- Religion and Philosophy
The Ten Virgins: Parable Explained
The Ten Virgins: Parable Explained
One Sunday, at short notice, I was asked to give a funeral message at the assembly where I was preaching. I thought: What should I speak about? The church member who passed away was about 80 years old. Born-again,
he had seen glory days in his youth; but in the last several years of his life, having backslidden, he had developed a
combative, cantankerous spirit. Surprisingly he had become very quiet during
the months before his home-call. He used to sit quietly at the back of the church listening to the Sunday morning messages. I believe God in His infinite mercy had subdued him, before calling him out of the world.
I was thinking: Most believers take it for granted that they will be raptured and go to heaven. But they live such carnal and compromising lives! What about a message to believers? Traditionally, the practice in our church is that a gospel message is given to unbelievers who come to the cemetery. But I felt believers, too, must be warned through the Word of God. After all, the Bible has words of comfort, mixed with words of warning.
So I reflected on the Parable of the Ten Virgins. And I spoke a short 20 minute message (with translation) on that subject. The gist of the message was
i. All ten were virgins; i.e. they were saints, or believers. But sadly, five of them were shut out of the wedding feast. The wedding feast pointed to the Kingdom, the 1000 year millenial year of Christ and His Bride, the victorious Church.
ii. Wisdom consisted in the fact that the wise virgins carried extra oil in their flasks or vessels, apart from the oil in the lamps. The foolish ones had oil only in their lamps. (The oil stands for the Holy Spirit. Everyone has oil in his lamp, i.e. every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. But you need more oil, extra oil. And that can only be purchased, i.e. got with a price, purchased by suffering. It is not enough to be indwelt by the Spirit; you have to be filled with the Spirit.)
iii. The Bridegroom delayed His coming, so the virgins slept and the light in the lamps started going out. At midnight there was a cry: The Bridegroom has come! The foolish got into a panic and started trimming their lamps, but their lamps were already dim and near to being extinguished.
v. They asked the wise virgins to give them some oil from their vessels, but the wise refused. They told the careless virgins to go and buy oil from the market. They went and did so, but it was too late. When they got back, they found the door shut in their faces. And they heard the Lord say, I do not know you!
What is the message of this Parable?
vi. Not every believer will partake of the marriage supper or wedding feast of the Lamb. Only those who are prepared and ready, Luke 12:35. Rev 19:7, 8. Are you ready for the Lord's Coming?
vii. We are warned in the Book of Revelation to keep our garments on, Rev 16.5, Rev 3.18. It is possible to be found naked and ashamed at the Coming of Christ. Remember, Adam and Eve found themselves naked and hid from God in the garden. In Revelation chapter 3, we see the Laodicean church (the 21st century church) found naked and wanting.
viii. We have to keep our lamps burning, by being filled with the Holy Spirit, Eph 5:18. But we cannot get that extra oil except by paying a price. In other words, we must be prepared to count the cost of following Christ, be prepared for suffering. We have to be emptied of all that is of self in order to be filled with the Spirit.
ix. We have to keep our crown, Rev 3:11. Some of us are given positions of responsibility and privilege in the church, but we fail to carry out our responsibility. Saul lost his crown; Demas forsook the Kingdom, by going back into the world. Judas lost his apostleship.
x. If you read other related parables, you will notice that in Matt 22 we have a man who had no wedding clothes; he was cast into outer darkness. In Matt 25, we have the lazy servant who is also cast into outer darkness. What is this outer darkness? There is the possibility of believers missing out on the joys of the Kingdom, the joy of participating in the wedding feast of the Lamb, the glory of the millenial reign.
xi. The Lord made it clear to the Jews in Matt 8:12 that the 'sons of the kingdom' would be cast into outer darkness. We should realize that 'many are called, but few are chosen'.
xii. We are saved by grace; but there is a distinct possibility of losing our reward, losing 'our crown'.
xiii. What did the Lord mean by His statement: 'I do not know you'? Matt 25:12. It is a sad fact that many believers do not know Christ. They do not know His voice. They have not felt His loving and living touch. They do not know Him intimately. The word 'know' here speaks of intimate knowledge. We may claim to know all the doctrines, but if we do not have a close walk with the Lord we are really far from Him. And there is the danger of being shut out from the wedding feast; deprived of the 'light and gladness' and 'joy and honour' (Esther 8:16) of rejoicing with the Lamb and His wife; failing to become an intimate partner and member in that wonderful body of overcomers known as the 'Bride of Christ'.
© Roland N Oliver/Tan Pratonix