Posts Tagged ‘Congregation of Laodicea’

Revelation Chapter 3 – Laodicea

Messianic Community of Laodicea

Laodicea, most likely named after the wife of Antiochus II Theos, sat on a hill between the valleys of two small rivers, the Asopus and Caprus which flow into the Lycus. The town was originally called Diospolis or the “City of Zeus.” In 60 CE an earthquake leveled the city, but the residents would not take government help and rebuilt the city themselves. Laodicea was known for a major medical school where they made an eye salve from a local stone. Because of its gold, it was known as a financial center throughout the ancient world. The city also was know for its black wool and the garments it made known as ‘trimata.’ Today, Laodicea is near the city of Denizli, Turkey.

There were many Jews who were ‘transported’ from Babylon to Laodicea in the days of Antiochus the Great. Though they sent gold annually to the Temple in Jerusalem, it was confiscated by other Roman citizens. Because of the large Jewish community in Laodicea, the message of Sha’ul (Paul) was readily accepted. From the book of Colossians, it appears his letters were shared between Laodicea, Colossae which was 11 miles west, and Ephesus which was 99 miles east.

“Give my greetings to the brothers in Laodicea, also to Nympha and the congregation that meets in her home.  After this letter has been read to you, have it read also in the congregation of the Laodiceans; and you, in turn, are to read the letter that will come from Laodicea” (Colossians 4:15-16).

The Council of Laodicea

The Council of Laodicea met in this city about 360 CE.  The main focus was regulating the behavior of ‘church members.’ At this time many anti-semitic doctrines were established that remain part of  Christian theology today. One significant is Canon 29 which outlawed the keeping of the Biblical Sabbath and encouraged resting on Sunday.

“Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day.”

Canon 29 from Laodicea further states, “Rather [they should] honour the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, rest then as Christians.”  It is obvious that those at this council knew ‘The Lord’s Day’ was not the Sabbath.  Instead they began to instill the idea that ‘The Lord’s Day’ was the ‘first day of the week’ and to be honored apart from the Jewish Sabbath.

“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Laodicea, write: ‘Here is the message from the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the Ruler of God’s creation: “I know what you are doing: you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth! For you keep saying, ‘I am rich, I have gotten rich, I don’t need a thing!’ You don’t know that you are the one who is wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked! My advice to you is to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich; and white clothing, so that you may be dressed and not have to be ashamed of your nakedness; and eyesalve to rub on your eyes, so that you may see. As for me, I rebuke and discipline everyone I love; so exert yourselves, and turn from your sins! Here, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If someone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he will eat with me. I will let him who wins the victory sit with me on my throne, just as I myself also won the victory and sat down with my Father on his throne. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities'” (Revelation 3:14-22). 

Yeshua sends the seventh and final messenger to the community of Laodicea and reveals himself as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, Ruler of God’s creation.”

As the ‘Amen,’ Yeshua has the final say to the condition of this community. His words are faithful and true, the witness of two for his words. He also reveals himself as the Ruler of Elohim’s Creation.

The Set-Apart Sabbath

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing made had being” (John 1:1-3).

In the beginning, Elohim through His Word created the heavens and the earth in six days and on the seventh day He rested. This is why He blessed the seventh day and set it apart for Himself. The Sabbath is a memorial to the week of creation.

“For in six days, Adonai made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why Adonai blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself” (Exodus 20:11-12).

The Sabbath is a sign between Elohim and His people so that we know yod hey vav hey is our God.

“I am Adonai your God; live by my laws, observe my rulings, and obey them, and keep my shabbats holy; and they will be a sign between me and you, so that you will know that I am Adonai your God” (Ezekiel 20:19-20).

The Sabbath is given to the nations.

“And the foreigners who join themselves to Adonai to serve him, to love the name of Adonai, and to be his workers, all who keep Shabbat and do not profane it, and hold fast to my covenant, I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer …” (Isaiah 56:6-7).

Delighting in the Sabbath brings delight in Elohim and encompasses blessing.

“If you hold back your foot on Shabbat from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call Shabbat a delight, Adonai’s holy day, worth honoring; then honor it by not doing your usual things or pursuing your interests or speaking about them. If you do, you will find delight in Adonai — I will make you ride on the heights of the land and feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Ya‘akov, for the mouth of Adonai has spoken” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

The Sabbath will be celebrated in the new heavens and new earth. It is a prophetic vision to the coming eternal Kingdom.

