DATE: 8th November, 2020
THEME: PREPARE FOR THE DAY OF THE LORD
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Psalter: Psalm 70:1-5
This week I have been wrestling with the parable of the Ten Virgins, our gospel lesson. What is Jesus saying in this parable of the Ten Virgins? What is he trying to tell His disciples and us? There are many opinions about the various details in this parable – what do the virgins, the lamps and the oil symbolize. What do they all mean? There are so many ‘little’ details in this parable. If a person isn’t careful they can get lost in the details and loose its basic message.
We spend our lives in PREPARATIONS. As children, we CRAWL in preparation for WALKING. We BABBLE in preparation for TALKING. Then we go to primary and JHS to prepare for Senior High school to prepare for University all so we can prepare to WORK. We prepare meals. We prepare our fields. We prepare for the holidays with the expectations of company. Almost everything we do is in preparation for something else. As our lives are filled with preparations for the activities of this life, a life that may only last a hundred years, our Lord Jesus calls us to be vigilant in our preparations for eternal life.
To point this out He has given us this parable.
In Jewish weddings, at the time of Christ, it was the custom for the bridegroom to gather with his groomsmen. Together they would celebrate the wedding to come, sort of like a bachelor’s party. While this was going on the bride would wait for the groom at her father’s house. There the bridesmaids, waiting for the groom, would attend to the bride. Usually at a late hour of the night a cry would go out, “Behold the bridegroom is coming, come out to meet him.” The bridesmaids or virgins would then light their lamps and in a celebrative parade would accompany the groom and the bride as she was taken from her father’s house to the groom’s house. As the bride entered the groom’s house the marriage was official. There was no elaborated ceremony or exchanged of vows. At the groom’s house they would celebrate with a feast, sometimes lasting for days.
A. The Ten Virgins: WHO ARE THEY?
We know from Jewish culture that at the wedding celebration for the whole town, one of the acts of entertainment was to have ten virgins perform a wedding dance around the bride and groom. They would hold lamps or torches and perform a torch-dance. IT WOULD SYMBOLIZE THE LIGHT OF THEIR LOVE AND THE BRIGHT FUTURE THEY WOULD HAVE TOGETHER. They would dance for the entertainment of the guests and wedding party. They would dance until their torches burned out.
The BRIDEGROOM is obviously CHRIST. We know that there is a bride. Though the bride is not actually mentioned in this parable, every bridegroom must have a bride. And just as the bridegroom is always a picture of Christ, the BRIDE is always a picture of the CHURCH. The bride represents the church. And the church is made up of all those people, whether Jews or Gentiles, who have believed in Jesus Christ for eternal life.
B. WISE AND FOOLISH VIRGINS
The difference between the wise and foolish virgins is that the wise had enough oil for their lamps, the foolish did not. This is the difference between the two.
Here we learn that five of these virgins forgot to bring any extra oil. They had their torches, but forgot their vessels filled with oil. It is a silly thing to forget, and highly unlikely that anyone would forget to bring a torch without oil vessels, but that is why this parable is so memorable.
These foolish virgins truly are foolish for forgetting something as simple and essential as spare oil. The oil represents something very significant that no Christian should be without.
C. THE OIL
The foolish virgins ask the wise virgins to give them oil. But the wise virgins wisely realize that if they split their reserves, nobody will have enough. So they tell the foolish virgins to go find some merchants and buy some oil from them. This would have been very difficult to do – especially at this late hour – but it was the only way.
What is the oil? THE OIL IS THEIR PREPARATION. Though all prepared to one degree or another. They all brought torches. But some of them prepared better than others and brought not only a torch, but also a vessel filled with oil. The wise virgins were prepared because they had enough oil to get them through the night. The foolish virgins were unprepared. They had a torch, which would last them few minutes or so, but it was not enough. They were not well prepared. They lacked reserves of spiritual oil. They did not prepare well enough.
Similarly, if you and I are not willing to take the time and expense and build up our spiritual reserves while we have the chance, a time may come when crisis happens in our lives – a sickness, a death, a loss of finances or a job, or persecution – and we will find out that we do not have the spiritual reserves to get through. In such times, we may look at those who made it through similar trials and say, “I wish I had your faith. How did you get so much faith?
D. BE WHAT YOU ARE – STAY PREPARED
Be ready. Get prepared. Some Christians today are looking for Christ’s return, but are not preparing for it. The Bible says that if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. The real test of our strength is not when things are going well, but how we react when things do not go well.
We all know men and women who became Christians, and lived faithfully for God for a while. But then something bad happened in their lives. They lost a loved one. They contracted a terrible illness. They lost their job and faced financial difficulties. Maybe all of these happened. And because of these adversities, these people are no longer attending church. They are no longer walking in fellowship with God. They discovered they did not have the oil they needed.
Do you want oil for your lamps? JESUS ALONE IS OUR SOURCE OF OIL. Reflect on Jesus. Believe in Jesus. Remember Him alone. Jesus alone saves you – through His life and through His death on the cross and in His resurrection. JESUS GIVES US OUR LAMPS. Jesus lights our lamps and lights our path to Him. Jesus gives us oil for our lamps.
By God’s grace and the work of the Holy Spirit in us our lamps are full of oil. Jesus has become, as Isaiah said, “our oil of gladness”. As we confess our faith in Jesus Christ we are the wise virgins of the wedding party. We need not fear the Bridegroom’s coming. In Jesus, God has prepared us with everything we need to meet our Savior. By faith we are ready. TRUSTING IN JESUS ALONE, HEARING HIS WORD, OUR LAMPS ARE FULL. God fills our lamps as we confess our sins and receive forgiveness. God fills our lamps as we eat Christ’s body and drink His blood. And our lamps burn for a purpose, to light our way to the Savior and so that our light would shine among the people of the earth as we point the way to our Savior.
Through God’s power He has enabled us to be like the WISE VIRGINS, prepared with the oil He Himself has given. We can live our lives in anticipation of the Bridegrooms coming. We look forward to His wedding feast. We anticipate the one who came and who is to come again. Keep watch! Jesus the Bridegroom is coming. Your lamps are full. Be what you are – PREPARED, prepared by God to receive your Bridegroom. Enjoy the service. Stay BLESSED.
VERY REV DR. SAMUEL DUA DODD
CALVARY METHODIST CHURCH