In Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan’s allegory of the Christian life, Beulah Land is just outside the Celestial City, or heaven. It’s a place of abundance in which the covenant between God and man is renewed. The idea comes from Isaiah 62:4-5, and it has inspired both hymns and gospel songs over the years. It’s about the relationship between God and His people, and it’s a place that you and I can inhabit today.
The Context of Israel
In about 567 BC, in response to their idolatry, God had temporarily forsaken the people of Israel, allowing Babylon to take them captive. Jeremiah 34:22 says, “’Behold, I will command,’ saith the Lord, and cause them to return to this city; and they shall fight against it, and take it, and burn it with fire: and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without an inhabitant.’” But after a period of about 60 years, God brought His people back to their land and sent a message through Isaiah.
“Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.”Isaiah 62:4-5
God was restoring His people. They would be called “Hephzibah,” meaning “My delight is in her.” The land would be called “Beulah,” meaning “married.” Despite their bad behavior, God’s great mercy would not allow His people to falter without Him for too long. He brought them back to Himself by renewing His covenant with them, an agreement that He likens to a marriage.
The Concept of Marriage to God
In the Old Testament, God compares Himself to a husband to His people. Isaiah 54:5 says, “For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is His name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.”
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the bridegroom, and the church is His bride. 2 Corinthians 11:2 “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” In both cases, both God and people make vows to belong to each other and stay true. (“Troth” or “betroth” means to pledge loyalty in a solemn agreement). We are His people. He is our God.
Beulah Land is On Earth
In Isaiah, Beulah land is clearly Israel or even Jerusalem, very much here on earth. In many Christian songs and traditions, though, Beulah land is seen as symbolic of heaven itself. Lyrics to the 1973 gospel song Sweet Beulah Land run “Beulah Land, I’m longing for you and some day on thee I’ll stand. There my home shall be eternal. Beulah Land — Sweet Beulah Land.”
But it’s the hymn from 1876 written by Edgar Page Stites that follows Pilgrim’s Progress and gives us a message for today. It’s the idea that Beulah Land isn’t a physical place or Heaven but a mindset for our journey Home. In the life of a believer, it starts with our own covenant with God when He brings us out of exile from sin and into a right relationship with Him. It then becomes a way of life for the Christian who has truly committed to Christ.
Beulah Land, the Hymn
I’ve reached the land of corn and wine,
And all its riches freely mine,
Here shines undimmed one blissful day,
For all my night has passed away.
Verse one speaks of the blessings of belonging to God. He takes care of all our needs, and even when our earthly circumstances may not be ideal, we can trust Him and His care. We rejoice that God’s light has shined on us, our time in darkness past.
O Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land,
As on thy highest mount I stand,
I look away across the sea,
Where mansions are prepared for me,
And view the shining glory shore,
My heav’n, my home forevermore!
The chorus reminds us of our focus. Now that we belong to Him, we are taken above the fray of the natural world. Our view is different. Our desire is for the day when we will be with Him in our forever home. We are so close; we can almost see it.
My Savior comes and walks with me,
And sweet communion here have we;
He gently leads me by His hand,
For this is Heaven’s borderland,
Verse two speaks of the close relationship we have with God. We “walk with Him” is a metaphor meaning that we live our lives with Him never far from our thoughts. We spend time with Him, and He knows us. He guides us on our journey.
A sweet perfume upon the breeze,
Is borne from ever vernal trees,
And flow’rs that never fading grow
Where streams of life forever flow.
The zephyrs seem to float to me,
Sweet sounds of Heaven’s melody,
As angels with the white-robed throng
Join in the sweet redemption song.
Verses 3 and 4 speak of a heaven that has become even more real to us. As we get to know our Savior, the things of earth grow strangely dim while eternity becomes that much more vivid. We can almost smell the flowers. We can almost hear the music.
For the Christian, Beulah Land is about living the victorious Christian life in covenant with our Savior. We are faithful to Him, and He takes care of our needs. We spend our days in fellowship with Him, and our focus is forever.
Is your life marked by the blessings of belonging to God? Do you spend your days in companionship with your Savior, longing for your eternal Home? Is your focus the struggle and strife of this world, or are you located high enough to look across the sea into eternity? Do you live in Beulah Land?
Enjoy looking at hymns? Try Anchor Your Soul in Hope. It is chapter 1 of my 13-week devotional with coloring pages that would make a great Christmas gift for any believer. Please sign up to receive my blog in your email in-box. You can find that at the upper right of your screen (or at the bottom on a phone). Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.