“For just as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making will continue in my presence,” says Adonai, “so will your descendants and your name continue. Every month on Rosh-Hodesh and every week on Shabbat, everyone living will come to worship in my presence,” says Adonai. “As they leave, they will look on the corpses of the people who rebelled against me” (Isaiah 66:22-24).

Most importantly, Yeshua as the Ruler of Elohim’s Creation is Lord of the Sabbath.

For the Son of Man is Lord of Shabbat!” (Mathew 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5).

This edict by the Laodicean Council directly not only contradicts the Fourth Commandment given by Elohim in Exodus 20:8-10, it is an affront to every Sabbath Scripture. Judaizing has nothing to do with obeying the commandments as an expression of faith.   The term had become synonymous with requiring a non-Jewish follower of Messiah to convert to Judaism through ritual flesh circumcision. Keeping the seventh-day Sabbath has nothing to do with Judaism, but has everything to do with obeying Elohim’s commandments.

This deliberate twisting of the Biblical Sabbath has kept the ‘church’ from is Biblical foundation and the blessings of a Biblical walk. It has also successfully kept the non-Jews from provoking the Jewish people to jealousy for their own Messiah which is their calling according to Sha’ul (Paul) in Romans 11.

 Sabbath was and is central to a Biblical faith and was part of the Jewish heritage from Elohim. They were taught how to set apart the Sabbath from their days of eating manna in the wilderness. The Laodicean Council wanted no part in becoming ‘one new man’ with the Jews or their Jewish ‘traditions.’ They acted out of arrogance and at that moment were cut off of the Olive Tree of Israel. Those who accepted and followed their edicts brought anti-semitism into ‘the church,’ an anti-semitism that exists today in Christianity.

A Tepid Temperature

Many believers in Messiah claim to be ‘on fire for the Lord,’ but that doesn’t make them hot.  To be hot means to be close to the ‘fire’ of Elohim. Moshe stood next to that ‘fire’ in the burning bush and removed his shoes in the holy presence of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh. That ‘fire’ burned in a pillar over the Tabernacle in the wilderness and only a few could go near it. It is a ‘fire’ of Yeshua that burns in the heart of a person so intensely they cannot humanly contain it. It is a hot ‘fire’ that refines a person’s spiritual life removing the dross of sin in order to become more a more set-apart vessel for the Kingdom of Elohim.

“But if I say, “I won’t think about him, I won’t speak in his name any more,” then it seems as though a fire is burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I wear myself out trying to hold it in, but I just can’t do it” (Jeremiah 20:9).

“That third part [the part that survives] I will bring through the fire; I will refine them as silver is refined, I will test them as gold is tested. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is my people’ and they will say, ‘Adonai is my God'” (Zechariah 13:9).

To be cold means to be far away from Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh and His presence.  To be cold is to be from the nations, a foreigner, separated from God, His people and His teachings. Cold means to be pagan with lustful desires and embracing false gods. Cold means to be agnostic with sterile ways of thinking, an intelligence shrouded in darkness, to be estranged from the life of God because of ignorance. Cold means to be atheist – irreverent, secular and profane.

“Therefore, remember your former state: you Gentiles by birth — called the Uncircumcised by those who, merely because of an operation on their flesh, are called the Circumcised — at that time had no Messiah. You were estranged from the national life of Isra’el. You were foreigners to the covenants embodying God’s promise. You were in this world without hope and without God” (Ephesians 2:11-12).

“Many people’s love [of God] will grow cold because of increased distance from Torah” (Matthew 24:11).

According to the dictionary, lukewarm is a state of being warm, but only barely. The example is used of a forgotten cup of hot tea becoming lukewarm. When it comes to the people of Laodicea they lack zeal and enthusiasm for the ways of Elohim. Lukewarm in a Biblical sense is a mixing of the hot holiness of Elohim and the profane coldness.

The priests of Isra’el are warned about their mixing the holy and the profane. Ezekiel tells them they violate Torah by not distinguishing between the clean and unclean and hiding their eyes from the Sabbath. This behavior profanes the name of Elohim among themselves and among the nations.

“Her cohanim have done violence to my Torah, profaned my holy things, made no difference between the holy and the common, not distinguished between unclean and clean, hidden their eyes from my shabbats, and profaned me among themselves” (Ezekiel 22:26).

