Confession time. I have been perplexed about how to pray for the Church in these last days.

Please allow me to explain.

The Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus told us to pray, includes this statement of agreement with God’s will:

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done.”

We are to pray for God’s kingdom to come.

How do we do that? What I mean is, when I pray “Your kingdom come,” I am praying for Jesus to return, because He must return for the Kingdom of God to be established on the new earth. In order for God’s Kingdom to be established, many difficult events must occur. Yet, in spite of all of these troubling events, John wrote at the end of the Book of Revelation:

“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come’” (Revelation 22:17).1

As you see in this verse, we are told to agree with God’s will concerning the Last Days: “And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’”

And John did. After all he had witnessed, the plagues, the tragedy, the Antichrist, and the wonders to come, he wrote:

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).

“Amen,” we are to pray, “Please return, Lord Jesus.” We are to pray this after we have read about all the horrible things that must transpire in the days to come. However, after all those mind-bending terrors, God’s glorious kingdom follows:

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:1–5).

We are to agree—yes, to pray that all of this—the misery and the glory—will happen.

And one of those things that must happen before Jesus returns is the falling away of the Church:

“Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4).

From these verses alone, one could say that “the rebellion” (“apostasía” in Greek) refers to a general rebellion against God. However, we have Jesus warning about a falling away as well:

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:9–13).

And Jesus asked this thought-provoking question when He addressed God’s justice-to-come in His teaching:

“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).

So, how am I to pray for a Church that must fall away before Jesus returns?

We will look at this next time.

Hint: I believe the answer is in the first nineteen verses of the ninth chapter of Daniel.


1All Scripture quotations from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


To me, Ezekiel is one of the strangest books in the Bible. The only one stranger is Revelation. When I use the word “strange,” I do not mean that in a negative way at all. It’s just that when I read these two books, my response is, “Wow. What? Really!?” For many years, one of the Christian jokes about not-clued-in preaching was about a pastor who addressed Ezekiel’s vision the wheel within the wheel in his message. It was supposed to be funny because no one really knew what in the world that vision was all about.

And I still do not know.

I welcome your insights.

However, my recent study of Ezekiel has been very interesting. Ezekiel prophesied to Jews who had been taken captive to Babylonia. He spoke of being near the Chebar, a canal in that country, which may now be called Shatt en-Nil.

His message was not a happy one. Ezekiel was what some people today might call a Johnny Raincloud.

His message was not a happy one because he foretold the destruction of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was not supposed to be destroyed. It was God’s holy city. Nevertheless, the Lord told Ezekiel to pantomime an upcoming attack by drawing a map of that city and then build a siege works against it.

“And you, son of man, take a brick and lay it before you, and engrave on it a city, even Jerusalem. And put siege works against it, and build a siege wall against it, and cast up a mound against it. Set camps also against it, and plant battering rams against it all around. And you, take an iron griddle, and place it as an iron wall between you and the city; and set your face toward it, and let it be in a state of siege, and press the siege against it. This is a sign for the house of Israel. Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their punishment” (Ezekiel 4:1–4).1

The deported Jews thought, of course, that the siege-to-come would be done by the Assyrians. However, to their despair, that was not the case. The one who was besieging Jerusalem would be the Lord Himself. If you read Ezekiel, you will discover why the Lord was doing this. Some very hideous, nasty acts were occurring there, even within the temple itself. When the Lord told Ezekiel to place an iron griddle between himself and the city, He was notifying Israel/Judah that the Lord, represented by Ezekiel, was separating Himself from the city of God. In addition, Ezekiel was to set his face toward the city. This represented the Lord’s firm resolve to complete His will.

What does all of this mean for Christians today?

A movement is afoot preaching that Christians are to set up the kingdom of God on earth. We are to “declare dominion” and take control (not violently) of the earthly powers of government, business, and media. Christians are told to buy banks, hotels, and restaurants. There is a great revival coming, Pentecostal/Charismatic prophets proclaim.

I want to tell you that my desire is to stay as far away from this movement as possible. Why? The reasons are numerous, but the primary reason is that it is clear to me that the New Testament instructs Christians to “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:5–7).

This is the way we are to think, to “have this mind among” ourselves. In Jesus, I see God Incarnate who laid down His life for His Father and for the sake of others. He did not grasp at any earthly power at all. Thus, I see this kingdom-now, dominionism movement to be 180 degrees from the will of God.

