblem of sovereignty. Olive tree oil is symbolic of the anointing of the Holy Spirit! It was used as the carrier for a mixture of spices that made up the Holy Anointing Oil. God uses the symbol of an olive tree in Jeremiah 11:16-17 to remind His people of the Covenant relationship He has with them. God’s people (the Nation of Israel) are depicted as an “olive tree” and God as “the farmer.” He planted them as a beautiful olive tree …but warned He would cut them down if they disobeyed His laws and worshiped false gods.
We as believers are grafted into the olive tree as the wild olive tree and therefore, we can be cut down too – if we disobey and rebel against God and follow false gods! The Apostle Paul makes use of this symbol to teach a lesson to Gentile believers in Roman 11:17-24. Paul chooses the cultivated “olive tree” to portray Israel and the “wild olive tree” to represent Gentile believers. The cultivated “olive tree” is pruned and nurtured so that it bears much fruit. The fruitless, ineffective branches are trimmed and discarded but the root remains intact. God has preserved the holy root of Israel and pruned off the worthless branches. The “wild olive tree” root was weak… Their branches were incapable of bearing fruit until they were “grafted into” the nourishing, life-sustaining root of the cultivated “olive tree.” Gentile believers now share in Israel’s blessings, but Paul warns; “Do not boast that you are better than those branches. But if you do boast—you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you” Paul wants Gentile believers to understand that they have NOT replaced Israel. God has done a beautiful thing for the Gentiles, but Israel is still God’s chosen Nation and the source of the riches of salvation that the Gentiles now enjoy. Yeshua - Jesus Christ, Israel’s Messiah, is the “root of Jesse” or the root of the cultivated olive tree. From Him, Israel and the Church draw their life. The two olive trees supply the oil that fuels the lamps - Jew and Gentile in the “One New Man” under Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).
In Zechariah 4, the Prophet had a vision of two olive trees standing on either side of a solid gold lampstand. The two olive trees also represent Zerubbabel and Joshua, the governor and high priest. The Lord encourages them NOT to trust in financial or military resources …but in the power of God’s Holy Spirit working through them (verse 6). As in other Old Testament Scriptures - God’s Holy Spirit is represented by the oil of the olive tree. There are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left. “And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?”
The Prophet Zechariah saw olives. Olives are known for oil; they are trees of oil. These trees are placed there to supply oil. The STONE does NOT have oil but eyes, so the stone is spiritual and invisible. The next vision shown to him was how exactly the stone should be administered; the picture of how the stone can come to the earthly administration and how the whole earth can relate with that STONE. The stone has to be brought to earth so that man can find entrance into the stone. All of us are stones, living stones. In this light, Yeshua (Jesus) said; “…if you stop these ones, I will raise stones; my target is stone. Even, if some are stopped from shouting hosanna, stones will cry out because this moment is set for crying.”So, he saw the seven golden candlesticks; “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Then I said to him, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?” And a second time I answered and said to him, “What are these two branches of the olive trees, which are beside the two golden pipes from which the golden oil is poured out?” He said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.” Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” - Zechariah 4:6,11-14.
The Mount of Olives is a place of Prayer and Prophecy…
The Mount of Olives, sometimes referred to as “Olivet” (2 Samuel ; Acts ) or “the Mount facing Jerusalem” (1 Kings 11:7), is a ridge running along the east side of Jerusalem, separated from the city walls by a ravine and the Brook Kidron. The Mount of Olives was the site of many events in the Bible and will be the site of a yet-future fulfilment of Prophecy! A 1,000-years before Christ, King David was forced out of Jerusalem and rejected as King by his own son, Absalom. He left Jerusalem, crossed the Kidron Valley (2 Samuel ), and made his way up the Mount of Olives. When David’s son Absalom wrested control of Jerusalem, David and his loyal followers fled the city via an eastern route; “David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up” -2 Samuel .
As the rejected King David climbed the mountain, He wept and mourned for himself and the betrayal he experienced but also for His own sinfulness (2 Samuel 15:30) … Years, later, the Mount of Olives was central to the life of Christ. Yeshua taught on the Mount of Olives and often went there to pray. He, like David, was rejected in Jerusalem. After the triumphal entry, He crossed the KidronValley and climbed the Mount of Olives the day before His betrayal and arrest. He wept, prayed, and mourned NOT over His own sinfulness …but over OUR sinfulness as He considered the cross before Him (Luke 22). Later, after the Resurrection, ascended into Heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts ).
Like Yeshua (Jesus), David made the journey because he had been betrayed by a friend (2 Samuel ; Luke -48) …who would later commit suicide by hanging himself (2 Samuel ; Matthew 27:5). Later, David would write; “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9; John 13:18). David’s mournful exit as Jerusalem’s rejected king offers an ominous foreshadowing of the ultimate Son of David’s rejection on those same slopes a thousand years later. Equally by God’s grace, Yeshua (Jesus) submitted to his oppressors to suffer in our place, again, just as God had promised (Isaiah 53:6-7). After David’s sin with Bathsheba, the Prophet Nathan had told him; “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” It was only 1,000 years later, as the Lord retraced the route of David’s darkest day, than we would discover just how God would accomplish this. Christ would die to atone for David’s guilt, and for ours.
