Spat out at Jesus’ table

pigheaded“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.” (Revelation 3:15-16)

In the book of Revelation, many sentences contain multiple Old Testament allusions knotted together. Sometimes these are more obvious (the Judaisers as Babylonian locusts from Joel with long hair added to make them ‘bad Nazirites’, for example), but sometimes they only become apparent from their position within the structure of the passage in question.


First of all, Laodicea is the seventh church. This puts it at the Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths), to which the Gentiles were invited. It also makes it the great feasting Table of Solomon, the Sabbath king who had rest from all his enemies – the glorified Bridegroom. Here, Christ is greater Solomon, but he’s not happy with the food.

The seven letters also recapitulate Israel’s history. Sardis is the remnant during the great apostasy that ended up in Babylon. Philadelphia is the new pillar in Ezra-Nehemiah’s restoration. That makes Laodicea the period of compromise during which the Messiah was born. Laodicea represents the end of priestly Adam’s corrupted week—apostate Judaism. In this seventh letter, a new, faithful Adam offered them a new booth (Tabernacle) as shelter.

Burial in the Land carried the promise of resurrection for the faithful. Unlike jaded Naomi, Ruth the Moabitess used the Lord’s Covenant name (Yahweh), and wished to be buried in the Land like Sarah was.

As the church is a new Jerusalem, Jesus is the new Land. To be consumed by Him, baptized (immersed) into Him now carries this sure promise of resurrection. But for the unfaithful, just like the old Promised Land, it carries the threat of being vomited out, like the Jews in both the captivity and the first century.

The Law
Like the other letters, this final one follows the Feasts structure even in its internal pattern. The division between ‘hot and cold’ comes at Passover/Exodus. Jesus desires His new people to be fire and water, coming out of Egypt. The reference to food comes at Firstfruits/Leviticus. Food is a sacrifice eaten by God. We are to draw near to God as holy sacrifices. James Jordan writes:

“Eating represents taking something into yourself and being united with it. In the Lord’s supper we eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus Christ. In that way, we are united to Him. In Revelation 3, Jesus says “because you are lukewarm I will spit you out of my mouth,” which means that He is also eating us, and we are incorporated into the body of Christ.”1

Added to this is the warning to Peter in Acts, which he obeyed. “Rise Peter; kill and eat.” Peter at first refused to eat unclean animals:

“Unclean animals represented unconverted Gentiles. Clean, non-sacrificial animals like gazelle, deer, chicken and fish represented Gentile God-fearers. The sacrificial animals—goat, sheep, pigeon, dove and bull—represented Israelites. This system represented the different nations of the world, and Peter sees them all inside this vessel. The Lord says, “What God has cleansed, you shall not defile.” Peter is the source of uncleanness, and Peter has the potential to defile Cornelius… If Peter’s attitude of hostility towards Gentiles continued, based on the artificial barriers the Jews had added to the Law, he would defile them.”2

So, Jesus desired the water and fire of sound judgment from His people. Compromisers and Judaisers were defiling animals. The letter ends with the faithful dining with Jesus in His new Tabernacle (Booth) at the marriage feast of the Lamb.


1 James B. Jordan, Select Studies in Acts lectures. Available from 
2 Ibid.

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