As Jesus continues in his answer to his disciples questions- he provides parables to illustrate truths about the signs of his coming and the end of the age.
He says when you see these signs- you will know the end is near, but tells us- no man, no angels of heaven know the day and hour but my Father only.
He states it will be like it was in the day of Noah- a world unconcerned about God and Gods judgment of sin. He says when He comes again it will be like a thief in the night. So we must be watchful. In fact, Jesus said to his disciples in the Garden on the night of his arrest- watch and pray, lest you fall into temptation.
He commands us to be faithful and wise servants and to continue to do good as we wait and watch for our masters coming. Not like the evil servant who is unfaithful and unwise in carrying out the masters responsibilities while the master tarries.
Then we come to three parables in Matthew 25: the ten virgins, the servants and the talents, and the sheep and the goats.
Does this parable apply to the rapture or the 2nd coming to establish his earthly kingdom? There is reason to believe it could apply to both-but the main truth is as believers we are to be prepared always for his return. That Christ is the Bridegroom is unmistakable. The 10 virgins may represent the bridesmaids who have been assisting the bride,( as would have been the custom in the day of Jesus). On this point some say they represent Israel awaiting the 2nd coming of the Lord, others say they represent the church and the coming represents the Rapture. But we do know they are expecting to meet the groom. And in both cases- the lesson to be learned is we must be prepared or face being left behind- with the door closed. That oil represents the Holy Spirit is obvious also and the lamp is the spirit of a human being. We must remember,only man of all creation has a spirit, breathed into his nostrils in the beginning by God Himself. And Proverbs 20: 27(KJV) states: The spirit of man is the candle( lamp) of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.
Then in I Corinthians 2 Paul explains the role of the spirit of man and the role of the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. ( I Cor. 2:11,12) In these two verses we see three spirits- the spirit of man, the spirit of the world, and the Spirit of God. You must possess the Spirit of God to be saved. If you do not have the Spirit of God, the spirit of man will be dominated by the spirit of the world- the devil.
What is clear in this parable of the 10 virgins- is 50%- 5 of the virgins did not possess any oil, representative of the Spirit of God. They were professors- professing to have the Spirit of God, looked like they were the real thing- had a lamp and everything except the oil- which is what lights the lamp. They were tares among the wheat. They were professors but not possessors of the Spirit of God. The Lord Jesus who is the Word of God is -a light unto our path.( Psalms 119:105) And who is Jesus, the Word of God also called? In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And later on in that same first chapter of John we read: That was the true LIGHT , which lights every man that cometh into the world. And in John 3: 19- And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Let us approach these parables with the view in mind of what we are to do as believers as we live in the latter days. The days since Jesus ascended are called the latter days. However, as a church living in the latter days, we should be able to read the signs. And remember the church in the latter day is compared to the last church in the seven churches in Revelation 2& 3- the Laodicean church- the lukewarm church. Look at the church of Laodicea and realize what was said about them.
Laodicea in the first century, in the time of Christ, sat astride two major trade routes. The founders built the city where they did for that very reason to take advantage of these well- traveled trade routes. This men knew what we often hear today in retail- location, location, location. It offered unlimited opportunities for trade. However, there was a problem. Laodicea was not established near an adequate water supply. Water had to be piped into their city. Water from Colossae came from natural cold springs, but by the time it traveled 10 miles it was lukewarm. Six miles away was Hierapolis where there were natural hot springs- but again once after being piped in- it was lukewarm. Jesus said I wish you were one or the other. Cold water is refreshing and ideal for drinking . Hot water is useful for teas and herbs, healing and cleansing. Lukewarm is good for nothing.
We live in the era of the lukewarm church. How easily we are conformed by the world we live in today. Laodicea was proud of its wealth. They had three main industries: textile known for a particular black wool they produced that was prized by the wealthy; medicine- a pharmaceutical industry known for its famous eye salve; and banking- because they were a busy trade route, they were an active currency exchange center. They also had a huge race track in Laodicea and three lavish theaters so the entertainment industry was getting its share of all the wealth.
Their claim to fame was we are rich and in need of nothing. Self- satisfied, prideful and living with abundance of material possessions. You see rather than possess Jesus, the Spirit of God, they had rather possess material possessions. Professors but not possessors. They had rather have silver and gold than Jesus.
Now when you are a church like this church you sit in a beautiful building where most of the members live in comfort- with nice homes, automobiles, jobs, savings, and nice vacations. We mirror the culture and society, in other words, the world around us.( Now your teacher must be honest and confess I want all those things also.) Listen to what John writes in I John 2: Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world- the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does- comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God abides forever.
And listen to what Paul writes to Timothy concerning these last days: But mark this : There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (2 Timothy 3)
And Paul writes and tells us in Romans 12- do not be conformed to this world
The world system after the rapture and during the Great Tribulation is described as the Babylon the Great. Revelation 18 describes the world as Babylon, the Mother of Prostitutes which the nations of the world have committed adultery with her and grown rich from her excessive luxuries. During the Tribulation God calls from heaven to the remnant to come out of her. She is prideful, boastful, relying on her wealth and self-sufficency. Is this not like the church of the last days, the Laodicean church that says I am rich and have need of nothing? Pride, self-sufficiency, and avoidance of suffering is what are important to this church. We can see how easy it is to move from a Laodicean church to a world religion and culture described in Revelation 18 as Babylon, the Mother of Prostitutes. Spiritual adultery.
