Is there a relationship between the church condition in Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) and the heavenly place of worship in described in chapter 4 of Revelation? Or, are these two topics so different that they needed to be later separated into separate chapters because of a lack of continuity between the two? I believe there is a critical relationship between the two chapters that should be of the up most importance to us and should be demanding our attention today!
It is critical to the church today that as a whole we get from the condition described in Laodicea, to the very presence of God and his throne as described in chapter 4! And we need to do it the way the Apostle John did it, and not the way we think to do it.
The letter to the Laodiceans was addressed to the church – to us. Not “them” but “us”. In particular it was addressed to the ministry!
Have you ever noticed in the Bible that very devout leaders of God’s people, during very low spiritual times, would themselves personally identify with the deplorable condition that was amongst them:
“And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: (Daniel 9:3-5)
“And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God, And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.” (Ezra 9:5-6)
These devout and faithful men certainly were not the problem, but in interceding for the problem, they identified the problem as “us”. Is that not how Moses and especially our own Savior did it? Moses went so far as to say “blot also my name out of the book.” And our Savior went even further!
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” ~2 Corinthians 5:21
Certainly our Savior identified with us and our deplorable sin condition! He not only came down to personally work with us, but he was willing to horribly suffer for what we had done.
Can we identify with the problems of the church today? Not just our local congregation, but with all those who have been blood washed, where ever they are. Is Jesus’ church, (all the saved in the earth), our concern? Do we really identify with all of them? Have not many of “us” been scattered and divided into many different identities and even strange doctrines again, all under the umbrella of the identity “church of God” or “the church”?
Are you offended that I said “us”? I am not trying to belittle true ministers that have stood true and faithful to the cause of Christ. I believe the church still exists and is alive, and has always been. But what happens when there is a split, for whatever reason? Does everyone who gets scattered instantly backslide? Do all the true sheep instantly understand “who is who” when accusations of wrong are coming from many directions to confuse? Are there not those sheep who are weaker in discernment than others, but yet are still sheep? Do we just “write off” or sacrifice those sheep. Are we able to identify still with their need. Are we still like Jesus the good shepherd who was willing to leave the 99 to rescue that one?
Or are we too concerned about “our sheep” to consider God’s plan for his sheep? Are they not all his sheep? And if so, does not he deserve to have them gathered into one, to his honor and praise?
Is there not one church of God, one family name and “…one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Are not ministers given “”For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro…”
When we identify with Laodicea we’ll see we don’t just have some symptoms to clear up amongst the church. The Laodicean age is described as the most deplorable of a condition!
From Revelation the 3rd chapter verses 14 – 22:
“I will spue thee out…” – on the edge of being rejected by Christ
“thou sayest” but “knowest not” – we believe we are fine, but we’re almost out. In fact, we are the only ones amongst the seven churches Jesus wrote to that dares to say anything before the Lord, and we declare “I know where I am at spiritually; I don’t need any help.” (Although physical riches can apply here, I believe the comment “rich and increased with goods” especially applies to spiritual riches since Revelation is a spiritual book.)
So what is it that we don’t know about ourselves? Jesus said:
“Wretched” – the same word the Apostle Paul used when he said “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:22-24) Are we not still witnessing too much wretched carnality around those claiming to be the church today? To often this carnality takes on the form of a “higher level of spirituality” but is nothing more than carnal pride and envy.
“Miserable” – the same word the Apostle Paul used when he said “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19) Is all our hope becoming more and more wrapped up in what benefits we get from serving Christ down here? As difficulties arise are we tending to witness only about the “misery”. We will suffer trials for serving Christ, but what has become the hope of our rejoicing?
“Poor” – “A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.” (Prov 28:3) Has the message to the lost become nothing more than judgment without a corresponding show of compassion and mercy? Does our heart earnestly yearn and reach out to the lost? Or has our “defense the gospel” become nothing more than oppression for the lost with no love and long-suffering for their needs of nurturing and compassion? Have we lost the wisdom of: “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Have we seen the poor in the church oppressing other poor in the church, in order to protect our particular church identity we have carved out? Is the reason we have so much to protect down here because we have so little invested “over there”?
“blind, deaf and naked” – did Jesus use these kinds of words to describe any of the other Churches in the Revelation letter? Listen, Jesus and the Apostles, and Isaiah used these words to describe some of the worst of religious conditions! (See: 1 John 2:8-11, 2 Peter 1:4-9, Isaiah 56:10-11, Romans 11:7-10, Matthew 23:16-19, Matthew 15:19, Isaiah 42:18-23, Revelation 16:13-15)
Jesus actually had at least one good thing to say about each of the previous churches. But the only thing good he says about Laodicea is that he still loves them. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Revelation 3:19)
I don’t get it. Many of us believe we are in the final church age of Laodicea. We believe we know so much and understand so well, yet when we read about Laodicea, we’ve actually only got one good thing going for us, and that’s the extraordinary intervention of Jesus’ mercy!
