As I was reading through Revelation, I read a very familiar passage
“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (Revelation 3:14-17 ESV).
Now as a member of a Southern Baptist Church, I have heard numerous sermons preached on this passage in reference to water. “You can’t be a Lukewarm Christian,” “Be on fire for Jesus,” and “Would Jesus Vomit You Up.” Oh, I could go on. However, I have only heard one sermon on this text that scratched the surface on the reference of temperature from a geographic view. As I was reading, I remembered that particular sermon, and I decided to research the possible basis of the reference of the temperature.
Surprisingly, geography seems to be the consensus of both religious and non-religious researchers.
Check Out This Map (first tri-city area)
This Tri-City Area consisted of Laodicea in between Hierapolis to North and Colossae to the South. Both cities influenced Laodicea. Hierapolis was well-known during this time for it’s hot springs. These hot springs were used to soothe visitor’s ailements, and many people would retire to this little oasis. “The therapeutic virtues of the waters were exploited at the various thermal installations, which included immense hot basins and pools for swimming. Hydrotherapy was accompanied by religious practices, which developed in relation to local cults.” (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/485). Likewise, Colossae was a city know for cold springs that flowed down Mount Cadmus. These springs were good for refreshing cool baths and great for a cooling drink during hot weather. (Paraphrased from http://www.welcometohosanna.com/REVELATION/Colossae.html). Laodicea and it’s inhabitants were well aware of the water resources in these two cities. They were also aware of the use of each temperature of different springs.
Why are the water resources in the surrounding cities relevant to Laodicea?
According to the research, a devastating earthquake destroyed the majority of this tri-city area. Laodicea seemed to be prideful because they refused Roman assistance in the rebuilding of their city following the massive earthquake. Following this tragedy. Laodicea began to build pipelines from Hierapolis and Colossae. ([http://religiouslyincorrect.com/Articles/TriCityAreaEarthquake.shtml] and [http://helps4teens.wordpress.com/tag/colossae/])
That’s IT! If you bring hot water and cold water together it will become luke warm. This particular reference to temperature would have been so relatable to those at the church in Laodicea. Because either hot water or cold water is good, no one wants a glass of warm water to drink. Frankly, a glass of warm anything is worth spitting out just as the passage says. As a former athlete, I can testify to that fact. Yuck.
**My personal opinion on this particular passage**
In my opinion, I view the reference very differently now. I no longer see it as either being a total Jesus Freak (Hot) or totally opposed to Jesus (Cold). No, I see it now as you should be someone who either soothes those in pain (HOT) or someone who is refreshing during times of need (COLD).