Friday, 16 October 2020
So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Revelation 3:16
The Lord just noted that the church at Laodicea was neither hot nor cold. With that in mind, He now says, “So then, because you are lukewarm.” This is the only use of the Greek word chliaros, or lukewarm, in the Bible. It is exactingly translated. It is that which is tepid or lukewarm. In this, it is used figuratively to speak of the state of this church. There is nothing either invigorating or refreshing about it; it is blah. With that noted, Jesus says, “and neither cold nor hot.”
Various manuscripts reverse the order, saying “hot nor cold,” but either way the point is made. There is nothing about them that is worthy of honorable mention. Instead, the church is in a state of existence that is devoid of any true life. Jesus will explain what this means, but before He does, He gives a very stern warning, saying, “I will vomit you out of My mouth.”
The translation is incorrect. It should say, “I am about to vomit you out of My mouth.” The word is melló, signifying something that is coming or about to happen. But more, the context shows that a chance for them to change and avert this happening (verse 3:19) is given. Thus, the violent action to be taken can yet be averted.
In His statement, another word unique in Scripture is given, emeó, or vomit. It literally signifies vomiting, but it figuratively speaks of utter rejection and a desire for total separation because of extreme disgust. The comparable Hebrew word, qo, is found several times in the Old Testament, such as in Leviticus 18, where the Lord says of the inhabitants of Canaan, “For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants.”
Of this wretched state of Laodicea, John Gill says –
“I will spew thee out of my mouth; this shows how nauseous lukewarmness is to Christ, insomuch that on account of it he would not own and acknowledge her as his; but even cast her out, unchurch her, and have no more any such imperfect church state upon earth, as he afterwards never will, this is the last; nor is there any church state, or any remains of one in Laodicea; it is indeed quite uninhabited.”
Life application: What is it that makes you sick enough to vomit? Sometimes a certain smell can affect us enough to make us throw up. Sometimes people will get sick when they see something happen – maybe a car accident or they come upon something dead. Certainly, tasting something revolting will cause us to retch. These are all associated with our natural senses and this is the description Jesus uses for comparison – something lukewarm.
In our natural senses we have a strong distaste for what is lukewarm. But to Jesus, drawing from this comparison for our benefit, He tells us that a lukewarm state of spiritual life is what is revolting to Him. In order for something to be vomited out of one’s mouth, it must be in that mouth first.
Jesus is telling the church at Laodicea that if they don’t change and return to a state of spiritual activity and vibrancy, He would no longer confess them as His people. Their status as “Christians” would be by name only, but they would have no affiliation with Christ in any meaningful sense. Therefore, to be spewed out of His mouth would mean that He would no longer even speak of them; they would be disavowed.
Just look around at denominations and churches today which once held to the Bible as the rule and guide of the faith. If they have been replaced with a catechism, a book of order, a book of discipline, or any other general guideline, then they may no longer be a group on fire for the Lord. Instead, they are on fire for themselves, setting up channels of self-satisfaction and personal theology.
Don’t just rely on the words of the local church you belong to, but go online and check the overall doctrine of the denomination you are in. You may be appalled at what you see. If you are, how much more is Jesus? Don’t get cut off from the prize because of your love for a church when it is a heart for the Lord that matters.
Lord, we certainly enjoy the fellowship of the congregation we attend, but help us to love You far more. Open our eyes to know whether You are pleased with where we worship. Should we be working to restore it to a spiritually alive state, or is it too far gone? Should we be looking for another church home? May we honor You first and foremost by being in a church that pursues You through Your word. To Your glory we pray. Amen.