Welcome to A Revelation of Jesus. In this video we will look at Laodicea, the last of the Seven Churches of Revelation.
In previous videos we have seen that the primary purpose of the seven messages was to prophesy the experience of the Christian church from the time it was written until the time of the end.
In the Philadelphia era that we analyzed in the last video, we saw that during the 18th and 19th centuries the Christian church came back to life after centuries of corruption, compromise, and apostasy. The Philadelphia reforms transformed the Christian countries and took the gospel to the unreached world. But Satan, knowing that the Great Tribulation was coming soon, worked fiendishly to attack the authority of Christ and His church.
“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation” (Revelation 3:14).
With these titles Jesus emphasized His authority:
- He’s “The origin of God’s creation”, the one who created and sustains everything.
- He’s “The faithful and true witness”, Whatever He says is always true.
- And He’s “The Amen”, which means that He has the last word.
But even while the Philadelphia revivals were taking place, Satan was laying the groundwork for his end-time masterpiece—to make God irrelevant by minimizing His authority.
The middle ages were all about the authority of the church, of the popes, of the kings and emperors, and of tradition. The Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation broke the stranglehold of church authority, but in doing so they also opened the way for skepticism about God.
Rene Descarte was one of the first modern philosophers. His famous statement, “I think, therefore I am” embodied the idea that rational thinking is the starting point for all understanding. Later philosophers built on the foundation that human reasoning, rather than divine revelation, are the basis of our understanding of humanity, the world, and even of God.
Scientists such as Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo challenged the Christian church’s understanding of the earth as the center of the cosmos. The church resorted to persecution to impose their views but lost authority when they were ultimately proven wrong.
Isaac Newton used brilliant mathematical explanations to transform the view of nature into a predictable system that did not need God to keep it operating. Charles Darwin developed the theory of evolution, which didn’t need God to direct the details and development of His creation.
Skepticism also invaded theology. A movement ironically known as the “enlightenment” questioned the reliability of God’s word. “Higher Criticism” scrutinized every detail of the scriptures, trying to determine which people and events are actually historical and which verses are authentic.
These philosophical, scientific and theological trends led to religious indifference and self-sufficiency that is unprecedented in human history. Belief in a supernatural spiritual power which is the greatest influence of life has been central to nearly all cultures throughout history.
The Laodicea Church period is characterized by spiritual apathy and materialism:
- “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm…I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:15,16).
- “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
Here we see the condition of the church from the mid-nineteenth century until now. It is a church that is comfortable and at ease—the persecutions and spiritual battles seem to be over.
The fervent revivals of the Philadelphia era have lost their impact, and apathy and indifference have taken over.
Most people in western countries would classify themselves as Christians, but Christ Himself doesn’t seem relevant to the problems and issues of modern life. It doesn’t seem like God can help them get a better job, find relief from health problems, or improve fractured personal relationships.
Being a Christian means going to church and then ignoring God for the rest of the week.
Apostle Paul predicted that this kind of religion would prevail during the era of the Laodicea—“In the last days… men will be lovers of themselves… having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2Timothy 3:5).
The church should be giving a powerful invitation and warning to a world that is fast approaching the tribulations of the last days. But instead, Laodicea is passively lukewarm, enjoying a comfortable religion to go along with a comfortable lifestyle.
The modern church is focused on entertainment, and feeling good, forgetting that the church has a mission to a world held captive by the enemy, a mission that will inevitably involve conflict and suffering.
Jesus Himself predicted this danger. He said, “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Watch therefore, and pray always” (Luke 21:34-36).
Jesus said, “pray always.” What specifically should the Laodiceans pray for?
Within this message is a prescription that is perfectly crafted for the times in which we live. “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” (Revelation 3:18).
Jesus says that we have to buy these remedies from Him. Even though they are free gifts of grace, we will have to give up our pride, self-sufficiency, and love of comfort in exchange for that which has real value, symbolized by gold, white garments, and eye salve.
“Buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich” (Revelation 3:18). Gold refined by fire is a symbol of the faith that results from deep experiences with God as we pass through difficult trials. The apostle Peter put it this way: “You have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is refined by fire, may be found” (1 Peter 1:7).
Faith is not just believing things about God. Hebrews 11, the faith chapter, teaches that true faith involves a response to God’s initiative. For example, “By faith Noah… prepared an ark.
Think about dropping everything and subjecting yourself to the ridicule of your neighbors in order to build a huge boat to prepare for a flood, when the only evidence for it was that God had shown you it was coming.
By faith Abraham…went out, not knowing where he was going… Think about leaving friends, family, and source of income to follow God somewhere that you didn’t know anything about.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days” (Hebrews 11:7,8,30) Think about attacking powerful enemies by marching and shouting.
As in these examples, the first step of faith is to be close enough to God that we can be certain of what He is asking us and then to seek His empowerment to do what He has told us.
Our response to God may take us out of our comfort zone, but seeing God show up and come through increases our faith and prepares us to weather the extreme storms that the Book of Revelation tells us are coming.
Jesus also counsels the Laodicea Church to “Buy from Me…white garments, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness may not appear” (Revelation 3:18).
White garments symbolize the righteousness that God gives us. As the prophet Isaiah put it: “God has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10).