The Hebrew word ‘violence’ in this verse is chamas and means ‘do violently against.’ Profane in Hebrew is chol and means ‘to make common.’ This is the antithesis of being ‘set apart as Elohim is set apart.’

“Therefore Adonai says, “‘Go out from their midst; separate yourselves; don’t even touch what is unclean. Then I myself will receive you. In fact, I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters.’ says Adonai-Tzva’ot.” Therefore, my dear friends, since we have these promises, let us purify ourselves from everything that can defile either body or spirit, and strive to be completely holy, out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1).

These verses from 2 Corinthians had a profound impact on my walk of faith. As I read through it, I noticed several things. First, I was to separate myself from certain people. At the time, I had no idea who those people could possible be, but I soon learned. Second, the Scripture said not to even touch anything unclean. I did not know what that meant so I looked up ‘unclean’ in the small Concordance in the back of my Bible. It took me to Leviticus 11 that described ‘clean and unclean’ animals, meats that were not created as food. At the end of chapter 11, Elohim states that “you are to be holy as He is holy.” I considered that not eating ‘unclean’ foods would make me ‘holy.’ Third I noticed that by obeying what Elohim says, He becomes my Father and I become His daughter. From what I had been taught throughout my ‘church days,’ I just assumed the Father/daughter relationship came with faith in Yeshua. You know, unconditional love. Fifth, we are to purify ourselves from everything that defiles not just our spirit, but also our bodies – out of reverence for Elohim.

I became excited with what I saw in those verses. I had received a ‘word’ from the Lord and wanted to share it. When I opened my Bible, read the verses and explained to some friends what I saw, I was emphatically told two things: One, we are no longer under the law; and two, if we did those things we would be considered legalistic. I knew from that response the ‘who’ I was to separate myself from.

Those verses did in fact come from the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel and were quoted in the new testament even though new testament believers rejected them. As the Ruach haKodesh continued to give me understanding, I realized that because I am part of the royal priesthood serving Yeshua, I am obligated to the same standard of holiness as the Levitical priesthood; in fact a higher standard of holiness. I am not to mix the holy and the profane or become indifferent to the Sabbath. I am not to become lukewarm and profane the name of yod hey vav hey among the nations. As for unconditional love, that is one-sided. I have to show my love for Yeshua by obeying his commands; I have to show reverence for my Father as His loving daughter.

Unfortunately much of the modern-‘church’ is lukewarm. They don’t understand the difference between what his holy hot and profane cold. They mix the holiness of Elohim with the pagan ways of the world. They have exchanged the Sabbath for Sunday as pronounced by the Council of Laodicea; they have combined the worship of the goddess Astarte/Ashtoreth with the resurrection of Yeshua, they have confused the birth of the sun-god Saturn with the incarnation of the Son of God, and they falsely believe that Yeshua’s death on the cross either changed the makeup of pigs, horses, and eagles or just removed sin to the point that disobedience still merits eternal rewards.

Laodicea is being told a different message by the faithful and true witness. They are being told they are so lukewarm that Yeshua wants to vomit them out of his mouth. The Greek word for ‘vomit’ is emeo and means ‘repulsed, showing utter rejection, and disgust.” In other words, the people in this community disgust Yeshua and he wants to utterly reject them. This doesn’t sound like the mainstream gospel message of today.

Assimilation and the Soul

The people of Laodicean see themselves as so rich that they have need of nothing. Their materialistic lifestyle makes them prideful and deceived to their real spiritual condition. Yeshua uses the very things Laodicea values as a city to rebuke this community that has assimilated into that culture: gold, clothing, and eye salve.

Yeshua sees this community as it really is. He doesn’t look at their outward appearance, but at their inner soul. His is disappointed in their way of thinking and sees them as naked, poor, and blind. But, because of his compassion, he offers them spiritual direction.

Sardis had soiled clothes; Laodicea has no clothes. They deceptively believe they are clothed in the righteous of Messiah, however, their manmade riches do not cover their nakedness. The could be likened to the wedding guest at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb who didn’t have wedding clothes. Though this guest had been invited, he didn’t properly prepare. He had not been to the rehearsal dinner so he didn’t know what was expected.

““Now when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who wasn’t dressed for a wedding; so he asked him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him outside in the dark!’ In that place people will wail and grind their teeth,  for many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:11-14).

Even though they have much gold, Yeshua tells them they need to purchase gold refined in the fire. They exchanged a ‘golden life’ for their an eternal reward of being with him. They have become arrogant and need the hotness of the refining fire to remove the dross so they can become pure and holy.

