Revelation # 11 Revelation 3:14-22 (MSG) End Time Dilemma: Doing Nothing
Revelation # 11 Revelation 3:14-22 (MSG) End Time
Dilemma: Doing Nothing
Ephesus is infected with a spirit of judgmentalism. Smyrna
is in danger of giving in. Pergamum is contaminated with a spirit of
compromise. Thyatira tolerates false teachers. Sardis looks alive but it’s a
false front, they’re dealing with hypocrisy. Philadelphia needs to stay
strong. Now Jesus turns His attention to
the congregation in the city of Laodicea.
was a wealthy city, maybe one of the wealthiest in the day. It was a center for banking. It was known for its clothing manufacture and
export. The city also boasted a medical
school and hospital. The medical folks
were famous for their ointment for ears and eyes. This school and hospital were part of a
temple dedicated to Men (Meh-n) Carou the god of fertility, healing, and trade.
Laodicea also had a thriving imperial cult. The city was located by several hot
springs, the city utilized aqueducts stretching 6 miles to bring the water in
which was used for drinking and irrigation.
There was also a large Jewish population. As we shall read, there is no apparent
persecution of Christians. Probably members of this congregation were well-connected
and affluent. Archippus was the bishop, the one charged with nurturing the
spiritual welfare of the Christians in that area. In Paul’s letter to the
Colossians (4:17) he sternly writes: “Say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill
the ministry which you have received in the Lord.” The tone suggests that Archippus was not
leading up to expectations, and this may have contributed to the decline of
spiritual fervor amongst the believers over the preceding years.
to Laodicea, to the Angel of the church. God's Yes, the Faithful and Accurate
Witness, the First of God's creation, says:
"I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You're not cold,
you're not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You're stale. You're
stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, 'I'm rich, I've got it made, I
need nothing from anyone,' oblivious that in fact you're a pitiful, blind
beggar, threadbare and homeless.
"Here's what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that's been
through the refiner's fire. Then you'll be rich. Buy your clothes from me,
clothes designed in Heaven. You've gone around half-naked long enough. And buy
medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.
"The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that
they'll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!
"Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open
the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will
sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place
of honor at the side of my Father. That's my gift to the conquerors!
"Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing
through the churches."
introduces himself as God’s Yes, God’s Amen.
The title relates to Isaiah 65:16 which can be understood to mean that
that Jesus is the faithful one, the reliable one, and the trustworthy one, who
can be trusted to keep His promises (Ladd, p 65). The first of God’s creation
is very misleading because it reads as if Jesus is a creation of God and not
God incarnate. The scholars argue, but Jesus being the beginning, source, and
origin of all creation seems to fit the idea of the original language. Jesus is the agent of creation (John 1:3, 1
testimony through the Christian age is that Jesus can be trusted. His teachings are a sure guide to living your
life to the full. Follow Jesus’
instruction and you will spiritually prosper.
Spiritual prosperity is knowing that you are loved and that you are
loving others with the same love that God has lavished upon you. This type of treasure is found in knowing
that you have been accepted and that you have been given a place to
belong. Knowing that Jesus has secured a
resurrection from death and secured life eternal, a place in all eternity, is a
source of joy. Your life in Christ has meaning and purpose because as you
follow Jesus, people are influenced for the Kingdom, which makes you
significant. If you want to prosper
spiritually, ask Jesus to show you how. ask for His favor, ask for His
guidance, invite Him into your life, follow His lead and you will prosper
tells the Laodiceans that He knows their works. Jesus sees the heart, what
motivates all you do. This congregation
is not troubled by doctrinal rigidity, persecution, false teachers, or
immorality, they are simply ineffective as a witness for the Kingdom. These
folks are complacent and satisfied with how things are. Jesus uses the term
lukewarm. This would be a powerful
illustration for the church. There were
hot springs used for healing, to the east was Colosse with its cold spring
water which the scholars have associated with refreshment. The congregation is ineffective in bringing
neither healing nor refreshment to the populace and they frankly didn’t seem to
care. Recall that the water from the hot
springs is being piped 6 miles, it's lukewarm when it arrives in the city. Again, not hot enough to heal, not cold
enough to refresh. This is a do-nothing
church, full of do-nothing believers. Jesus finds them nauseating.
believers seem to be unaware of their revolting behavior. “You brag, 'I'm rich, I've got it made, I
need nothing from anyone,' oblivious that in fact you're a pitiful, blind
beggar, threadbare and homeless” (Rev 3:17 (MSG). They think they have it all
together, but they are spiritually destitute. What an irony, to be financially
and socially secure in the world but in the Kingdom impoverished. When you’re
wealthy it’s hard to rely on God, you depend on yourself to take care of
yourself. You always have, you think you
always will. You don’t need faith when
things are going well. God is in your
life, but not the center of your life, not the priority in your life, not the
one who gives meaning to your life. Your life is full of other more important
things. You do God things when it's convenient, when it's expected, but your
agenda takes precedence. This type of
religion makes you poor, naked, and blind when it comes to nurturing a right
relationship with God.
that Laodicea prided itself as a banking, clothing manufacturing, and healing
center. Jesus tells the folks to get their gold from Him, get their clothes
from Him, get their medicine from Him. Wealth
can do a lot, but it can’t purchase love, joy, peace, patience, goodness,
faithfulness, kindness, or self-control.
