"Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
Picture of Laodicea ruins from Wikipedia
Revelation 2 & 3 - Quick Links
Rebuke 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-
Counsel 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.
Revelation 3:14 - "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write..."
The name Laodicea: is derived from the Greek roots "laos," which means "the people," and "dike," which means "justice," or "judicial verdict"; together means "rule by the people."
Historical background of Laodicea:
Laodicea is situated on the long spur of a hill between the narrow valleys of the small rivers Asopus and Caprus, which discharge their waters into the Lycus. The town was originally called Diospolis, "City of Zeus," and afterwards Rhodas, and Laodicea, the building of which is ascribed to Antiochus II Theos, in 261-253 BC, in honor of his wife Laodice, was probably founded on the site of the older town.
At first Laodicea was not a place of much importance, but it soon acquired a high degree of prosperity. In 220 BC, Achaeus was its king. In 188 BC, the city had passed to the Kingdom of Pergamon, and after 133 BC fell under Roman control. It suffered greatly during the Mithridatic Wars, but quickly recovered under the dominion of Rome; and towards the end of the Roman Republic and under the first emperors, Laodicea, benefiting from its advantageous position on a trade route, became one of the most important and flourishing commercial cities of Asia Minor, in which large money transactions and an extensive trade in black wool were carried on.
The place often suffered from earthquakes, especially from the great shock in the reign of Nero (60 AD), in which it was completely destroyed. But the inhabitants declined imperial assistance to rebuild the city and restored it from their own means. The wealth of its inhabitants created among them a taste for the arts of the Greeks, as is manifest from its ruins; and that it did not remain behind in science and literature is attested by the names of the sceptics [sic] Antiochus and Theiodas, the successors of Aenesidemus and by the existence of a great medical school. Its wealthy citizens embellished Laodicea with beautiful monuments.... The city minted its own coins, the inscriptions of which show evidence of the worship of Zeus, Esculapius, Apollo, and the emperors. It received from Rome the title of free city.
It was probably owing to its large Jewish community, that at a very early period it became one of the chief seats of Christianity.... Laodicea receives passing mention in the epistle to the Colossians.... The Laodicean church had probably been founded by the Colossian Epaphras, who shared the care of it with Nymphas, in whose house the faithful used to assemble. Paul asks the Colossians to communicate to the church of Laodicea the letter which he sends to them, and to read publicly that which should come to them from Laodicea, that is, no doubt, a letter which he had written, or was to write, to the Laodiceans.
Revelation 3:14 - These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God...
The Lord immediately confronts the proclaimed self-sufficient church of Laodicea, appropriately named "rule by the people," with an address that establishes that He is the one in charge.
Recall from Revelation 1:7, "amen" means "so be it" (Numbers 5:22). Calling Himself "the Amen" indicates that the Lord and His Word are certain. We discussed at length in Revelation 1:5, that Jesus is not only a "Faithful and True Witness," but it is impossible for God to lie; His Word is true. Jesus is the "Beginning and the End" (Revelation 1:8); being God, He was present at the beginning of creation:
John 1:1-3 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
Revelation 3:15 - "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot."
The Greek word "psychros" translated as "cold" can also mean cold-hearted. A similar word "psycho," which means to "grow cold" shows the source of becoming cold-hearted:
Matthew 24:12 - And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
The Greek word "zestos" translated as "hot" can also mean to have zeal. The following passage that uses the same root "zeo," which means "I burn," illustrates a zealous or fervent believer:
Romans 12:10-16 - Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Jesus desires that people are not indifferent about following Him. Indifference, being neither hot nor cold, is hypocrisy:
Matthew 15:7-9 - Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'
The Lord would prefer for people to openly be cold toward Him, and not profane His name in their hypocrisy:
Ezekiel 20:39 - "As for you, O house of Israel," thus says the Lord GOD: "Go, serve every one of you his idols - and hereafter - if you will not obey Me; but profane My holy name no more with your gifts and your idols."