For their spiritual blindness, Yeshua tells them they need eye salve. They need to become aware of their detestable practices. They have left the pure milk of the Word and violated Torah. They have mixed the holy worship of Elohim with the false god worship. The salve he offers so they can regain their spiritual eyes is dust and water.

“He answered, “The man called Yeshua made mud, put it on my eyes, and told me, ‘Go to Shiloach and wash!’ So I went; and as soon as I had washed, I could see” (John 9:11).

Exert Yourselves!

“How happy [blessed is] the man whom you correct, Yah, whom you teach from your Torah …” (Psalm 94:12).

The people of Laodicea are so complacent Yeshua tells them to “exert yourselves and turn from your sins!” ‘Exert’ means ‘to put forth some physical or mental action.’  The false doctrine of “Yeshua did everything and so I don’t have to do anything” has utterly deceived them. These people do not need a message of ‘rest in Yeshua,’ they need a ‘Put-forth-some-effort-because-you-need-to-repent’ message. Because Yeshua loves this community, he rebukes them in a harsh way. He disciplines them so they will ‘repent’ and not be lost for all eternity.

“For Adonai disciplines those he loves and whips everyone he accepts as a son” (Hebrews 12:6).

“Yah disciplined me severely, but did not hand me over to death” (Psalm 118:18) .

In Exodus, the Ten Commandments were numbered and lettered in Hebrew not Roman. In the list, dalet or ‘door’ represented the fourth commandment. The ‘door’ commandment is “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”

Yeshua pleads with the Laodicean people.  On the seventh-day Yeshua stands at the dalet knocking.  He wants these people to repent and return to the true witness of their relationship with his Father. He wants someone to open the ‘door’ so he can come in and eat with them.  If they open the ‘door,’ he will fellowship with them and together they will celebrate the ‘appointed time’ of the Lord, the Sabbath. This is the same Sabbath day the Council of Laodicea decided was Judaizing and encouraged people to discard it!

The reward for the overcomer is to sit with Yeshua on his throne.  The action of sitting after a victory is a symbol of rest and cessation of work.  This is the original meaning of Sabbath – to cease work and rest.  When the Laodiceans open the ‘door’ and embrace the Sabbath as it was created, they will no longer be poor, naked or blind to the prophetic vision and hope they have lost. They will rule and reign with Yeshua, the Lord of the Sabbath, in the his eternal Kingdom.

Those [in Laodicea who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit, Ruach haKodesh [the holy wind] is saying to the Messianic community ….”

Yeshua uses these same words in the gospels when he speaks in parables, however, he doesn’t include the words, “what the Spirit says to the communities.’  One reason that he taught in parables was so the people could “look but not see, and listen but not understand” the message of the Kingdom (Luke 8:10).  Because his disciples were given deeper understanding to the coming Kingdom, he would explain their ‘secret’ meaning to them away from the crowds.

Another reason may be that the parables all occurred before the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot when the ‘holy wind’ was poured out and the new covenant was instituted (Acts 2:2).  With the new covenant, men and women who believed the message of Yeshua are given new hearts of flesh and a renewed spirit – neshama.  The Ruach haKodesh within would compel them obey his Torah (Ezekiel 36:24-27). His Ruach would give them “ears to hear what the Spirit was saying” so they could His voice.

Yeshua doesn’t want this community to just ‘hear’ the message, but to ‘listen’ to it.  His message was to be ‘heard’ through spiritual ears that were fine-tuned to his voice, the voice of the Shepherd.  His sheep were to ‘listen’ to the message and ‘obey’ what he instructed in order to be an overcomer – Isra’el – and receive an eternal reward.  

For he is our God, and we are the people in his pasture, the sheep in his care. If only today you would listen to his voice … “(Psalm 95:7-8).

“My sheep listen to my voice, I recognize them, they follow me, and I give them eternal life. They will absolutely never be destroyed, and no one will snatch them from my hands” (John 10:27-28). 

“In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says, ‘You will keep on hearing but never understand, and keep on seeing but never perceive, because the heart of this people has become dull — with their ears they barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, so as not to see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and do t’shuvah [repent and turn from sin], so that I could heal them.’

But you [Laodicea], how blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear!” (Isaiah 6:9-10, Matthew 13:14-16). 

Revelation 4 – Heavenly Throne

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