This post is part of our Pilgrim’s Progress read along during our Reformation Month celebration. You can find an introduction and sign up for an eguide in Pilgrim’s Progress: Mission Adventure.
I thought I would begin today with this clip from a video version. You can purchase the video of Dangerous Journey on Amazon.com for about $15. Or you can watch it all on this Gospel Coalition blog post for free. I definitely recommend the book first, but as an add on, this is probably a helpful thing.
CHAPTER FOUR: The Fight With Apollyon
Today’s Theme: The Full Armor of God
In our chapter today, Christian is given encouragement and equipped for battle–including a helmet, breastplate, shield, and sword–by his friends in the House Beautiful. Not long after he sets out again on his journey, though, he is espied by the Foul Fiend Apollyon who is determined to subdue or kill him. In the battle, however, Christian manages to mortally wound Apollyon, and after Apollyon retreats, he is healed of his wounds through God’s kindness.
We have already covered how Christian was tripped up by his own fears (Slough of Despond) as well as temptations of the world (see Formalist and Hypocrisy, or Vanity Fair to come). But every Christian should be aware of the very real spiritual warfare that goes on around us everyday. If we would raise our children to be able to withstand the Apollyons of our world, then we must prepare them for spiritual warfare. Which Paul describes below as putting on the armor of God.
- Ephesians 6:10-18: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.“
- The other main Bible passage that illuminates this section of the book is Matthew 4:1-11. It’s too long to quote here, but I highly recommend reading it to your children.
Object Lesson/Craft: The Shield of Faith–Create a shield. If you have cardboard or poster board on hand, you can create one that your child could actually play with. If not, you can use craft paper or even the back of wrapping paper to create a shield to decorate your child’s room. (Above is a picture of shields I painted on wrapping paper for a Narnia party a year or so ago.) Here is a link to photo-based step-by-step instructions on how to create a shield out of cardboard. The instructions don’t say how to make a handle, but to do that, you can cut one small strip of cardboard (3″ x 8″) and duct tape the ends of the strip to the back. As for coloring or painting options, this site is really fun. Your child can virtually create a coat of arms, print it out, and either use it as a guide to decorate by, or depending on how large your shield is, color the print out, cut around the shapes, and then glue them on the shield.
Drawing Activity–My suggestion here is to have your child draw some of the armor Christian wears. It certainly doesn’t have to be fine art, and if they need help, you can actually help them copy the ones in Dangerous Journey. Just turn to p. 53 and using normal copy paper from your printer, place the copy paper over the sword or the shields and breastplates on the wall and draw the outlines. If your kid is really into drawing, you can show him this video on how to draw a shield. After they have drawn several pieces of armor, open your Bible to Ephesians 6: 10-17, and read them Paul’s description of the armor of God. Help them to label each piece of armor as Paul does–“shield of faith” or “breastplate of righteousness,” etc. Discuss the spiritual ideas entailed in each one. And when you’re done, of course, you can let them color each piece.
Make-a-book: Here’s page four of our picture book!
- House Beautiful–Most of this chapter revolves around Christian’s fight with Apollyon. In the beginning, we are told of his succor in House Beautiful, but the illustrations and most of the text are focused on his preparations for battle. We learn little of Charity, Piety, Prudence, and Discretion, but I do think it’s worth mentioning that their care for him is made joyful and intimate in that they share with Christian a love for the Lord of the hill. I don’t think my children are old enough yet to understand this kind of community, but I am praying for them in that regard–and I should pray more. It might be worth pointing out to them that although Christian has chosen a hard way, God has also marked out for him special beauties–including the friendship of very lovely people and wonderful sights of glory to come. Maybe you could tell your kids about a special time of rest and fellowship the Lord gave you in your walk?
- Rather than breakdown Christian’s fight with Apollyon, I think the most revealing commentary I could arm you with is actually Matthew 4:1-11. For kids who are old enough, I highly recommend reading it to them before reading this chapter. As them what they find similar or dissimilar to Christian’s fight with Apollyon. Here are a few things that might be worth pointing out to them:
- First of all, Jesus counters every temptation of Satan with a Bible verse. As opposed to Christian’s real sword, God’s Word is Jesus’s sword for battle.
- The first temptation both of Jesus and Christian is the offer of an easy way out. Jesus was hungry, and Satan told him to make himself bread to alleviate his hunger. Christian is told he may avoid a battle with Apollyon if he will just go back home. Ask your children if they have ever been tempted to take the easy way out? To disobey God so as to avoid some difficulty?
- In the second temptation of Jesus, Satan twists a truth–that God would take care of His Son–into something sinful. In like manner, Apollyon tells Christian something true about himself–namely that Christian isn’t worthy of God’s love or His protection. Have you ever been tempted to give up when you saw your own weakness? Saw how your desire to do good things was mixed with vain-glory–or trying to make yourself look good? Even so, as Christian says, “Yet the King whom I serve is merciful and ready to forgive.” How does God’s mercy protect us against the accuser?
- Christian’s final temptation is very much like Jesus’s. Apollyon declares he will reward Christian if he will only obey him. Have your children ever thought they could find reward or peace through sinful means? How about the last time they whined and complained to get out of doing something? But God will not be mocked. The wages of sin is death, as Christian declares, and any thought of obtaining life and happiness through them will be sorely disappointed.
If you haven’t seen it yet, do check out Janie’s post on the subject. Or see our recent interview with Douglas Bond or a post on Ted Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart for more on the Reformation and reaching the heart (and imagination) of your child.