The people of the Church of Laodicea were reprimanded for their lukewarm condition. They were neither cold as the world, nor were they hot as the living in Christ. They had adopted a form of godliness without the power or presence of God. The city of Laodicea was physically located between hot springs and cold springs, thus even the natural experience of ‘spitting something’ from your mouth brought to mind a real experience understood by those who heard the letter. The physical surroundings of the city of Laodicea prophetically exemplified the condition of the atrophy of religious Pharisaism. It was common to find a drink of water in Laodicea that naturally induced one to spewing it out. Exegetically this was like the period of the ‘last days’ of the Old Covenant nation of Israel, which was concluded in A.D. 30 – 70. This was the generation that Jesus said would not pass until the prophetic words of His mouth were fulfilled (Mt. 16:28; 24:34; Mk. 9:1; 13:30; Lk. 9:27; 21:32). This was the generation that had confessed they had no king but Caesar, yet professed to be servants of the Most High God (Jn. 19:15). They were neither fit for God or Caesar. They were an exegetical testimony to all forms of godliness that lack God’s presence and power in the generations of the past and in all generations to come.
Because of their lukewarm condition, Jesus said He would spew them out of His mouth. This is a Hebrew phrase that was part of the curse for breaking covenant with God (Lev. 18:24-28; Lk. 21:24). Israel was told that if they became like the nations of the world, the Promised Land would vomit them out. The people of Laodicea had become conditioned by the world to no longer be seekers of God, but simply lovers of themselves. They thought themselves to be rich and in need of nothing, but God saw them to be “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”. This is the description of the Pharisaic Judaism of the first century (Lk. 18:9-14; Rev.18:7). A fallen condition was disqualifying them from ministry (Lev. 21:18-21; Deut. 29:4; Mt. 13:13-15; Mt. 16:3; 2 Cor. 4:3, 4; 1 Jn. 2:11).
They were counseled by the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord to “buy gold refined in the fire”. This was a signification of their need to become faithful to God (1 Pet. 1:5-7; 1 Cor. 3:12-15). They were instructed to put on “white garments”. They needed to pay the price of putting on wedding attire, or be replaced (Mt. 22:11-14; Gen. 3:21; Rev. 19:8). They were instructed to put salve upon their eyes that they might see. That salve was not a salve of natural sight, but a salve symbolizing the receiving of the healing grace of God in Christ (Lk. 4:18; Acts 26:18; 1 Cor. 2:14, 15). That salve would grant them the ability to see by the Spirit of God and not the veil of the flesh. The Old Covenant veil was still present upon their eyes (2 Cor. 3:14). God wanted to deal with them as their Father. The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord would grant them the grace of honoring their Father in heaven. God had come to treat them as sons. He was ready to rebuke and chasten them that they might come to know the Father of spirits and live (Heb. 12:5-11; Mal. 4:1-6).
The key to the zeal of the Lord was being offered to them. Jesus was standing at the door and knocking. This was the entrance into the New Covenant and dominion with Christ (Eph. 1:20-23; 2:6; Rev. 1:6). The invitation was being given to them to come to the throne of Christ. This is the throne whereby Jesus rules, and will continue to rule, until His kingdom becomes a great mountain and fills the earth (Dan. 2:35, 45). Christ is the King in His kingdom already (Col.1:13). We are already kings and priests in this world because of Him (Rev.1:6). He has defeated the enemy already (Col. 2:15). He reigns now (Acts 2:29-36; Eph.1:20-22; Mt. 28:18-20). He is presently engaged in putting His enemy under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25). All New Covenant Believers have the ability to manifest the glory of God (2 Cor. 3:2-18).
Revelation 3:14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.’ 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 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. 21 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. 22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’
Laodicea was lukewarm. They thought of themselves as being rich, but were found wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked; a description of an impotent, fallen condition. They were told to become full of faith and do works of righteousness or be spewed out of God’s mouth. Those who repented would receive the presence of Jesus in their lives. All who enter the New Covenant are given the ability to manifest the presence of Jesus in their lives as His glory is revealed. They will sit with Him on His throne from glory to glory. The seventh aspect of the curse of the fall is that of returning to dust (Gen. 3:19). Jesus promises a promotion to glory! The corruptible can put on the incorruptible in Christ (1 Cor. 15:52-55). We can know one God “in all” (Eph. 4:6).
The seven letters of Revelation, chapters 2 & 3, were written to real churches of the first century with prophetic implications for the Church of all time. These seven letters revealed the syntactical testimony of God’s dealings with men in the past. These seven accounts also revealed the increasing grace of God released to the earth in the generations to come. The repeated term, “he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” implies an ongoing relationship with the Holy Spirit whereby the content of these seven letters is true for all generations. It must mean we can hear! These letters testified of the overcoming promise of knowing one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, one God above all, one God through all, and one God in all (Eph. 4:5, 6). These letters are a testament to the Revelation of Jesus Christ!
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson