Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 25:1-13)
In this wedding parable, it is the bridesmaids which serve as the metaphoric warning. We are to see ourselves as these bridesmaids, invited to the wedding as a group, (The church). All had been invited to participate in the wedding, all took lamps and went out to await the arrival of the groom.
Each individual in the bridal party, had a Lamp, which was a pole which suspended a cup or well of oil with a wick attached to it. But it turns out that each was responsible for their own supply of oil, in case the Lamp ran out before the arrival of the groom. the house they were waiting in would have been illuminated, so we can assume that none of the pole lamps would have been burning in the house.
The hour waxed late. The Sun went down, the bridesmaids all grew tired and even slept. (There is no hint of condemnation in this parable for sleeping, all slept).
The groom comes from afar. All we can know for sure is that He is coming, for his Word is sure. We know not the time. In those days among the Jews, the Groom and his friends would come when everything was ready, to receive the Bride, and to take her to his Father’s house for the ceremony. The Bridesmaids would accompany the Bride with torches to meet the groom.
Suddenly at midnight,(In the darkest hour), the cry goes out, “The Bridegroom comes…go out to meet Him!” There is a flurry of activity as the Virgins hustle and bustle to trim their lamps, load them with fresh oil, adjust the wicks and light them.
This is where the crisis occurs; five of the Virgins assumed there would be a supply of oil provided for them, therefore they made absolutely no provision. Could they borrow or buy some from the other Virgins? Unfortunately not! The supply of oil was not transferable at that moment, they would have to go out into the village to try to buy some fro the venders, but who would be vending at midnight ?
The Events of the wedding are now accelerating, things are happening fast and five virgins are in danger of being excluded from the wedding party.
I have performed about 200 weddings and have almost never started on time. Who ever heard of a wedding that was so precise, that if you came late , the door was shut and you were denied entrance? Who could Imagine a Bridesmaid realizing she forgot her flowers, so she rushed home to retrieve them, but when she arrived at the church, the door was shut and she was denied entrance?
But this wedding we are called to is like no other…it is the marriage supper of the Lamb, the ground of all true joy, hope and happiness! When it happens, only those prepared will be able to enter.
The problem is the gap between the invitation and the actual event. If the wedding had commenced immediately after the invitation, there would be no problem whatsoever. But there is a long delay, which becomes a test for all involved.
Compounding the problem, is the sudden onrush of events which occur , one on top of another, when the time for the wedding actually commences. Things go from slow and dull to hectic and frantic, just like that! You are either ready or you aren’t!
To be Foolish in this parable means to be “Heedless”. To be wise is to look ahead and to make provision. There are many who have heard about Bible Prophecy and are mildly interested but they have never allowed that interest to really turn them to God and to seeking light in all areas of life.
What is readiness? It is the accumulation of oil. We are told in the Proverbs, “The Spirit of man is the Lamp of the LORD…”. But a Lamp is just an empty vessel without oil.
40 years ago a number of us in my generation heard the gospel message, with an emphasis on the second coming of Jesus. Many, many people came to the LORD, and entered into church life, looking constantly to the clouds, because we just knew, Jesus was coming back at any time. I was a little disappointed that Jesus didn’t come back in 1988 (fortieth anniversary of the State of Israel), and was amazed that the year 2000 came and went without the rapture.
We all had our poles at the ready, with their cups and wicks and our matches ready to light them, when the Word would come down from on high. But we also married, had children, bought strollers and high chairs, and braces, and houses. We went through a number of churches and spiritual fads, got into political things too.
So many fell asleep to the message of the second coming, and to many the whole “born again thing” was like a phase of life, it seemed almost foolish, so some fell away. Others continued on in church, but the churches themselves seemed to take people through a series of spiritual fads, political activism, false doctrines, false prophets, money preachers and so many other trivialities.
The result? Spiritual emptiness, apostasy, ad in some cases spiritual death.
What does it mean to have oil? Others have spent these forty some years seeking God in spite of the ‘churchianity mess’, not forsaking the growth in knowledge and grace, not allowing prayer and the reality of Go to diminish no matter what it takes. They have hungered for Light, Truth and the knowledge of God and have spent the time growing in it. Oil is Truth and Light. Proverbs 23:23, says “Buy the Truth and Sell it not, and with all your getting get Wisdom, for it is the principle thing”.
Christ comes in the night. It is your individual responsibility to seek Truth and to fill your life with it, seek out preachers who have Light, insight and loving reverence for scripture, get out of churches which allow false prophecy and which have departed from the Word, this is what the accumulation of Oil looks like.
Jesus is coming soon, and there are a lot of people who merely have a long pole with a well on it, they have no accumulated oil, revelation and Light from God. Daniel tells s that only the Righteous will understand in the last days.
Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. (Daniel 12:10)