Lessons from Laodicea

Compare these two churches –

1. Laodicea

Revelation 3:14-17, “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.”

2.  Smyrna:

Revelation 2:8-10, “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. (9) “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (10) Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Things are rarely as they seem to be.  By all outward appearances, the Laodicean church had God’s blessing upon it.   Just look at all of its finery.  They probably were well thought of in their community.  They didn’t upset anyone.  They stuck to a definite middle-of-the-road Christianity.  And Smyrna?  Well, those people had a problem.  They weren’t growing in size or finances.  They were hated not only by their community, but especially by the other “faith communities” in their town. They were radical and stirred up trouble.  They brought all of their troubles upon themselves.  Outward appearances, you see.

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Magic, Superstition, and Biblical Faith

Acts 19:18-19 ESV  Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.  (19)  And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.

Magic is an attempt by man to direct and manipulate the spiritual realm. By means of incantations, spells, potions and other methods that are really witchcraft (forbidden by the Lord), practitioners of these dark deeds believe they can assume God’s role and bring about outcomes of their liking. These evils have no place in the life of the Christian, as the new Christians in Ephesus recognized immediately.

Much of what parades as Christianity is actually superstition and magic. Prayer becomes a christianized form of incantation (remember Jesus told us that we are not to pray like the Gentiles with meaningless repetition). Satan and demons are supposedly rebuked and defeated by assorted formulas that allegedly are derived from the Bible.  They are not.

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Child Custody and Solomon’s Wisdom

1 Kings 3:25-28 ESV  And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.”  (26)  Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.”  (27)  Then the king answered and said, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.”  (28)  And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice.

This account of course is given to us in Scripture to demonstrate that the Lord had indeed given King Solomon wisdom that could only come from the Spirit of God. Solomon, in this, is a picture of the Messiah who will one day judge the earth in perfect, unfailing, all-knowing wisdom.

As I read these verses, the whole child custody, family court business came to mind. Because actually what Solomon was dealing with was a child custody case, and to resolve it with perfect justice, he needed to find out which woman was lying – which was evil and which was righteous. By the Lord’s own wisdom, he was able to get to the bottom of it.

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