Laodicea: Rich Yet Poor

Christ Covenant Church
Jon Marq Toombs
30 July 2017
Revelation 3:14-22
Ordinary Time

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14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 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 eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Sketch Notes

Jesus Considers the Church — vs 14

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 

Amen = Jesus is God’s Yes to all the promises of grace and truth.

The Faithful and True Martyr = stark contrast to the unfaithful and fake church

The beginning of God’s (new) creation = the Logos (John 1:1-4), the preeminate one (Colossians 1:15-18)

The New Creation was initiated at the Resurrection of Jesus and will be completed at his second Advent.

“Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (Rev. 1) 

“Behold, I am making all things new.” (Rev. 21)

Jesus Commends the Church — n/a

Unlike the church at Philadelphia (and most of the other churches) which was commended by Jesus for her works, Jesus has nothing good to say about this congregation.

He confronts this church for her tepid and tasteless works and condemns her.

Jesus Confronts the Church — vss 15-17

15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Lukewarm = myth vs truth

It has nothing to do with spiritual or emotional intensity. It has everything to do with indistinction, indifference, and independence.

As a church, they were indistinct from the culture.

Ambivalence / Indifference

Arrogance / Independence

Spit = vomit with disgust

17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

echoes Hosea 12:8

In the OT God’s people said, “Ah, but I am rich;
    I have found wealth for myself;
in all my labors they cannot find in me iniquity or sin.”

Also foreshadows Revelation 17-18 which describes the Whore of Babylon

The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. (17:4)

“Alas, alas, for the great city
    that was clothed in fine linen,
        in purple and scarlet,
    adorned with gold,
        with jewels, and with pearls! (18:16)

The point is that the church at Laodicea had compromised and assimilated.

She loved  the world and the things in the world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the boastful pride of life.

She gained world but forfeited her soul.

The church saw herself in light of the culture, not Christ.

Compared the culture she was healthy, sexy, wealthy, visionary, and stylish. Compared to Christ she was wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

The church at Laodicea was so poor all she had was money. (Rev. 3:14-22)

Echoes of Isaiah 3:18-24

18 In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; 19 the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; 20 the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; 21 the signet rings and nose rings; 22 the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags;23 the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils. 24 Instead of perfume there will be rottenness; and instead of a belt, a rope; and instead of well-set hair, baldness; and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth; and branding instead of beauty.

Jesus Counsels the Church — vss 18-19

18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

Note — Beale points out the Christological connections between these three things and the vision of Christ in Revelation 1. Golden belt, white robe, eyes of fire.

and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire,

The Laodiceans need to “buy” the person and work of Christ which was freely available to them without cost. (See Isa. 55:1-3)

What they truly needed they cannot find at their world-reknown banking center, their luxurious shopping mall, or their hi-tech medical district.

They needed to put down the golden cup of pride, take off the purple and scarlet lusts of the flesh, and put ointment on the lust of the eyes.

In other words, they needed to hate the world and love God.

Even though this church is so miserable, pitiful, destitute, blind, and naked, Jesus loved her with a brotherly love (phileo). How do we know?

19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

Zealous = “get fired up”

Proverbs 3:11-12 via Hebrews 12:5-6

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

Hebrews 12

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy.

Jesus Comforts the Church — vss 20-22

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 eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

door knock = Unlike most pastors, Jesus looks for a way into a bad church, not a way out of it. (Notes on Rev. 3:20)

Christ is locked out of the Church! Will they let him in?

The church at Laodicea was Presbyterian and De-formed. All comforts, no cross. All glam and glitz, no gospel. Country club on the inside, Christ crucified on the outside. (Rev. 3:14-22)

This is not about Jesus knocking on the door of your heart individually, but knocking on the door of the church collectively.

= echoes of Song of Solomon 5:2-6

I slept, but my heart was awake.
A sound! My beloved is knocking.
“Open to me, my sister, my love,
    my dove, my perfect one…
I opened to my beloved,
    but my beloved had turned and gone.
My soul failed me when he spoke.
I sought him, but found him not;
    I called him, but he gave no answer.

eat with me = communion / table fellowship echoes of Luke 12:35-37

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.”

renew vows / covenant renewal

sit with me = throne of grace

Pastoral Prayer — 

Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:5-9)


 

The Church at Laodicea Re-Imagined as Parables

The ministry of the church at Laodicea produced plentifully, and she thought to herself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my wealth?’ And she said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my building and build larger ones, and there I will store all my glory and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But the Faithful and True Witness knocked on her door and said to her, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the church who lays up treasure for herself and is not rich toward God.” (Rev. 3:14-22 reimagined as a parable cp. Luke 12:16-21)

The church at Laodicea was a rich uptown girl who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. A few miles away there was laid a poor sister church. She was covered with sores and desired to be fed with crumbs that fell from the rich girl’s table. (Rev. 3:14-22 re-imagined as parable cp. Luke 16:19ff)

Jesus practiced what he preached. (Rev. 3:17, 20; cf Luke 14:13-14)

 

 

Perspective: Being Rich Wrecks Your Soul 

 

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