Like the Shepherds in Pilgrim’s Progress, the author of Hebrews directs his readers to look ahead to the Celestial City. It is that eternal perspective that provides them the clarity they need to think rightly about their present circumstances. In Hebrews 11:10, the author points to the faithful example of Abraham, noting that “he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
One of my favorite Christian stories is Pilgrim’s Progress. First published in 1678, the full title of John Bunyan’s classic is The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come.
The well-known allegory follows a man, who comes to be called Christian, as he flees from the City of Destruction and enters through the narrow gate, finding eternal life at the cross, and feeling the heavy burden of his sin fall off and roll away.
As he journeys along the King’s Highway toward the Celestial City, he encounters many dangers and temptations along the way—from Vanity Fair to Doubting Castle until he finally crosses the River of Death and reaches his destination.
One of my favorite scenes takes place when Christian and his traveling companion, Hopeful, make there way to the Delectable (Delightful) Mountains. There they meet a group of shepherds who seek to encourage them as they continue on their journey.
These shepherds take Christian and Hopeful to what Bunyan describes as, “a high hill, called Clear.”
There Christian and Hopeful are given what Bunyan describes as a “perspective glass” (what we might call a telescope), and as they look through the lens from the top of this mountain peak, they get a glimpse of the gates of the Celestial City in the distance.
As they leave that place, Christian and Hopeful sing a song, having been greatly ministered to by these shepherds and encouraged to continue strong for the remaining part of their journey.
I love that part of Bunyan’s story for several reasons. First, I appreciate that the mountain peak is called “Clear,” because nothing brings greater Clarity to our lives then to be reminded of our heavenly destination.
Second, I love Bunyan’s notion of a “perspective glass” as a reference to the Word of God, because it is the Scripture that gives us a proper, eternal perspective.
Third, I resonate with the hope that reverberates throughout this passage.