Friday, February 19th, 2021 —
The Church That Listened!
It was a wealthy city on an important trade route crossroads. There are conflicting arguments about the quality of its water supply being the simile Jesus referred to in the characterizing of their “lukewarm” ness. Several other cities mentioned had the same aqueduct system supply. An earthquake destroyed the city some thirty years prior to John’s message and the citizens declined Rome’s offer to pay for the rebuilding, saying they were wealthy enough to rebuild on their own (“I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” Rev. 3:17).
The city was a banking center, including gold exchange (“buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich,” Rev 3:18). A textile center for weaving from black wool that was highly prized across the empire (“white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed” v. 18). And it was home of a world renown medical school that produced the eye salve from Phrygian stone (“anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” Rev. 3:18). It appears the church had become apathetic and allowed "the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things [to] come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful," (Mark 4:19).
Perhaps that self-sufficiency and a kind of local pride had crept into the church leaving it inadvertently independent of its first encounter with the gospel and the utter need for complete reliance on Christ for all things worthy in this life. An unusual aspect of the history is how wine, used for drinking much more frequently than water for sanitation purposes, was properly presented to guests (“Behold I stand at the door and knock If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” v.20). Hot or cold wine displayed proper honor. Lukewarm wine showed a lack of respect, or love, or even welcome. It would have been an insult to serve lukewarm wine, a show of indifference. Anyone of “sophistication” or common sense or taste would have immediately spit it right out, and that would have been a scandal (“I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” v.15-16)
The King of glory, the AMEN, has come to their house. He should be always recognized and properly received as the permanent Guest of honor. Laodicea is the church that ends up with the most glowing testimony historically. It is the only church that survives Domitian’s persecution, presumably for facing that trial and coming through as refined gold. A century later its Bishop Sagaris was martyred possibly for refusing to budge on the doctrine and tradition handed down by John when the churches in other places had adopted a rule more Roman than consistent with foundations from Judaism regarding the observance of Passover and Easter observances. And it is the location in another century of one of the first important church Councils. Thus we wrap up our brief review of the overcomer’s lexicon from the seven letters in John’s Revelation. And it ends on a high note. A real AMEN!
Revelation 3:21-22, “If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
Our prayers this week are for the many places under deadly winter storms. Pray for Texas and the central U.S. Millions of people are without power and basic necessities of heat and food in severe conditions. Pray for rapid recovery of power.
Philippians 4:19, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Today, Friday, February 19, the U.S. Supreme Court opens it docket for hearing cases regarding irregularities and other problems with the election process and fundamentals of our Republic. Pray that the Justices will be guided by divine wisdom our foundations be preserved and revitalized much in the way we have reviewed the threat and testimony of the church of Laodicea.
James 3:17, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”