Mountains Scattered?

Habakkuk 3:6 ESV

‘He stood and measured the earth; he looked and shook the nations; then the eternal mountains were scattered; the everlasting hills sank low. His were the everlasting ways.’

Mountains have been split or shaken by an earthquake or a volcano, but ‘scattered’?

Habakkuk says ‘the eternal mountains were scattered.’ What on earth did he mean?

Photo by Eriks Cistovs:


The prophet imagines God on the move. As He advances, Habakkuk pictures God stopping suddenly to measure the earth.

  • Does this not seem strange to you when we know that God created the earth in the first place?

The explanation becomes a lot clearer as we examine some of the other translations.

Several translations do not use the word ‘measured’:

  • Earth Shook –  Contemporary English Version; New International Readers Version
  • Earth shakes – Good News Bible; Message
  • Shook the land (earth)- International Standard Version; New International Version
  • One commentator Franz Maurer a German Protestant theologian, provides a different interpretation viz, “rocked the earth”; which ties in with the next part of the verse “shook the nations.”

God’s Judgement

God’s judgement is so fearsome that it even affects nature.

“Mountains were scattered” (ASV; ESV; KJV) Other versions have:

  • Shattered – GNB; ISV; LITV; MKJV
  • Fall to pieces – Message
  • Crumbled – CEV; NIrV; NIV

. “hills sank low.” Several versions have similar wording but others interestingly have ‘hills did bow’ (ASV) ‘bowed down’ (ISV; LITV; MKJV) ‘did bow’ (KJV).

Habakkuk was actually issuing a very firm warning of the pending judgement upon both Judah and Babylon

What God Says About Measuring

God does have a lot to say about measuring in the Bible.

He provides his children with very definite instructions with regards to the use of weights and measures.

“Use honest scales and don’t cheat when you weigh or measure anything.” (Leviticus 19:35 CEV)

“If you weigh and measure things honestly, the LORD your God will let you enjoy a long life in the land he is giving you.”(Deuteronomy 25:15 CEV)

Eternal and Everlasting

The mountains are eternal and everlasting in the sense that they have not moved. They have remained in the same place from the very foundation of the world.

The apostle John in his revelation of the last days says, “When I saw the Lamb open the sixth seal, I looked and saw a great earthquake.…..Then the sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all mountains and islands were moved from their places.” (Revelation 6:12,14 CEV)

Habakkuk 3:6 in a sense is a foreshadowing of the last days. He tells us, these mountains and hills that were from the beginning of the creation have never moved. Yet, one day they will tremble or shake under the judgemental power of God.

Similarly, Judges 5:5 says, “Mountains tremble at the presence of the LORD.”

Scripture records that even Mt Sinai shook—at the presence of the LORD God of Israel.” (Exodus 19:18 ISV)

Everlasting ways

A keyword from our text is also in a popular Christmas verse:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:60)

  • What comes to mind when you hear of a God who is everlasting? 
  • What are some of God’s everlasting ways?

For example, God’s ways are everlasting in that He is constantly saving His people. What he has done in history he can do again and again. His power, his provision, his wisdom, and his grace, never change. Yesterday, today and forever God is still the same. 

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.” (Psalm 145:13a NIV)

All He does in time, every action he takes, is according to his plans, purposes, and decrees, and they will come to pass. Everything is subject to his control. Nothing can happen without his permission.

Even Satan is bound by God’s will as we noted in the last session. (Refer to Job 1 & 2 as a recap).


Earlier on we looked at the use of the word ‘measured’.

With this in mind, read the following:

  1. “Haven’t you heard? The LORD is the eternal God, Creator of the earth. He never gets weary or tired; his wisdom cannot be measured.” (Isaiah 40:28 CEV)
  2. “….because of Christ, there are blessings that cannot be measured.” (Ephesians 3:8)
  3. “I want you to know all about Christ’s love, although it is too wonderful to be measured.” (Ephesians 3:19)
  • What three qualities of God are mentioned in these Scriptures?
  • What do they have in common?

Christ’s love is so beyond measure, that He was prepared to sacrifice His life for us.

From Everlasting to Everlasting

Mohammed and Buddha were each born on a particular day, and their lives ended on specific dates.

The Greek and Roman gods were a figment of man’s imagination so they never lived at all. 

By contrast, Christ existed eternally. He was born on earth and lived as a human being for over thirty years. He was crucified and died. But on the third day, after His death, he rose again. After forty days He ascended back into heaven to continue His eternal existence.

Our God is from everlasting to everlasting.

  1. “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” (Psalm 90:2 ASV)
  2. “But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,...” (Psalm 103:17 ESV)
  3. “Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.” (Nehemiah 9:5 NIV)

In my youth group days (and that was a very long time ago!) a popular song we used to sing was ‘Yesterday, today, forever Jesus is the same.” based on Hebrews 13:8. Do you know this song? It reminds us that Jesus is always the same.

Isn’t it great to know that the God we serve is timeless? As we have noted the gods worshipped by some of the other religions and sects were men who were given the status as gods, but because they were mere mortals they had a limited lifetime.

Our God is alive forevermore.

Indeed why not take Nehemiah’s words to heart and spend some time in praise of our everlasting God. Perhaps you would like to sing along with that song Yesterday, today forever God is still the same.

If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.