Jesus spoke often in parables. He did this that the people who listened to him might not fully understand him. Jesus was asked why he spoke in parables and this was his reply: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which says, By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive:For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Mt 13:13-15). Does this mean we today cannot understand the parables of Jesus? Certainly not. Today we have the entire new testament. Today we have the mind of Christ through his word (1 Cor 2:16). With this in mind, let us examine the parable of the ten virgins.
Jesus gives this parable of the kingdom of heaven; “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 comes; go you 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 you 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 comes.” (Mt 25:1-13)
Jesus begins speaking of the kingdom of heaven, which is in reference to the church which he paid for with his own blood (Acts 20:28). All 10 virgins took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. The virgins represents Christians. Notice the words of the the apostle Paul, “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ” (2 Cor 11:2). The word lamp was used in reference to the Word of God. Notice the words of the psalmist David who wrote, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps 110:105). The bridegroom was in reference to Jesus, who was called the bridegroom and his church the bride (Mt 9:15 f; Eph 5:22,23).
Five of the virgins went unprepared without any oil. Oil is used in reference to what is required to make the lamps shine. Christians today are the light of the world. If they put their lit candle under a bushel it isn’t going to shine. Neither will their lamps shine if they do not put oil in their lamps. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Mt 5:14-16). Christians who go unprepared today are the ones who refuse to study God’s Word in order to be prepared to meet their Maker, Jesus Christ, and to teach others.
Five virgins went prepared by taking enough oil with them. They were totally prepared. They studied God’s Word and were prepared to teach it in all kinds of seasons (2 Tim 2:15 f; 2 Tim 4:2-5). When the five wise virgins heard the bridegroom was coming, they arose and lit their lamps. The foolish believed that they could borrow from the wise, but this was not to be. The wise told the foolish to go and buy for yourself. This is indicative of the words of Solomon who wrote, “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Prov 23:23).
As Christians, we will not be saved because we attend church services with the faithful. We will stand alone at the judgment and each judged by their own deeds (1 Cor 5:10). Just because you attend a faithful church doesn’t mean you are faithful. The bridegroom said to the foolish, “I know you not”. This is reminiscent of what Jesus said of those who did not follow the explicit will of God. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity” (Mt 7:21-23).
The warning given to all Christians is the same warning Jesus gave to everyone: “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch (Mk 13:37). We all need to prepare ourselves to stand before God. We must first obey the gospel of Christ (Mk 16:15,16). Secondly, we must obey God in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:23,24). Thirdly, we must study God’s Word in order to become prepared to teach, preach, prove, defend, and contend for the faith (Heb 5:12-14 ff; 2 Tim 2:2; 2 Tim 4:2-5; 1 Thess 5:21; Philip 1:15-18; Jude 3). We must put on the whole armor of God to withstand the temptations and snares of the Devil (Eph 5:11-18). We must be prepared to be persecuted and tried for the cause of Christ (2 Tim 3:12 ff; 1 Pet 2:20,21; 1 Pet 4:12,16). Above all these, let us always be prepared to meet the Lord. If we endure to the end, we shall receive a crown of life (Jam 1:12 f; Rev 2:10). If we do not, we shall be cast into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Lk 13:28).
This is what I have learned from the parable of the ten virgins, and it is a lesson that needs to remind us to be sincere seekers of God’s Word (Philip 1:10 f; Josh 24:14). We need to constantly seek out of the book of the Lord and read it (1 Tim 4:13 f; Isa 34:16). We need to study God’s Word in order to be approved of God (2 Tim 2:15). We need to teach what we have learned, not being ashamed of the gospel of Christ (2 Tim 2:2 f; Rom 1:16). We need to be prepared to take up our cross and follow after Christ and his apostles, our examples to follow (Lk 14:27 ff; 1 Cor 11:1; 1 Pet 2:21). And we need to watch every waking minute of every passing day, for the Lord will come as a thief in the night (1 Thess 5:2 f; 1 Pet 3:10). And you will do these things, if you are like the 5 wise virgins!