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Jesus said we could tell mountains to move (Matthew 17:20), if only we had faith as small as the size of a mustard seed. Has this ever happened? If so, has it been documented or is there any evidence?

I'm thinking of a genuine supernatural miracle.

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If you take a metaphorical view of Jesus' words, then many things could be considered "moving mountains" by faith--including building a business, overcoming racial prejudice, etc. I assume, however, you're asking if a literal mountain has ever been moved by faith? –  Flimzy Aug 24 '11 at 18:44
@Flimzy, indeed, a literal mountain. I seem to remember David Pawson mentioning it happening but I haven't found any evidence of it, –  Wikis Aug 24 '11 at 18:49
If enough people had ozone the size of a mustard seed they would quickly destroy the world. Perhaps it is difficult to quantify faith. –  Peter Turner Aug 24 '11 at 18:58
This is almost a duplicate of this question. See this answer for a good answer to this question. –  Richard Aug 25 '11 at 14:22
@Ulla: and who decides what was meant for the disciples, and what was meant for us too? A conundrum. –  Jürgen A. Erhard Dec 23 '11 at 21:28

9 Answers 9

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Marco Polo wrote in his diaries of a group of Christians who were challenged (by the local despot) to either cast a mountain into the sea or die. They prayed fervently and all present were amazed to see the mountain rise into the air and move to a designated location.

It's not exactly "documented", but I was also recently told a story of a group of believers in another country that ran a small school. The school had a small garden, which didn't get enough sunlight because of a mountain close by, so remembering this scripture they decided to challenge their faith with the school children and ask God to remove the mountain. Soon after a highway crew began building a road. The mountain was removed in the process.

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"I was recently told a story" is an accepted answer? Really? What is this, UrbanLegends.SE? snopes.com/glurge/mountain.asp –  TRiG Sep 14 '11 at 1:46
@TRiG haha made me laugh. You have a point though. In retrospect, maybe my answer should have included the Marco Polo reference only. Granted, it's not a NY Times article, but it is "documentation", which is what was requested. –  Bob Black Sep 14 '11 at 3:07
I like the story; it points out the fact that "moving a mountain" through faith doesn't necessarily mean magic-like mountain moving; rather, having faith in God to carry out his will through ordinary means. –  Thomas Shields Oct 3 '11 at 21:30
@TRiG: I accepted it because of the first paragraph. –  Wikis Dec 23 '11 at 14:12

I doubt anyone has. I think this is either because there is no one who has faith the size of a mustard seed, or those who do have faith large enough have no need to move a mountain.

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Most likely the latter. Tossing mountains around just because you can isn't a miracle; it's a magic trick. Actual miracles are about doing something useful that helps people. –  Mason Wheeler Aug 24 '11 at 19:05
I always thought mountains were a metaphor for something awful in your life that you have to get through. I could be wrong though. –  leeand00 Aug 31 '11 at 4:09
@leeand00 I think it makes a great metaphor, as you said. When compared to moving a mountain, most things we go through in life can seem trivial. I believe it can be taken literally, too. –  a_hardin Aug 31 '11 at 11:36
Mostly I jest, but I find it ironic that your answer starts with "I doubt." –  Matt Dec 18 '11 at 3:37

According to Wikipedia and OrthodoxWiki, in the late 900s, after being told this saying of Jesus, a caliph required the Christians, under pain of death, to move a mountain in three days. The pope of Egypt (for so the patriarch of the Copts is called), called Abraham, asked everyone to pray. In a vision, the Virgin Mary told the pope to get intercession from a one-eyed man carrying water through the market. This was St. Simon the Tanner. St. Simon directed the prayers of the Christians, and the mountain (the Mokattam Mountain) was lifted (and promptly set back down in its proper place) before the caliph.

Wikipedia also mentions the discovery of what are, more likely than not, the relics of St. Simon the Tanner, and the reasons behind attribution of the relics to him.

No geographical anomalies near the Mokattam Mountain are cited on Wikipedia, which one would expect to accompany such a miracle. The Coptic Church isn't wiped out, if that helps....

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@Caleb Forgive my brash impertinence. :P –  Robert Haraway Dec 18 '11 at 2:04
Did the caliph convert? –  Bruce Alderman Oct 27 '12 at 5:05

The question is whether or not Jesus intended this to exclusively apply to moving mountains or if it was intended in a figurative way to indicate that God would honor prayers of faith by granting very large requests.

If it were intended to apply exclusively to mountains, we should wonder what need anyone would ever have to move a mountain and why God would have put mountains in the wrong place to begin with. It would seem to make the statement indicate that, "Hey if you ever need a mountain moved, no problem, but if you need anything else, you're out of luck. All I'm promising is to move mountains around." That seems a bit absurd. Furthermore, the Bible contains no mention of the apostles ever asking for such a thing, so it seems that they did not understand this promise in this manner either.

