Matthew 25:1-13 NIV "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. (2) Five of them were foolish and five were wise. (3) The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. (4) The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. (5) The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. (6) "At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' (7) "Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. (8) The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' (9) "'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.' (10) "But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. (11) "Later the others also came. 'Lord, Lord,' they said, 'open the door for us!' (12) "But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I don't know you.' (13) "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
I have a very sporadic schedule, so on occasions I stop very early for breakfast. That is my quiet time before work, and something that I find essential. I have to spend time with the Lord each day. The more the better.
It was on one of these morning stops that I met Rick and Demetri. These men have been meeting two days a week at this restaurant for quite some time now. I know this because for several years I have avoided them. Now why would I do that?
- I had my own agenda, spending time with my Father, and really did not want to interrupt that.
- This collection of men bring in a small mountain of study books, and I felt like this was going to be way over my head.
- I knew one of the men personally. The man I know has a Doctorate in Theology, and has used it as a club against me on several occasions. One of those clubbings' was after I had read the book “The Shack”. That book changed my outlook on who God was. I had never known such a loving God prior to that, but when I began to converse with my Doctorate “friend”, he informed me rather quickly that our conversation was over, as he did not have time such weak theology. Obviously he did not have time for me either. This was not the first time he had been so blatantly rude to me, but I thought I would give it one last try.
I had not seen my Doctorate friend at the restaurant for some time, and he was not there on this particular morning either. I came in with my rather large and obvious bible (as a side note – many now have the Bible on their phones and Ipads. Hey, that's great, but I want you know who I am and what I stand for. Not religion, but Jesus Christ, our salvation and soon coming king. With a phone stuck in my face, I am just another rude person, tuning everybody else out with their toy.), and they invited me to join them. At first I turned them down, but after several seconds passed I asked what the topic of discussion was that day. Rick responded with, “the end times.” Now you have my attention. So I told them to bring on the battle, because I am in.
There was no battle. I found these two men to be very sincere, desirous of the knowledge of God, as I am, and both have hearts that love God. Demetri is Greek, and offers tremendous help with words and insight in the culture. Rick worked in finance and was a Pastor. I am not sure if he still is or not. I do know that he loves to talk, a lot. I have met with them on several occasions and recently asked for Rick's input on what the oil represented in Matthew 25's parable of the ten virgins.
It had only been a few days since I had mentioned this question to Rick, and I knew that he had other more pressing demands upon him, but he gave me a one page, handwritten answer. I was surprised and immediately began reading it.
Oh my; his response, was safe, non-nondescript, lacking in power, and said absolutely nothing. He either missed the point, did not get the point, or did not have time. If I do not know the answer to the question, I will not stop until I find out what the answer is. - I happen to think that the answers are here in this book we call the Bible, if you are willing to look for them. (This makes me think of the Xfiles television show. I actually liked it, a lot.)
First, there may be nothing more to the oil, than something that helps to create light, but we will explore that. Secondly, I am not so sure that I have a solid answer yet, but at least I will tell you that, and I will not let that stop me from exploring logical possibilities.
How's that for an introduction. Now let's dive in.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like 10 virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible. When the foolish took their lamps, they didn’t take olive oil with them. But the sensible ones took oil in their flasks with their lamps. Since the groom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “In the middle of the night there was a shout: ‘Here’s the groom! Come out to meet him.’ “Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. But the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ “The sensible ones answered, ‘No, there won’t be enough for us and for you. Go instead to those who sell, and buy oil for yourselves.’ “When they had gone to buy some, the groom arrived. Then those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet, and the door was shut. “Later the rest of the virgins also came and said, ‘Master, master, open up for us! ’ “But he replied, ‘I assure you: I do not know you! ’ “Therefore be alert, because you don’t know either the day or the hour. (Matthew 25:1-13, HCSB)
- The lamps were quite small and had to be filled frequently. Taking more oil would have the been the only wise choice. An obvious factor here is that there is not an inexhaustible supply, and the lamps must be filled.
- The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states: the Figurative Use of "Lamp" is in the sense of a guide in Ps 119:105; Prov 6:23, and for the spirit, which is called the lamp of Yahweh in man (Pr 20:27), and it of course often signifies the light itself. It is used also for the son who is to succeed and represent his father (1Ki 15:4), and it perhaps is employed in this sense in the phrase, "The lamp of the wicked shall be put out" (Job 21:17; Prov 13:9; and perhaps Job 18:6).
