Posted by: watchmancurtis | January 5, 2010

Revelation Study Week 8

If you had to describe what kind of Christian you are, what would you say?  Do you think your description would be different than how others would describe you?  Would Jesus describe your relationship with Him differently than you would?  Sadly, the church in Laodicea was in this position.  They viewed themselves quite differently than how Jesus saw them.  They had allowed their pursuit of wealth and material things to pull them into a state of apathy and indifference.  We had a great study today as we looked at some of the lessons to be learned from this church.  Let us be vigilant in keeping our relationship with the Lord strong as we look at the last of the seven churches in Revelation.

Laodicea means “judgment of the people or opinion of the people”

Chapter 3 Verse 14– There are three descriptions that Jesus gives us of Himself here:

  • The Amen- The Greek word here means truly or let it be so.  The Hebrew word means true.  Jesus is the final and ultimate truth.  This is used as a title for God the father in Isaiah 65:16.
  • The Faithful and True Witness- Jesus knows the End from the beginning.  He is just and fair.  He can be trusted in what He says.  The concept of a witness was extremely important to the Jewish people.
  • The Beginning of the creation of God- John 1:3 says, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”  Colossians 1:16-17 “For by Him all things were created, both in the heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things have been created through Him and for Him.”  This description of God led to the question of whether Jesus was created or not.  While I personally do not believe He was, it was an interesting discussion.  The question was definitely not asked in order to call into question the deity of Christ as some do, but in trying to understand the trinity and their representations of God.  It was a thought-provoking discussion.  You can find more of the discussion over at my friend’s blog here http://beautyofthebible.com/2010/01/06/jesus-creator-created-both-or-other/

Verse 15– The people of this church were neither hot nor cold.  I grew up hearing that hot meant on fire and saved while cold meant against God.  Someone brought up a wonderful illustration of what I see as a more accurate description of this meaning.  There were two sources of water flowing near Laodicea.  One of these was a river that was icy cold while the other was a hot spring of water.  The cold river was refreshing while the hot spring was used for medicinal purposes.  Yet where they met the water became lukewarm.  It was neither refreshing or helpful in medicine.  Jesus isn’t telling the church that he would rather them be opposed to Him than lukewarm.  He is saying that He would rather they be helpful and passionate in some way rather than apathetic and indifferent and of no help to anyone.

Verse 16– What does it mean for Jesus to say that He will spit them out of His mouth?  I cannot see that this is talking about salvation.  While I do believe a person can throw away their salvation, I do not believe God cuts the strings of salvation on His own.  Verse 19 will bring us some enlightenment on this question.

Verse 17– The people of this church see themselves as rich and in need of nothing.  Jesus sees them very differently.  He sees them as wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.  Quite a different picture.  The people here had deceived themselves.  Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”  We have to guard against deceiving ourselves.  I’ve been contemplating this verse for a few days now.  I’ve challenged myself to answer this question and I’ll encourage you to do the same thing.  Do I see myself differently than others see me?  Do I see myself differently than Jesus sees me?  We cannot allow our perceptions to cloud us from the truth like the church of Laodicea.

Sadly, the church in Laodicea is the only church in Revelation that has no encouraging word said about it.  There is no commendation.

Verse 18– We would do well to take the advice that Jesus gives here!  Here are 3 nuggets of advice that our Lord gives:

  • Buy gold from Him that has been refined by fire to become truly rich.  The gold that Jesus is referring to is not material.  I believe that the gold He speaks of symbolizes faith.  1 Peter 1:7 may shed some light on that.  Are we storing up treasures here on earth or in heaven?  Isaiah 55:1-2 talks about the poor coming to God to buy wine and milk without money or cost.  The money we use is our faith and trust in Jesus.
  • Buy white garments to be clothed and cover nakedness.  White of course represents purity.  Adam and Eve sinned and immediately knew they were naked.  The sad part about the Laodicean church is that they do not recognize the fact that they are naked in God’s eyes.
  • Buy eye salve to anoint eyes so that sight might be gained.  The local people in this area used to make a salve for the eyes our of the waters of nearby Heiropolis.  Jesus is telling them that they need the real salve not the worldly salve.  Their vision problems are spiritual in nature.  They are not being led of the Spirit but instead are following their own desires.

Verse 19– Jesus/God disciplines those He loves.  Proverbs 3:12 and Hebrews 12:6 echo this idea.  The discipline of God is not something that is talked about much these days.  We would rather focus on the grace and prosperity of God, which are definitely part of His character.  We cannot however, ignore the fact that He disciplines as well.  One mother in our group spoke about how she disciplines in order to correct and several others offered some options for discipline for children and then we looked at it from God’s perspective and how He might discipline us.  For a child you may give a verbal warning or reminder to start things off.  If that doesn’t work you might move to a timeout or eventually a spanking.  You don’t automatically start out at the most severe and neither does God.  One of our young members of the group made a great comment by saying that the 40 years of wandering for the Israelites was like a 40 year timeout.  God disciplines out of love.  He loved His people in Laodicea, but He loved them too much to let them continue in the path that they were headed.  Once again we see repentance is the key to changing the situation.

Verse 20– The invitation is open to all.

Verses 21-22– He who overcomes will be allowed to sit down with Jesus on His throne.   The plural form of church in verse 22 implies that the audience for these letters is not just for the literal churches during John’s time.  Let us take heed!

Our study was wonderful and heartfelt today.  It is so important to examine our priorities and make sure we are in the will and protection of God.  One member of our group shared a personal story of how she didn’t have much growing up, but her family had so much love that they were happy.  Later on when she had more material things she realized that she was happier when she had less.  We think that we are so blessed in this country because we have so much, yet sometimes those blessings can be turned into a curse when we put them first in our lives.  Let us take a good long look in the mirror and make sure that our heart and our priorities are in the right place.  Have a blessed week!

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Responses

  1. It was a great discussion. Every week I’m excited about what might come up during the hour. I learn much more from the discussion than I ever could reading the text on my own.

    • I agree Peter on several accounts. I thought yesterday was a great study with a lot of participation and good insight as well as a few questions that made us really think. I also agree that I learn a lot more when hearing what others have studied and how they view things. The next few months should prove especially interesting. I’m really looking forward to what we are about to delve into!

  2. Rev 3:14-22 14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 15 ‘ I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 ‘Because you say, ” I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 ‘ Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 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 will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 ‘ He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 ‘ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

    Laodicea (people ruling or self governed) this city between a snow-capped mountainous region to the north and hot springs to the south, due of its location it drew its water from the north because the water from the south would be warm and undrinkable. It was city famous for banking and a hub for commercial activities, medicine which included eye sap as well as unique black wool. When the city was destroyed the people refused imperial help to rebuild preferring to to rebuild themselves. They were self-sufficient and in need of no help relying on their wealth, this is indicative of the existing apostate era. Because they relied on their wealth they had no need for God or His salvation, of note is the fact that the letter to this church bears no commendation of Christ. Look at the description of Christ, His commendation, His reprove and His reward.

    To summarize we can see the evolution of the various ages of the church starting with:-

    Ephesus the apostolic church -> Smyrna the persecuted church -> Pergamum the unification of state and church -> Thyatira the dark ages church -> Sardis the reformation church -> Philadelphia the missionary church -> Laodicea the apostate church. I would venture to state with confidence in God’s word that the letters describe a sequential period in the maturing of the church.

    We are undoubtedly in the age of the 7th church as we can see the prevalence of false teachings, prosperity ministries, boastfulness, mockers of true beliefs, self sufficient not depending on God. It is fact that the understanding of these letters only came about in the last 50 years while secular societies adopted the theory of evolution without any proof for almost a century. Christ notably describes himself as the beginning of creation in His letter to the church of Laodicea.


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