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Laodicea Summarized

(Revelation 3, ESV):  14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.  15“I know your works (labor): you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

It’s critical to keep in mind that Laodicea, who Jesus speaks to, is a congregation of believers in Jesus Christ.   Laodicea means “a just/righteous people,” from the Greek words laos (a people) and dikaios (right or just).  As we will see, Laodicea’s righteousness was only in their own eyes.    

Interestingly, Jesus tells them exactly why he sees them as “lukewarm.”  (Revelation 3): 17 Because you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing…”  Laodicea is seen as lukewarm and nauseating, because they say in their heart that their condition is one of wealth and they need nothing.  Again, this is a congregation of believers which God recognizes.  I believe Laodicea says in their heart they are “rich” by believing in Christ, have “abundance” by doing good works, and “lack nothing” because they are saved and assured of going to heaven.  This is lukewarmnessJesus literally says in reality they are:  “undergoing a testing, pitiful, thoroughly destitute, blind, and naked.”   He then gives them counsel to repair their utterly destitute state.  The theme of his counsel is toward repentance from tainted understandings.

Jesus first counsel is to get “gold refined by fire.”  Here and everywhere else, he is speaking spiritually.  This “gold” represents that which in the kingdom of God is precious and leads to increasing wealth.  In scripture, gold is compared with wisdom.  Wisdom and understanding are the “gold” of God’s kingdom.  The fire that refines (purifies) this gold is the judgments of God.  I believe this primarily takes place within our heart, the core of our thoughts and beliefs.  When we undergo this fire, things based on men’s false wisdom are either consumed or made visible and then separated.  What remains is the precious “gold” of everything in our heart which is based on wisdom from God.  I believe many well-established religious ways of thinking and acting will be burned up in this fire.  We can only access God’s mind and heart by Spirit-to-spirit revelation.

The second thing Jesus says to buy is “white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed…”  Garments cover naked flesh.  In the spiritual, our “flesh” reprents our SELF, the “me, myself, and I” part that always cries out to be catered to.  Self can be very religious, but it always opposes God.  It must be crucified and covered.  I believe the “white garments” here represent the righteousness and purity of Jesus Christ Himself.  As self is daily put to death, then one can receive this white garment.  God recognizes nothing else.  Many things we see as “good” have been tainted by self and God sees them as ”wood, hay and stubble” to be burned or disgusting, “filthy rags.”  Self is the filth that stains our spiritual covering.

Finally, Jesus counsels Laodicea to buy “eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.”  In  Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus spoke of the singular eye” (spiritual perception) which gives light within, which can be “clear” or “bad.”   The word “clear” is the Greek word haplous, essentially meaning an unmixed, sound whole.  Jesus is saying that one’s spiritual perception (eye) needs to be without any mixture of the false teaching of men or unclean spirits, which Jesus calls darkness.  An “eye” that has this mixture is called “bad” and results in total darkness.  Jesus warns if the “light” (truth and understanding) we claim to have is actually “darkness” (deception and confusion), then this is the most extreme darkness there is.  This is why the Laodicean attitude of “no need” while in darkness is so dangerous.

“Eye-salve” is the Greek word kollourion, which comes from a base word meaning “glue.” “Anoint” likely just means to “rub in.”  Our natural understanding is the “eye” Jesus said in Matthew 6:23 is bad and results in total darkness.  The “eye-salve” Jesus offers will glue shut this bad eye and cover it with the presence of the Holy Spirit.  1 John 2:27 says: “you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie…”  To perceive spiritually based on the “sight” of this anointing is the “clear” eye that Jesus says will produce a body full of light (truth).  But first, the “eye-salve” must be applied to glue shut or negate everything else.  If this is not done, then the natural, carnal understanding/perception will remain the “light” within, which Jesus calls the most extreme darkness.  God forbid.

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Posted by on March 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Jesus’ Advice to Laodicea

(Revelation 3:18-19)  “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.  (19)  ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.

(1 John 2:27):  “And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

 It’s critical to keep in mind that Laodicea, who Jesus speaks to, is a “church,” a congregation of believers in Jesus Christ.  As I discussed last time, Laodicea means “righteous people,” referring to their self-perceived righteousness.  These “christians” believe in their heart they are “rich” by believing in Christ, have “abundance” by their good works, and have “need of nothing” because they are saved and on their way to heaven.  However, Jesus exposes their true condition as deplorable, pitiful, and bankrupt.  Keep in the forefront of your mind that Jesus is speaking of their spiritual condition.  It’s a grave and common mistake, especially with Jesus’ words, to read scripture in a “natural” sense all the time.  He said he spoke in parables and his words were “spirit” and “life.” He also reminds Laodicea that his harsh rebuke and discipline is a sign of love, and he encourages them to zealously repent, which literally means to zealously reconsider their belief systems and to begin to perceive on a deeper level. 