When the time comes for judgment to begin at the house of God—and it may have already started, to my great distress—many Christians will consider it an attack from Satan. Or perhaps not recognize it all because bad things will be happening to Christians who somehow deserve it. However, it will in truth be the Lord Himself at work, just as He was when He orchestrated the destruction of Jerusalem.

However, let us take heart.

Look again at Ezekiel 4:4: “Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their punishment.”

Remember that Ezekiel represents the Lord in this act. The Lord will bear the punishment of the house of Israel. This He did in Jesus. He has done the same for His people, the Church. He forgives us. He knows how sinful and clueless we are. That is why He absorbed the full measure of our sin when He died on the cross. He was punished. We are set free. We are now to walk with Him in humility and love.

However, some lessons are very hard to learn.

The difficult time ahead will, if the Church listens and obeys, bring it to repentance and intimacy with and knowledge of the Father and His Son, Jesus.

This has been God’s titanic goal from the beginning.

And still is.

1All Scriptures quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


In our last look at the Book of Job, we saw that the Lord God Creator continued to ask Job questions he just could not answer, because Job was not God. He did not know all things the way our Father does, nor could he instruct His creations about how they should behave. Job was finally reduced to silence, but after God humbled him, he did speak:

“Then Job answered the LORD and said: ‘Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further’” (Job 40:3–5).1

Job surrendered.

You and I would, as well, as would every human being on earth after this onslaught of the truth of God’s creative sovereignty.

However, the Lord was not through with His suffering servant. After Job told Him that he would speak no longer, God unleashed a torrent of questions that would cause anyone to wither. It was only by God’s grace that Job was able to withstand this barrage. However, He asked all these questions in love. Somehow, all of this was for Job’s good.

“Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?” (Job 40:7–8).

I find it difficult to imagine what would be happening in my mind and soul if God asked me if I thought I had the right to condemn Him, especially after He had asked me all these questions about His creative order to which I was unable to respond.

Nevertheless, the Lord continued:

“Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity; clothe yourself with glory and splendor. Pour out the overflowings of your anger, and look on everyone who is proud and abase him. Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand. Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the world below. Then will I also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you” (Job 40:10–14).

Could Job adorn himself with majesty and dignity? Clothe himself with glory and splendor”

No, he could not, and neither could we.

Abase the proud? Tread down the wicked?

Not only did Job not have the power to do this, he did not possess the judicial capacity to do so. By that, I mean that only God has a perfectly holy and righteous as well as an eternal, all-knowledge perspective to make judgments about what is right and what is wrong.

You and I do not. We do not know everything. We are not perfectly holy and righteous in ourselves. Indeed, we are proud and wicked.

Then the Lord unleashes a fusillade of questions about two beasts, the identity of which is uncertain. The ESV offers Behemoth and Leviathan. Some think these verses describe a hippopotamus and a crocodile, but no one except God knows for sure. Regardless, the Lord was telling Job, again, that He created beasts that Job could not control. God designed animals on purpose that were wild, untamable—and stronger than man by himself. The implication is that the Lord also created man to be weak in comparison; not only weak in comparison to these two mighty animals but obviously weaker than the One who fashioned them.

Finally came Job’s second repentance and confession. He admitted that he did not know everything. He confessed that he had no right to judge God, to determine if His actions were good or evil, righteous or unrighteous.

Then the most important conclusion that Job came to and that we can come to:

“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5–6).

We think we know God sufficiently, but we do not. We think we see Him clearly, but we do not. Everything we suffer and experience; all that we question and doubt leads here: the knowledge of our God, our great Creator and Savior.

There is no more important knowledge possible in our brief life span.


God, when all was said and done, blessed Job with more than he lost. Such is the eternal future for all those who persevere with Jesus—for days without end, each glorious day better than the last, in God’s eternal kingdom.

1The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


The study of God’s questions to Job has been an enlightening endeavor. I have been filled with wonder as I have looked at the Lord’s challenging questions to a man who had suffered the loss of almost everything. In so doing, He questions us, as well. We will be benefited by considering the Lord’s inscrutable sovereignty as we encounter the trials of life, which sometimes cause us to rage against what we may consider unfair, unnecessary, and even cruel.

