Revelation 3:15-16 – “I know your works: you are neither hot or cold. Would you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot or cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
Let me challenge you and ask, “Do you believe that Jesus was saying that He would rather a person be cold (lost) than lukewarm (partially in and partially out)?” That has always troubled me because I know that the Bible is clear that God does not desire that anyone be lost. He wants everyone to be saved, but we know that all are not because all do not accept His sacrifice of grace and mercy.
Let me offer some historical insight and suggest that what was said to the Laodicean church would have been readily understood by that group of people. It is always vital that we discover what those to whom a matter was addressed understood. It is also vital that we consider the whole of the Bible in our interpretations. No scripture is of private interpretation but must be considered in light of the entire Bible. Since we do not all have the entire Bible in our minds, our understanding grows as we do spiritually.
If you research and study the history of that region you discover some geological realities that might help shed light on this passage. Several miles to the northwest of Laodicea on top of a small mountain is a city called Hierapolis. What is important about that city is it has a unique geological formation produced by natural hot springs. Even today the city is known for its mineral spring.
The subterranean springs create a snowy-white calcium deposit called ‘Pamukkale’ or ‘cotton castle’ that cascades down the slopes like ice. From Laodicea, Hierapolis gleams like a white freshly snow powdered ski slope. Get that picture in your mind.
About the same distance from Laodicea in the opposite direction is Colossae. We know from the Bible that Paul’s fellow laborer Epaphras worked in Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13). Colossae was a less notable city than Laodicea, but it had something Laodicea did not – a cold freshwater spring. The fact that Laodicea did not have water, set it apart from the other cities.
Laodicea had no springs whatsoever. They had to import water via aqueduct from somewhere else. The hot mineral waters from Hierapolis or the fresh cold water from Colossae. The problem, by the time the water got to Laodicea it was neither hot nor cold but lukewarm. It has lost its unique qualities of hotness or coldness and was unremarkable (lukewarm).
The Laodiceans were subjected to all the lukewarm water they wanted to drink and if you have ever drunk lukewarm water, you know it is less than desirable. I am quite sure; the thought entered their mind that they wished for either hot or cold water. If I want a hot drink, lukewarm is less than desirable and often disgusting. If I want cold water and it is lukewarm, I have had the urge to spit it out.
With that in mind, could it be that the LORD was saying that He desired His people to be hot (like the salubrious waters of Hierapolis) or cold (like the refreshing waters of Colossae)? But instead, He found that their discipleship was unremarkable (lukewarm).
In that light, hot and cold were both good qualities or conditions, and only the lukewarm was a bad condition. If cold means (lost) that could never be deemed a good quality and would not fit the statement of Jesus to John. Hot and Cold then could be synonyms to refer to strong, passionate, and remarkable faith. Whereas, lukewarm refers to unremarkable and undesirable faith. Jesus wants us to demonstrate qualities that reflect a strong and beneficial faith.
I suggest that lukewarm is not speaking of quality somewhere between hot and cold but something quite other. I believe that it stands in opposition to both hot and cold, and that, I believe, is what the Laodicean church would have heard when they heard the message of Jesus, through John, to them.
Therefore, I pray that we either become hot, like the waters of Hierapolis and provide the healing qualities and benefit, or cold, like the waters of Colossae, and be refreshing rather than lukewarm and have no impact. That would be like salt that is no longer possessing the qualities of salt as a flavor or preservative. He wants us to be fully committed to Him and not those with unremarkable faith, commitment and demonstrated love for Him.
Be Hot or Cold, not Lukewarm!
God bless you as you enjoy this day in Jesus!