This is a good message, taken from a sermon preached in 1928 by Thomas Houghton. The topic of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25, and its significance, has been like many parables (and prophecy’s) concerning the end days or coming of our Lord: there is more then one interpretation to be found. To me, it seemed simple: Its about being awake and prepared.
There is a dire warning within it as well, one which speaks not just of the 5 foolish virgins being without oil, but of how all 10 virgins (the Church as a whole) will be sleeping. Jesus’ words appear to imply that all (the Church) will indeed awaken directly prior to his return (how soon before it doesn’t say) but that only half will be prepared to enter in.
I’ve often wondered at that picture. One example I’ve thought of concerning the 5 foolish, is that of Samson:
And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him. Judges 16:20
What I’m not sure I agree with is who the author/preacher believes the 5 foolish virgins represent. Perhaps you’d care to offer an opinion..
- From pbministries: Readiness for the Coming – “Behold the Bridegroom Cometh”
Matthew 25:1-13 – Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 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. 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. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
The subject for our consideration is our Lord’s answer to the question “what shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the world (age)?”
The main answer was given in Matthew 24.
In that chapter our Lord indicated what would be the general character of the present age until His return. The Lord, however, proceeded to give further instruction to His people, and so He told them what would be the condition of the world when He came. Instead of being millennial, it would be antediluvian (Matthew 24:37-41).
Further, He proceeded to teach how His coming would affect the professing Church.
This is the general topic of the three parables of Matthew 25. They all refer to His coming, and they all refer to it in relation to the professing Church.
“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins.”
Our Lord throws light on the meaning of the words “The Kingdom of Heaven” in the parable of the tares (Matthew 13). “The good seed,” He says, “are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one.” These are to continue together until the end of the age.
Then “the Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom (i.e. Christendom) all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire.”
Manifestly “the kingdom of heaven” denotes the professing Church in its mixed condition, consisting of tares and wheat, the children of the wicked one, and the children of the kingdom. In the strictest sense the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of Christ and of God, or the kingdom of the Son of His love, consists only of those who are born again, but Satan has introduced tares amongst the wheat, and hence, during this dispensation, the professing Church, or the kingdom of heaven, consists of two classes. (See Matthew 18:3; John 3:3,5; Col. 1:12, 13.)
Now let us consider what our Lord teaches us in the parable of the ten virgins about the professing Church.
1. The professing Church will consist of two classes right up to the moment of His coming.
The ten virgins consist of those who are wise and those who are foolish. The professing Church consists, partly, of those who have become “wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” They have been led by the Spirit to take heed to Christ’s teachings and hence they are like a wise man who built his house upon a rock.
On the other hand, there are large numbers in the professing Church who, though they have heard Christ’s teachings, reject them. The Word of His Gospel has not taken root in their hearts. They neglect His great salvation, and in their hearts they reject the Saviour. Such are like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand.
These two classes, the wise and the foolish, the real and the nominal, the possessor and the mere professor, appear also in the parables of the tares and of the draw net, and they are present in the professing Church right on till the Lord’s return. The wise and the foolish virgins are in outward association until they are awakened by the cry, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh.”
2. From the beginning the members of the professing Church have been expecting His coming.
Both the wise and foolish virgins went forth to meet the Bridegroom. The doctrine of the Lord’s return was prominent in the teaching of the Apostles. Hence the Corinthian saints were “waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7). So were the Thessalonian and the Philippian saints (see 1 Thess. 1:10; Phil. 3:20). The Church at large, despite its mixed state and its departure from truth, has always professedly expected the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Romans 8:19,23, the whole creation, inanimate as well as animate, is represented as waiting for that great event.
3. There is a vital distinction between the two classes who make up the professing Church.
“The wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” The foolish “took no oil with them.”
Oil is typical of the Holy Ghost. Our Lord was anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power (Acts 10:38, Luke 4:18).
His people are also anointed and sealed with the Spirit (2 Cor. 1:21, 22). It is by the work of the Spirit that they are washed, sanctified and justified (see 1 Cor. 6:11; Titus 3:3-7). He dwells in them. The presence of oil with the wise virgins indicated that they were regenerated, sealed and indwelt by the Spirit.
The absence of oil in the case of the foolish virgins indicated that they were destitute of the Spirit, and hence, they had no life, no light, no faith, no holiness, no power, no comfort and no hope (see Rom. 8: 9)
4. While He tarries the whole professing Church will slumber and sleep.
Note that expression “while the Bridegroom tarried.” Evidently the Lord intended to tarry or delay coming for a long time. He knew this when He told the parable. He did not teach that He might come at any moment. When the predestined moment arrives for Him to come, then “He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10:37).
“They all slumbered and slept.” This is prophetic of the general condition of the professing Church, especially in the closing part of this dispensation. Compare “the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12).
Comparative deadness, inactivity, and coldness will mark the professing Church as a result of abounding lawlessness.
Doubtless there will be exceptions to this general rule.
5. When the darkness is thickest then the cry will go forth, Behold the Bridegroom cometh.
We are not told who will utter this cry. Probably those believers who have been enabled to keep awake will utter it.
6. The whole professing Church will then wake up.
The real and the only nominal Christians will then fully realize that the Bridegroom is now coming, and they will feel the need of being ready for His approach. Then the mere professor will discover what he was never conscious of before. He will realize that he is not ready to meet the Bridegroom. He will discover that the wise have something which he has not. He lights his lamp but finds it is going out because there is no oil to feed the flame. In other words, he is destitute of the Spirit, and therefore destitute of life, and destitute of saving faith in the Blood and righteousness of Christ.
He is therefore not ready to meet the Bridegroom.
7. They that are ready will go in with Him to the marriage.
All who had oil, all His regenerated people, will go in with Him to the marriage. Their title to be welcomed to the feast will not be dependent on their having kept awake, but upon their being marked as His redeemed people by the presence of His Spirit in their hearts. All such, unworthy though they are in themselves, will go in with Him to the marriage.
Then we read the solemn words, “The door was shut.” The foolish virgins come and say Lord, Lord, open to us,” but He will answer, “Verily, I say unto you, I know you not.” These solemn words prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the foolish virgins represent merely nominal Christians. “The Lord knoweth them that are His,” but these He knows not. They are not members of His mystical body. They are not His sheep.
There are two sides to a door, the inside and the outside. On which side shall we be when the great Bridegroom cometh…