After God had challenged Job about his knowledge of mountain goats (see the previous post), He offered this:

“Who has let the wild donkey go free?” (Job 39:5).1

Interesting question, isn’t it? Was there an option to not let it go free? How would one answer this question? We cannot. Human beings are not about the business of letting wild donkeys be wild or not.

Then God demanded another answer from Job:

“Is the wild ox willing to serve you?” (verse 9).

No, the Lord fashioned this beast so it would be unwilling to serve people.

In these two questions, it seems that the Lord was instructing Job that He had created these two animals to be untamable and undisciplined, and that Job had had nothing to do with that. He cannot and would never be able to change the nature of God’s handiwork.

And, of course, neither will we. We lack the ability to do so.

In verses 13-18, the Lord asked no questions but described another one of His creations, the ostrich.

“The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, but are they the pinions and plumage of love? For she leaves her eggs to the earth and lets them be warmed on the ground, forgetting that a foot may crush them and that the wild beast may trample them. She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers; though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear, because God has made her forget wisdom and given her no share in understanding. When she rouses herself to flee, she laughs at the horse and his rider” (Job 39:13–18).

The Lord proclaimed that He made a proud, cruel, dumb, fast, non-flying bird.

And that’s the way it is.

In the next two verses, the Lord inquired, “Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? Do you make him leap like the locust?” (Job 39:19–20).

Again, Job, if he had responded, would have replied, “No. Of course not. Only You are able to this, God Almighty.”

The Lord continued to educate Job about horses. He created them with the desire to engage without fear in the fierceness of war. There is no other animal like this, just as there are no other animals like wild donkeys, wild oxen, and ostriches.

Then Lord’s next question about His sovereignty concerns the hawk and the eagle:

“Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars and spreads his wings toward the south?

Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high?” (Job 39:26–27).

Job is reduced to silence again.

God’s final question before Job finally spoke:

“Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?” (Job 40:2).

Job was a “faultfinder,” one who, in his supposed great wisdom, found some oversight, some injustice, some error in God. However, Job did not have the knowledge to make such a judgment. As it turns out, he knew almost nothing at all. “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth” (Job 40:4).

So, for us. Do we find fault with God? Like Job, we do not possess the knowledge to do so. God is sovereign. This is the simple yet sometimes difficult-to-accept truth. We can seethe with anger. We can question. We can think Him unfair. However, He alone possesses the power and the knowledge to reign over His creation. We just simply do not.

Before we end, however, we should remember one vital truth. God was not angry with Job or consider him deserving of His wrath. When the Lord answered Satan at the beginning of the book, He asked, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” (Job 1:8).

Trials and suffering, as terrible as they may be, do not necessarily speak of God’s anger toward us. God does as He pleases. Our necessity is to cling to Him in faith, regardless of circumstances, even if we have lost almost everything; even in the face of death itself.


1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


In this entry, we will look at the 39th chapter of Job, which begins with this question from God:

“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the does? Can you number the months that they fulfill, and do you know the time when they give birth, when they crouch, bring forth their offspring, and are delivered of their young? (Job 39:1–3).1

Job, of course, had no answer.

And neither do we.

Oh, it’s true that biologists can roughly determine the gestation period of mountain goats through their observation and study, but they will not be able to say with certainty the date and time that a mountain goat gives birth. Doctors cannot even predict with pinpoint accuracy when human mothers give birth.

But God knows.

So, a question. Is it only the exact birthing times of mountain goats of which God is aware? Or does He know this about all animals?

When I brought this mountain-goat question up with a friend of mine, He said, “Yes. And mosquitoes, too.”

My first response was, “Um…”

That “Um” meant that I had regressed to the reasoning of man, which limits God.

But is this knowledge too great for Him? Is this knowledge too great for the God who knows everything? Is there anything He does not know? And if there is, is He then truly God?

The Christian God knows everything. In fact, He created the concept of knowledge itself.

So. If Christians believe that God is the Creator of all things, they would also believe that He created knowledge. Is it possible that the One who created knowledge also would not know all that knowledge is?

Christians are aware that Jesus said that the Father knows how many hairs are on our heads and is aware of the deaths of all sparrows that fall to earth. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:29–30).

Psalm 147:4 proclaims, “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.”

The number of stars in the universe is so large that we cannot comprehend it. However, this verse tells us that God not only knows how many stars there are, but actually has given all of them names.