Jesus first counsel is to get “gold refined by fire.”  This refers to gold that has undergone intense fire, which melts the gold and allows the impurities within it to be seen and removed.  Once Laodicea has this refined gold, Jesus says they will truly be “rich.”  The gold Jesus speaks of is simply that which is precious and leads to increasing wealth in the kingdom of God.  In scripture, gold is compared with wisdom, but wisdom is said to be far superior and God alone knows where it is hidden.  Wisdom and understanding are the “gold” of God’s kingdom

When you are taught by Jesus Himself, through the Holy Spirit (see 1 John 2:27 above), you can access this gold (wisdom) and become rich in the sight of God.  God doesn’t regard much of what men do, including religious men.  The gold Jesus counsels Laodicea to buy is imperishable and has been purified not with physical fire, but with the fire of God’s judgment which consumes and separates every spiritual impurity.  If this comes to our life, it can be painful and a cause for “fear and trembling,” but it’s also a cause for great rejoicing, because it means God receives us as His children. (Hebrews 12): “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.”  …But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”  And as Jesus reminded Laodicea: “those whom I love, I reprove and discipline…” 

When we undergo this fire, that which is not from God is consumed or separated from the truly precious “gold” of all which was from Him.  I believe this primarily takes place within our heart, which is the core of our thoughts and beliefs.  In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul says the goal of his teaching is “love from a pure heart…”  What “pure heart” means is one’s core of thought and belief (mind) which is untainted by the traditions, teachings, religious ideas of men and is therefore “purely” of God.  It isn’t having no desire for sinful things – that would be better called a “clean” heart.  I believe many well-established religious ways of thinking and their resulting “good” works will be burned up in this fire, because they were not based on God’s mind, but the minds of men.  We can only access God’s mind by Spirit-to-spirit revelation of truth and wisdom.

The second thing Jesus says to buy is “white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed…”  The purpose of a garment is to be a covering.  What needs covered?  The natural realm mirrors the spiritual realm.  In the natural, the shamefulness of our naked flesh is covered by our clothing.  In the spiritual, the shame of our “flesh” is also covered by spiritual “garments.”  Flesh in this case speaks of the focus on and obedience of SELF.  When self is the focus and is served, self is god and king.  Self/flesh is permanently opposed to God and must be crucified.  (Romans 8): 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,  7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so…  13 … for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die…”  (Galatians 5)17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh…”  24 Now those who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” 

I believe the “white garments” here represent the righteousness and purity of Jesus Christ Himself.  Jesus became radiantly white when he was transfigured.  Angels who appeared to men were brilliantly white.  The “overcomers” (of self) in Revelation 3:4-5 are said to be clothed in white.  Once the pride of self in its good or its knowledge (see: the Pharisees) is humbled and the flesh is crucified, then one can receive the white garment of Jesus Christ himself.  God recognizes nothing else, as everything good that is of man is, according to scripture “wood, hay and stubble,” “filthy rags,” and worthless. 

Finally, Jesus counsels Laodicea to buy “eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.”  Our natural eyes give us sight and perception of the physical realm.  We also have “eyes,” or faculties of perception, into the invisible realms of soul and spirit.  Paul spoke of the “eyes of your heart” in Ephesians 1:18, which he prayed would be “enlightened” by the Spirit of God.  In  Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus spoke of the singular “eye” (referring to one’s perception of the spiritual realm) which gives light within, which can be “clear” or “bad.”  Jesus says this “eye” should be “single” (KJV).  The word “single” is the Greek word haplous.  It literally means “without folds or braids,” in the sense of whole, single, uncomplicated, simple.  I think Jesus is saying that one’s spiritual eyesight/perception needs to be without any mixture of darkness caused by the traditions and teachings of selfish, fearful men, which causes confusion.  Jesus then warns that if the “light” (truth and understanding) we claim to have is actually darkness (error and confusion), then this is the most extreme darkness there is.  This is why saying one has “need of nothing” is so dangerous.

The “eye salve” Jesus counsels them to buy and to “anoint” their eyes with is the Greek word kollourion.  It actually comes from a base word meaning “glue,” and refers to a thick glue-like paste that would be applied to eyes to soothe them.  “Anoint” is the word egchrio, has some interesting possible meanings, but likely just means to “rub in” with the idea of “receiving.”  Priests were “anointed” with oil as a symbol of their intended function before God.  I think a literal translation of Jesus admonition here is to buy “eye-glue to rub in your eyes, that you may see.”  The idea is our natural, carnal eyes (human perception, often based on fear, tradition or confusion) being covered or glued shut, with the presence of the Holy Spirit covering them.  Again, 1 John 2:27, which I quoted at the beginning, says: “you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie…”  To perceive spiritually based on the “sight” of this anointing, which John spoke of, requires first that “eye-salve” be applied to glue shut or negate one’s natural, carnal perceptions.  If this is not done, then the carnal, religious perception will remain the “light” within, which Jesus calls the most extreme darkness.  God forbid.

