Shalom friends, and welcome to our “changing” itinerary. Our guide Erden Duygu has been quite accommodating since it is just the two of us on this tour, and we can make some adjustments on the fly.
In the last blog I mentioned that the city of Colosse of the book of Colossions is just a short distance from Laodicea. It was not on our plan to go there, but since the storm at Hierapolis caused our visit to be short, we had extra time. I suggested we take a quick drive to Colosse, and we found there something extremely interesting. (At least to me)
The ruins of Colosse have never been excavated, it is just a huge mound covered with grass and trees. An access road goes up the hill, and tours occasionally go there, just so people can say they were “there.” Our guide, always attentive to the interesting, had suggested other places where there ARE things to see. But true believers can see things that other people can’t. A true believer can read between the lines in biblical ruins, just as he can read between the lines in the Bible.
After lunch, the rain subsided again, (how nice) and we took the 15 minute drive to the Colosse mound.
Sure enough, there was nothing there but a mound. Brother Michael took a camera to the top to get some pictures, and I opened the Bible to Colossions and began to ponder something.
Near the end of the book, there is an overlooked scripture, in the area where Paul is offering his greetings and farewells. This area is never preached on, (that I can remember) but it is still the Bible. Therefore it must contain something of use to us. So we come across this interesting verse:
4:16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
Paul wrote a letter to the Laodiceans, it says so right here. Wow, Really? Really. But there is no book of Laodicea in my bible, that I have yet found.
Looking out from the mound of Colosse, you can see the ruins of Laodicea a short ways to the North. So, it all makes sense: if a messenger delivered a letter from Paul to Colosse it would be efficient to deliver one to Laodicea at the same time. But what happened to this letter? The letters of Paul to these churches were the Word of God, full of spiritual truth for the ages. But this letter was lost in the mists of history, and never found. Theologians and historians have often said that it must have contained nothing of any value, or God would have seen to it that it was in the Bible. I see another option. What if Paul’s letter to Laodicea contained some things of TREMENDOUS value, but God hid those things, because they were not intended for the Church Ages, they were intended for the last age? And the last age, is the age of that very church: Laodicea. (as this class well knows 🙂
What if—and please excuse my “what ifs” here, but I’m here to ponder these things, so that’s what I am doing— What if, somewhere beneath this mound that has never been excavated, is the lost letter of Paul to Laodicea? He did after all instruct them to read the letter to the Laodiceans, so it is quite likely they made a copy. What if God saw to it that the letter was lost, and then made sure the hill was never excavated through the church ages? What if buried deep in this mound, is a letter from Paul, which if ever discovered, we would find makes references to truths and revelations never understood by the Church Ages? What if we were to find that many of those same truths have been restored in the end time, to a humble group of believers, with a prophetic voice in their midst? I can’t prove it, but I would not be at all surprised.
Now I should mention that there have been some forgeries through the ages. There might people people who claim they have found the lost letter of Paul. I’ve seen some of these forgeries, and if there ever were letters that contained nothing of value—it is some of these. But I am reading from another book—a book full of life changing truth, of the same caliber that Paul might have written about. I wonder if I already HAVE the truths contained in the lost letter of Paul? And, in the wisdom of God, the original letter will never be found, because it is no longer necessary. After all, it is not the parchment and ink that matters, it is the spiritual revelation.
Now there is one other thing about this site that is significant, and that is the book of Philemon. Philemon was a wealthy man, and in his house the church of Colosse met. So, somewhere buried in this mound, is the house of Philemon. Being here caused me to revisit that amazing story. A runaway slave named Onisemus, from the household of Philemon, flees to Rome, and finds him self convicted under the ministry of the now aging and imprisoned Apostle Paul. He repents, is saved, and hit with the stunning revelation that he must now repent of running away from his master! In those days, it was quite proper for a slave owner to execute a run-away slave, or burn a brand on their forehead, or do other quite unpleasant things. What a struggle this must have been for Onesimus! But Paul was acquainted with this particular master, and sent Onisemus back home with a letter, sealed with Paul’s seal. (It had to remain sealed, or Philemon could never be sure the letter actually came from Paul) How this poor runaway slave must have agonized over what that letter contained! But we can read it freely today, it is the book of Philemon. The opening of the seal contained his declaration of emancipation. When the seal was broken, the slave went free!
Interestingly, when you read and I read the book of Philemon, we find that Paul never commanded Philemon to free his slave, he simply suggested it, appealing to his conscience with confidence that this noble Christian man would do the right thing. This tiny letter from Paul, just one page, ended up having an enormous effect on the entire Roman Empire- or so I have read in the histories. Slavery, which was rampant then, was slowly abolished, as Christianity spread, and more and more slave owners released their own slaves voluntarily. In just a couple of generations, slavery was effectively over, with no war, no battle, and no proclamation from the government. Millions of slaves went free, by the the power of just one broken seal!
I marvel in all of this, as I stand beneath the “meaningless” mound of unexcavated Colosse.
Brothers Mark Aho and Michael Diaz