Revelation 13:7-8 tells us that there is a “book of life of the Lamb who was slain” which contains the names of those whose names were written there “before the foundation of the world.”

If that truth alone doesn’t fill your heart with wonder, then I’m not sure you have given much thought to God’s greatness.

May I encourage you to include this stunning truth about God’s all-encompassing knowledge as you pray? I can state with assurance that it will, over time, do much to strengthen your faith in and understanding of our amazing God.

1All scripture quotations from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


In this post, we will continue to look at how the Lord challenged Job with questions he simply could not answer. We will not cover all His unfathomable queries, but this is a representative example:

“Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’?” (Job 38:34–35). 1

Job was unable to cry out to clouds and make them bring rain. He did not have the power to create lightning.

This was an obvious conclusion, but one that Job did not bother to consider when he doubted God.

Neither do we when we question whether God knows what He’s doing.

The Lord’s thought-provoking inquiries in the verses above concern His lordship over creation—not only His lordship but His at-the-very-moment omnipotence. It is one thing to be awed by God Almighty’s ability and power at the beginning of time, but it is also remarkable to consider that right now, He is fully able to send forth rain and lightning wherever and whenever He pleases. These events are not willy-nilly, capricious actions. They are caused by God, every time they occur.

And there is this:

“Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in their thicket? Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help, and wander about for lack of food?” (Job 38:39–41).

Really? The Lord God hunts the prey for lions and provides prey for ravens? According to the way some think, He really shouldn’t be bothered by such things.

He isn’t “bothered.” He is sovereign over everything.


Have you ever watched a nature program about carnivores hunting down their prey in Africa? The animal runs for its life, but once it is caught, strangely it just seems to accept its fate, even as the lion chews on its hindquarters while it is yet living. Is this an example of God hunting prey for the lion? The gazelle obediently and instinctively knows that its life function is to be food for lions. Both lion and gazelle are simply doing what God has told them to do. All of creation is obedient to what the Lord commands them to do.

All of creation except mankind, that is.

The Lord then asked Job if he provides the raven its prey when its young ones are hungry. No, of course Job doesn’t, but let’s look at one final truth in verse 41. The Lord said that when the raven chicks cry out for food, they are actually crying to Him.

Think with me for a moment. If the Lord hears the cries of little ravens, does He not also hear the cries for food of all animals everywhere?

And does He not hear our cries for provision and help, the pleas of those whom He created after His own likeness?


“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Matthew 6:30-32).

We won’t consider here His stunning statement that the Gentiles seek after what to eat, drink, and wear and we shouldn’t, but leave with this comforting truth: You are not alone. If the Father hears the cries of raven chicks and comes to their rescue, He will without question help you as well.

Does this truth not fit your current reality? This is where we are required to believe in the sovereignty of a God who rules over everything, who knows everything, who can do anything. How do you deal with this uncomfortable contradiction? I do not have an easy answer; no, not easy, but simple: Pray. Yes, pray for provision, but pray for the ability to trust in the sovereign God of all things.

1All scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001).). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


In this next series of articles, I’d like to look at the questions the Lord asked Job in the Book of Job. We should prepare ourselves for a humbling, challenging ride. It will not be long before we will be forced to admit with Job that we are foolish when think we have the right to judge the Lord God of the universe and question His workings and His ways.

Before I begin, I admit that I’m often unsure of what do to with the bulk of this book, knowing that most of it is the counsel of Job’s friends, men whom the Lord rebukes. Job’s counselors thought the Lord was angry with Job, but He was actually angry with them: “After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (Job 42:7).1 Nevertheless, their words are Scripture, and we must deal with them. One of the initial things I’m wondering is if we can discover that although words spoken by a Christian or some religious person may seem right, what’s going on behind those words is wrong and troubling.

However, let’s return to God’s astonishing questions to Job.

God’s first question was, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2).

Think with me here for a moment. This is the Lord God Almighty speaking. He told Job that he had darkened counsel. I think if the Lord had asked this question of me, that alone would cause me to throw myself on the ground and cover my head in humbling fear. It would be one thing to hear this from a person but quite another from God Himself. Counsel is meant to bring light, not darkness. This man, who claimed to be an elder, had not brought light, but darkness. This is not a good thing to hear from God.

However, not only had Job darkened counsel, God said, he had spoken without knowledge. Job thought he knew things. Well, he did. He knew he had lost everything—his children, his house, his livestock—everything except his wife and his land. The external, circumstantial evidence of Job’s trial could not be disputed. However, he also thought he knew God, and His heart and intent. He did not. God is sovereign over all things. However, He is also good, and He is the God love. Perfect love, eternally.

Next begins a barrage of questions that rendered Job speechless. Job does not speak for four chapters. You and I would be speechless, too, I would think. This is the first question at which we would obviously just close our eyes and shake our heads in humility:

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4).

We don’t have an answer to this question. God is speaking from a place where we simply did not and cannot stand. We were not there when the Lord created all things. And we, the scientists, and all the accumulated knowledge of the world cannot explain how He did it. It is a scientific fact that nothing comes from nothing. Yet, that is precisely what happened when the Lord created the universe, our solar system, our earth, and all that lives upon it. Nothing existed before He caused it to exist.

The Lord continues to ask questions about the nature of the universe, the earth, the stars, and the sea, none of which Job could answer. Here is a wonderful example: “Have you commanded the morning since your days began…” (Job 38:12).

No, Job had never commanded the morning to do anything, and neither will we. Give it a try sometime if you wish.

Although we are stupefied by God’s questions, some fascinating questions appear in this wondrous assault, ones that should cause us to confess how little we grasp about the knowledge of things:

“Have the gates of death been revealed to you or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?”

What are the gates of deep darkness? We have no idea, much less having seen them.

And this:

“Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home? You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!” (Job 38:19–21).

I’m not sure what this means, because the Lord often speaks metaphorically in these questions. I don’t know if the Lord is saying that light really dwells somewhere, or if He is asking Job if he knows how He created light. I wonder if this is the case because the Lord says, “You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!” I think the Lord is again challenging Job about his absence at the creation.

So, how did the Lord God create light? We just do not know.

This is the last question we’ll look at for this first post:

“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?” (Job 38:22–23).

The Lord reserves snow and hail for the time of trouble, battle, and war? How does He do that?

What kind of amazing God is this?

He is sovereign God of all that exists. He is sovereign in creation. There is no other Creator. None existed before Him, none is beside Him, and none will come after Him.

He is the sovereign God.

And He is sovereign over you, all your work, all your circumstances; all your life, forever.

1All scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001).). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


We have come to the last two verses of Jesus’ letter to the church at Laodicea: “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” Revelation 3:21-22).1

Before we dive in, it should be clear that Jesus is not talking about one’s salvation in this passage. We know that Christians are saved by grace alone, by faith alone, through Christ alone, not by their works. However, these verses should give us pause. This conquering, this sitting with Jesus on His throne, is significant. Why? The Lord doesn’t speak just to hear Himself talk. If this conquering and sitting with Him on His throne had no substance, He wouldn’t have brought it up in the first place. Jesus brings up conquering to each of the churches in His seven letters. It must be important. And remember that in Laodicea, He is actually standing outside the church. Jesus was not part of what they were doing. This was a frightening situation. It would be impossible to conquer in Christ if He weren’t even involved.

But what does this conquering mean? Well, it’s safe to assume that unless the believers there did the things He outlined in His letter, they would not conquer. Jesus wouldn’t tell this church about conquering, out of the blue, without telling them how to do that. So, according to what He has just taught, how will these believers conquer? First, by buying from Him gold tried with fire: prayerfully and purposefully giving up earthly wealth, power, and security. Conquering kings of this world don’t do this. The conquering Jesus speaks of has no resemblance whatsoever to what conquering in the world means. A powerless and poor king is an anomaly, and such a monarch would not be a conqueror and would not rule for long. Not so in Jesus’ kingdom.

Second, the Laodiceans must be sure, in that process of self-denial, about the source of their salvation: the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ for their sins. The Lord gave us a definition of conquering in Romans 8:35–39: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It is vitally important that we know that we conquer through Him who loved us, not by attainment of a list of laws. Doing the things that Jesus told the Laodiceans would be difficult and sacrificially self-denying. If they weren’t careful, they would fall in to destructive legalism. However, Jesus told them that He loved them. That’s why He was exposing their sin and disciplining them. They would need to hang onto this rock-solid truth about His love as they walked through this difficult process of prayerfully buying from Him gold tried with fire and living as soldiers and not be entangled with the things of the world.