Fine clothes can project an image of success, but the clothes don’t make
the person, outerwear doesn’t affect the inner condition of the heart. The medicine the world tells you to take to
be well, to flourish, to make you happy is just so many dead ends. The medicine
of the world is poison that will kill your soul.
the gold that Jesus gives, and you will be spiritually rich. Connection with God, inner peace and harmony,
wisdom and understanding, compassion and empathy, love and forgiveness,
gratitude and appreciation, faith and trust, will be growing in your portfolio.
Take the clothes Jesus gives, and you will live a righteous life, garments of
honor signifying a life in sync with the Creator, a Kingdom fashionable life,
you’ll be more beautiful inside than you are beautiful outside. Take the medicine Jesus gives and you will
see things how they really are, you will know the truth and be set free to
become the person God created you to be.
fall short in our walk with God, some more so than others, but we are
susceptible to giving into sin, giving in to the status quo, and giving into
indifference. Jesus doesn’t forsake when
we mess up. He doesn’t wring His hands
in frustration and say I give up on you. No, instead he prods, corrects, and
guides us to get us into right standing with Him again.
the child he loves that God corrects…
this letter to the Laodiceans has caused you to reflect on your walk with
Christ and your effectiveness in the Kingdom.
Maybe the Holy Spirit has prodded you awake. Maybe the Holy Spirit has revealed an area in
your life that you need to straighten out.
Maybe the Holy Spirit is showing you a better way to go. If so this is because of Jesus’ love for you.
It may be that the prodding, correcting, and guiding is unpleasant. Sometimes it takes the Lewis Megaphone of
pain to get our attention, to get us to see the need for a change.
time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the
grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who
find themselves mature in their relationship with God.
those making the change, for maturing in their relationship with God, allowing
Jesus in, there is a reward. So often verse 20 is used when we share the
gospel. Jesus is knocking at your door,
let him in. You’ve seen the
picture. But this verse 20 is written to
believers, those who have already acknowledged their need for a savior to
forgive their sins and reconcile their relationship to God. Those who have
believed that Jesus is God’s Son and the savior they need. Those who have
committed to being Jesus’ disciple, bending their knee in fidelity to the
Lordship of Christ. Those who have called upon the name of the Lord and asked
to be accepted, to be saved. It is to
those people that Jesus is standing at the door and knocking because somehow,
maybe through neglect, maybe through indifference, maybe through pride, they
left Jesus standing outside. You let Jesus in when you submit to His Lordship. You acknowledge that He is the authority in
your life and that you are committed to obeying His directions. For those who
overcome, those who have conquered, they are given a place of honor, a throne
to sit upon at the head of the table.
needs to be conquered in Laodicea is prideful indifference that created an
apathetic malaise that destroyed the vibrancy of the church. From a kingdom perspective, they had become a
do-nothing church. The church is its members.
The members were doing nothing to carry out the Great Commission: Go and
make disciples. The members were not sharing the good news of the gospel. The gospel was good news for them it gave
them peace of mind, but it’s a personal thing best kept to oneself. They were not hungering and thirsting for
righteousness, they were satisfied. They
were not praying for the salvation of others.
Oh, maybe lip service prayers because that is expected, but going and
telling, not so much. The members lacked a passionate fiery relationship with
God, God was not preeminent in their thinking but rather an add-on, rather an I’ll
get around to it, placing their relationship with God on the back burner. The
members were not bringing Jesus to the streets, they were content with their
comfortable Christianity. These are good
people, moral people, but they were barely spiritually alive people, asleep in
the light people. Their pride blinded them and lulled them into a false sense
of security. The members were not
looking forward to the second coming, their lack of need destroyed that sense
of hopeful urgency that Jesus would come and set all things right. As far as they were concerned things were
going right for them. They thought they
were doing great, but Jesus tells them they were missing the mark and urges
them to change before they spiritually die.
message to the Laodiceans speaks to us today.
We must guard ourselves against prideful indifference. We must see material wealth as a means of
doing good for others, and be good stewards realizing that spiritual wealth
matters more than material wealth. We must guard ourselves from apathy and the
complacency it brings to our relationship with Jesus. Make God and His Kingdom
the most important thing in your life that everything comes secondary to doing
the will of God to whom you have bent your knee.
hear the knocking at your door, open your life up, let Jesus in, and together
you will partner to be transformed into a conqueror.