This post is a segment of my commentary on the Olivet Discourse. Because the post is lengthy and few visitors have the patience to read it to the end, I decided to present it as a separate post in order to grant visitors to our blog site easy access to it. I hope you will find it useful.
1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
2 And five of them were wise and five were foolish.
3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
4 But the wise took took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go out to meet Him.
7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
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.
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.
11 Afterwards came also the other virgins, saying, Lord open to us.
12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day when the Son Of Man cometh.(Matt.25:1-13).
A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. In a parable all the components do not need to be interpreted individually. What is must important is the central teaching of the parable. In the Ancient Near East, a parable is usually given in the course of teaching as an illustration of the central message of the subject matter under discussion. The parable of the ten virgins was given by our Lord to emphasize the importance of His teaching in the Olivet Discourse. This parable was quite understandable to the disciples being based solely on Jewish marriage custom and practice. The number ten is significant because it forms a quorum. Today in some Jewish communities, it takes a minimum of eight to form a quorum. In Hebrew numerology and Gematria, ten is the number of wholeness. It stands also for perfection, divinity and the Trinity, being the sum sum of 7 and 3. When Boaz married Ruth, there were ten witnesses(Ruth 4:2).
In ancient Israel, girls were given away in marriage as virgins. Therefore a bride is almost always a virgin. After the payment of the dowry, the virgin is said to be betrothed. Usually the bridegroom returns to his father’s house to build a house for his bride. It takes about a year or thereabouts. In the interim, the bride gets ready to receive the bridegroom at any time he shows up. The bridegroom usually shows up at night in the company of other young men and maidens and family members and friends. As they approach the residence of the bride’s family, a loud noise is made to announce his arrival. The bride ever ready in the company of other virgins and maidens with lamps and fanfare rushes out of her father’s house to meet the bridegroom who thereafter takes her to his father’s house after a lavish reception.
The imagery here is that of Christ and his betrothed, the church. Evidently, the bridegroom is our Lord Jesus Christ( Ps. 45:1-17; Song.1:1-8:14). Christ has paid the bridal dowry. He has purchased us with His own blood( Luk.22:19,20; Acts 20:28; Eph.1:14; 1 Pet.1:19). He has returned to His Father’s House in heaven to prepare a place for the church, his betrothed( Hos.2:19). “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In My Father’s house there are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And wither I go ye know, and the way ye know”(Jon.14:1-4). When the Heavenly Jerusalem where Christ shall dwell with His bride is ready(Rev. 21,22), He shall come again to receive His own(1 Thess.4:15-18; 1Cor.15:50-52). Once the bridal dowry is paid, the bride is ever wholly devoted to the bridegroom. Therefore, Jesus deserves total and unalloyed devotion from His bride, the church.
The new covenant is faithful and inviolate. It is an unconditional covenant. Its fulfillment is inevitable being contingent upon Christ’s singular and superlative love for man. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believe that in Him should not perish but have life of the age to come”(Jon.3:16). Believers are now betrothed to Christ. The solemnization is reserved for the Great Day, when the bride, the lamb’s wife shall have made herself completely ready(Rev.19:7,9). The bridegroom is not only a king, He is the King of kings. The virgins therefore must be maids of honor, virgins without number(Song.6:8). Meanwhile, the Church is to make herself ready to meet the bridegroom whenever He shows up(v.10). There must be no blemish in her(Eph.5:27). But the Church is a mixed multititude. Not all professors of Christ are true believers(Matt.13:47-50). There were ten virgins; five were wise and five foolish(v.2).
They all had lamps, and their lamps were burning. The wise virgins had enough oil reserve to last them through the night of waiting, but the foolish virgins did not have enough oil in their vessels(vv.3,4). The wise virgins were prepared, but the foolish were unprepared. The wise were ready but the foolish were not. The bride must make herself ready(Rev.19:7,9). Believers are also representated as companions of Christ(Ps.45:14), children(Is.54:1; Jon.21:5), and ornaments(Is.49:18). The 144,000 who follow the Lamb wherever He goes are referred to as virgins(Rev.14:4). But they are not part of His bride, the Church. The imagery of virgin denotes purity and devotion. We are to be presented to Christ as pure virgins(2 Cor.11:2). There should be no idols in our lives. Our devotion must be complete and unquestionable.
Believers must build themselves up in the faith. As new born babes, we may be carried on the shoulders of older brethren for a while. As new born babes, we are to ingest the sincere milk of the word that we may grow thereby(1 Pet.2:2,3). But a time cometh when every man must stand on his feet. We cannot beg others for strength and grace. Christ is the primary source. We all draw life and strength and grace from Him. The life, strength and grace we draw from Him are only sufficient for each one of us alone. We cannot, and must not share them with others. There are those who receive Christ with joy, but over the years have not built enough strength and grace through the ingestion of the word to last them through the hours of darkness. Like Aaron’s rod we must spend a full night in the darkness. Thereafter we shall bud, bloom blossoms and yield almonds(Num.17:8,9).
As virgins, believers are to attend unto the Lord without distractions(1 Cor. 7:35). We must do Him honor. We must do His bidding. We must be to Him a name and a praise when He comes to be glorified in the saints. If we serve Him, we must follow Him(Jon.12:26). We must love Him with passion in our hearts. We must love as He loves us. “We love Him, because He first loved us”(1 Jon.4:19). His love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us(Rom.5:5). If we love Him, we must keep His words. His Father will love us, and they will make their abode with us(Jon.14:23).
Our office is to meet the bridegroom. This we must perform it as a joyful duty. It must be our happiness. We must uphold His name, and tell it forth. We must tell forth the praise of the exalted Jesus. We must be expectant of His coming. We must not only believe in His second Advent, we must love and long for His appearing. To get ready for the bridegroom, our whole life must be consumed with His second coming. It must be the pivot of our conversation in a dark and dying world. It is the climax of our faith in Him. It is the point of convergence of our whole life in Him. We must not give it second place. It is the constant reference point of our whole life on Earth. All our activities must tend towards it. It must be the reference point of our lifestyle, conversation, conduct and value system.
We believers in the Messiah must have oil in our vessels. Our duties and profession must have the freshness of the Spirit. “I shall be anointed with fresh oil”(Ps.92:10). “As Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, by the glory of the Father shall we walk in newness of life”(Rom.6:4). We must be led by the Spirit, empowered and guided by the Spirit. Our light must not go out at all throughout the night of our profession. We are children of light. We are children of the day. We are not of night nor of darkness(1 Thess.5:5). We must not be drunken like children of night and darkness. We must neither sleep nor slumber as do sons of night and darkness. We must shine as light in the midst of the darkness of this world. Our lights must shine forth(Phil.2:15).
We as virgins expecting the arrival of the bridegroom must be wise. Wisdom is profitable to direct(Eccl.10:10). Wisdom excelleth folly as far as light excelleth darkness (Eccl.2:13). True believers are the wise virgins, and the false brethren are the foolish virgins, the hypocrites. True Christianity is true wisdom. Sin is folly, more so the sin of hypocrisy. They are the greatest fools who are wise in their own estimation, worst sinners who feign themselves holy and just. He that winneth soul is wise(Prov.11:30). Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body(1 Cor.6:13). Our bodies are the members of Christ. We cannot take the members of Christ and make them members of an harlot. He that is joined unto the harlot is one body. He that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that commiteth fornication sinneth against his own body. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in us, who we have of God, and we are not our own. We are bought with a price: therefore we must glorify God in our bodies and our spirits which are God’s(1 Cor.6:14-20).
In the parable of the builder, the foolish virgins are represented as the foolish builder that built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall thereof(Matt.7:27). Whosoever heareth the admonitions of the Lord and doeth them, shall be like the wise man that built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, the flood came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon the rock. Our foundation must be laid deep upon the rock which is Christ. Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid. And that foundation is Christ(1 Cor.3:10,11). They drank of that rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ(1 Cor.10:4).
Our hearts must be established with the truth of the word of God, and not with food which has not profited those that are preoccupied with it. We must not be carried away with diverse doctrines. “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.”(Heb.13:9 KJV). “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”(Rom.14:17 KJV). Faith is the word of God that controls us. We must be rooted in the word of God. The image of Christ must be recreated in us. We must be rooted in His disposition. We must have that stock of sound knowledge that issues in settled resolutions that keep us afloat in the sea of trials of the present. We must not act on external inducements without the benefit of concrete foundations in the word of God.
We must have the benefit of sound judgement. We must have prospect of and make provision for what is to come. We must not only take our lamps for the present show, we must also have enough oil in our vessel for after use. We must not act at all to please men, but to be approved of Christ before whom we will stand in judgment to give account of our lives. We must not sacrifice the spiritual and the eternal on the altar of the temporal. Our eyes must be focused on things not seen as yet, rather than those things which are seen; for those things which are seen are temporal, but those things which are not seen are eternal(2 Cor.4:18). We must lay a good foundation for the time to come(1 Tim.6:19). We must guard our hearts with all diligence; for out it are the issues of life(Prov.4:23).
We must stand on and be guided by good principles within our hearts. Our hearts are the vessels out of which flows the oil of life to keep us burning. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things. An evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil things. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks(Matt.12:34). Our tongue is the indicator of the heart. It is a reflection of the heart. The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord(Prov.16:1). Our actions spring from the motivations of our hearts. Therefore our hearts must be renovated with the word of God. It must be recreated in the image of Christ. We must be transfigured into His image even as we bask in His glory in His presence. “We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of of the Lord”(2 Cor.3:18).
Our light must shine before men in good works. To eviscerate its temporality, it must be rooted in deep and fixed active principle in the heart of faith in Christ, and love towards God and our fellow man. Our eyes must be transfixed on what is before us. We must look right on, and our eyelids straight before us(Prov.4:25). We must prepare for the long haul; for the bridegroom might tarry long. The siege might be long. And time might begin to drag. We must be partakers of His fullness, and grace for grace(Jon.1:16). He is the great and good Olive tree(Zech.4:2,3,12).
Verse 5 is very interesting: “while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” Since the Ascension, there has not been any generation of believers who did not believe that Christ would come again in their lifetime. Since the Ascension, His appearance is more likely now than ever before, inasmuch as Israel has regained her independence and control of her Holy City, Jerusalem. The red heifer has been found and is being cloned. Any moment from now, the Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah could be reassembled from prefabricated materials, the three power base coalition formed, and the seven year peace agreement signed between Israel and the Man Of Sin.
But He has tarried in our eyes. There is always good reason for Him to tarry. The vision is for an appointed time(Hab.2:3). There are intermediate counsels and purposes to be accomplished. The elect from the foundation of the world must be called in, God’s longsuffering must be manifested, and the faith and patience of the saints must be tested. The harvest must be ripened. “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord like a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”(2 Pet.3:8,9). God’s reckoning of time is vastly different from that of man. He may tarry past our time but not the due time appointed of the Father(Matt.24:36).
The prophesies regarding His First Advent also took thousands of years in fulfillment. He was thought long by those who waited for the consolation of Israel. But there were those like Simeon and Anna who patiently waited for and witnessed the consolation of Israel(Luk.2:25-38). So also shall it be in regard to His Second Advent. “Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, we shall be changed”(1 Cor.15:51). Forbearance is no acquittance. The vision is for a appointed time, at the end it shall speak and not lie. The year of our redemption is fixed in the heart of the Father. For the unwise, it shall be at the midnight hour when they looked not for Him, when they are most disposed to take their rest and ease. At the midnight hour the firstborn of Egypt were destroyed and Israel delivered(Exod.12:29). Many times death comes when it is least expected. To the rich fool God said, “tonight thy soul is required of thee; and all the things you have gathered whose will they be?”(Luk.12:20). And so is it with him who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God.
And while He tarried, they all slumbered and slept. The foolish as well as the wise virgins slumbered and slept. Slumbering and sleeping is not really always as result of lack of wisdom and fixed good principles of the heart. It springs from the weariness of the flesh to which are all vulnerable. But the difference was in their preparations. The wise had prepared for the exigencies of the time, but the foolish virgins did not. At midnight when the cry was made, the wise virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. They had extra oil for their lamps, but not enough for them and their foolish companions. The lamps of the hearts of the wise virgins were burning while they bodies slumbered and slept. We cannot and should not judge the state of the heart from external appearance. God does not look at the outward appearance. He looks at the heart; for out of the heart are the issues of life. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”(Proverbs 4:23 KJV).
At the garden of Gethsemane, the disciples could not watch with the Lord one hour; they slumbered and slept( Matt.26:40-46; Mk.14:37-41; Luk.22:46). How hard would it be then to remain awake for an age or a lifetime. The time of His coming is embedded in the sovereignty of God. It is in the power and authority of Almighty Father. Our duty it is to go forth and meet Him whenever He comes. In death, we are to go out of our body to meet Him. In the daily affairs of life, we are to go out and meet Him in our affections and duty. At the end of the ages, He cometh with the observation of all. His coming shall not be in secret. He shall not come to the desert or the secret chamber. A cry shall be made. The Shekinah shall appear in the heavens and the trump of God shall be sounded by the archangel. Every eye shall see Him, and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen(Rev.1:7).
When the Lord tarries, He tarries for the wise to repent. When He cometh, He cometh for the redemption of the wise also. When He cometh, may we be found in peace(2 Pet.3:14), may we be found so doing(Matt24:46), and may we not be found naked(2 Cor.5:3); and may we not shrink from before Him at His coming(1 Jon.2:28). We must not because of delay intermit our care or abate our zeal. Our works must be perfect before Him. We must not leave our first love(Rev.2:4). We have begun in the Spirit, we must not end up in the flesh. It is hypocrisy that breaks out in open apostasy(2 Pet.2:20). We must not be found apostates. The profession withers, the credit of it is lost, and hope fails. The candle of the wicked shall be put out in obscure darkness(Job 21:17). Those who kindle fire, and compass themselves about with sparks: and walk in the light of their fire, in the sparks which they have kindled, shall lie down in sorrow(Is.50:11).
The gains of hypocrisy shall not stand as exhibits in the day of judgment. If we do not live the life of the righteous, we cannot have the benefit of it in the day of judgment. There is no occasion for vouchers on the last Day. The sovereign Lord of the Universe, the judge of all mankind knows the true character of every man. There is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed or made manifest. Every secret must be exposed. Whatever is spoken in the secret chamber shall be proclaimed upon the housetop(Matt.10:27; Luk.12:3). If grace sanctifies us now, it will save us on the last day. Can we buy oil when the market is over? Can they obtain grace on the last day who made no use of it in their lifetime? Those that are saved shall have grace of their own obtained from the Lord of life. Granted, we derive benefit from the companion of the saints: corporate faith and prayer may redound to our advantage. However our personal sanctification is indispensably necessary to our individual salvation. Profession of faith without salvation is utter hypocrisy. My righteous one by his faith shall live(Hab.2:4; Rom.1:17).
Those that have most grace, have none to spare. Salvation is not transferable. The best of us have need to borrow from Christ, but have none to loan our neighbours. The wise virgins had oil enough for themselves. It would be utterly unwise to share theirs with their foolish neighbours. There is no work of supererogation or the imputation of righteousness by one saint upon another. The advice of the best of saints to their neighbours is ” go to them that sell and buy for yourselves lest there be not enough for you and I.” While they went to buy, the bridegroom came(v 10). They cannot have grace on the last day who made no use of it previously. “Those that were ready entered, and the door was shut”. If we were not ready on the last day, we cannot be made ready afterwards. Now that the bridegroom is taken away, we must fast(Matt.9:15); for when He cometh, it shall be an everlasting feast. The bridegroom will escort the bride to his home(Jon.17:24), and shall rejoice over her(Is.62:5). “They that were ready went with Him to the marriage”. This is eternal glorification or consummative sanctification. To go in with Christ to the marriage is to be in His immediate presence. Such is the most intimate of fellowship and communion we can have with Him. It is an eternal state of rest, joy, and abundance of everything. Those who enter heaven have made themselves ready for Him.
“And the doors were shut.” It was fitting to shut the doors to keep out the hypocrites. It was fitting to shut the doors in order to guarantee the security of the redeemed who have become pillars in the house of God, in order that they may go no more out(Rev.3:13). When Adam was put out of paradise, God set cherubim on the east of the Garden of Eden with flaming swords to guard the tree of life(Gen.4:23). When the wise virgins went in with the bridegroom to the marriage, the fate of the foolish virgins were unalterably fixed. They were shut out for eternity. When Noah went into the Ark with his family, and God shut them in, the fate of the outsiders were unalterably fixed; they perished in the deluge. When Esau disposed his birthright, he lost it for ever, though afterwards he sought it carefully with tears, he found no place of repentance(Heb.12:16,17). There is no repentance after the Rapture for anyone who shall be part of the bride of Christ. They may have the audacity go to the gate of heaven and demand entrance, they shall not be admitted. The vain confidence of the hypocrites may carry them far in their expectation of heaven’s bliss, their self-conceit and hypocrisy shall deny them admittance. They are lifted up to heaven in a fond conceit of their own goodness, but they like Lucifer shall be thrust down to Sheol(Is.14:15). We are to call upon the Lord while He may found, seek Him while He may be near(Is.55:6,7). When the summer is past, and the harvest ended, we can no longer be saved(Jer.8:20). And the harvest is the end of the ages, and the reapers are the angels(Matt.13:39b).
After the Rapture, the marriage of the Lamb to His bride shall take place in heaven after the Bema Seat Judgment of the works of the saints when they are crowned every man according to his works. The marriage of the Lamb shall be one of the two events that shall take place in heaven during the 30-day Reclamation Period that follows the Battle of Armageddon. No one will be born again in the true sense of the phrase as we are today after the rapture. The Rapture marks the close of the church age. But pretribulationism teaches that some hypocrites in the Church, and some people of the world shall be born again after the Rapture and go through the Great Tribulation. But we see here that when the Master has come and the door is shut, there shall be no more admittance. Pretribulationism therefore is a theological fabrication without biblical basis. The concept that some people shall be saved, and become part of the Church after the Eapture is a theological concoction without biblical justification. It is intended to hoodwink the saints into spiritual slumber and somnolence, that the day of the Lord may come upon them unawares. It is Hell’s soporific hemlock. It is intended to put our lamps out, and to give us no oil in our vessels for after use. It is utter foolishness for anyone to think that if one is not raptured, one can still become a believer afterwards and make heaven, become part of the church and attend the marriage of the Lamb.
“Afterwards came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, open to us. But He answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not”(vv.11,12).
Verily I know you not is equivalent to God swearing in His wrath that they shall not enter into His rest, although the works were finished from the foundation of the world(Ps.95:11; Heb.3:11,18). It is utter foolishness for any one to think that the hypocrites who call Jesus Lord, Lord, but do not His will shall be given a second chance after the Rapture of the Church to enter heaven.
“Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in That Day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out demons, and in thy name have done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity”(Matt.8:21-23).
We see here that no one left behind can be rescued afterwards. It is theological gimmickry to teach otherwise. “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man cometh”(v.13). Just as Jesus has taught His disciples in the Olivet Discourse(Matt.24:50), He illustrated in the parable of the ten virgins that no one knows the day and the hour of His coming. Though we can know the general time period as illustrated by the parable of the fig tree, we cannot know the day and the hour of His coming. Hence, the need to be prepared. We can see that the main thrust of the parable of the ten virgins is preparedness.