Finally, the Laodiceans would conquer by asking the Lord to help them see with “good eyes,” so that their greed may be exposed and that they would therefore zealously repent. They would need help to see Him, and the truth about Him and themselves in His Word. They were blind without Him.

The reward for this humbling conquering would be sitting with Jesus on His throne with the Father. What does that mean? I must confess ignorance here. I have very little idea, except it must and will be glorious. Again, this must be important. We should acknowledge, however, that we in the Church today have not considered it be of much consequence at all. How much time do we spend talking about these heavenly things?

If you are part of a wealthy church—which you probably are if you live in the West—please join me in praying that all of us will obey Jesus’ admonitions in His letter to the Laodiceans, so that we may reign with Him in His kingdom for eternity. What are the practical, eternally negative consequences of not reigning with Him? Scripture is unclear, but they are negative. We have been warned, more than once, and we are to believe these biblical truths in faith. The days are short and getting shorter. You are now ten minutes or so closer to His return than you were when you started reading. When He returns, there will be no opportunity to turn back and make things right.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


In Jesus’ letter to the Laodicean church, He told them, first, that the answer to their miserable spiritual condition was to buy of Him gold tried with fire. This wealthy church’s initial step was to move toward a life of sacrificial discipleship. This truth is not new in the teaching of Jesus. He told us in Luke 14 that we could not be His disciples unless we gave up everything, including our own lives. As these well-to-do Laodicean Christians moved in this direction, they would do so prayerfully, while obeying Jesus’s second command in this letter: buy of Him white garments. Understanding the true nature of their righteousness—that they had the righteousness of Jesus, through grace and faith, since they had none of our own—would keep them from becoming self-righteously legalistic in living lives of sacrifice and self-denial.

So, now we come to Jesus’s third command: The Laodiceans should buy eye salve from Jesus so that they could see.

Wasn’t embarking upon a life of sacrifice and understanding one’s need for the righteousness of Jesus seeing clearly enough?

Apparently not.

First of all, this statement to buy eye salve told the Laodiceans—again—that they were really quite blind even though they thought they saw. They were plugging along in their wealthy, loving-the-world way, quite self-satisfied, thank you very much. So it would be difficult to be told that you can’t even see when you think you see very clearly. After all, they were wealthy. Isn’t wealth an indication of God’s blessing? No, absolutely not. However, there’s more going on here than this humbling truth. Let’s look at this very interesting teaching from Jesus:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:19–25).

This passage is dynamically challenging because it is so counterintuitive. A book could be written about this, but let’s focus on the word “bad” in the context of this passage. Clearly, the point that Jesus is making here is that we cannot serve God and money and that it’s much wiser for us to store up treasure in heaven than here on earth. So, why would Jesus bring up this thing about healthy eyes and bad eyes? The word “bad” often means exactly that. It is often translated evil in the New Testament. However, it is also translated “envy” and “envious.”

“Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?” (Matthew 20:15 NASB).

“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21–22).

It is my opinion that “bad” in the passage from Matthew 6 could be translated “envious,” but I’m no Greek scholar. Regardless of how this word is translated, I am taken aback by this teaching, because Jesus says that if our eye is “bad” or “envious” concerning money, our whole body will be full of darkness. Let’s think about this for a moment, again, in context. Jesus has told us here that we should not store up treasure on earth but in heaven. He immediately proceeds to teaching about good and bad eyes. Why? Could it really be true that if I think earthly wealth is more important than heavenly wealth that my eye is bad and that my whole body is full of darkness, that everything I look at, everything I think I understand or “see,” I don’t really understand at all? Help! Help, because this non-Greek scholar didn’t need to search very far to find that the word “darkness” is exactly what it means—an absence of light. And light is what we need in order to see clearly in a spiritual way. Jesus, after all, is the light of the world.

This should help us understand why Jesus told the Laodiceans to buy eye salve from Him so that they would be able to see. Their bodies were full of darkness because of their view of wealth. They had not taken an eternal perspective. They had been duped into thinking that riches here on the earth were more important than riches in heaven. Because their “eyes” were bad, it had darkened their entire understanding of the truth of God.

And this is true of me, as well. I am greatly influenced by the things of this world.

