Laodicea was situated 60 kilometers southeast of Philadelphia and was a famous health resort. The city was popular for its hot baths and the collyrium eye salve that was produced there.
The hot water for the baths was ingeniously piped to the resorts in insulated pipes, but because of the distances involved, the water was often only lukewarm by the time it arrived at its destination. The symbol of lukewarmness applied to the Laodicean Church is thus very appropriate.
Mineral-rich waters are also extremely unpalatable when taken lukewarm, and this feature makes the words of the Faithful and True Witness regarding those who refuse to accept His counsel all the more appropriate.
The church in Laodicea was likely established by Paul’s companion Epaphras.
Laodicea is the “nation of judgment.” It is the last Church, the last light bearer on Earth before the coming of Christ. This letter is to God’s people in our time.
All the letters were written to the Church – to God’s people, His representatives. The letters reflect the spiritual condition of the Church in each time period and some of the letters contain severe reproofs. These reproofs were designed to touch the hearts of God’s people, so that these wrongs might be corrected and the promises validated.
In all the letters, except the letter to Laodicea, there is a commendation, and it is vital for God’s people at the end of time to take heed of the Laodicean counsel because, sadly, we have done nothing to commend.
The message to Laodicea is not a message of hopelessness. It is a message of hope. The message is not designed to discourage but to encourage. If the message is heeded, then the malady of the Church can be corrected. The message stems from One who can read the heart. It stems from the Faithful and True Witness – to deny the message is to deny the omnipotence of God.
And to 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 (Revelation 3:14).
The message is from the Amen – the One in whom there is no lie, the Creator. The word “beginning” is translated from the Greek arche, which, when taken in the active sense, means the initiator of the action, in this case Creation. In this introduction is concealed all the majesty of Christ, His character, and His law.
The memorial of His Creation is the Sabbath, which is also the seal of God making the law of God valid. The message to Laodicea is to His people, the remnant of those who obey God’s commandments and hold the testimony of Jesus.
In Revelation 12, the remnant is made of followers of Christ, members of the Church, that seek to follow God in all things:
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17).
They are the ones that wake up from their Laodicean slumber and take the reproofs to heart. The remnant is made up of true and faithful believers of God that follow after the Second Advent movement of the 1800s, those that are looking for the soon return of Jesus Christ and who are seeking to align themselves with God’s Word and the truths lost after the Reformation.
Instead of thinking that all is well and following materialistic gain, they recognize their sinful condition and return to the principles of the Reformation and allegiance to God. They base their faith on the Word and seek unity in truth and love based on Truth. To them is entrusted the final message of warning to a dying world. The message to be given is the Three Angels’ Message of Revelation 14. It is a message that will cause controversy and will be opposed by Satan by every conceivable means. To live out the message will require great patience, endurance, and an abiding trust in Christ.
Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12).
The devil wages war against the remnant in order to hinder God’s work. He wants to prevent the message from going out into the world. How would he best achieve this? By so preoccupying the Church with issues not directly related to the message that there is no time or energy left to do the work that the Church was instructed to do. The Church is to be a light to the world – it is one of the golden lampstands (Revelation 1:12‐13).
But so many are now preoccupied with life, with the prize of success, financial wealth, pleasure seeking, and selfish ambition. Sadly even professing Christians display this same zeal for worldly gain. This is the Laodicean state.
In the letter to Laodicea, there is a rebuke about the state of the heart: I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth (Revelation 3:15-16).
This rebuke is to the Church, but a church is compromised of individuals. This diagnosis of our state is an individual diagnosis, and we much each individually heed the warning. Luke warmness is an unacceptable state and will result in eternal loss. The state of lukewarmness must be remedied.
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 (Revelation 3:17).
Why are we lukewarm?
We are lukewarm because we believe we are rich and have the truth. We believe we are not deceived. Even among those who know that the truth rests on the twin pillars of obedience to God (the keeping of His commandments) and the faith in Jesus there is manifested a spirit of complacency, a false sense of security, and a lack of devotion and dedication to Christ.
The Jews made the mistake of trusting in their obedience to God’s law, rather than the merits of the Messiah, providing them with a façade of righteousness. The great bulk of Christians today trust in the merits of Christ without obedience to His precepts. This is just as dangerous. Although Christ’s robe of righteousness is offered freely to anyone who believes and confesses Jesus Christ as Lord, the next step is a fitness for heaven – a submission to Christ’s refining work in our lives that changes us from the inside into new people.
The people of the remnant know this. Justification and sanctification are gifts from God through the merits of Jesus Christ. Obedience is a consequence of this abiding trust in Christ.
Why are we “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked?”
We are wretched because we are deceived. We are miserable because we think we are not deceived when we are, and are unhappy even while we persist in having our own way even though only God’s ways promise true joy. We are poor because we believe that we have embraced the truth when we have missed the boat.
We are blind because we think we are capable of discerning truth from error when we cannot. We are naked because we believe we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, when the garment we are wearing is a garment of our own making.
Professed Christians, like all people, must be called back to obedience to God. They must be urged to separate themselves from false religion and to uphold the principles of the law of God rather than accept the mark of the Beast.
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 (Revelation 3:18).
The gold we are instructed to buy is the gold of faith and love that is devoid of self. The white raiment is the righteousness of Christ, a garment containing no stitch of our own making. The eyesalve is spiritual discernment that enables us to recognize where the problem lies – with each of us. The message to Laodicea is intended to produce a change in each individual, not to produce discord among brothers.
Through Christ, We can Overcome
As we have seen, there is no commendation for the church of Laodicea, which represents us in the end‐time Church. Even though there is no commendation for us, all is not lost. God loves us and wants us see ourselves in our true light. Achieving this recognition and transformation is painful, but altogether necessary: As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent (Revelation 3:19).
Rebukes hurt our pride, but chastening goes beyond that. It is to be afflicted. God permits circumstances to so overwhelm us that there will no longer be any recourse to self. Moreover, our worst traits are revealed in times of great stress. Those who will hold on to their Redeemer, even if He throws their hip out of joint, will, like Jacob, receive the blessing. The case of those rebuked is not a hopeless one, but evidence that God cares.
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 (Revelation 3:20).
The heavenly Merchantman has wares to sell without price, refined by God in the fire of affliction and He gives us a promise of His indwelling spirit.
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 (Revelation 3:21).
The prize is an eternity with God. If I refuse to open the door, if I refuse to let God change me, the knock will get fainter and eventually cease. The blessings of God that He wishes you to buy are to be unselfishly disseminated to others. We are to lift up our voices like a trumpet:
Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God (Isaiah 58:1-2).
If the Laodicean message is heeded, then the truth will go out to all nations because our concern for self will be lost in Christ. In a time of great spiritual darkness, it is vital that we as today’s Laodicea proclaim the message with power. The promise made to the prophet Isaiah will finally come true:
Arise, shine; For your light has come!
And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
Lift up your eyes all around, and see:
They all gather together, they come to you;
Your sons shall come from afar,
And your daughters shall be nursed at your side.
Then you shall see and become radiant,
And your heart shall swell with joy;
Because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
The wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you. (Isaiah 60:1-5)
Then we will indeed be rich with a richness that can never fade. –Walter Veith, Walking Through Revelation
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; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 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: 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. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 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. 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. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.