Laodicea, Part 3 (final)
Jan 02, 2016
The second piece of advice that Christ gave to the Laodicea church in Revelation 3:18 was to buy “white garments.” Such garments can only be purchased with Kingdom currency—the “gold refined by fire” mentioned previously. White garments are made of “fine linen” which “is the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:8). These are the garments required to minister to God in the sanctuary (Leviticus 16:23). Such garments are worn by those who do the works of God, doing only what they see their Father do.
The stated purpose for buying such garments is “that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed” (or exposed). This refers to the time of Adam and Eve, when they were “naked” after they sinned. In Genesis 3:10 Adam told God, “I was afraid because I was naked.” From then on, nakedness was a Hebrew idiom for sin being fully exposed and unable to hide the truth (2 Corinthians 5:3).
Since Laodicea was known for its cloth industry and its manufacture of tunics, everyone reading this advice in John’s time would have recognized the irony inherent in this advice. Even as there was both earthly and heavenly “gold,” so also was there earthly and heavenly clothing.
The third thing that Christ counseled the church to buy was “eyesalve to anoint your eyes.” Once again, Laodicea was known for its eyesalve made of Phrygian powder, and hence there was earthly and heavenly eyesalve. Phrygian powder was used to heal physical eyes, but one needed heavenly gold to purchase heavenly eyesalve that could heal spiritual blindness.
The implication is that heavenly gold, which is faith refined by the baptism of fire, must be obtained in order to remove the blindness upon the Laodicea church. It is ironic, then, that in spite of the Pentecostal revival that occurred at the end of the Philadelphia church era, the Laodicea church was blind and did not realize it.
In Matthew 6:22, 23 Jesus says,
22 The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
It is precisely because Christians have received Christ, and Pentecostals have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that they cannot comprehend how they could be blind to the word of God and also to what is happening around them. It seems inconceivable to them. It is as incomprehensible as it was with the religious leaders in Jesus’ day.
Yet Jesus healed blind eyes in order to show us that He is also the only Source of healing for spiritual eyes. In John 9 we read the story of a man who had been born blind (John 9:1) and how Jesus healed him. This was the sixth out of eight miracle-signs in the gospel of John, which correlate with the eight days of the feast of Tabernacles.
The blind man was healed when he washed off the clay which Jesus had placed upon his eyes. The clay represents the flesh, because we are all “clay” in the hands of the Potter. Isaiah 64:8 says,
8 But now, O Father, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou art our potter; and all of us are the work of Thy hand.
In putting clay upon the eyes of the blind man (John 9:6), Jesus acted as Creator making the vessels of clay. In telling him to wash off the clay, Jesus gave instructions on how to be set free of blindness. In that this was one of the signs correlating with the feast of Tabernacles, it also shows that blindness is healed, not in Pentecost, but in Tabernacles. The power of the Spirit operating in Pentecost has healed many blind eyes, but to heal spiritual eyes is done only through the power of Tabernacles. Hence, those who are enlightened to see the truth in the word have tapped into the power of Tabernacles.
This is the promise given to the overcomers. The typical result is that they are excommunicated from the religious system, even as the blind man was put out of the synagogue (John 9:34). The blind do not want those who are healed to bear witness of the truth, lest the light expose the people to their blindness.
Paul speaks of such blindness in terms of the veil that is over the eyes of those who read the writings of Moses by the dim light of the Old Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:14, 15). Later, he says in 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4,
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
He goes on in verses 6 and 7 to compare us with Gideon’s army, which carried earthen vessels from which the light shone when they were broken:
6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves.
All true believers have the light of Christ in them, but until their clay vessels are broken, the light remains hidden, or veiled. Blindness, then, is seen in two or three kinds of people: (1) those who have Old Covenant eyes and understanding, (2) “unbelievers” in general, and (3) those believers whose clay has not been washed away—or clay vessels that have not been broken.
To some extent all retain some degree of blindness until the day that the sons of God are “manifested,” or unveiled. Nonetheless, the overcomers are given a foretaste of Tabernacles even during the ages of Passover and Pentecost.
In 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 Paul likens this manifestation to a change of clothing. This connects the theme of “white garments” to the removal of blindness and the spiritual eyesalve that the church was supposed to purchase in Revelation 3:18.
Revelation 3:19 continues,
19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.
Discipline is one thing that the church (as an organization) does not like—unless they are the ones doing the disciplining. Discipline is never a happy time, but Hebrews 12:11 says,
11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
This assumes, of course, that such discipline is received with humility, so that one’s clay vessel may be “broken” to shine forth the light that is in it. Scripture warns, however, that some remain stubborn and rebellious, refusing to be corrected by such discipline (Deuteronomy 21:18). Of such, Hebrews 12:8 says,
8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
In other words, we are all “partakers” of divine discipline, but some remain “without discipline.” These are proven to be “illegitimate children and not sons.” One’s response to divine discipline ultimately proves one’s status in the family of God.
Christ Stands at the Door
Revelation 3:20 says,
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.
This word is given specifically to the Laodicea church, because it is the last of the seven churches prior to His return. But this also has a personal, individual appeal, saying, “if anyone hears My voice and opens the door.” Since blindness and deafness go hand in hand, when one’s spiritual eyes are healed, so also are one’s ears healed. Such is the mark of an overcomer, who has been touched by the feast of Tabernacles.
To “dine” with someone (in Hebrew thought) is to have fellowship, or communion. Western culture has some elements of this concept of communion, but nowhere near the level of significance found in Scripture. Paul alludes to this in 1 Corinthians 5:11, telling the believers not to eat with those who sin as a normal manner of life. To “eat” is the equivalent of “not to keep company” with such people.
This does not mean believers must shun such people, but rather that the level of our association with such people should not be so close that they change or influence our Kingdom life style. For each individual, this should be applied according to the strength and maturity of the believer. In that way, believers may be witnesses of Christ in a lawless world.
The Overcomer’s Reward
Revelation 3:21 says,
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.
Christ has already presented Himself to the Laodicea church in terms of being “the Amen” of God, by which all things are created. This speaks of the authority of the double witness, where the first witness comes from heaven and the second from the earth. The first witness comes from the Sovereign God, while the second comes from one with authority. Sovereignty is self-derived, while authority is authorized by a higher power.
At the end of the message, the Laodicea church is offered to identify with Christ in His throne. Only the overcomers themselves actually achieve this, but the offer is extended to all. There is a Scriptural path that a prospective overcomer must follow. First, one must identify with Christ in His death in order to identify in His resurrection life (Romans 6:5). Only then can one qualify to be identified in His ascension to the throne, where spiritual authority is granted.
The gap between resurrection life and ascension is filled with divine discipline and intercession and is given incrementally according to the will of God alone. See my book, Principles of Intercession, which shows the five steps toward spiritual authority. Jesus followed this path and established the pattern for us all to follow in His footsteps.
Illegitimate sons need not apply.
Revelation 3:22 concludes,
22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
This concludes the message to the seven churches.
This is part 35 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones