What Does The Bible Say About Pilgrimage?

What Does The Bible Say About Pilgrimage? March 10, 2016

What does the Bible say about a Christian’s pilgrimage in this world?

Not of This World

When asked by Pontius Pilate whether Jesus was a king, He replied, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world” (John 18:36) so the answer was, yes, He was a King, just not of this world; at least yet! We too are only pilgrims and strangers in this world and even though we are in the world, we are not to be a part of the world. We belong to the King’s kingdom. The Apostle Paul put it superbly in writing that “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19). There is a day coming for the people of God where we will enter the kingdom and remain there for all time (Rev 22) but God has not forgotten His own people, His chosen nation Israel, and so knowing this, Isaiah writes, “And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant that remains of his people, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt” (Isaiah 11:16) and later he adds, “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians” (Isaiah 19:23).


Pilgrim’s Progress

John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” is one of the best books you’ll ever read (next to the Bible) because it views the Christian life in the light of a journey of a pilgrim passing through this temporary, physical life. The ending of the journey is the “Celestial City” but not before the Christian must pass through the “city of Destruction.” Bunyan looks forward to the coming kingdom and seeing that “a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray” (Isaiah 35:8) and for those who have their eyes fixated on Christ, they will follow the only way to eternal life in this kingdom (Acts 4:12), but again, the day is coming for the restoration of the nation of Israel too as Isaiah writes, “The Lord has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: “I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink your wine for which you have labored” (Isaiah 62:8) and so as the psalmist concludes, “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion” (Psalm 84:5).

Preparing the Way

John the Baptist, being the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3, describes John as “A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” John the Baptist had a larger following than Jesus did in the beginning and so “when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ” (John 1:19-20) and then “they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No” (John 1:21). They finally grew exasperated and said “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said” (John 1:22-23). That was John’s mission that He perfectly fulfilled and immediately Jesus began His earthly ministry by saying “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). It was only because of Christ that we can have access to eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, and to be able to enter the everlasting kingdom.


King Solomon wisely wrote that “The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life” (Prov 16:7) and what better way to illuminate the highway than to have the very Light of the World in Jesus Christ Who said of Himself, “I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). It shouldn’t surprise us that “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” (Prov 4:18) for “In the light of a king’s face there is life, and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain” (Prov 16:15), not to mention eternal life and being with the Light of the World for all time.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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