What is the significance of the Mount of Olives?


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The Mount of Olives is a mountain ridge located on the east side of Jerusalem. It is separated from the city of the Kidron Valley toward Bethany and halfway distant toward that village (Matthew 21:1). Bethany is 15 furlongs, about 2 miles (3 km) from Jerusalem (John 11:18). The Mount of Olives is elevated 2,700 ft. (823 m.) above sea level, around 250 ft. (76 m.). It is higher than Jerusalem and around 300 ft. (1 m.) and higher than the Temple plateau.

The Old Testament

The Mount of Olives is mentioned when Absalom stole the hearts of Israel and made a great conspiracy against his father king David. As a result, King David fled from Jerusalem. He “went up by the ascent of the Mount of Olives and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and went barefoot. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went up” (2 Samuel 15:30). The Lord heard the prayers of David and delivered him from Absalom and restored his kingdom.

In the New Testament

The Mount of Olives is mentioned as the spot from which Jesus “beheld the city, and wept over it” (Luke 19:37–41). It was from here that He proclaimed the second destruction of the rebellious and stubborn city (Matthew 24). And, there, He proclaimed the signs of His second advent.

At the Mount of Olives, Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray the night before His crucifixion. Gethsemane is located near the western foot of the Mount of Olives, opposite Jerusalem (Matthew 26:30, 36). This is the first mention of the Mount of Olives in connection with the life of Jesus. Though it is most probable that he spent the night here on previous visits to Jerusalem.

It is believed to be the place of the ascension. Luke writes that after the last meeting with the disciples in Jerusalem, Jesus “led them out as far as to Bethany” (Luke 24:50). This is possible because it was a familiar place that He favored. Luke adds a few more details about the ascension in Acts 1:1-12 where he uses the name Olivet to refer to the Mount of Olives.

At the end of time

Upon the eminence of the Mount of Olive, the New Jerusalem coming from heaven will make its final descent. “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—“The Lord is one…” (Zechariah 14:4, 5, 9).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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