Have you ever read The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan? This book is priceless and a must-read for every Christian. We read it to our children a few times and I am aware that Roy, our son-in-law has read it to his children. Let me add that it is a read for both children and adults. It is thought provoking, intriguing and entertaining. But more than anything, it is a book to direct you through life’s pitfalls, giving advice for life and for eternity. Just to wet your appetite, here are a few of the characters’ names and a little about what they do …
Evangelist appears in order to instruct Christian how to rid himself of his burden. He always comes with good news, for it is his message that leads Christian to salvation.
Christian was formerly known as Graceless, or just ‘Man’. He is the protagonist of Bunyan’s allegory. He is every man, and he is meant to inspire readers.
Obstinate eventually refuses to accompany Christian on his journey, and later publicly mocks him for leaving.
Pliable agrees to accompany Christian even when Obstinate turns back. He leaves Christian at the Slough of Despond.
Mr. Worldly Wiseman presents the first real temptation for Christian to stray from his righteous path.
Mr. Legality is the head of the town of Morality.
Interpreter begins his presentations by telling the pilgrims what each scene means until they eventually learn to interpret the signs themselves.
Watchful is the porter at the Beautiful Palace, the second bastion of help along the way on Christian’s journey.
Discretion, Prudence, Prudence, Piety and Charity are damsels at the Beautiful Palace.
Faithful is Christian’s first companion on the pilgrimage.
Apollyon is the fiendish monster who inhabits the Valley of Humiliation.
Shame represents the self-conscious upper class of Restoration Society that rejected religion as simplistic and unenlightened.
Talkative spends too much time talking about the sincerity of his faith.
Beelzebub owns the orchards just beyond the Wicket Gate.
Lord Hate-Good represents the cruelty and absurdity of the judicial system.
Envy, Superstition and Pickthank are witnesses who testifies against Faithful at his trial in Vanity-Fair.
Hopeful is a loyal companion and good interlocutor.
Demas lies to Christian and Hopeful, trying to persuade them off their path to come mine for silver.
Giant Despair traps Christian and Hopeful in Doubting Castle, represents the temptation of despair.
Diffidence is Giant Despair’s wife. She is more vicious than her husband, and wants to kill Christian and Hopeful.
Ignorance makes it all the way to the Heavenly City, only to be sent to hell because he did not enter at the Wicket Gate and does not have the right certification of election.
Little-faith is a poor man who is robbed of his earthly money, though his jewels (his faith) are left to him.
Flatterer is a false apostle who tricks Christian and Hopeful even though the Shepherds have warned them about him.
Secret is a messenger from heaven who comes to Christiana.
Mercy is the virtuous young woman who sees the value in Christiana’s journey and undertakes it with her.
Grim (or Bloody-Man) represents the state-persecuted religious dissenters.
If you have not read the book, get it and read it. It will bless your soul!
I hope you have a Bible reading plan. Many people speak about the Bible without knowing what the Bible says. I am certain you have heard people saying, “The Bible says …” A common one is: “The Bible says money is the root of all evil” … where the Bible actually says:
1Ti 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
In my opinion, the only way to prevent this ‘error reporting’ of what the Bible says is to read the Bible through, over and over, year in and year out … and you will find that irrespective how many times you have read the Bible cover to cover, you will be seeing and finding and grasping new things all the time! There are many Bible Reading Plans available. (Ligonier have a variety, one can be found at Bible-Reading.com or M‘Cheyne.info). Recently I re-shaped my own reading plan where I read a chapter from each of five sections a day:
- Genesis to 2 Kings
- 1 Chronicles to Song of Songs
- Isaiah to Malachi
- Matthew to Romans
- 1 Corinthians to Revelation
As I have said above, there is always something new to find in our Father’s Holy Word. When reading Isaiah 30:7 I came upon an interesting saying that God said:
Isa 30:7 to Egypt, whose help is utterly useless. Therefore I call her Rahab the Do-Nothing.
The name God gave Egypt … ‘Rahab the Do-Nothing’ … so intrigued me that I searched for a meaning and found this:
So full were Egyptian politics of bluster and big language, that the Hebrews had a nickname for Egypt. They called her Rahab–“Stormy speech,” “Blusterer,” “Braggart.” It was the term also for the crocodile, as being a “monster,” so that there was a picturesqueness as well as moral aptness in the name. Ay, says Isaiah, catching at the old name, and putting to it another which describes Egyptian helplessness and inactivity, I call her “Rahab sit-still,” “Braggart-that-sitteth-still,” “Stormy-speech stay-at-home.” Blustering and inactivity, blustering and sitting still, that is her character. “For Egypt helpeth in vain and to no purpose. (Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)
As Prof. Smith points out about “Rahab the Do-Nothing” with reference to Egypt and as Bunyan’s characters Mr. Worldly Wise, The Lions, Beelzebub, Demas, Giant Despair, Flatterer and Lord Hate-Good [amongst others] use language … they are great speakers … but in speaking they are deceiving. Egypt makes promises but does nothing to help. Her promises are useless as Prof. Smith says … “politics of bluster and big language … Rahab ‘Stormy speech,’ ‘Blusterer,’ ‘Braggart.’” Bunyan’s characters mentioned above sought to lead Christian and Christiana astray. Worldly words might seem intelligent and wise, but they are not helpful when they lead people away from God. This is another reason to know, love and understand the Bible … and the only way is to read it cover to cover and over and over to gain God’s wisdom, discernment and guidance when it comes to making decisions!
Dear God, give me an appetite to read the Bible intelligently, thinking through what I read so that I might, with the help of the Holy Spirit, understand it and gain spiritual wisdom to use daily as I travel through this life. Amen.