by Mike Ratliff
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Matthew 25:13 ESV)
Just a few days before his crucifixion, our Lord spent some very valuable time with His disciples, pouring Himself into them, preparing them for the time when He would no longer be physically with them. In Matthew 25 we have some of what He gave them. Much of the apostasy we are witnessing in our time in the visible church is a direct result of its mishandling of or forgetting of these things. In fact, any form of what is referring to as “progressive” or “liberal” “Christianity” proves that it is not valid because it does not adhere to the truths found here and the rest of God’s Word. You see, there is no wiggle room. There is no gray area. Why? It is because when we get into these human “rights of choice” forms of “so-called christianity” they are all based on what people do and choose, but when we get to God’s truth and what the real Gospel is and what the nature of the real kingdom of heaven is like, we find our Sovereign God at the center of all things with the elect worshiping Him.
In this post we will look at Matthew 25:1-13.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose 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, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Matthew 25:1-13 ESV)
First a little context. The ancient Jewish wedding ceremony was quite a bit more extensive and involved than what we are used to in our time. These celebrations could last for a week or more. In any case, on the night of the wedding, the bridegroom would come to the house of the bride and would go through an elaborate questioning or delaying tactic by the parents that was meant to build anticipation in the bridegroom. After as long a delay as possible he would be allowed to take his bride and then a procession through the village would take place. This is where the lamp bearing virgins role would come in. They were to remain prepared for the cry of the approach of the procession to join in with their lighted lamps and would then they would follow the procession to the house where the banquet would take place.
What did our Lord share with us in this passage? There were ten virgins who were invited to be part of the banquet. Five were wise, five were foolish. The five wise virgins did what they were supposed to do to be ready for the return of the bridegroom by having oil for their lamps. On the other hand, the other five simply hand lamps that had oil in them, but no extra oil. After the long delay of the bridegroom their oil was depleted and they were forced to leave and find more, but those who were prepared were able to join the procession and take their place at the banquet. When the five foolish virgins attempted to enter into the banquet they were not allowed and when the bridegroom came, his response was, “I do not know you.”
What does all of this symbolism mean? The Gospel is preached to all people everywhere. The invitation is for all to come. The world knows of Jesus as loving and that Heaven is a nice place. Most people assume that since they have been invited that that is enough for them to end up in heaven. These would be the five foolish virgins who did nothing to be prepared for the Bridegroom’s return. On the other hand, the five wise virgins are those who respond to the invitation by believing the Gospel, turning in repentance to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. They are regenerate. They have saving Faith. They know Jesus and He knows them. These are the ones who are prepared for the return of their Lord.
In our time you will find so-called Christian teachers attempting to lead those who listen to them in every possible direction other than this. They will say that being saved by grace through faith is not enough, you must add works. Others will attempt to get their followers to focus on the miraculous and the mystical in the here and now. Or, they will try to get people to forget all about the return of Christ and focus on Dominionism, that is, conquering and transforming the world in the name of Christ. There isn’t enough room here to go into all that is wrong with that one. Others are all focused on having your Best Life Now.
However, if you read what our Lord actually taught and what His Apostles actually taught, you don’t see any of that. Instead, what you see is submission to the will of God within His grace as we go through the fires of Sanctification as we obey the Great Commission. The focus is being prepared for the imminent return of our Lord. If anyone attempts to change you to any other focus then check out what he or she is saying with what God’s Word says. I would doubt that what they are teaching is Biblical.
Soli Deo Gloria!