There are several different theories, doctrines and viewpoints on the seven churches in Revelations 2 and 3. I’m not going to claim to have a Truth as to exactly what they represent, but I found the church of Laodicea to be very relevant for today. Laodicea is a Greek compound word:
- Lao: People, nation, crowd
- Dikazo: judgement, opinion, custom
In short, the church of “Laodicea” could be interpreted as the church of the people’s judgement/custom/opinion.
We are definitely in an age where (unfortunately) churches consist of various beliefs and theologies. We can’t even agree among ourselves on core issues, let alone extraneous issues. And no matter how many humanitarian activities, christian concerts and worship services we organize, there always seems to be this disconnect because it’s all done according to human wisdom and effort. Because we so closely resemble the Laodicean church, it would greatly benefit us to look deeper into what the Spirit is saying. I, for one, want to be counted among those who get to sit with Jesus on His Throne. Being “spewed” out of His mouth just doesn’t sound very desirable. Let’s explore this further.
Look Who’s Talking!
Revelation 3:14 “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;”
Right away, Jesus establishes Himself as a Being who is “The Truth”. He describes Himself as Faithful, the Amen (confirmation) and the Predecessor of all Creation. This shows us, His very character is unwavering, reliable and solid. The Jesus that the church preaches today is soft, mushy and, frankly, unreliable. Christ is affirming His Headship, consistency, faithfulness and firmness. We desperately need to get a revelation of the Unchangeableness of God. Man’s theories, doctrines and preconceived ideas will bow to the Supremacy of the Word of God.
Psalm 119:89 “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 138:2 “I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.”
I Think I’m Gonna Hurl!
Revelation 3:15-16 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”
Most of us have heard this phrase and equated “hot” and “cold” with “good” and “bad”. Like God was giving the Laodicean church a choice between being a “good” or “bad” church. Because of this misunderstanding, we have completely missed the meaning behind this verse.
But notice that God says He wanted the Laodicean church to be hot ~OR~ cold. If they would have been either extreme in temperature, God would NOT threaten to spew them out of His mouth! Hot water affects its surrounding environment, it will cause the temperature of the air to grow warmer. Cold water affects its surrounding environment, it will cause the temperature of the air to grow colder. Lukewarm water does not affect it’s surrounding environment at all, but gradually modifies its temperature to be the same as it’s surroundings.
God was not threatening to spit the Laodicean church out of His mouth because they didn’t choose “good” or “evil”, or because they were “hot/on fire” or “cold/aloof” from Him. He was threatening them because they were taking on the characteristics of the world that surrounded them! [Hat tip to my friend James]
The Cost of “Mingling”
In light of what we just learned, this passage in Psalms also rings True.
Psalm 106:34-43 “They did not destroy the peoples, concerning whom the LORD had commanded them, but they mingled with the Gentiles and learned their works; they served their idols, which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood. Thus they were defiled by their own works, and played the harlot by their own deeds. Therefore the wrath of the LORD was kindled against His people, so that He abhorred His own inheritance. And He gave them into the hand of the Gentiles, and those who hated them ruled over them. Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand. Many times He delivered them; but they rebelled in their counsel, And were brought low for their iniquity.”
We are seeing these very passages coming to pass right now in the North American church. The issues of homosexuality and “same-sex marriage” threaten to divide our congregations and undermine some of our most basic beliefs. But, as much as we would like to lay the blame on the devil or the “Homosexual Agenda”, we only need to look at ourselves to see the “root cause”.
Ezekiel 16:48-50 “[As] I live,” says the Lord GOD, “neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done. Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw [fit].”
In this verse, God equates Sodom with His chosen people Israel (by calling them “your sister”). Notice what “the Iniquity of Sodom is” …. pride, fullness of food, abundance of idleness, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. Sounds like lukewarm water to me! Indeed, haughtiness and abomination (homosexuality) were part of the reason, but they were the last mentioned.
