In this episode
- The three proofs of Brooks’s main point
- A brief look at the letters to the seven churches in Revelation
- A closer look at the letter to the church at Thyatira
- The audio segment of Brooks’s “proof of the point
- Episode blog posts: Snaring the runner in the road; Hold fast until He comes
- Podcast introduction: Yabo Obien
- Logo design: Jeff Lyons and Light & Story
- Original music: Makeup and Vanity Set
- Kindle version of Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices by John Hendryx at Monergism.com
- Text for Precious Remedies provided by GraceGems.org
Welcome back to the Theodio Podcast. I’m your host, Dan Kassis.
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The three scriptures that prove the point
Last time we talked about spiritual warfare. And we listened to Thomas Brooks’ introduction to his book, Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices. We learned why Brooks wrote the book and what he wanted his readers to get from it. Go back and listen if you missed it.
Today we’re going to hear Brooks’ “proof of the point.” He provides three scripture passages to back up the main premise of his book. On the Theodio blog, I cover these proofs in two posts. I’ll link to them in the show notes, but here I’m going to briefly talk about what they mean.
The first proof is Ephesians 6:11
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” That word “wiles” – we don’t really use it much anymore. But think of “schemes” or “traps.”
The point is that Satan is crafty. He doesn’t go around in horns carrying a pitchfork and spewing sulphur. He’s a master of disguise. His method is to catch us unaware. Brooks uses the picture of catching a runner in the road. You’re going about your business and suddenly, Wham! The enemy has you in a trap.
So the key for us is to remember that temptation can come when we least expect it. We need to remain alert, vigilant, and prepared.
The second proof is 2 Timothy 2:26
The Apostle Paul encourages Timothy, his apprentice, to reason with his “opponents,” those who stand against the truths of the gospel. Timothy might help them “wake up” out of their error and save themselves from destruction.
Let’s go back to that running analogy. I’m a runner. There’s something lulling, soothing about a long run. Those who hate running will probably think this sounds crazy. But build up enough endurance and stamina, you might get to what we call “the zone.” It’s a place of physical – even emotional – comfort with the act that makes you feel like you’re floating, flying. The endorphins are pumping. You feel like you could run forever.
And that’s exactly the moment you’re the most vulnerable to injury. When you’re too focused on how you feel, you forget to remain aware of your surroundings.
That’s when it’s time to wake up. Coming to your senses, remaining in them, is the key to avoiding danger.
The third proof is Rev. 2:24
“But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and who have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak, I will put upon you no other burden but to hold fast until I come.”
What’s the apostle John talking about here? This one will take a bit more explaining.
Thyatira was a city in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey. These early chapters of Revelation contain letters Jesus gives to John through the Holy Spirit. There are seven letters to seven different churches in seven cities? These letters circulated among the churches of Asia Minor along a postal route, eventually joining John’s complete Revelation.
Scholars have written much about the historical facts of these seven cities. Knowing these facts bring spiritual implications to light. The more archaeological discoveries unearth facts about these ancient Asian cities, the more deeply we can mine this part of Revelation.
For instance, we know ancient Sardis was a center of high-quality textile manufacturing. This helps make sense of the Lord’s mention of the white garments with which he will clothe the faithful in Rev. 3:9.
The well-known verse where Jesus says he wishes the Laodiceans were either hot or cold (3:15) only makes sense when you learn this city sat near sources of both cool and hot spring waters. Residents of the region used one for drinking, the other for medicinal purposes.
For as much has been said about the difficulty of interpreting Revelation, Jesus does not speak in code here. He uses the cultural and sociological terminology of his audience to reach them with the truth.
So, this is how we must interpret Jesus’ words to the saints at Thyatira. We owe these verses the same care toward historical and cultural markers as the other letters.
Interpreting Jesus’s letter
The Lord opens his letter reminding his readers that he is the same glorified Christ who appeared first to John. The apostle had difficulty describing the Lord, resorting to similes to overcome the lack of appropriate words for such an experience. “Eyes like fire” and ”feet like burnished bronze” aren’t literal, but approximations of the glory John beheld.
Jesus then moves forward with encouraging words, that he knows of these believers’ “love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that “your latter works exceed the first.” In the midst of early signs of persecution, these Christians largely held to the faith that had been “once for all” delivered to them.
It is then that Jesus delivers his stern warning. Certain believers in Thyatira tolerated in their midst a woman whom the Lord likened to Jezebel. This pagan queen and usurper married King Ahab of the wicked northern kingdom of Israel (see 1 Kings 16). She led Ahab and the rest of her subjects to worship the false gods Asherah and Baal. Sexual immorality was a normal part of her religious practices, as was worshiping idols.
God found this behavior intolerable and worthy of punishment. He warned his people Israel about the same temptations before they entered the promised land. That is why he repeatedly instructed Israel to completely rid Canaan of its false worshipers before completing their journey. God knew if there were any traces of Asherah and Baal remaining, Israel would be tempted to give their lives over to these false gods.
Moving back to the passage in Revelation, we come upon the verse Thomas Brooks quotes. Jesus, in his mercy, has allowed the church in Thyatira time to repent of their sins. And yet, his judgment is not far off. This warning would have reassured those who remained faithful. They knew their time of tolerating this new “Jezebel” would end soon.
It’s hard to say just what this judgment looked like. The Lord may have dealt swiftly with this church in some way. He may have fulfilled his promise in the 20th century, when the last Christian community in this part of Turkey vanished. Or, Jesus may have spoken of the final judgment to come, when he will return as promised to establish his kingdom and judge all sin.
‘Hold fast until He comes’
Regardless, we must remember his encouragement to the faithful believers, to “hold fast” until he comes. These are the words Thomas Brooks borrows to speak to his faithful readers.
In Jesus’ words, those who held fast were the ones who refused to give in to the sexual and idolizing temptations of this new Jezebel. To Brooks, they were the readers who refused to view their own opinions about sin as the wisdom of God.
In every generation of the church, there are those who think they know better than God about what should be called sin. Cultural pressure, political lawmaking, or even theological skepticism constantly tempt us to redefine sin. We congratulate ourselves on the enlightenment of our opinions and the rational manner by which we have arrived at our new conclusions.
But all the while the Lord Jesus is calling us to “Hold fast!” The apostle Paul, in nearly every one of his letters, urges the church to remain faithful to Christ’s teachings, to his gospel, to the truth. And Brooks, in the opening of his book on overcoming the temptations of Satan, echoes the words of both Jesus and Paul.
Now that you have that background, let’s listen to Brooks’ “proof of the point.”
Brooks gets right to it, doesn’t he? I think it took longer to explain that segment than to actually play it. But it really helps to dig into the background of these writings so we can bring their meanings into the modern day. That’s what Theodio is all about!
Thanks for joining us. Next time we’ll delve into the meat of Precious Remedies. Chapter 2 contains 12 devices Satan uses to draw Christians into sin. We’ll talk about the first device and Brooks “remedies” for overcoming them. You won’t want to miss it.