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TO THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH IN LAODICEA

From The Heart

Publish date: 08/16/2004

"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 him, and he with me. 21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."  Revelation 3:14-22 NIV

As Laodice was a common name among the ladies of the royal house of the Selencidae, the name was given to several cities in Syria and Asia Minor. The city addressed by Jesus in Revelation chapter 4 was about forty miles east of Ephesus and forty miles southeast of Philadelphia and was known as Laodicea on the Lycus. It was situated on a group of hills between two tributaries of the Lycus - the Asopus and the Caprus - on the border of Phrygia, near Colossae and Hierapolis. Before it was called Laodicea, it was first called Diospolis (City of Zeus) and then Rheas. It was named Laodicea by Antiochus Theos (261 BC - 246 BC). Laodicea was called “the City of Compromise” by Ramsay. Laodicea was the last of the seven churches addressed with a special message and its name means “justice of the people.” Many of its inhabitants were Jews.

Toward the end of the Roman Republic, and under the first emperors, Laodicea became one of the most important and flourishing cities of Asia Minor, sitting on the great trade route from Ephesus to the east. It was the seat of large manufacturing and banking operations - large money transactions took place here. Woolen carpets and clothing were produced here and there was also an extensive trade in wood. The citizens developed a taste for Greek art, and were distinguished in science and literature. Laodicea was also a center of the worship of Asklepios and the seat of a great medical school.

During the Roman period it was the chief city of the Roman political district (conventus), in which courts were held by the proconsul of the province, and where the taxes from the subordinate towns were collected. The conventus represented by Laodicea consisted of at least twenty-five towns and inscriptions refer to the city as “the metropolis.” Later the Greek word dioikeesis, meaning the same thing as the Latin conventus, was applied to an ecclesiastical district, which is where we get the word “diocese.” Laodicea was subject to frequent earthquakes, and therefore it was eventually abandoned. It is now a deserted place, but, by their magnitude, its ruins indicate its former importance. Among these ruins are a racecourse and three theaters, one of which is four hundred and fifty feet in diameter.

The church there had a close relationship to the neighboring churches in Hierapolis and Colossae and an important church council was held there in the fourth century. Jesus bestows no praise on this church, but only reproves it for its lukewarmness. In verse 19, Jesus says that he rebukes and disciplines those that He loves. He must have loved the Church in Laodicea. According to Jesus, being lukewarm is unacceptable.  He told them that he was about to vomit them out of his mouth!  He would have preferred for them rather to be cold or hot. Cold - because then they would have known that they needed to repent - or hot - because then they would be on fire for God. The only thing you really want to be is on fire for God, because when you are lukewarm you only think that you are on fire. 

The church in Laodicea was just the opposite of the church in Smyrna, which was poor in wealth, but rich in grace. This church was in a rich city and was rich in pride and conceit, but poor in grace, and ignorant of its own spiritual poverty. Just because you are rich does not mean you don't need God in your life.  Physical prosperity is no indication of spiritual prosperity - they are separate issues - the most important is spiritual prosperity. Because the Laodiceans were wealthy and prosperous, they were also complacent.  They thought they did not need help from anyone, even God, but they did not realize that they were actually wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked! They were dressed in the finest clothing, and yet, they were spiritually naked.  They could also be called “unhappy, unfortunate, or pathetic.”

We must be zealous to repent of our arrogance and we must humble our hearts to receive all that Jesus has for us. After all, everything we own is His and comes from Him.  The only true wealth is spiritual wealth - the only true riches are spiritual riches. Will you hear Jesus when He knocks at your door?  Will you open the door of your heart, and allow Him into your life, to touch you, to change you, to burn the junk out of you, and to make you whole and complete? Don't wait any longer - today is your day to get rid of your lukewarmness and mediocrity - today is your day to fall in love with Jesus and to burn with fire for Him!

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