- The sensible or wise ones took extra oil in their flasks. If this represents the Holy Spirit, we have nothing that tells us that we have the ability to store up extra for future usage. It occurs to that it, like manna, is given for the short term. Manna had to be gathered daily; it did not store; you had to consume it all, and it gave you sustenance for a duration. The Holy Spirit is so like that. Much like food, it drives the spirit of man for a time, but some aspect tends to burn out and needs to be refilled. Ephesians 5:18 tells us, “be not drunk with wine, ..; but be filled with the Holy Spirit. Read that and ponder the contrasts between wine, the reasons, the excess, and what God is offering us in exchange. Out of their bellies shall flow rivers of living water.
- The unwise, or non-sensible ones had to go to those who sell the oil and attempt to buy more. Just the fact that oil was needed implies that it was dark outside. Where were they going to buy oil in the middle of the night? If the oil is representative of the Holy Spirit, then who is trying to sell the Holy Spirit? If you will recall Peter and John had to deal with such an incident when Simon the “former” sorcerer asked if he could buy the gift of laying on of hands. That got him in some hot water. Sadly, I believe that some evangelists border on such nonsense. They will in a round about way try to sell you anything. The Holy Spirit is freely given, therefore while it may play a role in this scenario, it is not the primary aspect.
- The fact that the lamps were small and required frequent refillings should be a clue as to how our lives should be lived. I believe our lives should be lived as though we are in a pursuit. A.W. Tozer has a book, which I have not read, called Knowledge of the Holy. I am on a daily pursuit of knowledge about the one that chose to redeem me and call me his own.
- The five, had no oil because: The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. (Matthew 25:5 NIV) I have been accosted with argument even with my writings. They say stuff like, it has been over 2000 years, relax, don't get so worked up, have fun, and this is from a pastor acquaintance of mine. I do not believe that we are to do anything but live life on the edge, and trust me, putting yourself out there and living like Peter did in the book of Acts, is about as on the edge as you can get. When I step outside myself, outside my little protective mode, and throw myself on the line in faith, I have never felt so alive.
- One last aspect to ponder is that all ten thought they were going to the wedding. We might equate that to the rapture of the church, or perhaps the harpazo/snatching away works better for you.
The five that were not prepared is attributed to being drowsy and falling asleep.
I have had the opportunity to hang out with another bunch of senior citizens, that happen to all be Christians as well, but there is a difference, they do not meet because they wish to expand their horizons and knowledge with a discussion about the living God. In fact they will divert rather quickly if it gets to intense.
Strangely, I have had a couple of very interesting moments hanging out with them. A young Christian man, from the university across the street used to come in and sit close by. On two occasions I gave him a word that I felt was from the Lord. I get as much pleasure out of doing that as the person receiving the word might. But I will tell you that even as I was delivering this word to the young man, in a public place, the Pastor that was sitting with us, was giving me the stink eye.
I have tried to talk with this Pastor about end times events, and he wants no part of it. All he seems to want to say to me is, “just be happy, enjoy life, and there is no real trouble.” Good Lord, that man is asleep at the wheel. An interesting thing, my Dad went on a cruise recently with his church group, the pastor included. The pastor told them that he did not want anyone asking him religious questions or referring to him as pastor while they were together on the ship. Is there something terribly wrong with this picture. Although this is where I used to attend church when I was young, I have had no compulsion to go there for a long time. I wonder why.
I get excited because God's word make me feel alive. I have always had a desire to understand end times and now suddenly, in this last year things have become so clear to me. I have gained an understanding of what Islam believes, and how they parallel our end times prophecy with precision. The players in the prophecies of Islam fit like a glove when you read the Revelation. To be honest, I do not understand why God has not come yet. When I tell people about the timing of things, I tell them we are no longer generations away, the clock is down to mere minutes, Jesus return is that close.
The President of Iran, Ahmadinejad, has stated openly on three occasions, as he addressed the United Nations general assembly, that he has been called to usher in the entrance of the awaited one, the Mahdi. This man is said to come in the midst of confusion and chaos, and he is willing to make that happen. Has anyone looked around the world lately. Folks, chaos is coming in the form of Islam, and it is riding a war horse. Just today, 1/10/2012, Yahoo posts a picture of an obscure nuclear production site in Iran that is heavily defended with surface to air missiles. Why would you need that level of protection for an electric plant? You don't, you need it for an atomic bomb production facility.
I could go on for pages on this stuff, but here is the point. If these five, who were wanting to go to the wedding, gathered in the same place as those that went, ran out of oil, then I want that oil. Maybe the oil is little more than desire, and anxious pursuit. I watch for him as a watchman on guard duty might. Scanning the horizon I see what is going on in the distance (The middle East. Folks, if you are watching the middle east, do not for a minute think that what is happening there is not quietly creeping up into your back yard.)
The Bible tells us what to look for and Israel becoming a nation is a major clue. Jesus said:
"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.
(Matthew 24:32-34 NIV)
The tree is in full bloom, and it almost seems as though the fruit is about to plucked off the tree.