Summary: The Letter to Laodicia - about what makes God sick - a lack of commitment
The Revelation to Laodicea
Have you ever been sea sick – you know, just continually wreaching – not for the skys, but yeh, I won’t go into it any more. At least you have to look on the bright side - you are the fish’s best friend. No it is not very fun at all being sick. Not fun at all. And to make matters worse, sometimes people just don’t believe you.
Did you hear about the inscription on the tombstone of a hypochondriac? It read, "Now will you believe that I’m sick?"
How are you feeling today? Fine. That’s great – I’m glad. Probably the more important question I want to ask is how is Christ feeling today? You say – fine. And I ask how do you know. You say – He’s God and he’s in heaven where there is no illness. I say Yes – But … Don’t you love that answer – Yes – But… Yes he is God, but he can feel sick.
What you don’t believe me that an all powerful God can be sick? Well if you were listening to our bible reading earlier you would have heard these words read – “Because you are neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth”. This translation does not really capture the full thrust of the passage (excuse the pun – it was fully intended). The word for spit here actually means to vomit. Christ is feeling so sick that he wants to throw up. I like the way the Message puts it – it says “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot – far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit.” Gross isn’t it – but here is an instant where Christ felt ill to the bottom of his stomach.
The question that remains is what was it that made him feel sick? What if I told you that it was a bunch of Christians that made him feel this way? Have I caught your attention yet. What if I told you they were a bunch of Christians who resembled us in this building more than you or I would ever care to imagine? Have I got your interest now?
Well we are onto the last of the letters to the churches in Revelation and this is a letter to a church which disgusted Christ. Let’s pause and pray that God might show to us to us the wonders of his word.
Lord, this morning as we look at the last of your letters to the churches, we ask that you would speak directly into our hearts and minds. Make us mindful of the fact that these words are meant for us and that we are to heed the warnings contained within. Help us to be honest with ourselves and you this morning Lord. Amen.
If you have your bibles there, please open them to Rev 3:14. Please keep them open for the duration of this morning as I’ll constantly be referring back to the passage so keep checking that I’ve got it right - otherwise I could be telling you absolutely any tall story this morning and you wouldn’t have the foggiest.
We’ve already read the passage once, but seeing its so short, lets read it again.
As for all the other churches we’ve studied over the past months, I want to look at 4 things this letter under 5 headings.
1) Picture of the city
2) Picture of Christ, the author
3) Picture of the Problem
4) Picture of the Solution
5) Picture of the Promise
So let’s start with a bit of background on Laodicea.
1) A Picture of Laodicea
Laodicea was about forty-five miles southeast of Philadelphia and about one hundred miles due east of Ephesus. It was in a fertile valley along with Colosse and Hierapolis. And the great Roman road stretching to the inland of Asia from the coast at Ephesus ran straight through its center. This made Laodicea an important center of trade and communication.
Laodicea was actually known for 3 things.
1) it was known firstly for its wealth. It was the financial and banking center of the whole region and had money to burn. So wealthy was Laodicea that after the great earthquake of A.D. 17, which destroyed it, the people refused imperial help in rebuilding the city, choosing rather to do it entirely by themselves. It would be like one of our cities refusing government aid after a natural disaster and replacing all the buildings and infrastructure itself. It was rich and had no need of any help.
2) much of its wealth came from the production of a fine quality of famous glossy black wool which would be exported throughout the known world.