Study Lesson 17
A Parable Of End Time Importance
Scripture To Consider:
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened [compared] to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.”
“Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.”
A Few Words Of Warning:
Is Jesus Teaching End Time Preparedness
Because Matthew 25 is separated into three large sections of Scripture, we will divide it into three longer than usual lessons. In each lesson we will separate the Scripture to consider into three smaller sections for closer study. We must understand that Matthew chapter 25 follows Matthew 24 not merely in sequential order. What is seriously covered by Jesus in Matthew 25 is a follow-up of warnings and more divine consequences if Christ’s conditional commands are neglected, overlooked, or deemed unimportant by man within the whole purpose and plan of God.
The parable of the ten virgins is a parable of great end time significance and warning. This parable follows on the heels of Matthew 24.45-51, which clearly exposes and explains character traits of both a faithful servant and an evil unfaithful servant, according to Jesus. The parable of the ten virgins is a spiritual contrast between five wise servants and five foolish servants likened to virgins. The mentioning of a virgin in any society speaks to a physical purity. The mention of virgins also speaks to an outward uprightness. Therefore, all ten of the likened to virgin servants were awaiting the bridegroom’s appearance.
But there was a distinct difference that Jesus made between these ten virgin servants. “Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.” The important and proper interpretation of this parable lies in their difference of preparedness while waiting for the bridegroom. Therefore, the same truth can and should be applied to every generation of so-called servants awaiting the coming of Jesus, the true and great Bridegroom of His true and faithful church. Jesus said, “Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” There are three truths that need to be rightly determined in order for us to correctly interpret this parable of great end time warning. The three truths pertain to; 1) the lamps, 2) the vessels, and 3) the oil.
Something To Consider:
Is Scripture Our Lamp And Our Light
Jesus, in John 5.39 instructed His listeners and all future readers of His words, by stating, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” In other words, the Scriptures are our best and most truly accurate source of all biblical interpretations. And for the most part, God’s Word is always attempting to point sincere seekers in the direction of Jesus in order to reveal Him as the true bright and shining divine Light of the world.
In 2 Corinthians 4.7, Paul reveals a precious insight into the significance of Jesus’ mentioning vessels in our text. “But we have this treasure [gospel light] in earthen vessels [our bodies], that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” It is ironic that as true believers in Jesus we possess the transferred light of Jesus in our vessel-like earthly bodies, according to the Word of God.
Therefore, it is important that we better understand the significance of the lamps and what they represent in this parable of great end time warning. The writer of Psalm 119.105 divinely declared, “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” The lamps of all ten virgins represent the Word of God and the truth of the gospel light the world desperately needs. But how do we rightly interpret the oil of this great end time warning? Many commentators boldly proclaim the oil to be representative of the Holy Spirit. And it may very well be. I promise to further address this oil issue before ending this lesson.
More Scripture To Consider:
“And at midnight a cry was heard; ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming, go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed [prepared] their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’” Matthew 25.6-9
Something Else To Consider:
Are We Being Watchful – Wise – And Prepared
Jesus is the spiritual bridegroom of all true believers, who love Him and are faithfully awaiting His return. In this parable the ten virgins watched and were anticipating the coming of the bridegroom. The exact hour of his arrival was not known by either group. But according to Jesus something was left undone. Something was not rightly prepared for. It is never enough to be anticipating the coming of Jesus if we are not wise about what the Word of God declares as necessary and of utmost importance.
All ten virgins possessed lamps, that which represents the Word of God. But not all ten possessed sufficient oil to maintain their lamps unto the coming of the bridegroom. Simply possessing the Word of God is not enough if we are not living in alignment with the Word of God. Even understanding the Word of God is not enough if we are not willing to allow the Word of God to rule and discipline our lives.
According to Jesus, five virgin servants were foolish, and five virgin servants were wise. When the insufficiency was discovered the foolish virgin servants sought to borrow that which the wise virgin servants possessed. The response of the wise servants was a disheartening sound to the ears of the foolish; “…but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.”
More Scripture To Consider:
“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. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” Matthew 25.10-13
Something More To Consider:
Will The Foolish And Unprepared Really Be Shut Out
While the five foolish unprepared virgin servants went searching for what they did not possess, the bridegroom came. At that moment those servants who were ready and rightly prepared in advance, gladly entered into the marriage feast with the bridegroom, and according to Jesus, “And the door was shut.” Every time I read those words, “And the door was shut”, I am haunted by vivid mental pictures of the unfortunate terrorizing scene outside of Noah’s ark in Genesis chapter 7.
