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    Q: #123. Did Jesus mean we could literally move a mountain if we have enough faith?

By: Steve Shirley

    A: The verse you are referring to is found in (Mt 17:20) which says, "...If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder (another) place; and it shall remove..." (Also see: Mk 11:23, Mt 21:21, Lk 17:5-6)

     Most agree that this is not to be taken "literally," but rather, it is a form of hyperbole (exaggeration). I believe Jesus is simply giving us a picture of what big things we can accomplish if we have great faith. If we have strong enough faith, and trust in the Lord completely, we will be able to overcome any obstacle or problem, no matter how big it is (like the size of a mountain).

     Let me give you two reasons why I would not take this literally.

First, why would God WANT us to move a mountain? Would there be any purpose in doing this? God doesn't have us do things that have no purpose. (1 Jn 5:14) says that whatever we ask God should be done in accordance with His will. Would it be His will to move a mountain?

Second, was this ever done in the Bible? Why would it happen today if it didn't happen then?

     I believe it is wise to view this verse in the same way we view many other statements Jesus made in the Bible. For instance, Jesus said in (Mt 19:24)(Mk 10:25) "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Obviously, it is impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, so this would also mean it is impossible for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God as well, right? No..., we know that Jesus again was simply using a form of hyperbole to tell us how hard it would be. Jesus used this kind of language in other places as well (i.e. if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out Mt 5:29, Mt 18:9, Mk 9:47, or in Lk 19:40 when He said if the people ceased to cheer for Him, the stones would immediately cry out).

     Sadly... when people take these kinds of verses literally, they sometimes go to extremes that God never intended (Some people have LITERALLY pulled out their eyeballs!). The same thing can happen when people take "moving mountains" literally. People torment themselves because something isn't happening in their lives, and they believe it is because of a lack faith. This may be the case, but it is not ALWAYS the case. Sometimes, God has another plan.

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