by Tad Lindley
You’ll have to read it for yourself and see if you can figure out if the man was going to marry ten ladies at one time, or if the ten virgins were just the bridesmaids. At any rate, there was going to be a wedding. The groom was coming from a distance, and there were ten virgins who were eagerly awaiting his arrival. Let me just hit play so you can read it straight out of the word of God:
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. (Matthew 25:1-13)
The bridegroom cometh
This parable is a warning from God to all of humanity. Every one of us will meet Jesus in one of two ways. We will either die and see him in one of the resurrections (Revelation 20:4, 13), or we will be alive and see him at his coming (Revelation 1:7). There is no escaping that fact. When we see Jesus face to face, there will be only one thing that matters. It will not be how much money is in our pocket, it will not be how much food we left in the freezer, or how many friends we had on Facebook. The only thing that will matter on that day will be whether we are saved, or whether we are lost.
The oil in the lamp
In the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus tells the sad, sad tale of five virgins who were at one time ready to meet the bridegroom. The bridegroom was late in coming, however, and they failed to monitor the oil level in their lamps. As the night went on, the oil was consumed, and when he finally did arrive, they were no longer ready. It is important to note that if the bridegroom had arrived earlier in the evening, they would have been ready, but as time elapsed, they neglected to remain ready.
Have you checked the oil lately?
The oil in the parable is a symbol for our relationship with God. At the time of our death or of our Lord’s returning, if we are currently full of the Spirit and excited about serving God, we will be like the wise virgins who maintained the oil. On the other hand, if we have allowed ourselves to become lukewarm for Jesus, and no longer love him the way we once did, we are like the foolish virgins; our oil is low and we stand at the precipice of outer darkness should our heart stop today. Where are you at? How is your oil level?
Fast forward to a funeral
Imagine that I were to die. At my funeral, I’d like to think that there would be some nice things said. I’d hope that some of you would mention that when you were incarcerated I came and ministered to you. I’d hope that my kids might say that they would wake up in the morning and hear me praying. I’d hope that my pastor would be able to say that I was a faithful man in all ways, but unless those things are still happening in my life as in today, yesterday, and last week, it won’t matter. The fact that I was baptized in Jesus’ name and filled with the Holy Ghost in 1998 does not mean I have a full lamp tonight. The fact that when my kids were small they woke up to hear me praying won’t matter on the day of the Lord’s return, what will matter on that day is did I get up and pray that morning? Was I at Tundra Center having church that Friday night? Did I tithe on my last paycheck? Listen, friend, if I die with an empty lamp, there won’t be anything that anybody can say at my funeral that will fill my lamp back up.
I’ll fill it up tomorrow
I don’t doubt that the five foolish virgins intended to refill their lamps in the morning. They assumed that they had plenty of time, but the coming of the bridegroom caught them off guard. If you have checked your own oil level in the reading of this column, perhaps you have told yourself, “Brother Lindley is right, you know what, I’m going to go to church this Sunday.” Listen, what Jesus was trying to say is that we cannot wait until Sunday. The moment we feel ourselves drifting away from Him, we need to be refilled right then and there. We need to get alone with God and begin to pour ourselves out to him right now. Not tomorrow, not next Sunday, now! How is your oil level, friend?
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.