Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Last Church is Lukewarm (Laodicea)

Founded around 255 BC and named after his wife Laodice by the Seleucid King Antiochus II, this city was located about 100 miles directly east of the first church mentioned by Christ, "Ephesus". Situated on one of the great Asian trade routs, Laodicea became prosperous because of its garment industry which used a black wool that had a soft texture like silk and could be found only in the Lycus Valley. However, it was also known for a medical school that grew out if it’s temple worship of the Phrygian god Men Karou, located 13 miles west of Laodicea.
Its most famous medicines were ointments made from spice; "nard" for the ears and an eye salve made from alum called "Phrygian powder". This eye salve was actually a powder made by crushing Phrygian stones and forming it into tablets. Believed to be a cure for weak eyes this medication was sold throughout the Asian and the Mediterranean lands. All of these aspects of its economy led Laodicea to becoming a leading banking center. Due to the frequent earthquakes in the area, their financial success in banking meant they did not need to depend upon any aid from Rome to rebuild. Laodicea was thus a kind of Bank of America, Wal-Mart and Mayo Clinic all rolled into one
In this letter, Christ introduces Himself to the Laodicean church as "the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation" (Rev 3:14). By introducing Himself as a faithful and true witness, Christ presented them with a sharp contrast to their own inactivity in witnessing and serving. Upon reading the letter, they would have been convicted by its description of their faith. Christ likened it to being lukewarm, an obvious reference to their tepid drinking water supplied from a distant thermal springs in Hierapolis (Rev 3:15-16). They also would have found it ironic that He called them "poor and naked and blind" (Rev 3:17). An obvious reference to their banking, clothing, and eye salve industries that enriched them to the point of being able to turn down Rome’s financial help in times of need. They needed no one and obviously they acted in such a way when it came to their walk with Christ.

The Laodiceans wore black garments with pride, but Christ advised the Christians of this city to buy from Him "white garments" of purity and righteousness. Although they were renowned for having an expertise in medical treatments for the eyes, they were unaware of their spiritual blindness. Jesus appeals to them to buy salve from him for better spiritual vision. Christ also tells them to zealously seek out His forgiveness and stop being indifferent. In his commentary on Revelation, Robert Thomas puts it so eloquently that I would like to borrow the following quote:
"Let my strong criticisms of you open your eyes at once to the need of repentance and also to the fact that it is really love on My part that prompts Me to reprove and chastise you. A realization of My loving concern, as well a your own desperate condition, should bring a resolute change of purpose and kindle within you a warm fervor of devotion that will dispense with lukewarmness".
Robert Thomas
The Laodiceans are asked to let Christ in because He stands at the door knocking and only they can open the door for Him to dine with them at His throne in the presence of His Father.
The name Laodicea means "Rule of the people", and like the democratic systems of our present age, the church of Laodicea represents the end times. A time when men rule and governments listen to them, but we are also getting closer yet to the end of the last period of time. In the last 50 years there have been scholars who have predicted that the Western style capitalist democracies would be replaced by socialist democracies. They have pointed out that these socialist governments would become more totalitarian as the people became more dependent upon them. The theory being, that while a capitalist society would raise the level of prosperity for all, the people themselves would in turn demand more from the government while moving farther away from God.
Like the wealthy and independent Laodiceans, who allowed their wealth and prosperity to turn them into lukewarm worshipers of Christ, so to are the citizens of the Western world. Throughout history, the warning from Christ that "it is easier for a camel to go through and eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven" has proved to be so true. It was after all, just a matter of time before our wealth and prosperity would begin to cloud our spiritual walk as it did the Laodiceans. That sense of self reliance and a lukewarm approach towards the one and only true God allows the enemy to sneak in and steel our crown. So as we look at the letter to the lukewarm Laodiceans, it is my prayer that Christians around the world would hear the knock at the door, see the obvious signs of the times we live in, and repent.
I pray that those who have ears to hear, will hear what the Spirit says to the churches, and call upon His name.

1 comment:

  1. You gotta watch this video called "Lukewarm NO MORE!" by Mark Cahill