As I have studied the Olivet Discourse there have been several questions which have crossed my mind. Some of those questions I have written down, some I remember without writing them down, and some just continue to come to my mind. There is one thing I want to be sure of and that is that I interpret what Jesus said correctly, and “Rightly divide the word of truth” as Paul taught Timothy.
In studying throughout the Gospel according to Matthew, I am carrying the theme; because I see it in the writing, the genealogy, the tone, etc.; that of JESUS THE KING. There were some who wanted to force Him to be king; however it was not the time. There were some who refused to see Him as the King, and hated Him. The theme, JESUS THE KING, continues throughout this study of the Olivet Discourse.
Some of the questions I have asked myself in this study are obvious to most men who study the Word. First of all, To whom is Jesus speaking? Secondly, what is the Abomination of desolation? Third, when will this take place? Fourth, has it already taken place or is it yet a future event? Those are some of the questions I asked concerning the twenty fourth chapter.
When I came to chapter twenty five I asked some more.
“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.” Matthew 25:1-4 (KJV)
The first question I asked here is “Who are the ‘ten virgins’?” Secondly, “What are the lamps and what is the oil?” Thirdly, “Where is the Bride?”; “Has the groom already came and taken her to his home, and now has come for the wedding party?” My last question for here, but not exhausted, is “Could these ‘ten virgins’ represent Israel and Judah, and that 50 percent of them will believe Jesus?” Like I said they are only questions. Most of this study is going to come from my own heart, I pray fed by the Word and the Spirit of God, and not from commentaries – though that is not a bad thing – and I pray that there will nothing be written here that will lead any astray from God and His Word.
The last time I presented a study where Jesus had referred to the ‘kingdom of heaven’ was in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew. There are about seven parables which Jesus gives, and each of them (except the first) begin with, “The kingdom of heaven…” Luke mentions the “Kingdom of God”, and some ask the question; “Is there a difference between the ‘kingdom of heaven’, and ‘the kingdom of God’?” Of all the explanations I have heard on this; those who say there is a difference, and those who say there is no difference; I find confusing. It seems to me that they are dealing with the same “Kingdom”, and Luke was seeing the kingdom as being overseen by the Father, and Matthew seeing it after “All things were under His feet…”, after the cross and resurrection; and being ruled by our Lord and Savior.
In the first five verses of this chapter we have “ten virgins”. Virgins are seen as a symbol or type of purity. Here they represent what in the modern day wedding would be called bridesmaids. The largest wedding party in which I was a participant, was made of of one bride, one groom, six bridesmaids, and six groomsmen. My brother and I were two of the six groomsmen. The way I have understood the Jewish wedding is like this: The vows have been made a year or so before the consummation of the couple. Time is given for the groom to return to his home, prepare a place for he and his bride to live, and have a means of living the first year together without being apart, in order to get to know one another better, and grow in love with each other. After that year of the groom working, and preparing a home he would return for her at an unappointed time, and she was to be ready; the sound of the herald crying, “The bridegroom is coming, the bridegroom is coming” was all the warning she received. That brings me to the question, “In this picture, where is the bride?” Has she already been taken to the home? and now it is time to bring the wedding party together for the Marriage supper?
Leaving that final question unanswered, for now; I will proceed with the study. The ten virgins representing a people who should be prepared for the coming of the bridegroom; however, only half of them are ready; one half having their lamps and oil with there lamps, and half having the lamps but no oil. In this there is another question: What is this oil? Oil is necessary for the burning of the lamps, needed to provide light should the bridegroom come in the night. Some have said this is the symbol or picture or type of the Spirit of God [Holy Spirit]. If this represents the Holy Spirit does that mean the five lose the presence of the Spirit? Does it mean that the Spirit of God can be purchased since we are told later, “…but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy…”?
It seems to me that this parable likens the ten virgins to the nation of Israel, and/or maybe Israel and the nations. It could be Israel and the nations, since the number 12 seems to always represent Israel alone. In the events of chapter twenty four we looked at those signs and the times as being part of the time of Jacob’s trouble, or what is known to Christians as the Tribulation period. It seems that thought must continue here, and to be near or at the end of the Tribulation. If that is the case, then the bride is in the home of the bridegroom, and he is returning for the prepared wedding party to take them home for the wedding supper.
At any rate, there were five wise and five foolish. Five were prepared and five were unprepared. Could it be that only half of the survivors of the Tribulation will be going to the Wedding/Marriage Supper of the Lamb? What of the other half. I have written on that a little in the previous study (Matthew 24:36-44); ” Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” Here is the paragraph where I dealt with that:
“On that day it seems there will be a separation which takes place in that moment; at least in that very day. Two working side by side – one will be left to live on in the kingdom of Jesus because of their faith in Him, and the other will perish. Matthew’s gospel mentions two men in the field, and two women at the mill, and would probably cover every situation of the workers in that time to come. It leaves us to understand that no gender, or workplace, is without the separation. One believes and is left to live on in the Kingdom or our Lord, while the unbelieving perish, and await the final judgment.”
On that day no one will be able to stand before the Lord without being prepared. Prepared in His grace. If the foolish virgins would have been ready they would not have left, and they would not have needed to go seek more oil. When Jesus comes again to this earth, there will be no second chances for being prepared. What happens to the five foolish virgins, or the half who live through the Tribulation yet are not prepared for His coming? They will perish. The believing will continue to live in the Millennial reign of our Lord and Savior.
As Christians today, we must live faithfully, always be ready; for we do not know when our Lord comes. Even when it seems that He has delayed or is not coming; He will come.
“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.” Matthew 25:5-6 (KJV)
In these two verses we find the five foolish, and five wise virgins sleeping. There is nothing wrong with sleeping in its place. There was one occasion where Jesus chided Peter, James, and John for sleeping when they should have been praying (Matthew 26:36-46). You would think that people who know the coming of the Bridegroom is near would be awake, alert, and waiting in anticipation for His appearing, but that does not seem to be the case here.
There are those who have changed their beliefs due to the fact that Jesus has not returned yet. I am sure most of them would not agree with me on that, but they have grown weary of the wait, and have thus fell asleep, and so they believe now, that the Lord has already returned, and that His kingdom is in charge of the present world administration, economy, and power; or something like that. Or they believe that through God’s kingdom on earth [the Church] things will get better and better, and then Jesus will return. That, it seems to me, to be asleep at the wheel.
The herald of the bridegroom has come with the shout, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh”; He is near even at the door (Matthew 24:33). Waking from their slumber and sleep they are practically stunned to find that the bridegroom is coming. If they weren’t then why were they not prepared. They never believed he was coming. Paul the apostle wrote in Romans 13,
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Romans 13:11-14 (KJV)
The cry of the herald was, “Go out to meet him”. Being unprepared the foolish cannot, therefore leave to find their preparations. While they are away searching, the bridegroom comes and goes home without them. The lesson in this for the Christian of today is don’t be unprepared for the coming of the Lord. Don’t give up on His coming. He said, “I will come again”. Be a part of those who love the appearing of the Lord, and await it with anticipation.
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12 (KJV)
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 (KJV)
The reason for using James 1:12 and Revelation 2:10 is for anticipation of our Lord’s return. Anyone who does not love the coming/appearing of our Lord; most likely does not know Him, is out to sleep and slumber and will be very rudely awakened one day to find themselves without preparation.
“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.” Matthew 25:7-10 (KJV)
Jesus has said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38 (KJV). The presence and gift of the person and power of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Christian will be like rivers of living water, having an effect in the lives of other people around us. Springs send forth water to the nourishment of the recipients down stream from them. The recipients down stream cannot produce the spring water themselves. The water flows from God through the spring cave, and the only way for the recipients to be producers of this water is to become a spring producing the water, and that can only be done by God.
The foolish virgins ask the wise to share their oil. They cannot share in that sense because it would leave them short. Every believer needs their own oil, their own preparations; their own personal relationship with the Lord, and their own labor of love, or the good works which follow their faith. It will be no different on that last day when the Lord comes again.
If this is reference to the nations of the world and Israel together, as the possible wedding party, then we need to conclude that only half the survivors will enter that Marriage Supper. According to the Revelation, chapter nineteen the “bride has made herself ready”, and he continues, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9). Why, Oh why will people not hear the call? Why will people not realize that sin has been dealt a death blow by the cross of Jesus Christ? Why will we Christians not proclaim the coming of the Lord, warning the lost dying world of our coming King to judge and put away sin forever? That day will come and the door will be “shut” forever.
“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.” Matthew 25:11-13 (KJV)
Could it be that on that day of the “Marriage feast” there will be those survivors show up to say, “Let us in. We too believe. We too survived the tribulation – the time of Jacob’s trouble?” The Lord says, “I know you not”. Jesus has said before, “I never knew you. Depart from Me ye workers of iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23; Luke 13:27).
It is one thing to say, “I know the Lord”. It is quite something else to know and say, “The Lord knows me” and for Him to say, “I know you. Come on in” on that great day when the Lord comes. How do we know we are known by Him. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them” (John 10:27) and He said also, “I am the good shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine” (John 10:14). So both knowing Him, and being known by Him is of the utmost importance. You cannot have the one without the other.
Since we do not know the day, or the hour in which Jesus will come again; no matter how slow the approaching may seem to us; we must be ever vigilant to live, work, play, worship and praise in the name of the Lord. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Only those who know Him and are known by Him can do all for His glory. Let’s do it whether, in our thinking He delays His coming, or not; all for His glory.
-Tim A. Blankenship