Laodicea - the 7th and final of the 7 churches of Revelation:
Laodicea - popular? progressive? prosperous? or poor?
Described as divergently as those who assessed it.
Laodicea themselves assessed their own progress from a place of complacency and lukewarmness. That was a tragic mistake. They considered themselves rich and successful as judged by the criteria of what they had made out of life! The standard against which the Lord would measure them was altogether different. The question was not what had they managed to make out of their life but rather what had life made out of them? All of their life was significant, not just the bottom line on the spread sheet.; "rich increased with goods and need of nothing" meant nothing to their Lord and judge who found them lukewarm. The church of Laodicea reflected something of the character of the city of Laodicea. Like the water supply of Laodicea so too the spiritual temperature of the church; lukewarm. The neighbouring city of Colossae was known for its cold water supply and the adjacent city of Hierapolis for it's hot springs. By way of contrast the water supply at Laodicea was neither. A city high above the Lycus valley it lacked sufficient water for the expanding population of the city. Where did the water come from at Laodicea? The mystery was resolved by excavations in the area of Laodicea in 2006 by a Turkish archaeologist Celal Simsek; who published a paper entitled “water springs of Laodicea and its distribution systems.” Pipes were discovered at Laodicea running for many kilometres to the separate water source of the Baspinar Spring. These pipes had heavy calcium deposits, carried water from some distance and so provided a slow running and thus likely a lukewarm water supply to Laodicea.
Just like the lukewarm water supply of Laodicea the church likewise was lukewarm. What is somewhat surprising is the desire of the Lord Jesus; "I would that you were cold or hot." It is perhaps easy to understand that the Lord water desire an increase in their spiritual temperature from lukewarm to hot but why cold? A place of complacency and ambivalence is the most difficult place to bring about change, after all why do I need to change? I'm ok am I not? I mean I am better than the next person, I'm not so bad as ....
It is so often the case that in shaping His people God moves them from a place of lukewarmness, to first of all a cold place where their need is perceptible before moving them to a place of warmth. This was the pattern for Saul of Tarsus the self righteous Pharisee, he had to first be broken on the Damascus road before being brought to salvation on his knees. This was the case for Moses, brought from the palace to the pasture, in the back side of the desert for 40 years before then becoming the leader of the nation of Israel. This also was true of Samson, brought finally to a place of weakness, humiliated and mutilated, led by a young lad until finally and uniquely in his life he prayed, "strengthen me only this once." That final and painful prayer marked the closing transition of revival in a life of at best lukewarmness.
Christ looked for "gold tried in the fire." All of their life under the hand of God, God had moulded and shaped them, bringing out gold tried in the fire, Christ like character! That type of character forged in the furnace of adversity, to which Job refers in Job23:10 "But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10.
Claiming the Divine title of the "Amen" of Isaiah 65:16 (Rev 3:14), the Lord reminds them that He has the final word after the end. The Amen speaks. After the conclusion of their lives and service, after the study days are past and after the exam has been sat, it is Christ, who as the Amen brings the final verdict. He is the conclusion after the end. His is the terminal assessment of all people. He is the end beyond the conclusion and His assessment proves a lot less flattering than their own!
Grace in Christ
Dr J Stewart Gillespie