The Mount of Olives – always included - but NEVER part… Always associated with Jerusalem …but never part of the city. It rises 330 feet above the OldCity. Perhaps its high elevation gave rise to the worship of God on the summit prior to Solomon’s construction on the TempleMount (2 Samuel ). This watershed of the Hill Country offers beautiful views of Jerusalem to the west as well as of the “wilderness of Judea and the JordanValley to the east. Later, King Solomon used the “Mount of Olives” for idol worship on “the Hill of Offense” opposite the City of David; “On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites” – 1 Kings 11:7. In one of Ezekiel’s visions, the Prophet sees the GLORY of the Lord depart from Jerusalem and come to rest “…above the mountain east of it” - Ezekiel (the Mount of Olives).
Here are some very “significant” things to know about the Mount of Olives in the Bible;
(1) The Mount of Olives is a place of fulfilled and future Prophecies. The Mount of Olives is significant because several Messianic Prophecies were fulfilled there. The triumphal entry predicted in the Old Testament, took place there. Yeshua (Jesus) rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey (Psalm 118:22, 25-26; Daniel ; Zechariah 9:9, 16; Matthew 21).
It is on the Mount of Olives where Yeshua taught - “The Olivet Discourse” …Prophesying on His Second Coming (Matthew 24-25). The betrayal and abandonment of our Lord that was prophesied in the Old Testament happened on the Mount of Olives (Psalm 41:9; Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:31). Yeshua’ - Jesus’ ascension also took place thereafter His Resurrection (Acts 1:9-12). Christ ascended into heaven leaving the Disciples with the Prophetic promise that He WOULD return. The fulfilled Prophecies remind us that we can trust Scripture. It is reliable as our Bible reveals God’s future plans. The Prophecies about the Messiah all were fulfilled and similarly, the Prophecies about His Second Coming WILL be fulfilled.
(2) The Mount of Olives is a place of PRAYER.After the Last Supper, Scripture tells us that; “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives” – Luke . The phrase, “as usual” shows us that the Mount of Olives was a place where the Lord often went to pray and pour out His heart to God the Father. This is a beautiful reminder that in our lives we need sacred spaces where we go often to pray. Every time the Lord visited Lazarus and Mary and Martha, He was on the Mount of Olives, for their village of Bethany was situated on the eastern slope.
(3) The Mount of Olives is a place of HOPE.Both Jews and Christians alike view the Mount of Olives as a sacred place of hope. The Jewish people believe that the Messiah will come to Israel on the Mount of Olives. As believers, when we look to the Mount of Olives, we are reminded of the hope we have in Christ. The Messiah has come. He is the source of our redemption. However, we also have the hope of His Second Coming when He will right every wrong. Christ gave the promise to His disciples as He ascended into heaven that He would return! The Prophet Zechariah - prophesied that Yeshua (Jesus) would return there on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). The Mount of Olives provides the reminder that just as the “olive” was pressed for oil to anoint kings, our King was pressed so that He would one day rule as Everlasting King.
(4) The Mount of Olives is a place of man’s REJECTION of the Lord and the Lord’s REDEMPTION of us...Yeshua (Jesus) suffered not only on the Cross but also in the Garden of Gethsemane. As He wrestled with what lay ahead, the price for our SIN was huge (Luke -45). It was a prayer of great suffering. Yet, as we look to what was accomplished by Christ’s obedience, we see the glory of redemption unfold. The beauty of the forgiveness of our sins. The Mount of Olives reminds us that Christ has paid the price for our redemption. When we feel hurt or betrayed, we can look to the Mount of Olives and remember, that our Lord was hurt and betrayed as well. God the Father redeemed His suffering, and He will redeem ours as well.
(5) The Mount of Olives is a place of VICTORY! Just as Christ our Lord rose from the dead and ultimately ascended into heaven, the Prophet Zechariah reminds us that, one day, Christ’s; “…feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the mount of Lives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley” – Zechariah 14:4. And, that one day “…the LORD will be king over all the earth” – Zechariah 14:9. Our king, Yeshua (Jesus Christ) has won the victory. He is a triumphant King who WILL return just as He said and rule over all of heaven and earth.
(6) The Mount of Olives tells a story…The 10thRoman Legion camped on the Mount of Olives, opposite the TempleMount, when they destroyedJerusalem in AD 70. Titus camped further north with the 12 and 15th Legions on MountScopus. Josephus wrote that MountScopus often represented “the first sight of the city” (War 5:67-70). The Mount takes its name from the Greek “skopus,” which refers to a “watchman” or a “mark” on which one sets his or her eye. The Prophets Zechariah and Ezekiel prophesied from here future judgement on Israel, as well as the future restoration and the regathering of the exiles. Additionally, Zechariah describes the Mount of Olives as the exact place where the Messiah would return (Zechariah 14:4).