Revelation 3:16 - So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
Jesus describes the hypocrisy of the church of Laodicea as being "lukewarm." A study of the Gospels shows the Lord's abhorrence toward hypocrisy. As we will see, Laodicea followed after the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. The Pharisees outwardly followed tradition and ritual, thinking they were righteous through their religious acts, while their hearts proved otherwise:
Matthew 23:25-28 - "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."
With similar imagery, God warned Israel they would be "vomited" out of the land, if they did not follow the Lord:
Leviticus 18:25-28 - For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you.
The Israelites did not follow the Lord with their hearts, as they had promised. Therefore, God forced them out of the land into exile, just as He warned would happen:
Jeremiah 42:20-22 - For you were hypocrites in your hearts when you sent me to the LORD your God, saying, 'Pray for us to the LORD our God, and according to all that the LORD your God says, so declare to us and we will do it.' And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, or anything which He has sent you by me. Now therefore, know certainly that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place where you desire to go to dwell.
On an interesting play on words in His rebuke, the Lord made an intriguing connection to the water source into Laodicea. The city channeled water in through an aqueduct from nearby hot springs. By the time the water arrived to the city, the temperature had cooled to a lukewarm temperature.
Revelation 3:17 - "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..."
Laodicea was a city that was wealthy. After an earthquake destroyed the city around 60AD, the people in Laodicea rebuilt the city without help from Rome. The church of Laodicea had a sense of self-sufficiency and pride because of their wealth and independence, being a "free imperial city" from Rome.
The church in Laodicea may have been physically rich and in need of nothing material wise, but spiritually the Lord called them "wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked." Material wealth has a tendency to cause many to deny the Lord and rely on themselves:
Proverbs 30:7-9 - Two things I request of you (deprive me not before I die): Remove falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches - feed me with the food allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, "Who is the LORD?" Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.
When Israel became prosperous and wealthy, they forgot who gave them their riches. As a result, they developed the same attitude of Laodicea, being self-sufficient and forgetting who gave them their provisions:
Deuteronomy 8:10-17 - When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. "Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest-when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end - then you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.'
Revelation 3:18 - I counsel you to buy from Me...
In the next few sections, we will cover the "remedies" prescribed for the spiritual "ailments" of the church of Laodicea. The Lord counsels the church to "buy" these spiritual remedies. Many have mistaken this passage as describing a work's based salvation. This is not the case. A works based salvation goes against other Scripture that clearly states that salvation is a "free gift of God, not of works" (Ephesians 2:8-9). The passage in Isaiah below clarifies that spiritual riches are "bought" by accepting the invitation to come into a covenant relationship with the Lord:
Isaiah 55:1-3 - "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you - the sure mercies of David."
In the next few verses we will see that some of the members of Laodicea are clearly not saved; as a result, they lack spiritual riches. However, later we will see that there were some saved folks in the congregation. This is important to note, because it is possible for people to get saved, but lack spiritual riches, if they live carnal, instead of Spirit-led lives, not maturing in their faith:
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 - And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal....
With regard to personal salvation in these letters to the churches, it is important to reiterate that the Lord is dealing with these church congregations corporately, which means that He is speaking to both true believers and nominal Christians at the same time. As shown throughout the letters, there is counsel from the Lord for both types of congregants.
Recall from Revelation 1:13, that gold can represent holiness and purity, as it retains all of its qualities when refined in fire. The process of refining is also known as "testing" (Job 23:10). Recall from Revelation 2:9, the Lord considered the church of Smyrna spiritually rich because of the tribulations they endured. To "buy" gold refined in fire, may mean that believers in the church of Laodicea would have to go through testing, like Smyrna (Revelation 2:10), to produce spiritual riches:
1 Peter 1:6-7 - In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Note that "testing" in the Bible relates to the faith of believers (Hebrews 11:17, James 1:3, 1 Peter 1:7, Revelation 2:10). In other words, this "remedy" is for spiritually immature believers, not unbelievers.
Revelation 3:18 - ...and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed...