So, Jesus says to Laodicea, the self-righteous and spiritually satisfied and complacent, that if they want to have anything of spiritual value, they need three things:  1). Wisdom which is set on fire and requires a process of burning and separating impurities, 2). the righteousness of Christ himself which requires true humility and self-abasement, and 3). spiritual perception which requires the “gluing shut” of one’s carnal eyes.  My counsel for us all is to take Christ’s counsel earnestly, and to desperately cry out for wisdom, true righteousness, and clear sight.  Let us be still before God to learn of and be equipped by Him.  God bless you.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Laodicea

(Revelation 3, ESV):  14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.  15“I know your works (labor): you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”

Many Christians believe that Laodicea, as the final church addressed by Jesus in the first chapters of Revelation, represents the “last days” church age in which we are living now, in which “lukewarmness” is rampant.  Be that as it may, I do think the church of Laodicea closely mirrors many believers today, and so the indictments and counsel Jesus gave her are very relevant for us here and now.  I actually think this is a vital word for our day when properly understood.

I have been taught and believed that Laodicea means “lukewarm.”  But it’s doesn’t.  It literally means something we would almost consider to be the opposite.  Laodicea means “people of righteousness,” or “a just/righteous people.”  It is a combination of the Greek words laos (a people) and dikaios (right or just).  As we will see, Laodicea’s righteousness was only in their own eyes (self-righteousness) and maybe in the eyes of others (outward righteousness),  but not in the eyes of the Lord (inward, true righteousness).  I believe God sees righteousness differently than Christians often do.  At the cross of Christ, everything radically changed in terms of what God desires, what pleases Him, and how we should relate to Him.  The Laodicean, “just and righteous” church and anything it may represent is one of which Jesus Christ has not one positive thing to say.

Much is often made of Laodicea being “lukewarm.”  The thinking goes that to be lukewarm means to be apathetic, as evidenced by little or no involvement in ministry, minimal bible study and church attendance, rationalization of sinful activity, etc.  But here’s the main problem with this line of thinking: it’s simply not what Jesus said lukewarm is.  If you read closely, you’ll see Jesus explained exactly why he finds Laodicea to be lukewarm.  This is a conditino that makes him nauseous and ready to vomit. Look at the emphasized part of Jesus’ words below:

(Revelation 3): 16So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” 

Jesus calls them lukewarm and nauseating because of the self-confident, complacent attitude of their heart and their lack of perception of their true state.  Laodicea says (in their heart): “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.”  This literally translates as: “I am rich, have an abundance, and have no need whatsoever.”  Let’s remember, Jesus said his words were “spirit and life” (John 6:63).  Jesus was concerned only with the Kingdom of God; his Father’s will being known and done on earth.  I believe all of Jesus’ words and teachings were, first and foremost, speaking of spiritual realities.  He came to declare and pave the way for the spiritual kingdom of God, who is Spirit (I wrote of this idea more fully in my very first post on this blog).  The spiritual realm is deep within the “inner man” of each one of us, where the Kingdom is.  The natural, literal/physical mindsets and interpretations of scripture that are prevalent today have contributed to the spiritually emaciated and blind state of so many believers, no matter how outwardly “righteous” they are.

If this is the case, then Laodicea isn’t lukewarm because of their riches and lack of need materially, and they aren’t lukewarm because of their lack of good works.  Their lukewarmness is attributed to their belief that they are spiritually rich and without need.  Laodicea (the righteous people) have come to a place where they are so blind they have no sense of their pitiful condition and desperate need.  The scary part is they probably are totally convinced of their spiritual “wealth,” while Jesus says they are, literally “undergoing a testing, pitiable, thoroughly destitute, blind, and naked.”  Such is the true state of Laodicea, the “righteous people.”  When Jesus’ words are seen correctly, as spiritual states, the horrible and ghastly reality of Laodicea’s condition becomes apparent.  More could be said of each of these states, but the basic meaning of each is sufficient to get the Lord’s meaning.  

Much of Christianity today teaches us to pray a “sinner’s prayer” in order to be saved, and that once that’s done, heaven is assured.  That’s really the goal of Christianity – to get to heaven and to avoid hell.  It’s not ultimately about God, it’s about SELF.  God is in the picture, but ultimately, only as a means to serve self.  And sure, self is thankful!  The righteousness of Laodicea is a self-righteousness that is based on self-confidence, believing that one has “arrived” and needs nothing else.  Laodicea says in their heart they are “rich” by believing in Christ, have “abundance” by doing good works, and “lack nothing” because they are saved and assured of going to heaven.  But it’s all deception.

It’s hard to overstate how precarious and scary the condition of Laodicea is, especially because those within Laodicea don’t realize their true state (ask God to give you light on your true condition, reader).  However, Jesus doesn’t leave them helpless, he gives them counsel to return to true righteousness.  In my next post I plan to look closer at the counsel he gives.  God bless you.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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