“The kingdom of heaven shall be likened 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 . . . And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins arose and trimmed 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 should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves “. 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. Afterwards 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 25:1-4, 6-13
Today is the first Praise the Lord Sunday during Lent. As I was reminded during last Wednesday night’s service, Lent is not supposed to be completely somber. So, today sing and dance and praise God. I have been mostly good about keeping my Lenten commitments. My sweet husband has created the most interesting of fish cuisine, including his own creation – Sea Pigs in the Blankets. I have also been diligent in my study of the parables. So throughout Lent, I will be sharing my thoughts on the parables I have studied. As I have shared my thoughts with my husband, I have found that there are many interpretations of each parable and I look forward to reading your ideas. Today, I will start with the Parable of the Ten Virgins. I like the interpretation of Gordon Lindsay in his book The Life Teachings of Christ, Volume 2, I will use a combination of my ideas mixed with his (2010, Christ for the Nations, Incorporated).
First, notice the beginning of the parable opens with “then”. This is because their are many parables. As I have read them, I see that groups are interrelated, but not the same. This parable is in a group of parables about the second coming of Christ which has a warning about being prepared. It is related to the Parable the Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant, the Parable of the Minas, and the Parable of the Talents.
Then, we see that there are ten virgins, which in Biblical symbolism represents completeness, most likely of the Church. Virgins are discussed in the New Testament several times. In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul seems to be saying that a “chaste virgin” is a believer. Revelations 14:4-5 talks about virgins who lack deceit. In James 4:4 we are warned about adulterers and being a friend of the world, because it makes us an enemy of Christ. Finally, in the Old Testament book of Psalms we are told the royal daughter is followed by the virgins, who are her companions (45:6-15). So, it seems the virgins are believers who are without deceit and who follow the teachings of Christ, not the way of the world. These virgins were the bridesmaids, attendants to the Bride. So, who is the Bride? I think the Church is the bride of Christ, making Christ the Bridegroom.
Third, what is the lamp? Psalms 119:105 says the Word of the Lord is a “lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path”. We also know from John 1:1-14 that Jesus is the word that was made flesh and a light unto the world that all believers must bear witness to, which makes all believers in Christ the light of the world ( Matthew 5:14).
So, what about the oil? The oil in the lamps is the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:18, Acts 10:38, 1 John 2:20, 27). Jesus was anointed with Holy Spirit when baptized. This is taught throughout the New Testament and associated with oil. Even The elders in the church are taught to heal by anointing the sick with oil, a symbol of the a Holy Spirit’s presence (James 5:14).
We know all the virgins had some oil, because all believers carry some of the Holy Spirit in our bodies (Romans 8:9). However, we know that Christ received the Holy Spirit without measure, which indicates that everyone must not have the same measure of the Holy Spirit, or in this case oil (John 7:37-39).
There is also indication that the virgins had to wait because the bridegroom was delayed. Paul warned of a spiritual sleep that seems to speak of complacency (1 Thessalonians 5:6). I think this period of time is now, while we are waiting for the Second coming. It seems to take so long, that some believers are not mindful anymore. They live the way of the world partaking in all types of indulgences thinking they have all the time of the world. These believers are like the foolish virgins. However, the believers who are in careful watch are the wise virgins. The shutting of the door is symbolic of the chilling reality that some believers looking forward to the second coming will be left out.
So, my husband and I have some questions, as I am sure you do. As I said this is just one interpretation. I think the answer is we must have faith and be prepared. As TobyMac says “You can’t see the wind, but it moves the leaves from the bottom to the top of the tallest trees.”
Although this parable seems to be of gloom and doom, there is hope. As Christians we still have time to prepare, so ready yourself now. Let your light shine for the Lord. I look forward to reading your ideas. God bless you.