After many years and many warnings from Noah’s righteous preaching of a coming flood, a voice was heard from inside the ark. The voice of God declared in no uncertain terms, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you [Noah] are righteous before Me in this generation.” And according to Genesis 7.16, “…and the LORD shut him [Noah and his family] in.” The unprepared were shut out!
When God shuts a door, no amount of man’s ingenuity, failing human strength, masses of accumulated money, stocks or bonds, fame, or arrogant pride will ever force open the door. We are told that five servants gained entrance into the feast. According to Jesus, it was because they were ready. Evidently their possessing oil represented their being properly prepared, while the lack of oil and what the oil represented excluded the five foolish virgin servants, who represented symbols of outward purity.
All the likened to virgins possessed lamps, that is they all possessed the Word of God. They were all waiting for the coming of the bridegroom. Therefore, what was it that made the difference between these two similar but distinctly different groups of servants? What was it that granted access to some and denied access to others? What is it that if neglected will shut out billions of unprepared bibles possessing church attending individuals?
As mentioned earlier, many have made reference to the oil being symbolic of the Holy Spirit, and to a certain degree this may be true. But buried in Isaiah 62.1, as if a carefully hidden from plain sight long lost treasure, is a very convincing clue that may reveal the missing element which will help us to correctly unlock the spiritual truth of this parable of great end time warning to all with ears to hear. Isaiah wrote as God spoke, “For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness and her salvation as a lamp that burns.”
A Few Final Words:
Will We Be Found Righteous By Jesus
Could the missing ingredient in the lives of those five foolish servants and millions upon millions of future foolish misguided bibles possessing individuals be true born-again God ordained salvation coupled with the true righteousness only found in Jesus Christ? For Jesus said, and again in the future will be forced to repeat Himself, even after they cried, “Lord, Lord, open to us,” “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.” Even at the writing of these words I am moved to a moment of personal private prayer, as did the Psalmist in Psalm 139.23-24. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties [thoughts]; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting [the right way of biblically ensured and God ordained salvation].”
The five foolish servants as virgins possessed an outward appearance of purity, but did not possess a sufficient amount of oil. Is it possible that the oil indeed represents true God ordained salvation due to a divine righteousness obtained only through a personal present tense faith and a present tense personal relationship with Jesus Christ? We must not lose sight of or tire of hearing those words of God to Noah after granting him permission to enter the safety of the Ark. “…because I [God] have seen that YOU ARE RIGHTEOUS BEFORE ME IN THIS GENERATION.” Noah’s righteousness was a present tense, up to date, ongoing continuing to endure to the end faith filled righteousness; not a mere outward appearance of human purity. Can the same be said of us?
Therefore, we should conclude from this Scripture we are considering, that true salvation must be a present tense, ongoing, viable, continuous possession made only available through Christ’s provided salvation and righteousness within us. We must also conclude, contrary to popular opinion, present tense salvation and true righteousness cannot be borrowed, purchased, inherited, or promised due to church membership, adhering to denominational traditions, or obtained after Christ returns and shuts the door. True salvation is an individual promised by God possession to all who are willing to maintain a personal relationship with Jesus. If not, we may risk hearing Jesus declare, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you”.
God has graciously made every effort through Jesus Christ and the written Word of God, and the influence of the Holy Spirit, to properly prepare us in advance as wise, watchful, servant style, virgin-like leaders and leaders in training. Therefore, let us not be found foolishly shut out of the wedding feast of all future feasts. But rather, let us be found as the writer of Hebrews 12.2 exhorts us to be found by Jesus at His return, “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
To wrongfully and proudly cling to anything other than the revealed truth of God’s Word will prove to be both foolish and eternally regretful for us and for others. Let us therefore be sure we have the full assurance of our salvation in Jesus Christ and according to the biblical teaching of Jesus Christ!
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, help us as 21st century believers to receive the end time preparedness teaching of Jesus preserved for us in Matthew 24 and 25. Let us in searching the Scriptures find them testifying of Jesus at the turn of every page. In Him Always, Amen!