The answer? I must ask our gracious heavenly Father to cause me to see. I must ask Him how to do this very counterintuitive thing, in a practical sense. No one on earth can lay out that path for me. I must know Him, seek Him, and study His Word to discover how this will play out in my life. How do I know this? I know this because Jesus said that He was the life, the truth, and the way. He is the way. It’s not only that He will teach and show me the way—He is the way. Therefore, the only way for me to know that way is to know Him.2

1Except where noted, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

2This is an edited version of a previous post, Jesus Speaks to the Church in Laodicea, Part Four


In the last post, we looked at how Jesus gave the Christians at Laodicea the first remedy for their blind, miserable, and pitiable condition: Buy of Him gold tried by fire. It seems to be apparent that the way we do that is by prayerfully pursuing a life of sacrifice, living as soldiers, as Paul wrote to Timothy. After entering into that pursuit, Jesus next tells the Laodiceans to buy “white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen” (Revelation 3:18).1

This statement shouldn’t surprise us, since He has already told these believers that they’re naked—they just don’t know it. They should be ashamed of that nakedness, but they’re oblivious to it. Before we discuss how we Christians could be so clueless, let’s talk briefly about white clothing.

There are two events in the gospels where someone was clothed in white. The first occurrence is when we see Jesus clothed this way on the Mount of Transfiguration. The second time is at the tomb, after His resurrection. There we also see angels in white, as well as after Jesus’s ascension, when they ask the disciples the well-known question, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

However, the clearest connection to believers being clothed in white clothing is in the book of Revelation, and the clearest one of all is after John sees this scene in heaven: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9–10). The elder standing next to John tells him who they are. “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14).

The idea of being made clean or white by the blood of Jesus is further clarified in this passage from First John: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7–9).

This doctrine of being cleansed and having our sins washed away is central to the Christian faith. Christianity is the only religion that speaks of a God who loves and forgives regardless of one’s merit. Every other religion requires some kind of work that one must do in order to find acceptance with its God. Christianity requires none. Christians are saved by grace alone, by faith alone, and that faith is itself a gift from God. So, Jesus is telling the Laodiceans that this must be done: They must make sure what the source of their salvation is. I’ve found in my life that this is a necessary daily process. I’m not trying to lay down some legal code here, but we are so apt to jump into legalistic, self-righteous goofiness that it behooves us to prayerfully approach the Father daily to reinforce the truth that our fallen condition has changed only because of His grace.

Which leads us to this question: Why would these rich and self-satisfied Laodicean Christians in particular have a problem with knowing the true source of their salvation? We’re not told, but here are some things to consider, and it does have to do with being self-satisfied with one’s spiritual condition as the Laodiceans were. When rich Christians lapse into passivity, as these believers had, their wealth is a powerful anesthetic to their desperate condition. We have need of nothing, we senselessly think, which is exactly what Jesus told them they were saying. So, why should we pray? Why should we seek Him? We have all we need. This is why, I believe, Jesus told them to pursue sacrificial living first. Let’s think about this. Why didn’t Jesus bring up being able to see—buying eye salve for blindness—first? Why didn’t He bring up making sure the Laodiceans understood the source of their righteousness first? I believe it is because the admonition to purposefully and prayerfully pursue a life of self-denying sacrifice will eventually move us in those directions. When the Lord begins, by His Spirit, to show us ways we can sell all we possess in order to buy the Pearl of great value, we begin to see how attached to this world we are. When the Lord, by His grace, begins to show us how we can sell all we possess in order to purchase the Treasure hidden in the field, we see how greedy and self-centered we are. His revealing of these things to us will cause us to understand our true spiritual condition. In addition, being needy may very well put us into some “interesting” predicaments that we would not face if we were wealthy.

One more thing, and we’ll finish. When the Lord shows us how much we’ve become attached to the world and we respond by making certain sacrificial changes, there is a tendency for us to draw up legalistic guidelines for what this true following-Jesus discipleship is. How much should one spend on a cup of coffee? How much for a computer? A car? That’s when Christians need to back up and make certain what the source of their righteousness is. It isn’t how self-sacrificial one is—it’s by faith in Jesus, by grace alone.

Would you please join me, if you’re a Christian, in prayerfully pursuing how to buy of Jesus gold tried by fire? How to live like a soldier and not be entangled with the affairs of the world? Would you join me in praying earnestly that we will understand the true nature of our spiritual condition? It will be difficult.

And it will be lovely.2

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

2This article is an edited version of a previously published post entitled, Jesus Speaks to the Church in Laodicea.


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