What we do find, however, is the apostles asking for other miraculous things that God did work on their behalf. To name just a few:

  1. Peter walked on water for a few moments before doubts entered in Matthew 14:29-30

  2. Peter raised Tabitha from the dead. Acts 9:36-42

  3. The man who was lame was healed when Peter said, "Silver and gold have I none..." Acts 3:6

  4. Ananias prays and Saul (Paul) receives back his sight. Acts 9:17-18

  5. Peter heals the paralytic Aeneas. Acts 9:33-35

  6. Paul cures the lame man of Lystra. Acts 14:7-9

  7. Paul casts out a demon from a girl. Acts 16:16-18

  8. Paul heals Publius' father of dysentery. Acts 28:7-8

The Old Testament also has many miraculous things that God did on behalf of his people.

This also fits well with other Scripture as we are commanded to pray in faith and to expect God to answer. Nowhere else is a mountain referred to, so, again, the best conclusion is that this was a figure of speech, understood as such by those who originally heard it, to indicate that we can be confident that God will respond to our prayers of faith with miraculous power.

Still, if there were ever a time when a mountain literally needed to be moved, an omnipotent God would certainly be able to do anything and certainly could move a mountain--or anything else for that matter.

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I know this doesn't count as evidence, but the question brought this to mind as the only instance I was aware of (before the St. Simon the Tanner story above).

In the Book of Ether, chapter 12 verse 30 it says

For the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove—and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved; wherefore thou workest after men have faith. -- Ether 12:30 from The Book of Mormon

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Can you add a reference? I've never heard of the book of Ether. –  Wikis Dec 18 '11 at 7:40
It is in the Book of Mormon: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Ether –  James Black Dec 18 '11 at 15:53
Citation of the the text directly: lds.org/scriptures/bofm/ether/12.30?lang=eng#29 –  Matt Dec 18 '11 at 23:34
Sorry about that, I should have included the citation. Thanks! –  HTG Dec 19 '11 at 21:57
I thought this was a Christianity website? what's mormon theology doing here? –  Matt Oct 22 '13 at 23:05

This story is real and in the history and happened in 10th century and the mountain had moved 3 kilometer from old cairo ( in the past was near from Nile about 2 kilo meter only and now away 5 kilometer from Nile ) and the church has add the 3 days in fasting and became 43 days instead 40 days ( from first century to 10th century the fasting was 40 days only and from from 10th century until now 43 days) and there are documents (from 10th century) for this miracle in the monastery ( Arabic language) and you can see the following movies and articles (some of it by English and some by Arabic)

the story movie (translated)



sorry i can't add more than 2 links because i am a new so you can search in wikipedia and google about Mokattam mountain moving and also saint samaan


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I knew a lady that lived close to gold mine. There was a mountain made from the soil they dug up. The gold mine closed but the mountain remained. It caused a lot of dust in the air. Remembering this verse, she prayed for it to be removed and shortly afterwards a company started flattening the mountain as they were sifting it a second time for other elements. It took them 2 years, but the mountain was removed.

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St Simmon the Tanner during the papacy of Pope Abraam the 62nd of the see of St Mark has moved the huge Mokkatam Mountain of Egypt.

The then Moslem Caliph Al Moez Ledin Ellah who reigned from 953-975 threatned the Pope that unless a mountain is moved inline with Matthew 17:20: "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to the mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move, nothing will be impossible for you" that Christians of Egypt (Copts) will get killed.

Pope Abraam called for a 3 days fasting asking for God's help. Holy Mary asked Pope Abraam, in an apparition, to call Simon a man called Simon the Tanner who leads a good life and has the faith to move the mountain.

More than 1,100 years of that miracle Coptic Christian of Egypt fast 43 days being 40 for lent and 3 days in memory of the great doings of the Lord moving the Mokkatam Hill

There is now a Church for Saint Simon carved in the mountain which I have visited more than once and live close to.

Please refer to this Coptic link http://st-takla.org/Saints/Saint-Simon.html.

If you need more information please let me know.

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Welcome to Christianity SE. I have only noticed this response now but I value it, thank you. I have no idea why it was downvoted because this is an example of what I was looking for. As a new user, please check out the tour page. –  Wikis Oct 22 '13 at 18:24
Though I must add, the story includes Abraham, who was looooong dead by then, making me think it must be apocryphal. –  Wikis Oct 22 '13 at 18:27

Not in the literal sense.

It is clear that these texts are not meant to be interpreted as literal, but are rather symbolic of the works that a person is capable when he follows a Godly existence.

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Why is it clearly "not meant to be interpreted as literal"? Jesus talked about "this mountain", implying a literal interpretation. –  Wikis Nov 22 '11 at 7:01
I disagree because of the (admittedly meager) accounts of mountain-moving posted here. –  Robert Haraway Dec 17 '11 at 4:13

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