The Mount of Olives – The place of God’s Coming – Going …and Coming again. However, the Mount of Olives isn’t just associated with David. During Judah’s Exile in Babylon - through the Prophet Ezekiel, God promised He would… “gather you (Israel) from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered” - Ezekiel …where they will be given “a new heart and a new spirit.” They shall be God’s people, and He will be their God (Ezekiel -20). God revealed those words to Ezekiel along with a vision. ‘The glory of the Lord went up from the midst of (Jerusalem) and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city’ …in other words, on the Mount of Olives. What does he mean by ‘the glory of the Lord?” In the Old Testament, the GLORY of the Lord is God’s tangible presence on earth, where ‘a likeness with a human appearance’ can be seen seated on a throne (Ezekiel -29). Yet Ezekiel’s Prophecy of the glory of the Lord going east to the Mount of Olives does NOT bring about the glorious end of days. Instead, there’s a long delay until Ezekiel 43:1-5, when the glory of the Lord FINALLY returns “triumphantly” from the east to the NEW Jerusalem. That’s why the Lord’s presence on the Mount of Olivesdidn’t end with Gethsemane. Around 40 days later He took the Disciples back to the mountain, and it was from there that he ascended to Heaven (Acts 1:9-12).
In Ezekiel, the visible presence of God on the mountain to the EAST of Jerusalem was "a sign" that God is doing a new thing, that God is about to re-gather His people together …and give them "a new heart and a new spirit." In Acts, the presence of the incarnate God on the same mountain showed that the fulfilment was now coming as His people began to be re-gathered at the Day of Pentecost to be given "new hearts and new spirits." And the delay of 2,000 years? We too are experiencing it but Yeshua (Jesus) WILL return triumphantly. His return will be ‘in the same way as you saw him go up into heaven’ at the Mount of Olives, but also (symbolically, at least) to the same place. Speaking of the FINAL battle on "the Day of the Lord," Zechariah tells us that …the Lord’s ‘feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley’ (Zechariah 14:4; Isaiah 40:3-4). It’s for that reason the Mount of Olives has been a prime burial spot for observant Jews for nearly three thousand years. More than 100,000 are buried there, hoping to be first in line when the Messiah comes. They may have believed that they had already have missed out …it’s likely that those who came ‘out of the tombs after His resurrection and went into the HolyCity’ (Matthew 27:53) were buried on the Mount of Olives.
The Mount of Olives reminds us that just as our Messiah came as the Old Testament Prophets predicted, so He will come again to rule in righteousness and justice… As we consider the Mount of Olives and all it symbolizes in Scripture and all the events that took place there – it is a good reminder that we need sacred places in our own lives. We need places where we remember how God has fulfilled His promises to us, special places where we go regularly to pray and meet with God, places of hope where we are reminded to trust God with our futures, places of redemption where we remember how God has redeemed even the evil in our lives and turned it for good and places of victory where we remember, Christ is victorious! He has overcome the evil one and He will reign Eternally.
But why the Mount of Olives? It wasn’t just because it was conveniently located a few hundred metres East of Jerusalem. Yeshua (Jesus) knew its history, and He knew the lessons it taught and of course. He knew this link between the Mount of Olives and the End of Days and triumphally entered Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives quoting from Zechariah as He did so (Matthew 21:1-11). Later He would sit on the Mount of Olives to explain to His Disciples what would happen in the Last Days (Matthew 24:3). It leaves us today yearning for our Lord’s return! The very location where David wept in defeat and where Yeshua (Jesus) was betrayed and rejected will be the place where the Messiah returns in triumph over all His enemies! For true Judeo-Christians who believe in the Messiah WILL return with Him at His Second Coming when “…His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives” (Zech. 14:4; Rev. 19:14). Perhaps then as never before will the Mount of Olives once again be a place “where God is worshiped” - 2 Samuel .
God’s Word is true! He IS watching to see how the nations are treating His people – Israel. God will have mercy on Israelthrough Gentile believers acting as mediators towards them! This is one of the most amazing revelations ever given to the Church – an opportunity to do something that carries the highest priority in the heart of God. Yet, sadly, so few have seen the potential and the rewards of serving God in this manner - as agents of mercy to Israel and the Jewish people! Israel was and still is despised today and a despised nation continually turning away from God BUT nothing ever altered the purpose of God for that nation. The despised element is always a noticeable element in the purpose of God. When the Saviour of the world came, He came of that despised nation; like Israel… He Himself was; "despised and rejected by men," …and there is that despised element; "…things that are despised God has chosen," 1 Corinthians 1:28. Now, more than at any time is the time to support Israel and the Jewish people - the Lord’s Brethren! We are witnessing the nations and people turning their backs on Israel. Thank you for your prayers and generous financial support especially during these very difficult times. With "lockdown" and difficult "recovery" still lying ahead we ARE reminded that the Wuhan Corona Virus has caused many dire needs and continue to increase here in Israel upon the already most vulnerable! Once again – Thank you!
We hope that you enjoy and become more informed by our work. We serve an awesome God and we are humbled by this opportunity to bring you this information. With Shalom to you and your family always,
Alf & Julie Saunders
01st August, 2022
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