We will only find this parable in Matthew, chapter 25. A few days before He was crucified, Jesus taught three different parables on the importance of His children’s preparation for the day when He will return: the wise and foolish virgins (verses 1-13), the talents (verses 14-30), and the separation of the sheep from the goats (verses 31-46).
Today we will take a look at the 5 wise virgins and the 5 foolish virgins. I used to think of the 5 foolish virgins and feel angry at their foolishness. How could they claim to be true believers and wait until the very last minute to have oil in their lamps? Geesh! I have come to understand that they are not truly saved, but they are those who are putting on an act. We true believers must strive continually to let our lights so shine as to bring them to true Salvation.
Anyway, we read in chapter 24 how Jesus pointed out that He will return as a thief in the night. It will be at a time that we least expect, and many will become way too comfortable in the ways of this world, and therefore not be prepared. I sure do not want to be caught in some sinful behaviour when He calls me to meet Him. He taught that His followers will need to persevere in a lifestyle of faithful obedience as we wait for Him.
In the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus used the example of the Jewish wedding customs of His day as how to be prepared for His meeting His Bride on that day. It really is very interesting to study how the Jewish wedding ceremony compares to how Jesus will come for us at an unannounced time – The Rapture. If you would like, you may go and take a look at a very good description of this comparison here – The Rapture and the Jewish Wedding.
Jesus described the second phase of the wedding ceremony where the bridegroom and his party come to the bride’s home where the bride is waiting for him, with the ten virgins who are her bridesmaids. The time of his arrival was uncertain, maybe even after dark, so each young woman needed to have both her lamp and an extra flask of oil for it. The five wise virgins were prepared with additional oil, but the foolish ones were not. Therefore, when the bridegroom suddenly arrived at midnight, the foolish virgins’ lack of preparation was exposed, and they were denied entrance to the wedding feast. Those hypocrites who are not truly Saved by the Blood of Jesus will be denied entrance to Heaven.
Jesus’ message is clear: His Coming, like that of the bridegroom in the parable, may be delayed and the women and men who follow Him need to be continually prepared (Matthew 25:13).
The 5 wise virgins are the true believers who stay prepared for Christ’s return by keeping oil in their lamps. The 5 foolish virgins are those hypocrites who claim to be believers but they are not genuine in their hearts. Matthew Henry explains it very well, “Sincere Christians are the wise virgins, and hypocrites the foolish ones. Those are the truly wise or foolish that are so in the affairs of their souls. Many have a lamp of profession in their hands, but have not, in their hearts, sound knowledge and settled resolution, which are needed to carry them through the services and trials of the present state. Their hearts are not stored with holy dispositions, by the new-creating Spirit of God.”
“Our light must shine before men in good works; but this is not likely to be long done, unless there is a fixed, active principle in the heart, of faith in Christ, and love to God and our brethren. They all slumbered and slept. The delay represents the space between the real or apparent conversion of these professors, and the coming of Christ, to take them away by death, or to judge the world. But though Christ tarry past our time, he will not tarry past the due time.”
“The wise virgins kept their lamps burning, but they did not keep themselves awake. Too many real Christians grow remiss, and one degree of carelessness makes way for another. Those that allow themselves to slumber, will scarcely keep from sleeping; therefore dread the beginning of spiritual decays. A startling summons was given. Go ye forth to meet Him, is a call to those prepared. The notice of Christ’s approach, and the call to meet him, will awaken. Even those best prepared for death (2 peter) day of search and inquiry; and it concerns us to think how we shall then be found.”
“Some wanted oil to supply their lamps when going out. Those that take up short of true grace, will certainly find the want of it one time or other. An outward profession may light a man along this world, but the damps of the valley of the shadow of death will put out such a light. Those who care not to live the life, yet would die the death of the righteous. But those that would be saved, must have grace of their own; and those that have most grace, have none to spare. The best need more from Christ.”
“And while the poor alarmed soul addresses itself, upon a sick-bed, to repentance and prayer, in awful confusion, death comes, judgment comes, the work is undone, and the poor sinner is undone for ever. This comes of having oil to buy when we should burn it, grace to get when we should use it. Those, and those only, shall go to heaven hereafter, that are made ready for heaven here.”
“The suddenness of death and of Christ’s coming to us then, will not hinder our happiness, if we have been prepared. The door was shut. Many will seek admission into heaven when it is too late. The vain confidence of hypocrites will carry them far in expectations of happiness. The unexpected summons of death may alarm the Christian; but, proceeding without delay to trim his lamp, his graces often shine more bright; while the mere professor’s conduct shows that his lamp is going out. Watch therefore, attend to the business of your souls. Be in the fear of the Lord all the day long.”
1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.