“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 him, and he with me.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I have overcome and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” -Revelation 3:14-22
The book of Revelation is written by the apostle John regarding the revelations of Jesus Christ, from God, spoken to John to an angel. These revelations start out addressing seven churches that literally existed during the era of the Roman Empire, located in Asia minor. So there is a literal interpretation to these churches. There is also believed to be a spiritual prophetic meaning to these churches, that that they are representing spiritual conditions that might be occurring at any time. Also a future prophetic, meaning that in the history of the Church, each church represents seven consecutive periods.
Scholars and theologians say that this church of Laodicea is also representing the period of time from the American Revolution and into the Great Tribulation. As Jesus addresses each church individually, he backs the revelations from God and the words spoken as valid and sovereign. That both him and God are a witness to what he is about to say. Following that, is a compliment or complaint (not necessarily both), a command and a promise. He ends each message with the same statement, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Through research and looking at the text at face value, this is the initial response I had to this particular text:
There does not seem to be a compliment; however, there are a few complaints. “We” as a church collectively (or the Laodiceans) are not where we should be. Not hot or cold, seemingly independent and not “needing anything.” His command appears to mainly state that we were poor, naked and blind and that we needed to buy gold refined in the fire to become rich, white clothes to cover our nakedness and salve to put on our eyes so we could see:
gold-white garments-eye salve
There are a lot of different opinions about what the “gold refined in the fire” he was talking about. Several sources say it represents faith going through trials in a furnace of affliction. This is the scripture used to support this statement:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith -more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire -may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” -1 Peter 1:3-7
These seems to fit, although faith is free and cannot be bought and this text states, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire…” To counter this they state that although faith is free, Jesus asks us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow him so in a sense, it does cost us.
“Jesus said to this disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” -Matthew 16:24-25
Some thought provoking ideas and valid points for sure! I must admit I was stuck between a toss up of faith and wisdom.
“Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” -Proverbs 4:7
“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.” -Proverbs 3:13-14
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given you.” -James 1:5
“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!” -Proverbs 16:16
“The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.” -Proverbs 10:8
“The words of the LORD are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace of earth, refined seven times.” -Psalm 12:6
“Some of those who have insight will fall in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time” -Daniel 11:35
“Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.” -Daniel 12:10
Moving on to the white clothes. The consensus overall is that to this is referring to clothes of righteousness and there are quite a few scriptures to support this idea:
“I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; My justice was like a robe and a turban.” -Job 29:16
“It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” -Revelation 19:8
“I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For he has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with jewels.” -Isaiah 61:10
“But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.” -Revelation 3:4
The salve to cure the blindness seems to allude to helping them/us have spiritual insight or understanding so they/we can see that we are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked!
“Then the eyes of the blind will be opened And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.” -Isaiah 35:5
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” -Luke 4:18
So here is what we have:
faith/testing in affliction-wisdom-righteousness-spiritual insight/eyes to see
Does this remind you of anyone in particular? Say, a particular person in the bible? The story of Job, perhaps? This outline for the church of Ladeocia is errily similar to the themes found in the story of Job. Fits like a perfect glove, really! Plus, Job includes a hidden “mine” right in the middle of it!!!
Here is a condensed version of the book of Job. (Read in its entirety for the full version) I know this has become quite a study already….but, you don’t want to miss this connection!
Job was a righteous, blameless and upright man from the land of Uz who feared God and shunned evil. He had a large family, lots of livestock and land, was very blessed, respected and well known in the town. Long story short, satan “the accuser” got permission from God to test Job. He said, “Skin for skin! A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones and he will surely curse you to his face.” Job 2:4 God agreed to allow satan “the accuser” to proceed. Job ends up losing everything and anything that could possibly go wrong, does. He is the epitome of having your faith tested in furnace of affliction! Through it all Job remains loyal and righteous. His three friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar accuse him of sinning and bringing this persecution upon himself. Even his wife suggests to him to, “curse God and die!” Job defends himself and God though-out the interrogation. Towards the end of this book, the “wisdom of the world” starts to wear at him. Job then begins to question the goodness and justice of God. He asks why he wasn’t being blessed for keeping the commands and why God would make him an enemy. It is here, where a person named Elihu comes and gets, “very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God.” He is also very angry at this three friends. Elihu tells Job that he should repent along with a lot of other things he thinks of Job. Then the Lord speaks!!!!!! LOOK OUT!!!! He goes on for about three chapters about all the things he has created how vastly intricate, mind blowing, all-powerful, omniscient and omniscience (you realize while reading) he truly is! Job realizes God’s wisdom is way beyond his understanding and repents in true humility! God expresses his deep love for Job and blesses the remainder of his life! There is really so much more to this story! If you’ve never read it, go check it out!
