To the Church in Laodicea
14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea, write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich, and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:14-22
We are wrapping up our mini-series on the churches in Revelation. The church of Laodicea is the last church letter in the book of Revelation. After this letter, a church is not mentioned until the final chapters of Revelation.
The church at Laodicea has always held a special place in my heart since October 2006. It was then I was schooled on the correct way to interpret the message to the Laodiceans. Admittedly, my understanding of these passages fell short and Pastor Mark, our interim pastor at the time quickly set me straight. I learned a valuable lesson that day as he graciously explained the background of this church.
Back then, I was on fire for God, and I viewed myself as being hot for the Lord, while many others sitting in church pews were either cold or lukewarm. Who was I to judge them and their relationship with Jesus? I will always be thankful for Pastor Mark’s ministry, and though he died several months later from a massive heart attack in his 40s, I will always remember his patience and guidance.
Let’s dive into today’s passages and look for the pattern established in the other letters to the churches.
Do we see the character of Christ? Yes.
Jesus is the Amen, a faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.
What about commendation? Does Jesus say anything specific about this church? What are they doing?
I’m not seeing anything positive yet.
Does Jesus have any complaints?
Jesus knows their deeds. They are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm. Think of lukewarm this way, it’s not refreshing like cold water, and it’s not useful like hot water.
Laodicea was near modern Denizli. It was the wealthiest city in Phrygia during Roman times. It was widely known for its banking establishments, medical school, and textile industry. They were also known for their eye salve. But its major weakness was its water supply.
So because they are neither hot nor cold, Jesus will spit them out of his mouth.
Jesus goes on – The Laodiceans think they are rich, having acquired wealth, so they don’t need anything. But they don’t realize they are wretched, pitiful, blind, and naked. Wow, that’s direct Lord.
The Lord has counseled them to buy from him, gold refined in the fire so they can become rich, white clothes to wear so they can cover their shamefulness, and eye salve for their eyes so they can see.
Jesus is rebuking them on the three things the Laodiceans took great pride in.
What are they supposed to do? What is the right course of correction, according to Jesus?
Jesus reminds them of a great truth that doesn’t feel good at the moment. Those he loves he rebukes and disciplines.
What are they supposed to do? Be earnest and Repent!
Here’s something else they are to do – If anyone hears his voice, they are to open the door and let him in.
What does Jesus offer as a conclusion to the church at Laodicea?
To the one who is victorious, Jesus will give that person the right to sit on the throne with him.
If there’s one thing I believe about the Lord, it’s that when he says something he means it. When the Lord makes promises, he keeps them.
We are living in a day and age where many are lukewarm. Where up is down and down is up. Good is being called evil and evil is being called good. We have surpassed the days of shock and awe. Nothing is shocking anymore, but everything is being celebrated – everything that goes against the Word of God is being elevated and celebrated.
The Lord gave us these letters in the book of Revelation as a reminder, instruction, and warning. As Revelation 1 says, blessed is he who reads these words aloud. We are to take heed of what Scripture says – all of it, not just the parts we like.
As we look around and we see devastation like we have not seen before – famine, growing crime, murders, lawlessness, wickedness, hatred, cruelty, murder, strife, homelessness, poverty, natural disasters, and every kind of evil, the church must wake up! We must repent because we as the church have not done what we were called to do by Jesus in Matthew 28 – share the good news of the gospel to all nations and all people. I’m afraid we’re seeing the fruit of our laziness and unwillingness to be obedient. O Laodiceans!
I believe harder days are coming and now is the time to repent of our sinfulness and turn back to God before it’s too late.
Wake up o sleeper! The day is upon us.