September 2, 2008

Praying in Laodicea, Part 2

Praying in Laodicea is defined by John’s documentation of the historic Asia Minor city addressed by Jesus in Revelation 3. However, this type of praying can only properly be understood through an exploration of the Church’s interpretation throughout the last 2000 years of Jesus’ comments concerning Laodicea and her sister churches. Remember, five times John stated that the purpose of the book of Revelation was that of prophecy (Revelation 1:3; 22:7,10,18,19).

The Church’s Interpretation of Laodicea

From the very beginning of Jesus’ explanation during His earthly ministry that He was going to return to set up an earthly kingdom, His followers embraced the truth. Even though they would jump to misinterpretation of various facts of that truth, they readily refocused and never doubted or denied that Jesus would return to establish an earthly kingdom. By the end of the First Century when Jesus appeared to John and shared His revelation of additional facts concerning that truth, those original followers were dying off. Yet, the newer believers were just as faithful to the imminent return of Jesus as they faced persecution and widespread demise.

It was not until about 250 AD that one of the church fathers conceived the idea that the words of Scripture were but the “husks” in which was hid the “kernel” of Scriptural truth. He began to allegorize and spiritualize Scripture. The Church largely began to cease anticipating the Lord’s return and made an attempt to establish an earthly kingdom by making Christianity a state religion under the rule of Constantine. Many believed Constantine’s reign began the Millennium promised in Scripture and that Old Testament Jewish promises were fulfilled in the Church.

The fact that there was no longer a nation of Israel made such an erroneous conclusion easy. Of course, the book of Revelation created problems for this interpretation. So a move was made to discredit the authorship of Revelation and to have it removed from the Canon of Scripture. When this move repeatedly failed, the Roman Catholic Church decided to lock up the Scriptures by allowing only the trained clergy to handle them. The Bible became a sealed book, and the earth was plunged into a millennium commonly called the Dark Ages. Throughout those apostate days of the Church, there remained a remnant of believers who held to the full truth of God’s Word. In 1384, John Wycliffe, a member of that remnant, printed the Scripture for every man and the work of the Reformers revived belief in the premillennial return of Christ. Unfortunately the Reformation was plagued by religious strife that created many new sects. The result was a move from spirituality to rationalism and once again belief erred toward the Church being the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises.

Why has the Church throughout history been so unstable concerning the Lord’s return for His Church? Revelation 2 and 3 contains no distinct prophetic time-table. In the prophetic words of Jeremiah in the Old Testament, distinct timing of 70 years was given for the Babylonian captivity (Jeremiah 25:12; 29:10). At the end of his book, the writer of 2 Chronicles claims that Cyrus’s command for the Israelites to return to Jerusalem was a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy that their captivity would last for 70 years. This distinct dating also allowed Daniel to recognize that the return to Israel from the Babylonian captivity was at hand (Daniel 9:2). In turn, Daniel’s prophecy included distinct timing of weeks and months that pinpointed the coming of the Messiah. In the prophetic words focusing on the culmination of history in Revelation 4 through 22, distinct timing of months and days were recorded. In His mercy and grace, the Lord has His purposes for such revelations. Yet in the prophetic writing of Revelation 2 and 3 describing the Church Age no method of timing was provided other than the number of seven churches.

Again, the Apostolic Church lived in expectancy of the imminent return of Christ. Although the obvious delay of Christ’s return down through church history created doubts and denials leading to re-interpreting and allegorizing, there has always been a remnant who have lived in the expectancy of Christ’s literal return for His Church and literal establishment of an earthly kingdom. During the late 1800’s – nearing the end of the beloved Philadelphian Church Age – the Holy Spirit began to quicken the enlightened believers to understand from the text of Revelation 2 and 3 that the seven churches, while literal in John’s time, were selected by Jesus to be prophetically descriptive of seven distinct time periods in the history of the Church. The clarity of this prophecy was concealed by the Lord until the fullness of time in order to maintain the watchfulness of believers throughout church history. It is the clarity of this prophecy that equips the remnant of believers to pray effectively in the Laodicean Church Age.

The previously described brief overview of church history perfectly fits into the character and environment of each of the literal seven churches Jesus addressed in Revelation 2 and 3:

Perfect Your Praying In Laodicea

God’s Word Says:

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches… (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22)

Note: Jesus repeats this challenge to each of the seven churches. Those who have an ear are those who are among the remnant of believers within the organized Church who do not allow the weaknesses of the organization to hinder their embrace of the truth of Scripture – even when Scripture is contradicted within the organization.

Tell God:
The items of Scriptural contradiction that have been built into your life through the Laodicean Church.

Ask God:
To replace those lies with the truth of Scripture in your life.
To keep your ear sensitive to that which the Spirit has spoken to each of these churches.

Christ's bondservant,
Rob Finley

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