THE LETTER TO LAODICEA
Dear Father, your love is steadfast, and your grace is beyond all measure. I cry out to you in joy and thanksgiving.
Read REVELATION 3:14–22
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.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Ask the Holy Spirit for help to hear the message to the churches today.
This final letter in the series is probably the best known, partly because the ‘lukewarm’ condition of the church at Laodicea (v 16) sets it apart from the rest and partly because the image of Christ standing outside the assembly seeking admission has inspired preachers, theologians, and artists, most notably in Holman Hunt’s painting The Light of the World.
Once again, the description of the church is contextually relevant, because the city experienced problems with its water supply. Attempts were made to pipe water from the nearby Hierapolis, which was famous for the healing qualities of its hot springs, but by the time the supply reached Laodicea the water was tepid and polluted, making it literally nauseating. Spiritually, the church mirrors the problem of its city, but its condition is even worse than that at Sardis since not only is it deluded as to its state, but it is also boastful and arrogant in its acquired wealth.
The extreme nature of the Laodicean malaise makes it easy to dismiss its relevance to churches known to us, but consider the reaction of Harry Maier, who says that the only way in which he can read the book of Revelation is as a Laodicean: ‘For where is a first world white male of privilege to find himself described in the Apocalypse if not in this seventh message – rich, not needing anything, neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm – the typical citizen of a reigning order that keeps the majority of the planet’s inhabitants in servitude to furnish me with my comforts?’1 Perhaps we should be grateful that Jesus is still knocking at the door; God give us ears to hear him and respond.
Take time to review what you have learned from these seven letters and what you intend to do as a result.
“Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.” (Spirit of the Living God hymn by Phil Wickham)
1 Harry O Maier, Apocalypse Recalled: The Book of Revelation After Christendom, Fortress Press, 2002, p38
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