God declares us forgiven, righteous and innocent. Even though we are sinful and unrighteous when we confess our sins and believe that Jesus took upon Himself the guilt and condemnation that our sins deserve. Theologians call this justification.
God also transforms our lives and gives us righteous, holy characters as we walk with Him; this is called sanctification.
Justification and sanctification go together; as God reveals our sins to us and we confess them to Him, He forgives us and declares us innocent, as if we had never sinned—we are justified. But He also pours Himself into the space our sin occupied, giving us new desires and empowering us to overcome our sins—we are sanctified.
Justification and sanctification together are symbolized by white garments: “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments” (Revelation 3:5). “The pure white linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people” (Revelation 19:8).
Righteousness is not simply a legal transaction in which I repent, confess my sins to God, and have my status changed from guilty to innocent. We are forgiven and transformed so that we can overcome sin and perform good deeds.
This is contrasted with our own feeble attempts to be righteous, which Isaiah calls a filthy garment: “All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Isaiah 64:6).
In Zechariah 3 we see that true righteousness involves very personal interaction with Jesus.
The prophet saw Joshua the high priest, who represents all of God’s people, standing humbly before the Lord. Satan was also standing by. Joshua was clothed with the filthy garments of his human weakness and failures, giving Satan grounds to accuse him.
But the Lord rebuked Satan. Then He removed Joshua’s filthy clothes, taking away the pretenses and hypocrisy he had used to cover his naked sinfulness.
Finally, He dressed him in new, beautiful garments. This beautiful image shows us that when we are honest, open, and transparent before Jesus, He takes away our guilt and gives us a new life of victory.
The prescription for the Church of Laodicea continues: “Anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” (Revelation 3:18).
The Laodicea beliebers are also blind! Spiritual blindness is a direct result of Satan’s successful attempts to misrepresent the character of God. “Our gospel is veiled…to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age [Satan] has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of God should shine on them” (2Corinthians 4:3,4).
Satan has instilled fatal misconceptions about God that keep His children from entering into the deep relationship with Him that they need.
“O Righteous Father! The world has not known You” (John 17:25) Jesus cried out, diagnosing our core spiritual problem.
In an era when “doctrine” is a dirty word, most Christians unconsciously believe false doctrines that misrepresent God that developed during the dark ages:
That He condemns people who do not accept His salvation to an eternity of miserable separation or even torment;
That natural or personal disasters are the result of His inscrutable plans;
That He is angry and offended and must be mollified by penance, good works, or “friends in high places” such as the saints;
That He is watching for our sins, ready to snatch away the eternal life we have been striving for;
That He sees our suffering but is unwilling to do anything about it.
These blind misconceptions about God are combined with fatal blindness to our own spiritual condition. The modern media barrages us with disgusting and horrifying scenes that leave most people considering themselves good and moral in comparison.
Self-esteem psychology teaches that guilt is the problem, not sin.
Information overload and busy lifestyles leave no time for quiet reflection. As a result, the still small voice of the Holy Spirit is drowned out, and we remain blind to our own spiritual poverty.
Jesus offers eye salve to heal our blindness and give us spiritual discernment.
There were several blind people who were healed in the Bible, but only one instance involved eye salve. As Jesus was walking along “He saw a man who was blind from birth” (John 9:1). In other cases of blindness, Jesus spoke a word and the blind could see. But this time Jesus did something very unusual.
“[Jesus] spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and He anointed the eyes of the blind man…so he went and washed, and came back seeing” (John 9:6).
Our first reaction to this story might be “that’s gross!” But this story reminds us that the spiritual discernment that we need is not simply the result of trying to be more attentive; it is the result of very personal, intimate encounters with Jesus.
We are seeing a recurrent theme. The gold of faith comes when we pass through difficult trials with Jesus beside us. The white garments of righteousness come when we are naked and transparent before Jesus. Eyesalve resulting in spiritual discernment comes when we have personal, intimate encounters with Jesus. This theme is underlined by Jesus’ next invitation to the poor, blind and naked Church of Laodicea.
Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:19,20).
When Jesus comes in, He will bring with Him every spiritual gift and attribute that we need. But even though God desperately wants to prepare us for this life and for eternity, He will never force us; His interventions in our lives only come with our permission.
Let your imagination dwell on the amazing scene: Jesus pictures Himself, the creator of the universe, standing outside on the porch waiting for the indifferent master of the house to get around to answering His knock. The tragedy is that the old master, Satan, is already inside telling lies about Jesus, trying to convince us that we don’t really want what He has to offer.
Contrary to Satan’s misrepresentations, what Jesus desires most is an intimate, personal love relationship: “I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). This is a relationship that He wants to continue for eternity: “To him that overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Revelation 3:21).
The messages to the seven churches seem to end on a note of uncertainty. Will the lukewarm Laodicea Church believers let Jesus come in and transform their lives?
As we will see in chapter 7, many will heed His invitation: the next time we see the church they have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” and “Serve Him night and day” (Revelation 7:14).
For this change to take place Jesus has a major work to do, and in the next chapter he invites us to “Come up here” (Revelation 4:1) to heaven to see what He is doing on our behalf.
You can learn a lot more about Laodicea and all of the Seven Churches in the book “A Revelation of Jesus” by David Lackey.
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