We Are Like Sodom
The nation of Israel and our modern (Laodicean) church have a LOT in common! The iniquities listed above are running rampant in our churches, including homosexuality. We no longer grieve over how far we have fallen, but rather choose to confess a faith “illusion” (“We’re blessed and Highly Favored! We’re the Righteousness of Christ Jesus! We’re not under Law, but under grace!”), but God’s eyes see differently.
Revelation 3:17 “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’–and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked–”
LISTEN! One of the main characteristics of being deceived is not knowing that you are deceived! Just take a realistic look around you and your eyes should open to the Truth of our situation.
But God is so good … He gives us a way OUT of our predicament! We don’t have to be vomited out of God’s mouth, we CAN affect our environment once again! The prior verse is only a partial sentence … it says “BECAUSE you say ….”. Because we (the Laodicean church) say these things (“I’m rich and have need of nothing”), our Heavenly Father gives us wise council. He gives us the Answer!
Revelation 3:18a “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; “
Go For the Gold!!
Now, there are many scriptures that refer to a substance that is BETTER than gold.
- Psalm 19:7-11 The Law, The Testimony, The Statutes, The Commandments, The Fear and The Judgements of the Lord
- Proverbs 3:13-14 The Wisdom of God
- 1 Peter 1:3-9 Genuine Faith
- 1 Peter 1:17-19 The Precious Blood of Christ
But God is counseling us to buy from Him gold refined in the fire. So, if the above items are BETTER than gold …. what’s the “refined” gold? Well, we know that gold in it’s most refined state is supposed to be transparent. We also know that heaven’s streets are paved with refined gold.
Revelation 21:21 “The twelve gates [were] twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city [was] pure gold, like transparent glass.”
Do you like pavement because it’s beautiful? That would be weird if you did! No, most of us like pavement because it’s very USEFUL to us. Imagine our roads without it! Well, God lines the roads of Heaven with Pure/Refined Gold. Apparently that was the substance He found most useful.
Other precious items that were made of gold were the items of service in the temple, with the altar of incense being made of refined gold (see 1 Chronicles 27:11). There are a few verses that liken our worship to incense (Psalm 141:2, 2 Chronicles 32:12, Jeremiah 44:19), but it’s the ALTAR (the place where the sacrifice was offered, and where the Fire of God descended) that was the refined gold … not the incense!
SIDE NOTE: In order for our worship (the incense) to be a “sweet savor” to God, it must come from an altar of refined gold. The altar is our daily lives. Are we useful like the refined gold on heaven’s streets? Is our lives full of idolatry and other things (therefore NOT refined)? Read Isaiah 1 to find out what God thinks of “unrefined” worship.
God seems to really like gold, doesn’t He? Unlike we human beings, who love gold because of it’s value and earthly beauty, I would like to propose to you that God loves gold because of it’s value and USEFULNESS.
In Revelation 3:18, rather than expend all of our energies and efforts trying to store up a big, fat bank account, God is counseling us to spend (invest/purchase) our efforts trying to find out how to increase in our usefulness to His Kingdom. How do we do that? I don’t have a “definitive” answer for that, but the following verses may give us a clue:
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 2 Timothy 2:20-21 “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” Luke 12:15-21, James 5:1-12
If we want to avoid being vomited up like the Laodicean church, we should pursue becoming USEFUL to the Kingdom. Being USEFUL is the starting point in affecting the atmosphere around us.
Your Righteous Deeds Count
Revelation 3:18b “… and white garments, that you may be clothed, [that] the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed …”
People love to exclaim “Oh it’s not my righteousness, it’s HIS Righteousness!” and that’s partially True, but this line usually comes up in a situation where righteousness and holiness are being discussed, and the exclaim-er is trying to divert the topic or throw the speaker off guard.
Jesus IS our Righteousness and we, in our sinfulness, can’t hold a candle to how Righteous He is! But our good deeds count for much!
Revelation 19:8 “And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
We were CREATED to do these good works (righteous acts).
