The Ten Virgins

The Ten Virgins
"The Wise & Foolish Virgins", Peter von Cornelius [Museum Kunstpalast - Düsseldorf link]
 

Be Prepared


Matthew 25:1-13
1Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to mee the bridegroom. 2Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. 11Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

From the closing verses of the preceding chapter, we learn that the purpose of this parable is to teach the servants of God the necessity of being always ready for their master’s appearing and that readiness consists not in idly staring into Heaven, but is actively doing those things that are pleasing unto Him.

They are always ready, those who are doing His will.

Matthew 24:46
Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

These foolish virgins represent those who have the appearance of being ready but who will be found unprepared. They were virgins. Their characters were without reproach blameless in the sight of men. They were typical of a large class of professing Christians whose outward life and conduct are unstained with iniquity. They are found in every sphere of Christian work. Their motives are never questioned for a moment. They love the company of the virtuous and the wise, and even the truly wise love to have their help and fellowship. They are very courteous, congenial and liberal-minded.

They had noble intentions. They went fort to meet the Bridegroom (Verse 1). The others are going so they went too. They would like to see the Bridegroom and to share the marriage feast. They make some little sacrifice for the hope that is in them. They never question their fitness.

These are found among us today. Religious people whose moral lives are beautiful, who have been good all their days, who never question their condition before God nor imagine that they must be born again. Their intentions are good but they are blind to their own real need.

(Verse 3) They took no oil with them. All their hope was in their lamps of profession. This could only last for a very brief season. They could not go without their lamps. Lamps could be seen, but the invisible oil was about oil in the vessel is suggestive of the Spirit of God in the heart, which is the true witness that we are the children of God.

This will stand when all outward evidence fails (Verse 5). They slumbered and slept. The Bridegroom tarried and they grew tired and went to sleep. The waiting time is a testing time for all.

The time the Bridegroom tarried was a time of grace and opportunity. For the foolish virgins now was the time to go and buy the oil they needed, but they slept. Our Lord has tarried more than 2,000 years. What a long opportunity for lamp trimming! When the wise sleep it is no wonder that the foolish become unconscious of their danger. (Verse 8) “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” There will be many alarming discoveries made when Jesus comes!

No oil for the sleeping and foolish virgins and the Bridegroom is at hand, not ready to go in and the door of mercy is about to close. This oil cannot be borrowed. It must be bought of Him who alone can sell it.

Luke 11:13
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

No person can give to another that will fit him for the appearing of The Lord. The rich young ruler came to Jesus and wanted to know how he could inherit eternal life.

Mark 10:17
Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

He told Jesus that he said he had observed these commandments from his youth up. Jesus, beholding him and loving him said unto him:

Mark 10:21
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
Mark 10:22
But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Jesus said in Revelations:

Revelations 3:18
I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

In Verse 10 they went to buy but their earnestness does not save them, for when they went to buy, the Bridegroom came. They were busy seeking when they should have been rejoicing. Those that were ready went in. Those who had been sleeping (without being prepared) were shut out.

2 Corinthians 6:2
For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Matthew 24:44
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

A personal acquaintance with Jesus Christ by the Power of the Holy Spirit is the prime necessity for future fellowship with Him.

Romans 8:9
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

In America, the bride is the central figure, but in Israel, the ancient Jews, it seemed that the bridegroom was the center of attention. On the night set for the marriage, the bridegroom came with his friends to the house of the bride where her attendants welcomed him. The marriage part went in and the marriage festival might continue for days.

Providing light for the procession was a major contribution of the bride’s attendants. (Verse 1) There were 10 bridesmaids, a number sufficient to the do the service required. God’s kingdom is described in terms of glad celebration in Matthew 22:1-14, Luke 14:15-24, Luke 22:28-30 and the exclusion from the joy and happiness that would be considered a disaster.

In Verses 2-4, we notice that among 10 bridesmaids there would be many differences in character and disposition. Like the example here, some were prudent and sensible, making provisions for something beyond the immediate expectations.

It wasn’t a question of being good or bad, it was a matter of being prepared. There was probably enough olive oil in each lamp to keep the wick burning for several hours, but what if the Bridegroom did not come as soon as they were expecting? The ones who were ready had brought enough extra vessels with extra supplies of oil, just in case.

One is reminded of the thin soil in the parable of the sower. The seed that fell on thin soil had sudden growth from the sand but lacked the depth necessary for substantial rootage and resistance to drought.

Matthew 13:5, 6
5Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.

Such is the experience of the Christian who has accepted the forms of godliness to maintain a good life under normal circumstances, but lacks the spiritual reserves to conquer emergencies, persecution, bereavement, poverty, pain or simply God’s delay in providing promised blessings. The outward appearance of Christianity may be likened to the bridesmaid’s lamps. The inward spiritual reserves that are built with prayer, Bible study and self-forgetful deeds of kindness become the soil that keeps each lamp burning.

