14 “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. ~ Revelation 3:14-18
We come to the seventh message from the Lord Jesus to the seventh church, the church at Laodicea. The city of Laodicea was located about 100 miles east of Ephesus. It was known throughout the Roman province of Asia for its wealth and its medical practice. As the banking center of Asia, it was the most prosperous of the seven cities.
In v.14 we read, "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."
The Lord Jesus, on the outset of His address to the church at Laodicea, describes Himself first. We must understand who the Lord Jesus is if we are to walk with Hm and represent Him on this earth to others.
In v.14, the Lord Jesus uses the word "Amen" to indicate that He is saying something extremely important to them. The utterance of "Amen" always highlights significant truth. So when we read "Amen," we must always pay close attention because He is underscoring something very important.
In v.14, the Lord Jesus also refers to Himself as "the faithful and true witness." He has emphasized His truthfulness before in these letters, but here he adds the word "faithful." His word and His purposes are dependable and worth investing in to the greatest degree. The problem with the Laodiceans was they were investing more in the comforts and the pleasures of this world than they were in the kingdom of God.
The last phrase in v.14, "the ruler of God’s creation" highlights the fact that the Lord Jesus is most sovereign. In John's Gospel, he opens with: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Two verses later John says, "All things were made by him and without him nothing was made that was made." This means the Lord Jesus created all things. He is the source of all of God's creation. The Laodicean Church had lost sight of the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus, and this is why the Lord Jesus identifies Himself as "the ruler of God’s creation."
In v.15 we read, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!"
In addition, the church at Laodicea had lost sight of the Lord's love for them. When we lose sight of His heart for us, we tend to lack a heart for Him. We love Him because He loved us first, the Apostle John tells us in 1 John. As a result, the Lord Jesus identifies the church at Laodicea as lukewarm. Archaeologists have long discovered that the city of Laodicea had no local water supply, but obtained their water through an aqueduct from the hot springs at Hierapolis, some six miles away. Traveling that distance, the hot water partly cooled down, and when it arrived in Laodicea it would be lukewarm and nauseating.
In v.16 we read, "So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth." The words "spit out" are better translated "vomit." The compromise of the church at Laodicea created this response from the Lord Jesus. Their real God was comfort and they were compromising spiritually for comfort's sake. It is much more comfortable to attend a church where nobody takes doctrinal issues very seriously, where, for comfort's sake, one avoids a discussion about certain issues. This church was compromising its teaching for the sake of peace. They had enough truth to ease their conscience without becoming an uncomfortable church.
As a result, they really weren't involved in real ministry. They had forfeited their ability to truly make a difference in someone's life because they avoided the real issues.
In v.17 we read, "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."
The Lord Jesus is the one who tells the whole truth, even though it may hurt us. This church at Laodicea was focused on money. They thought that God's blessing was measured by the amount of money that they possessed. The problem with money is that it can easily possess us. As a result, the Laodiceans had become self-sufficient. They thought they were doing well. But when the Lord Jesus looked at them, He said, "you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."
In each of these messages to these seven churches, we have pointed out that at any moment one of these seven different types of churches can be located on the earth. It has also been said that these seven churches describes the church as a whole during the various periods in the history of the church. As both history and prophecy would confirm, the Laodicean church is descriptive of the end times church.
Laodicea means "the rights of the people." That is the cry of our times, is it not? Laodicea is where the people tell the ministers what to preach. We are seeing this happen today. The Apostle Paul predicted it in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, where he wrote, "In the last times people will gather unto themselves teachers having itching ears, who will turn many from the truth and turn them unto myths and fables." Unfortunately, and sadly, that is what is happening today.
In v.18 we read, "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."
The Lord Jesus has all that we need to function. The "gold refined in the fire" pictures our faith in God which comes from the Lord Jesus. The church at Laodicea lacked faith in God, because they pursued the comforts of this world. They didn't have many trials in their lives, their wealth insulated them from many troubles, and, as a result, their faith suffered. It suffered because trials serve us in our pursuit of God. It is through trials that we seek God. And, the beauty of trials is that they force us to pursue God.
Their need for "white clothes" was symbolic of their inability to cover their shameful nakedness. Everyone is morally naked before God. Every one of us knows something about ourselves that we would not want anyone else to know. But God knows! All through these seven letters we have seen that white clothes stand for redemption or the imparted righteousness of Christ. We are no longer to be clothed with our own self-righteousness, which is as filthy rags in the sight of God, but we are to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. This is the only righteousness that God accepts.
Then the Lord said they needed eye salve so that they could see. Laodicea was known throughout the world for their eye ointment, but they needed spiritual eye salve that will enable them to see with their hearts. Unless the Spirit of God opens our eyes to the meaning of truth that is taught, it will fall upon deaf ears. But if we have the Spirit of Christ within, our eyes are opened to understand the Word of God and we will see the Bible in a new, fresh and wonderful way. In fact, it will become the lens through which we see Him more and more vividly. The Lord Jesus was offering them an abiding faith, an abiding righteousness, and an abiding intimacy with Him because they were wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. This is the blessed posture that precedes the heart to cry out to Him.