Part 133 - Revelation 3:21
The ‘gem’ is in the promise that ends the letter following the words ‘to the one who is victorious’. Here is the rest of the letter :
4 “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 that person, and they with me.
21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne,just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
The last of the seven cities is probably the best known one. Laodicea was the most important and wealthiest of three cities relatively close together in the Lycus valley. Unfortunately, it did not have a good water supply of its own so it had to get water from the other two; from Hierapolis where the water came from hot springs and was heavily mineralised. By the time it reached Laodicea it was lukewarm and not really drinkable. Alternatively, the water from Colosse was cold mountain water but it had to come so far in the heat of the day that it was no longer cool but well warmed up. Hence the picture of the situation of the city as applied to the church - ‘neither cold nor hot’ and fit to spit out. The riches of the city were founded on banking, a medical school focused on ophthalmology (eye treatments), and a particular type of black sheep’s wool. All these facts are used in the description of the church as being ‘poor, blind and naked’.
It all adds up to the most remarkable description of any of the churches in terms of their surrounding situation. There is no mention of any sort of persecution or antagonism from neighbours, so we must conclude that their problem was apathy. There was simply nothing in their situation that excited any sort of positive reaction.
That is a situation all too familiar in much of the Western world. Because our culture says that everyone’s ideas are as good as those of the next person we encounter no real resistance to our beliefs except the sort of comment of ‘that’s what you think, that is fine for you, but I think differently’ we too can be described as lukewarm in our beliefs, and thinking we are doing fine as a society, a church or an individual when the reality is that we are spiritually ‘poor, blind and naked’.
The solutions offered are interesting. First there is the well-known ‘I stand at the door and knock … open the door ... and I will eat with that person’ statement. This is often used as a call to unbelievers to faith but, in context, it is a call to the lukewarm believer to let Jesus have a greater and complete role in their lives in the figure of having him sit down to a meal with the person.
Then there is the even more startling suggestion that the one who is a truly victorious believer will have a significant part in the final judgement ‘the right to sit with me on my throne’. The mind boggles at the very idea! It suggests that Messiah Jesus is so close to his believing people that he will share his sovereignty, his progress and even his justice with them. Yet it is in line with other statements in scripture: ‘Do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world’ (Paul in 1 Corinthians 6: 2). What a challenge it is to live in a way worthy of such trust and confidence!
You can now purchase our Partakers books including Roger's latest - The Puzzle of Living - A fresh look at the story of Job!
Please do click or tap here to visit our Amazon site!