I hope you have all been doing amazing and have had a blessed week. As the Lord keeps you always in His peace and goodness. From my end, I am grateful for His love and peace and most especially for His salvation despite any challenges faced. Writing this, reminds me of the words of Jesus—in this world, you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world. John 16:33
What a wonderful exhortation. Despite any hurdles, pains, dissapointments, or bad breaks and reports. Jesus has overcome the world. 🙂
Now, back to the seven churches series.
As I contemplate these seven letters in the book of Revelation by Jesus to the churches in Asia Minor, I am coming to see how relevant they are in our time.
I just thought I would define what a church is. Seeing that, the known interpretation is that of a building filled with people who fellowship together. But not so. The church is the body of Christ, of whom are redeemed by the blood of Christ out of every kindred, nation, people and tongue.
The letters to the churches therefore, did not signify a building, but the followers of Christ or the body of Christ in that specific geographical area. Also important to note, these seven churches were also a type for the church ages. Just for information purposes, I will list the church ages down with approximating the periods (please note they are not exact periods)
- Ephesus 30AD-130AD
- Smyrna 100AD-330AD
- Pergamum 315 AD-570AD
- Thyatira 600AD-1100AD
- Sardis 1200AD-1700AD
- Philadelphia 1750 AD-1890AD
- Laodecian Church 1900AD- Great Tribulation period.
As we look at the Church in Laodecia, we also note that is a type of the last church, i.e., the present church age.
A letter by Jesus to the Church of Laodecia according to 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;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue (spit) thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
To get a good understanding of this letter, let us go back in history and look into the conditions and situation surrounding the city of Laodecia.
Laodecia was richly blessed with woolen and cotton products. This consequently propelled a clothing manufacturing industry which allowed them to excel in commerce. They were extremely rich in goods, brilliant in arts and were known for their eye medicinal treatments.
However, the city of Laodecia had a problem with water supply due to its geographical location. The closest cities with access to water were Hierapolis and Colossae; which were both known for their hot and cold waters. The people living in Laodecia therefore had to result to constructing aqueducts so that water would be channelled from Hierapolis and Colossae to their city.
But by the time the water got to Laodecia, it was already lukewarm.
It is interesting to note that Jesus likened the faith of the Laodecian church to their water condition.
What caused the church to be lukewarm?
Abundance— (The Rebuke)
The people in that city were filled to the brim with prosperity. By their trade, they had managed to amass wealth and riches. And they were in need of no aid from other cities as they were self-sufficient. It is said, that an earthquake once destroyed the city, and when other cities offered to give them aid, they turned them down because they were financially stable enough to rebuild on their own.
Examining the current time, it is clear to see this exact state. A world that is in a time of plenteous, filled with abundance and overflowing in possessions. A time of mass education and vast knowledge. A time of science and several schools of thought. A time of global commerce and world trade. Governments driven by money and power. A world that never sleeps, because ‘cash is king’. A world that is obsessed with bigger, bolder and better.
Just like the city of Laodecia, when wealth increased, so did the desire to pursue after the things of the world. And the church as well got into this vice, marrying with the world and became complacent in the things of God. The church became so lukewarm, that it had no effect to the society. It behaved exactly like the rich young builder,
15 And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
16 And He spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
The church in Laodecia was completely consumed in its abundance, not knowing that it was abjectly blind.
Even though the city had the best eye treatment, they had severe spiritual blindness to their condition. Jesus, called them wretched, and miserable, poor, and blind, and naked. Due to respect of persons, they tolerated sin which later led them to compromise their faith. The Laodecian church entertained all of what the other churches had tried to overcome. They were comfortable in their abundance and wealth, and didn’t care much for the things of the Kingdom of God. Outwardly, they were perceived as followers of Christ, but inwardly, they were spiritually dead.
In fact, spiritual blindness in part also means, to perceive to have God’s approval because of the wealth and abundance in one’s possession, seeing that this can only be possible as a result of God’s blessings.
It is interesting to note that this church does not receive a single commendation from Jesus, only rebuke, and an appeal for repentance.
And as a type of the present church today, just like the Israelites were not able to discern the time of their visitation—the coming of their Messiah into the world, so is the church going to be, unprepared for her Saviour. For He shall come like a thief in the night.
Jesus said, watch therefore, for the Son of man comes at a time when no man expects.
45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
There has not been a church in the age of history so blessed with knowledge, education and technology, as the present age church. While the other churches had little or no access to these advantages, they were zealous for the things of God, even with the little they had. For Jesus said, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
Jesus advises the Laodecian church to buy from Him gold tried in the fire, that they may be rich; and white raiment, that they may be clothed, so that the shame of their nakedness does not appear; and anoint their eyes with eyesalve, that they may see.
To understand this analogy of Jesus, we need to understand the purpose of fire.
Fire, has the ability to turn some materials completely into waste, and it also has the ability to refine other types of materials through smelting.
And we know our God is a consuming fire, and all must go through the fire of God, but depending on who God is to an individual’s life, this fire can either consume or refine.
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 1:7
White raiment, to purchase from Him white garmets, signifying righteousness, spotless and holiness. Clothes washed in His blood for the salvation of our souls.
Eye Salve, signifying medicine/ointment for the eyes, that they may see their wretched state and repent of their ways. For He once told His disciples,
11 And He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:
12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.
Jesus finishes this letter, by a command. Be zealous therefore and repent! This, by remembering who is in command of the whole world. “These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;”
The question this letter leaves us all asking is, Is the pursuit of Christ more than the pursuit for the things of this world? Or could we be living deceived by the lukewarm state of the world, being content to live in between the case of Christ and that of the world?
May God grant us sincere hearts to search our own hearts everyday, as we seek to grow in Him, not being conformed to the world, but to be faithful ambassadors and representatives of Jesus Christ. For He has already promised, He will never leave us nor forsake us, what can man do to us? For He is faithful, He that has promised.
Wishing you all a blessed day as always.
Featured Image Credit: goturkey