Wednesday morning, 22nd February 2012; I awoke with these words on my mind: “And they all slumbered and slept.” Sleep, as we see in certain parts of Scripture is often an enemy. We should ‘watch and pray’ concerning the return of the Lord. In Gethsemane, Christ urged his disciples to watch and pray with Him, but they fell asleep, more than once.
Not good. Sleep keeps us from prayer and takes away our alertness. To be spiritually asleep is extremely dangerous. Here’s the parable of the 10 virgins according to Matthew 25. I can only pray our precious Saviour is able to use it to remind us all to wake up.
When Jesus spoke these three parables in Matthew 25, He wanted the full depth of His message to sink in. Looking at the words used tell an incredible story that should, quite honestly, frighten the living daylights out of the lot of us! For instance, the word virgins. I’ll tell you what they say to me in a minute but think for yourself for a moment. What does the word virgin imply when used as a description of someone when you’re reading the Scriptures? To me, it spells “purity”. “Whiteness”.
Thinking of a wedding where the bride is in her beautiful white gown and veil, holding a perfect bouquet of flowers; looking the picture of innocence, which, of course, is what she should portray on her wedding day – you begin perhaps to see the starkness of this story once you get a little further into it. The fact that the word virgins implies someone who is unsullied should make us tremble.
Look at the church today. Does what goes on in the mainstream church make us feel unsullied? Safe? From what I read about some of the rubbish that is being preached, the thought of going to one of these places without the leading of the Holy Spirit scares me rigid. I don’t want to fall under the weight of an ungodly sermon, yet that’s exactly what millions of people are putting up with. The trouble with that is that each one of these souls believes they’re saved. Yes. They believe in the Lord, but those who know their Bibles also know that the demons believe as well. Those demons tremble: James 2:19.
When I came to the Lord late in October 2009, I saw that verse and it made me look twice! We are all warned to make our calling and election sure: 2 Peter 1:10, and to work out our salvation with fear and trembling! Philippians 2:12.
Well, I’ll break this chapter into its three parts as it’ll be a long one. The first story we read is the 10 Virgins. So, we’re in Matthew 25, beginning at verse 1.
1 Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Here they are – all ten of them. They are all called “virgins”. Lamps, to me speak of us ourselves. Christ says we are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14-16). Therefore, we should be seen to have the light of Christ in us. We should reflect His light to everyone else. The world should be able to see that we are different to them. We should not let the world rub off on us, for we are not of this world, but pilgrims looking for a far-off country. We are the lamps.
2: Now five of them were wise and five were foolish.
We’ll begin to see why from the following verses:
3: Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them.
The oil always speaks of the Holy Spirit in Scripture. Who on earth would want to go anywhere, or do anything without the precious Holy Spirit leading and guiding them? But tragically, many do just that.
4: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
These are the ones who wait for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We know that He will lead us into all truth, so we ask the Lord to give Him to us so that we may await His prompting before we do anything in His name. We are Christ’s ambassadors. His Spirit shows us things pertaining to Jesus and opens the truth of Him up to us that we may share Him with others.
5: But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
Many times, the Lord warns us to watch and pray as He warned His disciples. Each time, especially in Gethsemane, they were always overtaken by sleep and didn’t watch and pray. This was tragic then, but their precious Lord prayed for them that the Father uphold them. Just read John 17 and you’ll see one of the most beautiful prayers you’ll ever read. At the last Supper, Jesus warned Peter about his betrayal of the Lord but that He knew Satan would “sift” Peter and that He’d prayed for the Father to keep him and forgive him his fault. He did that even before Peter actually committed the crime. Doesn’t that just blow you away? From that truth alone, I can see our Lord praying for each of us even before we’ve committed anything against Him. It gives me incredible comfort to know that Jesus knows everything we’ll ever do and, as He’s our High Priest, He offers petitions to Abba Father on our behalf, therefore, protecting us from all harm. We need to give more thanks and praise than we do!
6: And at midnight, a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet Him!’
Will we be ready to meet Him? Will He find faith on the earth when He returns? (Luke 18:8). It’s something we should meditate upon daily. If we knew that sometime today, He would be back, what would each of us do to ensure we were prepared?
7: Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
Notice, they ALL trimmed their lamps. The wicks were prepared, but five had no oil! What would they do? You see, we each need to make sure we have the oil, that is, the Holy Spirit. All of these virgins speaks of all who believe. It’s incredible! Only five of them get into the wedding!
8: And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil for our lamps are going out.’
When Christ returns, there will be no more time to prepare for anything. No more repentance. No more grace. No more salvation. The door of grace will be shut. He returns as Judge of the whole world. Those unprofitable servants should have stayed faithful to Him while there was still time. Now, we see that time has RUN OUT.
9: But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell and buy for yourselves.
This gets scary. Already, those unprepared virgins are told “No.” That’s the first time they hear a rejection. Time has suddenly run out for them and they cannot find more time to finish preparing themselves. They’ve had a full lifetime to prepare and now, the end of time has come.
10: And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with Him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
Need any more be said here?
11: Afterward, the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’
Oh dear. He had shut the door. Once it is shut, no-one will be able to open it again. This is why we must stay awake and submit to Christ’s Spirit while there is still time.
12: But He answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
How many times does He warn us through His parables of these terrible words which will be said to ‘believers’? We simply must take warning.
13: ‘Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.’
Watching and praying. These are two of the most important things we will ever do in this life. May these Scriptures be embedded in each of our hearts. God be with us and may we always have ears to hear!