Shame of nakedness is the result of sin:
Genesis 2:25 - And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Genesis 3:7-11 - Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?"
God killed an animal to cover Adam and Eve's nakedness, which symbolized the atonement, or covering for their sin:
Genesis 3:21 - Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
In Revelation 3:5, we saw that atonement is possible only by the blood of Christ. Trying to cover our nakedness on our own, as Adam and Eve tried to do, will leave us still ashamed in God's presence. Only by accepting and believing that Jesus paid the price to cover our sin, will we escape the shame of our nakedness before the Lord:
Romans 10:11 - For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."
Laodicea was known for their trade of rich black wool, which they used to make garments. In stark contrast, the Lord admonishes the church to "buy" white garments. Recall from Revelation 1:14, that white represents cleansing from sin:
Isaiah 1:18 - "Come now, and let us reason together," says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Psalms 51:5-7 - Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
The Lord only promises that the overcomers, the true believers (1 John 5:4-5), will wear white garments (Revelation 3:5). Therefore, members of Laodicea that still needed to "buy" their white garments were not true believers.
On an interesting side note, someday the Lord will "clothe" believers with a heavenly body that will somehow permanently cover our nakedness:
2 Corinthians 5:1-3 - For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.
Laodicea was also known for an eye ointment, used to treat astigmatism, made with a local rock ground to a powder. The Lord continues his play on words, to show the spiritual blindness that was prevalent in the church of Laodicea. Clearly, unbelievers are spiritually blind:
Ephesians 4:17-19 - This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
However, even believers can struggle with spiritual blindness:
2 Peter 1:9 - For he who lacks these things [that pertain to life and godliness] is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
The anointing of the eyes to see brings to mind the story about a man blind from birth that Jesus healed:
John 9:6-7 - When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.
The Pharisees remained spiritually blind to the fact that Jesus was the Messiah. On the other hand, the blind man, whose eyes Jesus anointed, not only gained his physical sight, but he also received salvation and spiritual vision:
John 9:35-41 - Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" He answered and said, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" And Jesus said to him, "You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you." Then he said, "Lord, I believe!" And he worshiped Him. And Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind." Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, "Are we blind also?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains."
The Lord chastens "every son whom He receives"; these are believers:
Hebrews 12:5-8 - And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons."
The Lord does not chasten unbelievers. They will however, suffer the natural consequences of their sin in this age. But ultimately, those who reject Christ He will condemned with the world at the last judgment:
1 Corinthians 11:32 - But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
The Lord admonishes the believers from Laodicea to repent, which means to turn back from, or change one's mind or attitude. Instead of being lukewarm toward the Lord, He wants believers to instead be zealous, or burn with zeal in their relationship with Him:
Deuteronomy 6:5 - You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Revelation 3:20 - 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.
Some believe this passage shows that the Lord is seeking restoration of the relationship between Him and the believers in Laodicea, who had become lukewarm toward Him. Based on the lack of parallel passages to back up that notion, I believe that the salvation invitation for unbelievers is a more suitable interpretation. Consider the following passage that connects hearing the Lord's voice with belief and an open heart:
Hebrews 3:12-19 - Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
Sheep that hear the voice of the Shepherd, open the "door" of their heart, and enter the fold through the "door" of salvation, which is the Lord:
John 10:7-9 - Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture...."
John 10:26-28 - But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
Jesus dined with those who heard His voice to follow Him; even sinners. Note the goal to save the lost:
Matthew 9:9-13 - As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
Those who have opened the door of their heart to the Lord, and let Him come in, will dine with Him in the Millennium:
Revelation 19:9 - Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'" And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God."
Revelation 3:21 - 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.
Click here for the full discussion on the overcomer.
Jesus overcame the world:
John 16:33 - "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
Because Jesus overcame the world, we can also overcome the world:
1 John 5:5 - Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
A throne is a seat of power (Colossians 1:16). The Lord will sit on His throne, exercising His power and glory given by the Father, when He returns after the Tribulation to set up His Kingdom:
Matthew 25:31 - "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory."