Now, lets talk about the “spiritual insight/eyes to see” part of Job. This “mine” I was talking about…In chapter 28, in the middle of nowhere is this bizzare chapter that seems to stick out like a sore thumb! In fact, after some research on the book of Job, some sources state, they are not real sure who the author of this book is and scholars are not real sure why this chapter is included or why it was put there in the first place! From what I’ve read, Job is supposedly speaking this to his friends about the folly of searching for worldly riches and how true wisdom comes from the Lord! The book of Job has this theme of worldly wisdom(his friends and wife), wisdom that only God knows and only meant for him to know, and a type of wisdom from God that some “treasures” are relayed from God to man. This chapter will blow your mind away! It most certainly has a double meaning to it and it fits like a key to the message spoken to the church of Ladeocia/us!!!!
“There is a mine for silver and a place where gold is refined. Iron is taken from the earth, and copper is smelt from ore. Man puts an end to the darkness; he searches the farthest recesses for ore in the blackest darkness; Far from where people dwell he cuts a shaft, in places forgotten by the foot of man; far from men he dangles and sways. The earth from which food comes, is transformed below as by fire; sapphires come from its rocks, and its dust contains nuggets of gold.
No bird of prey knows that hidden path, no falcon’s eye has seen it. Proud beasts do not set foot on it, and no lion prowls there.
Man’s hand assaults the flinty rock and lays bare the roots of the mountains. He tunnels through the rock; his eyes see all its treasures. He searches the sources of the rivers and brings hidden things to light. But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell?
Man does not comprehend its worth; it cannot be found in the land of the living. The deep says, ‘It is not in me;’ the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’ It cannot be bought with the finest gold, nor can its price be weighed in silver. It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir, with precious onyx or sapphires. Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it, nor can it be had for jewels of gold. Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention; the price of wisdom is beyond rubies. The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it; it cannot be bought with pure gold. Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell? It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing concealed even from the birds of the air.
Destruction and Death say,’Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.’
God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells, for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. When he established the force of wind and measured out the waters, when he made a decree for the rain and a path for the thunderstorm, then he looked at wisdom and appraised it; he confirmed it and tested it. And he said to man, ‘The fear of the Lord-that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.” -Job 28
Wow! Is that crazy or what?! In the story of Job, Elihu rebukes him and commanded him to repent and he does. In the message to the church of Ladeocia, it says that, “Those I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” Revelations 3:19
In the introduction to the church of Ladeocia, Jesus testifies and gives “witness to the ruler of God’s creation” (vs 14). The story of Job, gives witness to “the ruler of God’s creation” and his sovereignty. Which now makes more sense in the context and not just some random greeting to this particular church.
Job overcame satan “the accuser” and his attempt to get him to curse God, like he had predicted. Job remained true to His name and did not deny his Lord!
This verse also comes to life: “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 him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20). Jesus is banging on the outside of the door to the church of Ladeocia. Calling for them/us to repent of our lukewarmness and open the door so he can come in and eat with us and he can feed us! The place where gold is refined is down in the earth (the secret place)! The mine is in darkness and man puts and end to the darkness (the miner caries the light with him-Holy Spirit). His spiritual eyes sees the treasures and brings the hidden things to light. The “earth” is the WORD OF GOD from “which the food comes” is transformed below as by fire (fire of the Holy Spirit). Treasures are hidden within it. It cannot be bought “with the finest gold,” it cannot “be found in the land of the living.” It cannot be bought, “with the gold of Ophir, with precious onyx or sapphires…..” God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells.” It comes from him. He knows where it is hidden.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” -John 15:4-5
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” -Revelation 3:22
Will you pray with me?
All I can think about doing right now is laying flat face down on the ground in reverence and awe of you!!!!! I cannot begin to comprehend the magnitude and the splendor of all that you are, have been, and have yet to be! You truly are the Lord of the Most High God!!! I am blown away by your wisdom and completely humbled that you would want to use us, your bride, to bear witness to the sheer greatness and wonder that you are! Sometimes I forget to look at the wonder of your creation around me and let the vastness of your wisdom and knowledge and understanding sink in. Father, forgive me for when I am lukewarm, and help me to be so hot that others can’t help but notice and that through your bride, we can be a raging fire and the whole world might come to know you!!!! I love you and I worship all that you are! Amen!