3:18 BUY FROM ME GOLD
Spiritual vigilance is particularly important during the Laodicean period, which is the time when “the Sanctuary [God's people] shall be cleansed” and the heavenly Day of Atonement will take place (see chapter 4). On this day God’s people are commanded to “afflict your souls,”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> prayerfully examining their lives. What specifically should the Laodiceans pray for? Jesus Himself gave the prescription: “I counsel you to buy from Me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness may not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” (Revelation 3:18).
The spiritual poverty of the Laodiceans is summed up by the words “wretched, miserable, and poor.” Although physical poverty generally receives God’s sympathy and promise of ultimate justice or blessing (“blessed are the poor”),<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> the Laodicean poverty is spiritual, caused by willful neglect of the richest spiritual blessings that have ever been available for God’s people. A glut of Bibles, spiritual literature, music, media, resources, preaching, facilities and opportunities leave no excuse for the general ignorance of God’s word and His will that is prevalent among professed Christians today.
True riches are abundantly available—“I counsel you to buy of me.” The fact that Laodicea must buy indicates that she will have to give up something. Obviously it is the pride, self-sufficiency and love of ease and comfort that will have to be given up in exchange for that which has real value, symbolized by gold, white garments and eye salve.
“Buy from Me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich”. Gold is "tried" or purified in the furnace and is a symbol of the faith that results from a deep experience with God, particularly from passing through difficult trials with the Lord—“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” (1 Peter 1:7). “When He has tested me I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
The comfortable Laodiceans are loathe to submit themselves to the Lord and His refining work, but unless they do so they will not develop the faith they will need in order to endure the trials of the last days. “Who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire…He will purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness” (Malachi 3:2,3).
Faith is not just believing. Hebrews 11 teaches that true faith involves a response,<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> or as James expressed it, “faith without works is dead” (James 2: 17-26). An example of the development of faith is found in the story of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These young men were taken captive by the Babylonians and enrolled in the royal training school to become advisers to the king. Their first act of faith was to follow the simple dietary instructions they had received as children. Although there was considerable risk, they “purposed in [their] hearts that [they] would not defile [themselves] with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:8). This exercise of faith had both physical and intellectual benefits. “At the end of ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.” Moreover, they were “ten times better…in all matters of wisdom and understanding” (Daniel 1:15, 20).
Their increased faith and confidence was tested by the king’s demand for his advisers to interpret a dream that he could not even remember, with the threat of death if they could not. Daniel dared to tell the king that he would interpret the dream, and then he and his companions prayed earnestly and God revealed the dream to Daniel, resulting in the saving not only of their own lives but of all the other royal advisers as well.
The ultimate test came when the king made a giant image and demanded that all his citizens bow down and worship it or be thrown into a fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused, and their answer revealed the faith that had resulted from their previous experiences with God: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:17,18). The king in a rage had them bound and thrown into the furnace, but “the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed, nor were their garments affected.” Only the ropes which bound them were burned off, and “the Son of God,” Jesus himself, walked with them “in the midst of the fire.” As a result the king recognized and confessed the superior power of God, sending a decree to the whole nation of Babylon to worship the true God. (Daniel 3:1-30).
In this story we see that the steps of faith are simple obedience, which leads to powerful experiences with God. These empower even more radical obedience, which results in more profound experiences which not only build up faith but provide extraordinary witnessing opportunities. A characteristic of Laodicea is that today many Christians are afraid to take the first steps, bound by fears, sinful habits, the knowledge of their own weakness and a desire to stay in their comfort zone. But when, acting by faith, we “buy gold refined in the fire” by responding to God’s initiatives, the bonds which have limited us are burned off and our walk with Jesus takes on a freedom that is obvious to those around us, even if we do end up “in the furnace”.
Continue to next section: WHITE GARMENTS
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>Leviticus 23:26-32
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>Luke 6:20. See also Isaiah 58:6-8, Jeremiah 22:16, Ezekiel 16:49, Daniel 4:27, Amos 4:11, 8:4-7, Luke 4:18, 14:2-14, 18:22, Galatians 2:10, James 2:5,6.
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>“by faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain…By faith Noah prepared an ark…By faith Abraham went out, not knowing where he was going…by faith Abraham offered up Isaac…by faith Moses was hidden... refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter... forsook Egypt... kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, by faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days… etc. (see Hebrews 11).