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Letter to Laodicea 1

Revelation 3:14-16
'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. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.' (NIVUK)

In contrast to all the other churches, the Lord Jesus Christ has nothing good to say about Laodicea. It was a rich church in a rich city, which boasted a renowned trade in wool, linen, financial services and eye ointment. It had a medical school. It was a desirable place to live and work, full of self-satisfied people. Having no water source of its own, Roman engineering brought water from a hot spring at Hierapolis, near modern Pamukkale, where it still bubbles out of the rock – depositing its chalky minerals over the surface of stony steps. The aqueduct across the Lycus valley ran for about six miles until the heat had evaporated and the water became lukewarm by the time it reached Laodicea.

That was the scene into which Jesus wrote this letter of rebuke. Of course, He knew all about the church, its leadership and members. They had benefited from His creation but were not working with Him in the gospel. They were like the city's water supply. They were neither hot nor cold; they were apathetic towards the Lord and His desire to bring sinners to salvation. They ran their church to their own satisfaction, but Jesus was not the centre of it, nor even really wanted inside the fellowship (Revelation 3:20).

The hot water at Hierapolis was medicinal, to bathe in and to drink. The opposite was true in Colossae. The water there came from melted ice and snow water high up in the hills. It was refreshing and stimulating. But in Laodicea it was lukewarm and, untreated, made people vomit. That is why Jesus said that the church made Him feel sick. It was distasteful to Him; it did not share His heart and He could not use it for His glory (Isaiah 46:8-10). But in saying, ‘I am about to spit you out of my mouth’, He had not quite finished with them.

It was a serious warning and call to repentance (Revelation 2:5). Sometimes a sharp warning comes to us. We may not like it and it might initially make us angry, but we must take notice and repent. The Lord wants our good and tells us before He will take irrevocable action (Hebrews 12:5-11). So, connect with the message today. If the Lord has been warning you about something, stop and agree with Him, and ask Him what He wants you to do.

All knowing God. Thank You for desiring my holiness, and for warning me when I am out of line with Your will. Forgive me for my luke-warmness, my apathy to the things which matter to You, and the coolness of my love. Please help me to wake up and hear Your rebuke and cast myself upon Your mercy, and seek Your grace to change. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams