Between my husband and me, although I take longer than him to get ready to go somewhere, I usually am ready before him. He has the tendency to start getting ready 5 mins prior to the time we have to leave. Are you ready? This is a question you will find me asking my husband quite often at times like these.
Being ready and prepared – I was reminded of the Parable of the ten virgins that we read in Mathew 25: 1-13, where Jesus warns about keeping watch and being ready for his return for the day and hour is unknown.
Mathew 25:1-13 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
The bridegroom is Jesus and this parable mentions His return, there is some debate as to when exactly this would take place, before or at the end of tribulation. Instead, let us focus on that which is very clear for us in the word; Christ’s return and see what we can learn from this passage.
Jesus is speaking here to His disciples, not to the Pharisees or a crowd of people, implying that this parable to keep watch was most probably to the church.
Ten virgins: notice that they are initially described in a manner that does not differentiate them. The ten of them are clubbed together but Jesus knows the difference when He further says that 5 were wise and 5 were foolish.
For us: Jesus Knows the heart of the person, whatever image we may have on the outside, what lies within is what really matters.
Let’s quickly look at some of the verses that describe a fool’s characteristics in the bible
Psalm 14:1 “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 18:2 “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”
Proverbs 10:23 “A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.”
When you read these verses, the description of a fool is one who says there is no God, who does no good and whose ways are corrupt among other things.
In this parable we read that the foolish five did not take any oil while the wise ones did.
Having the oil and not having the oil is what set them apart and made the difference to their end of the story.
Oil in the bible has great significance and symbolism, and as I dug into this further, I read that it often can be used as the symbol of the Holy Spirit. We read in Exodus 30:30-32, that Aaron was anointed with oil and he and his sons were set apart to serve God as His priests. God still anoints His people today, with the Holy Spirit.
We receive the Holy Spirit when we receive Jesus as our saviour. Ephesians 1:13-14 teaches us that those who believe are sealed with the promise of the Holy spirit. Yes, we receive the spirit, but the filling of the spirit is an ongoing process in a believer’s life.
While waiting for the bridegroom, all ten of them fell asleep. We do not read that only the foolish ones fell asleep and the wise ones stayed awake, alert and were working while waiting.
The emphasis was not on their works while they waited because no amount of good works can earn us our salvation.
They all were alerted to the groom’s coming at the same time, but only the five who we prepared were able to burn their lamps because of the oil they had. We go on to read that the foolish ones asked the wise ones for oil but the wise ones said that there would not be enough for all.
When Christ returns, preparedness cannot be shared or transferred. Each person is accountable for their own choices.
We cannot use anyone else as our spiritual crutch. We each have to spend time with God in prayer and in His word.
While the foolish five went to buy oil, the wise five got to join the groom in the wedding banquet and the door was shut. There comes a time when it is too late, don’t keep putting off when the Lord stirs your heart to come to Him.
Heed the voice and call of Jesus.
They come back and say “Lord, Lord, Open the door for us. But He replied, “Truly I tell you; I don’t know you.”
This ties in with what Jesus says in Mathew 7:21-23, condemning the false believers “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'”
The five foolish virgins;
- Outwardly described no different than the wise five
- Were aware of and invited to the wedding banquet same as the other five.
- Were waiting together and
- Were informed of the groom’s arrival at the same time.
Their works were all outward but they were unprepared on the inside (representing the lost sinner).
We are not to be like the false believers who go to church, do outwardly good things, yet have truly never received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. And not have the Holy Spirit within, not have that oil that will enable our lamps to burn. Judas Iscariot was one of the disciples and yet we know what his true spiritual condition was. Attending church and serving at church does not automatically assure us of eternity with God.
We must heed the call and voice of Jesus, be prepared by acknowledging our sins, our need for forgiveness and our need for salvation.
We are to not only anticipate, but be prepared and ready for His coming, living our today in obedience, glorifying Him and with an eternal perspective.
Pray that He finds us with our lamps trimmed and burning, ready for Him, striving to fulfil the purpose He has commissioned us to do.