Reading through the Bible together
In His letters to the seven churches Jesus tells the story of Christian history and our story. Each letter digs a little deeper and helps us see ourselves a little more clearly. From false apostles in Ephesus to the synagogue of Satan in Smyrna, the Nicolaitans of Pergamum, and Jezebel herself in Thyatira (Rev. 2:2, 9, 15, 20), the problems get progressively worse. It is a picture of decline, culminating in the longest of the seven letters which describes the church under the power of a seductive woman who leads God’s people into idolatry and spiritual fornication. The woman reappears later in the book as “Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots” (Rev. 17:5).
Fortunately, by the time we get to chapter 3 the picture begins to improve. Jesus indicates there are some in Sardis “who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy” (v. 4). Of the church in Philadelphia, He says they “have kept My word, and have not denied My name” and “have kept My command to persevere” (vv. 9–10). So it comes as a quite a shock that the seventh and last church, the church of Laodicea, seems to have no redeeming quality. It is the only church in which Jesus finds nothing to commend.
But Laodicea is not without hope. Jesus refuses to give up because He loves His Church. We are the object of His supreme regard. He died for us. He lives for us. He is coming again—to take us to the place He has prepared for us. “As many as I love,” Jesus says, “I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (v. 19). We can repent only for ourselves. It is a message for each of us individually. Jesus stands knocking. Waiting. Longing to be reunited with us so that we can eat “the marriage supper of the Lamb” together (Rev. 3:20; 19:7–8). How ready are we to spend time with Jesus now? How ready are we to repent of our coldness and nakedness and be clothed with His righteousness and love? The world, whether it realizes it or not, is waiting to learn how we answer that question.
Clinton Wahlen, PhD
Associate Director, Biblical Research Institute