I wanted to talk to you today about a verse in Revelations, where Jesus talks about people being lukewarm. You probably know the passage. Lets read it:
"To the angel of the church in
'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.
'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.
Rev 3:17 'Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,
Rev 3:18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
'Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.
Rev 3:20 '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.
Rev 3:21 '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.
Over the years I have found that many people
struggle with this verse. They wonder and worry, am I a lukewarm Christian…
after all, we often don’t *feel* hot, more often than not we feel cold. Is there
any such thing as a lukewarm Christian? In order to understand this story, there
are a few crucial pieces of information. However, in order to understand the
Laodiceans we first have to understand someone else,
the Babylonians and the
This is the story of the
One of the most interesting things about this passage is that there is a lot of rich language in the Hebrew text, in fact, it’s what’s called busy. It’s a bit like one of those stories or movies like say, Hot Shots, or something, which has lots of symbolism and innuendo. Likewise this story is full of plays on words, parallels, symbolism, and contrasts.
Let’s review the story briefly. We’re told firstly, that the entire world had one language. This ties the passage all together up to verse 9. It makes what is called an inclusio. This means an inclusion, a neat little package, or a little section. (read Gen 11:1-9).
How does this explain Rev 3 you ask? Well, it’s
like this. This passage seems to be summed up in its word plays. Here are a
few, the first one we have mentioned, with
We are told that these people migrated, which
incidentally, the word for migrate means ‘to pull up tent pegs’, to this Plain.
The obvious intention is to draw a line between the physical and spiritual line of Cain, the sinners, who are drawing further from God, and deeper into sin, and to contrast that with the ones who call on the name of God, the ones who are called by, and named by God.
Commentators say that the
The crucial point here is that they have made their own stone. It is defiance towards God. They don’t need Him to supply their rocks, they can make their own. They believe that they can make something permanent using their own technology. It’s seen as a substitute for trusting God to supply their needs. It’s quite fascinating and historically interesting that the writer chooses these words for brick, as it indicates knowledge of early techniques. It also enables him to indicate the folly of it.
To make it worse, and the height of arrogance, they take it a step further, in verse 4: 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”
As the Akkadian name for the tower reveals, the object of the tower is to join Heaven to earth. This is a challenge to God Himself, to divine sovereignty. They have discarded their need for His grace and provision. It is quite simply, sacrilege.
The tower itself is reputed to stand something like 300 high, above the temple which is underneath it. There is an existing ruin which has what is left of the tower, and it stands about 150 feet high at the moment. It’s quite an achievement to be sure, something to be proud of and boast about. However, the writer has it almost sarcastically “5 The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built.” The indication is that this tower was so small and insignificant that God has to ‘come down’ to see it. Human works are insignificant, and there is no way that it can get you to heaven. And worse, what it does get you is a curse.
Now that we have an idea about what went on
In Rev 3 we read, in verses; 15 “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
Think carefully about these words. Why were
they lukewarm? Because they said they are rich, in need of nothing.
Just like that inhabitants of
So, are you a lukewarm Christian? No. You can not be a lukewarm Christian, because that’s an oxymoron. You can be a Christian struggling to trust God, to be humble and reliant on God, but to be lukewarm is to be and do the opposite of what is required. A person who is lukewarm is completely the opposite in nature to a person who relies on God, who believes God, who trusts in God.
You, or we, rather, are either Christians, or
we are not. As Master Yoda said, do, or do not, there is no try. What we can
learn from this passage and the story
This is what God says: 19 I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. 20 Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. 21 To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”
So, rest assured that if you are a believer in God, that you trust Him and rely on Him, you are not a lukewarm person, like the Laodiceans. That doesn’t mean that you won’t struggle to trust him, rely on him, and to allow Him to provide for you. That struggle in itself proves to me, and to you that you are not a Laodicean.