In Verse 5 no reason is given for the lateness of the Bridegroom’s arrival. He has not agreed to arrive at a certain hour, and he seemingly was not in a hurry. This is most important in relation to Jesus’ return in glory and judgment. He had already said that the time was not known, but His arrival would be sudden and unexpected.

Matthew 24:36-44
36But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Then He warned against lapses in faithfulness on the part of some who would say my Lord delays His coming. 20 years later Paul wrote to Christians in Thessalonica concerning the Lord’s coming again and some of them started setting dates for the event. Paul told them that some things might happen before His coming and some said in

2 Peter 3:3-10
3[K]nowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

That the Lord was slack concerning His promises and in this day and age, people are still thinking the same thing. But Jesus is coming again. Some persons still announce a date for Christ to return. The unfaithful ignore it and the faithful disciples are ready whenever it happens.

The waiting bridesmaids of Jesus’ parable became drowsy, nodded and dozed off to sleep and in Verse 6, the Bridegroom was delayed until midnight.

Matthew 24:42
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
1 Thessalonians 5:2
For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.

Do we understand how important preparation is in our struggle against our enemy (the devil) to go unprepared to battle is to invite disaster. Aware of their primary responsibility to light the way for the bridal party, the bridesmaids quickly picked up their lamps and removed the charred material from the ends of the wicks so that each flame might burn at its brightest.

Some of them observed that the wicks in their lamps were going dry and the flames did not respond to the trimming (Verse 8). They asked that the wise virgins divide with in Verse 9, 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.

1 Peter 4:18
If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?

No one has found a surplus of grace that can be turned over to another. Heavenly credits are simply not transferrable, no matter how much one might wish to bestow them. Each person must avail himself of divine grace through his own faith, at its source in Christ. A Christian can no more believe or be baptized on behalf of another than a concerned mother can relieve the injury or illness of a child by taking it to herself, no matter how much she might wish it were otherwise.

It is the same with the qualities that enable one person to endure patiently, cheerfully and even victoriously the kind of hardships and losses that would crush another. He can only point o the sources of his own supply.

Verse 10 “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.” We pray that the last-minute maidens spent more time and probably more money in their search than would been necessary earlier. Time is required also to build faith.

Romans 10:17
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

There is no encouragement here for the postponement of conversion to Christ. The Bridegroom came on His schedule, no on that of the bridesmaids. Those who were prepared to meet that schedule went with Him and His bride to the wedding.

Revelations 19:6-9
6And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! 7Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”

This introduces the church as the pure and prepared bride of the Lamb and adds:

Matthew 25:10
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

Verse 13: “Watch therefore for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.” The Apostle Paul also gave this exhortation.

1 Corinthians 16:13
Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

Be prepared for a delay and be alert for a sudden coming. We know not the day nor the hour when tragedy, disease or death may strike, nor when some grad opportunity for service may present itself. The way to prove oneself godly is any emergency is to immerse oneself in the presence and the precepts of God every day.

When Jesus comes again, it will be to receive His bride, the church, and to enter into the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelations 6:9)

He wants His bride to be ready for Him. We have seen, though, that the bride is made up of individual members and that each of them needs to be occupied with preparing to meet The Lord. What a glorious privilege we have to be part of the Bride, The Lord Jesus Christ. Joy must be evident in our serving. We must be looking for His return with great enthusiasm and keep our lamps trimmed and burning.

We must heed the statement in the parable “the door was shut.” In the Bible the figure of an open door bespeaks of opportunity.

1 Corinthians 16:9
For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

This is a figure we can appreciate because we have experienced the blessings when a door has been opened to us, providing a warm enclosure or a word of council or the opportunity to serve. We can identify with the description of the closed door.

Also, since we have had doors shut in our faces and have experienced an abrupt sense of rejection. So in our preparation to mee The Lord, we must put on the whole armor of God as it tells om

Ephesians 6:10-20
10Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

For if we leave any piece off, we will be vulnerable to the firey darts of the enemy.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not very good at waiting. Think of all the time we spend waiting in lines at the grocery stores, sitting in the doctor’s office and at the traffic lights. Waiting is an inevitable part of life.

We need to find worth in the wait. Jesus said in

Luke 19:13
And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

Jesus encourages us to find something worthwhile to do while we wait for His return. We have been left on this earth to lead others to Christ. Witnessing makes the wait worthwhile.

We must be enthusiastic about our faith in Jesus Christ. We must be joyful and happy Christians because our names are written down in Heaven.

Author: Nannie Mae Jordan   (Transcribed by Joyce Carter   Transcribed and Formatted by Jerry Knight)

 

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