Personally, I don’t feel so “warm and fuzzy” about where we are as the church today. Living on the edge of “spued out” is not the way to go on serving God with assurance and confidence. Can we really believe we are the church in the final Laodicean age and not be dreadfully concerned?
So what is the answer? We “us” are all going to have to seriously listen to and follow Jesus’ counsel on how to correct this:
To address our “poor” condition: “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich.” As the ministry, we know that he is speaking about a faith that has been tried in the fire:
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” ~ 1 Peter 1:6-8
I know we all conceptually understand this, but do we really “buy it”? Jesus said we needed to “buy it from him” not just conceptualize it.
What further difficulties are on the horizon for the trying of our faith? Are the difficulties of ministerial responsibility and trials really “precious”? Are we dealing with the contrariness of sinners and religious hypocrites with grace? When our faith is tried by fire, is it being found to be praise and honor and glory?
Jesus further counsels: “…and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear…”
Every place in Revelation where it describes God’s people as one in worship, in the actual presence of our Lord, and victoriously going into battle, they are found clothed in white:
“And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” ~ Revelation 4:4
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” ~ Revelation 7:9-10
“And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.” ~ Revelation 15:6
“And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” ~ Revelation 19:13-14
I believe that being clothed in white includes being cleansed from spots of indifference, pride, and the coldness of light and knowledge without sacrificial love.
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:2
“These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots” ~ Jude 12
We also know that if these kind of spots exist, we become easy targets for religious spirits.
“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” ~ Revelation 16:13-15
Has not the flock in Laodicea been too easily scattered by these unclean spirits?
Jesus finished his counsel by saying: “…and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” ~ Matt 6:19-24
Too often amongst the ministry (and the people) today the desire of the eye has been “double” instead of being “single” focused on the Lord’s purpose and work. Consequently, there has been a lack of the revelation of Jesus Christ going on.
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” ~ Ephesians 1:17-18
Are we able to “buy it”? I am talking about Jesus’ counsel.
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” ~ Revelation 3:19-20
In the gospels Jesus told us that he was the door. But this door he is speaking of now is one we control, not him: and Jesus is on the outside of it, wanting in. What is this door we have closed to Jesus? Could it be the door or our hearts? Has Jesus been dethroned from our hearts by our own self-guided church purposes and interests? Is the Holy Spirit really reigning in the church?
The “sup with him, and he with me” is referring to the communion. The communion was not intended to be just an observance we do, but Jesus said that “this is my body which is broken for you” and “this is my blood which is shed for you”. Jesus is saying he wants us to join him in being broken and shed – as a sacrifice.
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” ~ Revelation 3:21
How did Jesus overcome to be able to sit down with his Father in his throne? Did he not submit to “not my will, but thine be done” and then be sacrificed? …Do we buy that for ourselves?
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
Apparently the Apostle John did have an ear to hear, and did overcome what troubled Laodicea because in the very next scripture he tells us:
“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” ~ Revelation 4:1-2
The door of John’s heart must have been wide open because he saw another door that was already open also: in heaven! Note: the fact that this door of heaven was already open is told us back in Philadelphia where Jesus tells them:
“These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it…” ~ Revelation 3:7-8
No man can shut the door of heaven where the revelation comes from the throne (and we know that in Philadelphia, the sixth seal, the door of heaven was definitely open.) So the only door that could be in the way is the one we control! I believe Jesus is knocking that “it is time to sacrifice” but the problem is that we are not all ready, so we protect ourselves by keeping the door of our heart closed to it. Dear fellow ministers, this is why in another post I ask “How is the Half Hour of Silence Broken?” How can the silence be broken if there is not a common altar of sacrifice where everyone is sacrificing together?
The Apostle John was definitely together with the rest of the saints in sacrificial worship because it tells us: “And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” John was not a spirit, he was a human being just like you and me. But he was in the Spirit of sacrificial worship. That is why he was chosen to receive the Revelation in the first place:
“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet…” ~ Revelation 1:9-10
John was banished to Patmos and was suffering tribulation, and yet still worshiping in the Spirit. I think this is apparently what it takes. It certainly worked for John. And when it worked for John he found himself not alone, but with a great host of heaven together worshiping God.
From Laodicea to the throne in heaven in chapter 4 – I believe there is a critical dependency: carefully following the counsel of Jesus Christ to the Laodiceans.
By the way, in case you didn’t notice, the letter to the overcomers in Laodicea does not stop at chapter 3 verse 22. It continues through the end of chapter 22.
Dear Ministers of the Lord: do you “buy it”? Or do you believe there is something I am missing in my understanding?