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Righteousness is not just doing good deeds to (and for) our neighbor! It’s also obeying God’s commandments.
Deuteronomy 6:25 “Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe (obey) all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us.”
To escape from having your nakedness exposed and being spewed out of the Father’s mouth, we need to be obeying God’s commandments and doing the good works that He prepared for us to do. This also will affect the atmosphere around us!
God! Spit in My Eye!
Revelation 3:18c “… and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.”
There are several accounts of Jesus opening the eyes of the blind, but the book of John is the only book where Jesus spits in the dirt and “anoints” a blind man’s eyes with a mixture of spit and dirt. Since Revelation is written by John, I believe that he (and Jesus) may have had this event in mind when this letter to Laodicea was written. When a person, building or “thing” was anointed in the Old Testament, it was set apart and declared “Holy”. There are also times in the Word (Old and New Testament) where something is anointed for a specific Kingdom purpose. I’m not going to get into the misuse of the practice of “anointing” at this juncture, I just want us to realize that we are in desperate need of the eye salve anointing referred to in Revelation 3:18c.
We live in a time where our eyes are CONSTANTLY defiled with a bombardment sexual imagery (and other garbage) every time we turn around. This desecration of our eyes has affected our ability to see what the Father is doing, as well as the perception of what He wants US to be doing. Our cure is to anoint (apply) our eyes with what comes out of Jesus’ mouth (the Word).
Psalm 107:20 “He sent His word and healed them, And delivered [them] from their destructions.”
Colossians 3:1 “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.”
When we have had our eyes anointed, we will be able to SEE the way God sees and affect things according to His Plan. When we act in obedience to God, it affects the atmosphere around us.
Zealous for His Rebuke
Revelation 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”
My children know that I correct them because I love them and, depending on the urgency, or the extreme foolishness of their situation, my rebuke can be very hard. As they get older though, they start to understand that Daddy isn’t such a mean guy, but he really wants to see them succeed and mature. Heck, my oldest even comes to me ASKING for correction ….. sometimes.
There is a lot of preaching today on being “radical” and “zealous” for God, but how many of us are zealous for His Rebuke? How many long for His correction, even when it comes from the mouths other people?
In the verse above, it says that if God LOVES us, He will rebuke and correct us. If you’re not hearing God’s rebuke, what does that tell you?
Evangelizing the Church
Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
Does it come as shock to anyone besides me that God is making this statement to a Church? Shouldn’t he already be “dining” with them? This shows us that, even back in John’s day, going to church or professing to be a “christian” didn’t save you. Millions (Billions?) of people will be astonished in that Day when He says “I never knew you, depart from me.” (Matt. 7: 23) The Hebrew word for “Hear” is the word shema or sh’ma, but it’s doesn’t only mean “to hear”, or even “to listen”. To shema someone is to HEAR what they are saying and DO what they say! It’s time to Hear (sh’ma) His Voice and open the door!
Revelation 3:21 “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
Many people in the “prophetic movement” romanticize their relationship with God. They imagine themselves “sitting in Daddy’s lap” and “being held in the arms of Jesus”. I’m not saying that can’t happen, but I don’t really see too much about it in the Word. Revelation 3:21 is one of those exceptions. Here in the Word, it says that the privilege of sitting with Jesus is given to those who have OVERCOME the Laodicean mindset.
Imagine what it would be like to sit with Jesus on His Throne!
I’m not exactly sure what happened to the Laodicean church (and if anyone knows, PLEASE comment below), but I do know that the letter closes with some priceless wisdom.
Revelation 3:22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Let’s do everything in our ability to affect this world for the Kingdom.
For the Love of the Search,
 Strengthening the hand of the poor is NOT “giving to the poor” (as most understand), but rather “strengthening their hand” in matters of justice and enabling them to have a “Voice”. Our churches may, as a matter of “duty”, give to the poor. Judge for yourself whether or not the poor are treated justly, or have a “Voice” in our meetings. I’m seeing much need for improvement in this area.