The Lord will share His authority with overcomers. Recall from the letter to the church of Thyatira, that the Lord has promised "power over the nations" to those who overcome (Revelation 2:26). The following passages also show that believers will rule with authority from the throne of God:
Luke 22:29-30 - "And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Job 36:7 - He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous; but they are on the throne with kings, for He has seated them forever, and they are exalted.
Daniel 7:9-10 - I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.
Revelation 3:22 - "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
Spirit-led believers can understand the "mysteries of the kingdom of God" (Luke 8:8-10), some of which the Lord includes as promises to the "overcomers" in the letters to the churches in Revelation.
Click here for the full discussion on the "call to hear."
The authoritative introduction of the Lord in this letter, suggests that the church of Laodicea lived up to their name meaning "rule by the people," instead of seeking the Lord's authority and counsel. The church of Laodicea was self-sufficient and rich by the world's standard, yet they were spiritually bankrupt (Revelation 3:17). Material wealth can often lead to self-sufficiency and indifference, being "lukewarm" (Revelation 3:16) toward God. The apostle Paul encouraged the Colossians and believers in Laodicea to instead attain spiritual riches and treasures that would turn their hearts toward the Lord:
Colossians 2:1-3 - For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Later, in the same passage, Paul also warned of deception, through philosophy and empty deceit:
Colossians 2:8 - Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
Deception can lead to spiritual blindness. For believers, this can hamper their spiritual walk. In a church congregation, spiritual blindness (Revelation 3:18) can lead to a body consisting of mostly nominal "Christians" who would rather follow tradition and ritual, than have a heart that follows after God:
Matthew 15:7-9 - "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"
The Lord gently knocks on the door of people's hearts, patiently waiting for them to invite Him in (Revelation 3:20). Those who invite Him in will not only receive spiritual riches, they will rule with the Lord from His throne in the Kingdom (Revelation 3:21).
The Lukewarm Church - 1900s to the rapture
The Laodicea Church Age began when church leaders began to buy into secular humanism, questioning the basic tenants of the faith and the clear teaching of the Word. Paul warned of this very thing:
Colossians 2:8 - Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 - For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
The Laodicea Church Age is the last, and thus would be most represented during the period leading up to the rapture of the Church. This Church Age is spiritually bankrupt and indifferent toward the Lord; going through the motions, but not having a heart for the Lord (Revelation 3:17). They revel in their democratically run congregations, with high numbers and rich pocketbooks, instead of seeking out the Lord for leadership and provisions.
Indeed, lukewarm (Revelation 3:16) congregants fill the churches today, many of whom go to church to partake in tradition and ritual, believing that it will somehow fill the spiritual void they have from not seeking after the Lord with their hearts. Many congregants today also follow after a "prosperity gospel," which promises material wealth for faithful giving, not being content with that which the Lord provides.
In what many believe are the "last days" of this age, it seems that God is judging the love for material wealth. Many believe that the recent economic woes of the world show that the end of the age is nearly upon us:
James 5:1-3 - Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.
Perhaps in the midst of economic woes, the Lord is chastening believers, and trying to wake up unbelievers, who thought they were self-sufficient, that He might bring them to repentance. The Lord desires that all become zealous for Him (Revelation 3:19), being spiritually rich (Revelation 3:18).
Believers in the Laodicea Church Age, who don't repent, will lose out on rewards at the "Judgment Seat of Christ." Unbelievers will be "vomited" (Revelation 3:16) into the Tribulation; including nominal "Christians" who believed they were part of the body of Christ, but never trusted in Him as Savior. Those who later become believers in the Tribulation will likely wait fervently for the Lord's return, when He returns to Earth from His wedding to the Church in Heaven. He will dine with them, as He will with all overcomers, or believers, from all dispensations (Revelation 3:20):
Luke 12:31-37 - But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. "Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.
Summary of the Letters to the Churches
Click on phrase to link to relevant commentary.
Revelation Flow Chart:
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