So when we read this first parable- we see 10 virgins awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom. As was the custom- they were to go meet him with lamps shining brightly. However, 5 of the 10 did not have any oil. They were carrying lamps but they were empty.
Now can you see why we have attracted a crowd that is associated with a church like this? They believe in the same things: obtaining material wealth, living in comfort, avoidance of suffering and this is a club anyone would want to join. Could half of those who are members of a church like this be professors of faith but not possessors of faith. Are they carrying about a lamp that is empty? If oil is the Holy Spirit and the very spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord ( Proverbs 20) then these are not true believers.
A true believer is one who has been born again. At that moment the Holy Spirit comes to indwell the believers heart- they are sealed at that time forever. Sealing occurs once and forever. Filling is an ongoing process. Saving faith in Christ will manifest itself in every aspect of ones life. The fruit of the Spirit will be evident, as described in Galatians 5:22. A true believer will have a desire for greater holiness and less sin.
The five virgins without oil represent false believers. They enjoy some of the benefits of the Christian community- but their love of the world is greater than their love for Christ. In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 7- Jesus says: Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of God, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
When the world looks at the church today, especially in America, what do they see? Do they see people who have something they want? Is there something about us that attracts them to our churches? Or do they view us as a club with values like they have- that does some good works and are adept at social networking. A place where they can find like-minded people to socialize with and even do business with in a Laodicean church?
When Jesus comes again- it will be a happy, glorious day for the believer. But a time of terror and desperation for those who are not prepared- not saved. What is sad- is some of them are our neighbors, friends, co-workers, who sit in our churches.
In the parable the 5 virgins who had oil were approached by the five who did not have oil to give them some of their oil. The 5 wise virgins refused lest they should not have enough oil. They told the foolish virgins go to those who sell and buy for yourselves. How does one buy salvation? Is it not a free gift?
Again we refer back to the church at Laodicea, who thought they were rich- which by the worlds standards they were. They had material possessions , rich and increased with goods. That is the picture of most of the churches and its members in America today. What did Jesus say to the church at Laodicea? You are wretched, and miserable, and poor, blind and naked. I counsel thee to buy of me. gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and cover your shameful nakedness, and salve to put on your eyes so you can see. What does Jesus mean buy from me? We must remember the times in which they lived. It was common, when a man could not pay his bills, could not provide for his family- that he was poor, wretched and living in abject poverty- they would sell themselves as indentured servants or slaves in order to have their needs met. It was a barter system. I will give you the only thing I have- my life in return for you taking care of me and mine. I will give you my sins for your righteousness. Isnt it interesting, in ancient Laodicea- one of the signs of wealth was the black wool they produced. I exchanged myself- with all of my sins, black as ancient Laodicean wool- for His white robes of righteousness. I was a slave to sin- but my Redeemer paid my sin debts and freed me from the slave master and made me his servant- but more than that- his Father adopted me and made me joint heirs with His Son. Do you understand why the Gospel, literally means good news? Do you understand why the first beatitude was: blessed are the poor in spirit,for theirs is the kingdom of God.?
Now Jesus ends this first parable with instruction for all of us: Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man comes. Matthew 25: 13
Watch- and pray, lest you fall into temptation.
Watch- mean to be active, vigilant. Why? For your enemy goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
Watch- is an activity, not a passive sitting in front of a television. It is like a soldier on guard duty. A watchman on the wall keeping watch lest the enemy sneak into the city.
Luke 21 is a parallel passage to the Olivet Discourse- listen to these instructions from Jesus: Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and so that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man. ( Luke 21: 34-36)
Being ready for Christs return involves one major thing which manifests itself in several areas of our life. You must be born again. Or as Jesus told Nicodemus- you cannot see nor can you enter the kingdom of heaven. Once you are born again,you are indwelt and sealed by the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will begin a work in your life- the work of conforming us to the image of the Lord Jesus. The Spirit of God will use the Word of God to make us like the Son of God, as we get into the Word and the Word gets into us. We will desire a greater holiness and less sin will be apparent. We will always be looking for the Lord Jesus in our life and anticipating his return.
Listen to Pauls comments in his letter to Titus: For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say No to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live in self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the Blessed Hope- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness, and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
So what do we do- we watchbe sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil goes about as roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. ( I Peter 5)
Watch for Jesus informs us there will be visible signs. Read the paper and view the news with a spiritual view point. Surely you see the signs of the times. The prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes. The Laodicean attitude of the church in America. All the activity in and around Jerusalem. Although we do not know the day or the hour- we see signs, like the buds of the fig tree that tell us the end is nearer now than ever before. Now just as watched water is slow to boil- one would not spend all his time standing in front of his fig tree waiting for the buds, and then the fruit. Nor should we spend all our time and make the study of prophecy our primary focus- we are to be aware. We are to watch- observe.
But our primary focus is what Paul wrote in Titus. Say No to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live in self-controlled, upright godly lives in this present age. This is where the battle is in each of our lives. What did Jesus say in Luke 21: Take heed, ( be careful) or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness, and the anxieties of life
The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.
Stay focused. Do not be distracted.
Put on the full armor.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devils schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
With this in mind; be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. ( Ephesians 6)
Jesus is telling us what to do: we are in a battle, we each have a role to play. We are to watch and pray. His Word is our Sword. Faith in Him and His promises are our shield. His salvation guards our mind, His righteousness our heart, and the belt of the Truth girds our loins. Our feet are shod with Gospel of peace.
Take time each day to fill your lamp with oil. Keep waiting and watching and Keep praying!!Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14