Laodicea (1914-1993 A.D.)
Dec 30, 2015
Revelation 3:14 begins the message to the final church:
14 And 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:
Laodicea was originally known as Diospolis, the City of Zeus. In the third century B.C., King Antiochus II (called Theos, “The Divine”) changed its name to Laodicea, after his wife Laodice. This Antiochus was the king prophesied in Daniel 11:6, who, in 246 B.C., married Bernice, the daughter of Ptolemy II of Egypt, to cement a political peace. When Bernice’s father died in July of that year, Antiochus returned to his first wife, Laodice, and Bernice was sent back to Egypt. However, Laodice gave orders to murder Bernice while she was on the way to Egypt, and this was the cause of The Laodicean War between Antiochus II of Syria and Ptolemy III of Egypt.
Laodicea, then, had a colorful history. It was situated on the great east-west trade route in the lower Lycus Valley between two lofty mountain ridges. For this reason it became a major trade and banking center of the entire region and was quite rich. It was famous for its manufacture of cloth and tunics, especially those made from a soft glossy black wool. These black tunics were called trimita. They were so well known that many years later at the Church Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D., Laodicea was called Trimitaria.
About 13 miles west of Laodicea stood the temple of the Phrygian god Men Karou, the original god of that valley. It was also the sponsor and protector of a school of medicine in Laodicea that was most famous for its Phrygian Powder, ground up from Phrygian stone to make eye salve. It was also famous for an ointment made from spice nard that was used to strengthen the ears.
Laodicea has been called “the city of compromise,” mostly on account of its mixture of many ethnic groups in the city, which required compromise and toleration.
The city was well fortified, but its weakness lay in the fact that its principle source of water was six miles to the south. The water was brought by aqueduct to Laodicea, and any invading army would have known that to take the city, one only had to cut off its water supply. There is no longer any trace of the aqueducts. The water itself was lukewarm by the time it arrived in Laodicea. Likewise, cold water piped from Colossae, too, was lukewarm by the time it arrived in Laodicea.
A friend of mine took a trip to Turkey and later sent me this picture of the lukewarm springs at Laodicea.
The glorified Christ introduces Himself to the church of Laodicea as “The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the Beginning of the creation of God.” This refers to Isaiah 65:16-18,
16 Because he who is blessed in the earth shall be blessed by the God of truth [Heb. Amen]; and he who swears in the earth [in court] shall swear by the God of truth [Amen]… 17 For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth… 18 I create Jerusalem for rejoicing…
The Hebrew word amen, “faith,” is closely related to amet, “truth.” Amen was how a man responded when taking an oath to tell the whole truth in a court of law. (See Deuteronomy 28:15-26.) Those taking such solemn oaths are held accountable if they commit perjury, for if they lie under those circumstances, they commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. (An example of this is found in the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:4.)
In Greek thinking, faith is more akin to positive thinking or to confidence in religion. In Hebrew thought, however, faith is a spiritual response to truth, or bearing witness of the truth. In connection with this, the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord is important, for blasphemy is deterred by having respect toward God when bearing witness of truth.
For this reason also, the seventh Spirit of the Lord—the One giving this message to Laodicea—is the Fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2). In other words, to be an overcomer in the Laodicea church is to have ears to hear the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord. Those who hear are those who truly bear witness to the truth in a time of universal deception. Their lives, too, are lived by the Amen principle, saying only what they hear their Father say, and doing only what they see their Father do. By becoming the Amen of God, the overcomers may participate in the creation of the new heavens, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem.
The first heavens and the first earth were created in the same manner. The Father spoke “Light,” and the Son said, “So let it be” (i.e., Amen). All things are established by a double witness, and hence it took both Father and Son to create all things, along with a third witness, the Holy Spirit. Therefore, John tells us in John 1:3,
3 All things came into being by [dia, “through”] Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
Creation came into being through Christ, the Logos, who was the Amen of God. John’s point is to show that Jesus Christ was not only present at the time of creation, but He was not left out of the creative process in even the smallest detail.
The same principle is seen also in creating the new heavens and the new earth, where the Amen again is central to creation. This time, the overcomers are called to be Amen people (like Christ Himself), bearing witness of the creative word to restore the earth to its original glory and purpose. Nonetheless, as we have seen with the earlier churches, only a few actually qualify as overcomers. All of the churches (as a whole) fail to follow the Spirit’s message and warning.
The Lukewarm Church
Revelation 3:15, 16 says,
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.
The lukewarm water of Laodicea provided the metaphor for the church’s relationship with God. This was not a requirement to become fanatical or obnoxious in witnessing for Christ. The focus was upon the compromising church. I noticed long ago that the Laodicea church of the twentieth century generally has followed the world’s views of morality and culture. They only lag behind the world by a few years. The world sets the example of so-called “truth,” and the church soon adjusts its view to conform to the world view.
Standing firm in the truth of God does not need to be done in an obnoxious manner. Neither does an Amen person need to be so fanatical as to kill or harm others in defense of the truth. God only requires that believers influence the world around them, rather than having the world influence them. Believers are not the world’s amen people; they are God’s Amen. We do not adopt the world’s moral (or immoral) standards, but live according to Kingdom culture and morality.
Those in the church who are lukewarm in this matter will be spit out of God’s mouth, unless they repent. They either need to take Christ seriously or stop pretending to be Christians.
This is part 33 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones