The Book of Revelation is mysterious. Even the people who lived at the time when it was written must have been baffled by much of it. Now, almost 2,000 years latter, we are confused by the style of John’s writing, and we no longer understand the significance of many of the symbols he used. Only by studying the history of those times do we begin understand. Yet there are portions of the book that are readily understood, and careful study makes it clear this book was written for us as well.
The book begins with John’s introduction of his vision of Jesus. Jesus instructs John to write what he sees to seven churches (in the land we now know as Asia Minor). Yet as the next two chapters unfold (Revelation 2 – 3), we begin to understand Jesus is speaking to all of us.
Although He named only seven churches, but Jesus spoke to all Christians. In His words to at least one of those seven churches, you will hear something for yourself. I heard something in his message to the seventh church, Laodicea.
To repent of our sins, we must be convicted of them. We each must accept our guilt and ask God for forgiveness and His gift of salvation. So it is that I still find Jesus’ words to the church in Laodicea discomfiting. The Bible had touched my heart, but not enough to divert me from myself.
To the Church in Laodicea
“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. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 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. 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.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 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 them, and they with me.
To those who are 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. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
I was moderate and judicious. I avoided risks and sought careful self-advancement. I thought I had earned more than enough to attend to the needs of myself and my family. In time, however, I learned there can never be enough material wealth.
Did the Christians of Laodicea learn as much? Did they ever learn the need to have faith in God, or did they remain lukewarm?
Laodicea is no longer a city, but once it was prosperous and proud (See here and here.). Once Laodicea produced the finest black wool, and it was a center of medicine, known for the salves it produced to cure the ills of the eye. Nonetheless, for all its blessings, Laodicea had one particularly notable problem, its water supply. Visitors to the city found the lukewarm water of Laodicea as hard to swallow as Jesus found the faith of its Christians.
Note: Earlier, I wrote a comment (here) observed the following.
Fortunately, there are very few dangerous extremists or fanatics in this nation. Unfortunately, good government requires much more than simply avoiding extremism or fanaticism. That is something I will talk about in my next post.
The indicated post will appear tomorrow morning.