I heard some guy spouting off the other day, about how he was “lukewarm” and that God was going to “spit him out of his mouth”. He was really quite worried and he was going to all these prayer meetings and charismatic meetings in order to “find his first love” so he could be “on fire” again.
Now, I’ve been there, and I know, it’s quite scary. The reality is though, that is not what Jesus is saying to the Church in Laodicea.
The problem is, taken out of context, the whole bible context, it can be made to mean that, but the author of revelation is carrying on a very vivid exodus theme through out his visions, and to divorce it from the OT is a travesty.
From Genesis 3, sin is spiralling out of control. One murder becomes murder for just touching someone (lamech). One wife, becomes many wives. When the relationship between God and humanity breaks down, so does relationships between humans. The consequence of Adam and Eve ceasing to rely on God for everything is that they begin to try and dominate each other (your desire is for him (to master him), and his is to master you). By the time we get to babel we have got to such a bad point that God has had to destroy people with a flood because of this. The nephilim are despotic rulers (liek gilgamesh) who take and do what ever they want because they are so powerful they seem godlike – recall the emperor in the movie 300?
By the time Babel comes around there are 2 distinct groups, those who “call upon the name of God” (there is a play with the name seth), and those people of “reknown” – people making a name for themselves. These people have come so far they make their own Ziggurat – we have records of such things from other ancient stories and they are always a pathway to heaven… a man made one. To make it worse, the people of babel dont have any natural resources to use, so rather than God supplied stone and wood, they use kiln fired bricks made with bitumen. They have so completely abandoned God they believe they can build their own resources and make their own way to heaven.
Likewise in Laodicea. The people of Laodicea are not “lukewarm” because they only kind of believe in God, in fact, they have abandoned God. They were known for their fine clothes made of wool from black sheep, and also for a special poultice which was used to treat eye ailments. The city was destroyed by an earthquake, and rebuilt by the wealth of its inhabitants. This city was known for its self sufficiency. The story is told that they had no natural water supply, so they built an aqueduct system. By the time the water got to the city it was lukewarm. Look at the text:
Rev 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
Rev 3:15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.
Rev 3:16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.
Rev 3:17 ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,
Rev 3:18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
Rev 3:19 ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.
Rev 3:20 ‘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.
Rev 3:21 ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
Clearly, Laodicea is being told that if they continue to rely on their own wealth, skills, knowledge, etc, they will not find their way into heaven. One gets to heaven by being reliant on God. Eden, the first heaven, is a place where God provided for his people, where they lived as God’s governors. All too often we (I) rely on our own skills/wisdom/knowledge/money/etc. But the faithful, recognise that there comes a point where this is futile, and place their trust in God.