Ten Virgins

In the middle of His most important teaching on events at the end of the age, Jesus gave us the parable of the Ten Virgins. The elements of this parable-lesson, and the frightful warning it includes, should rock the sleeping Western Church. Jesus loves us with burning passion and His desire is to see all of His people enter into the Wedding Feast at the beginning of His Millennial rule. Let us carefully consider this parable which He gave us to that end.

25:1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.

Virgins represent purity and ten is the biblical number of numeric completion. (Joseph had ten brothers; the human body has ten fingers and toes, etc.) The ten virgins represent believers on the Earth at the end of the present age. (Note that the Bible does not reference the ‘end of the world’ as unbelievers do, but rather the end of this age, or season of history.) The virgins all have lamps and are looking to meet the Bridegroom. The lamps represent the Word of God, which is “a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105.) So these are believers, having purity by the blood of Jesus, a knowledge of the Bible, and they are looking to meet the Bridegroom. This sounds like most Christians that I know… Christians who think that they are on solid ground spiritually.

25:2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

This is staggering! The Lord Himself declares that half of the Church is foolish. How can this be? They are pure! They know the Scriptures! They want to meet Jesus! But Jesus says they are foolish because they took no oil with them. Notice that the wise “took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” What does this oil represent?

We have an important clue about the oil in Genesis 28 and the story of Jacob’s Ladder. Often there is special significance attached to the first time something is mentioned in Scripture. We see the first use of oil in Gen. 28:18-19. Jacob awakens from his dream, builds an alter from the stones he used for his pillow, and pours oil on the altar. He then declares that the place is the very dwelling place of God and names it Bethel, which means “the House of God.” Later, Jesus identifies himself as the Ladder and declares that, “my Father’s House shall be called a House of Prayer.” This is a powerful story in its own right, but for our purpose here let us see the picture: Oil and the House of God (prayer) mentioned together, each for the first time in Scripture. This is not a coincidence.

I believe the oil represents intimacy with the Lord through prayer, an intimate relationship that only develops in the same way that any deep relationship is formed… with time and work. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because while they knew the Scriptures, “…you will not come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39) It is not sufficient to merely know the Bible; we must come to the Word Himself in worship and prayer. Paul tells us in   I Thes. 4:4 to “possess our own vessel in honor”, meaning our own body. The wise virgins took oil “in their vessels” along with their lamps. The only way to obtain the oil of intimate prayer is to put your “vessel” before the Presence of God in daily intercession and worship. Sunday morning Christianity is not the way to intimacy.

25:5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

This is one sobering parable! There is no escaping the commentary of the Bridegroom Himself: While He delays, all ten of the virgins fall asleep. Even during His earthly ministry, Jesus’ most intimate disciples could not stay awake during a time of impending crisis, and they had no idea what was just around the corner because of their slumber. We are far more sleepy spiritually than we know, even many with an active prayer life are dull of heart and not watching for His return as He delays. The vast majority of the Western Church has no idea what is just around the corner as the end of the age approaches.

25:6 And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going 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.’

Notice that when the prophetic cry goes forth to “meet the Bridegroom”, the entire sleeping Church suddenly jumps up and prepares to meet Him. Now we must ask ourselves one of the most important questions that a believer can answer when hearing this story. The question is: In this parable, who do you want to be? If you are like most Christians, including myself, probably 99% of us would respond that we want to be one of the wise virgins! And this is very good, as we shall soon see. But recently one phrase in this story struck me through the heart. Notice verse 26: “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold the Bridegroom is coming!’

I suggest to you that there will be a company of saints at the end of the age, “at midnight”, who are not asleep. This prophetic group, in the spirit of John the Baptist, are watching and praying and know the season and time in which they live. Their cry will be to “behold the Bridegroom!”

What is the difference between this prophetic company and the sleeping wise virgins? The answer is that these are watching and praying because they know the hour in which we live. They live their lives with a keen awareness that the Spirit is preparing the Church for the most difficult time in all of human history. Those who awake at midnight and find their lamps going out from lack of oil will be in perilous times indeed… but that is not the worst part. These foolish Christians will seek to gain a quick fix from those who were known by the Lord in the prayer closet during the times of relative peace. However, a relationship can’t be gained from someone else, it must be gained alone, with Christ. You can’t decide to build an intimate prayer life at midnight, when the darkest hour is upon the Earth and the pressure is greater than any time in history!

25:10 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.

This verse should shake the Western Church to its core. The wedding refers to the beginning of the Millennium, the 1000-year rule of Jesus’ government on the Earth with His overcoming saints and martyrs sharing the duties of governance over the nations. (Rev. 19:7-9; 20:4) According to the very words of Jesus, only those who were ready went in with Him to the wedding!

25:11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

The foolish virgins still have no oil, but they return later asking to be let in to the wedding feast. The reply is chilling and not unique to this parable: “I do not know you.” Notice that the Lord did not say, “You never knew Me.” He said, “I do not know you.” Why is this important to the understanding of this parable? We can know the Lord by studying about Him in the Scriptures and this is vital. But how does He know us? I suggest that Jesus knows us by our time with Him in prayer. Without any sensual overtones, He knows us in the same way that Adam “knew his wife” (Gen. 4:1); that is, through intimate connection in prayer with the Bridegroom.

The majority of the Western Church, with its pre-determined Sunday morning programs, success seminars, easy ‘sinners prayer’ conversions, positive prophetic slogans, and comfort-based lifestyle that knows little of extended prayer time or fastings, is deluding itself into thinking it is ready for the return of the Bridegroom. It is time to wake up and seek the face of Jesus in a lifestyle of prayer and fasting while there is still time to acquire oil in your vessel. The Spirit is saying, “These are the days of oil; this is the season to give your time and energy and strength to watching and praying; this is the hour to seek Him in the hidden place. Will you give Him your time? He wants to know you! He wants to be with you!”

For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. (I Thess. 5:2,4)