Series: Walking the Talk
Message – The Parable of the 10 Virgins
The Parable of the 10 Virgins
We are continuing with our Series of “Walking the Talk”, and I felt led to take a look at the passages we referenced while studying the Parable of the Mina.
They are the Parable of the 10 Virgins and the Parable of the Talents.
So let’s turn to Matthew 25.
The Gospel of Matthew is not so much chronological and it is systematic. Matthew seems to be addressing the larger Jewish community arranging his gospel in themes. In this portion of his Gospel he covers parables and teachings of Jesus which address His coming in His kingdom the their need to be ready by practicing good stewardship.
Preterism and the 10 Virgins
In the previous chapter (chapter 24) there has been MUCH disagreement over the years as to its meaning.
The chapter deals with such heady topics as:
- Jesus’ foretelling of the destruction of the temple
- The signs of the end of the age
- The abomination of desolation prophesied in Daniel &
- The coming of the Son of man
Much of the confusion in my opinion could be resolved by realizing that while the disciples almost certainly thought they were asking one question of the Lord at the beginning of the chapter, they were actually asking two . So all that followed was Jesus answering two separate questions the Fulfillment of which may occur in two different time periods.
Also, there is a phrase which, in my opinion, cannot mean what it sounds like on the surface. Jesus tells His audience that just like the signs of leaves appearing on a Fig Tree tells you summer is near, so will all these signs tell them that His return is eminent. It is found in verse 34 and 35 where He said,
“(34) I assure you: This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place. (35) Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.”
This is a difficulty, which can only be overcome in one of 3 basic ways.
- Assume Jesus got it wrong and cast your Bible aside.
- Assume that all the events HAVE already taken place and His return has already happened – Preterism.
- Understand His statement as talking about the generation who sees these things rather than meaning the generation He was currently speaking to.
I have chosen this later view since I do not believe the first two are tenable.
Clearly the scriptures are to be believed.
It is my opinion that the events in chapter 24 have not yet happened – where Preterists believe they have. My doubts stem largely from the fact that much that the criteria simply has never been met…namely…
- The gospel has NOT reached the entire world
- Christianity was not even KNOWN by all nations much less hated by all nations until much later in history.
- The Abomination of Desolation has not appeared in the Temple.
- No encouragement from the early apostles were given to heed the words of Jesus in fleeing to the mountains and pray their journey to not be in winter.
- Nothing at all happened globally which would have threatened “all flesh” on the earth.
- So far as I can tell, the first person making Messianic claims after Jesus wasn’t until about A.D.135. …and,
- In particular, verse 21 has not happened, “For at that time there will be great tribulation, the kind that hasn’t taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again!” and it most certainly could not have been the Roman siege on Jerusalem in A.D.70.
But there is a large and I am afraid, a growing number of people who believe in some denomination of Preterism and since it is part of my job to prepare you for the work of the ministry I HAVE to address it – because I believe it to be a dangerous and false doctrine. I have no desire to teach a whole lesson on it since I am not qualified to address it’s MANY different forms, but I do know it’s basic premise.
You see the idea behind Preterism goes like this –
Preterists believe that the Great Tribulation has already happened and that it was at the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70 which was the judgment of God upon the Jews for their sins, including their rejection of Jesus as the promised Messiah.
Therefore they also kinda have to believe that the prophecies in the book of Daniel & Revelation were fulfilled by A.D.70. It also requires a fanciful redating of the book of Revelation which historically (except a brief period over 100 years ago) has always been seen as written in the mid-to-late A.D.90’s. Now that is an oversimplification of the facts, but it hits the high points.
The reason why I believe verse 21 of Matthew 24 in particular has never been fulfilled and therefore, Preterism HAS to be incorrect is because while the destruction of Jerusalem was bad, it was FAR from the worst tribulation/persecution ever seen on the planet or sense for either the Jews OR any other nation.
The number of people who reportedly died in the destruction of Jerusalem was approximately 1.1 million – the greatest majority of which were Jews. That is a devastating number to be sure and there was, according to Josephus, as veritable river of blood and bodies riddled down the steps of the sanctuary and into the streets. Jews in huge numbers were tortured and crucified… It was a mass butchering. However, these numbers and the suffering sustained to me pale in comparison to WWI, WWII and the Holocaust. In the Holocaust alone over 6 million Jews were murdered in various and horrifying ways. So, it seems unlikely that the words Jesus said that “For at that time there will be great tribulation, the kind that hasn’t taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again!” could be taken to have been fulfilled even yet – much less in A.D.70.
Now…as I said earlier. Matthew seems to have written his Gospel in themes and the clear theme of chapter 24 was the coming of Christ and being ready for that event. THAT is why chapter 25 begins with the words “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like…”
So Matthew’s narrative takes a sharp turn from the morbid to the celebrated. From death to Marriage.
In the first 4 verses Jesus sets the stage for His parable.
Matt. 25:1-13, HCSB “(1) Then the kingdom of heaven will be like 10 virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. (2) Five of them were foolish and five were sensible. (3) When the foolish took their lamps, they didn’t take oil with them. (4) But the sensible ones took oil in their flasks with their lamps.”
The kingdom of heaven here is NOT talking about the people specifically as much as the “way of the kingdom”.
In Jewish society 2000 years ago, if a young man wanted to marry a woman he would go to her father’s house and present her with a betrothal contract – which along with other details would outline the price he would pay for her (technically the price His father would pay her father) – and this was typically a large sum. If accepted the young man would pay the price up front and then go away for approximately one year at the end of which he would return for her – but not on a “set day”. The young woman and man were considered “married” except she stayed in her father’s house until the groom had made ready. The bridal friends would often stay with the bride to be ready for the groom’s arrival. This all caused a fair amount of excitement and anticipation at the prospect that he could arrive for her at any time.
You see, Jewish weddings (as well as MANY weddings in the east) had a tradition that once a man & woman were betrothed, the man would go and prepare and make ready for his bride. Then, on a day of his choosing he and his friends would come to get the bride and the bridal party which nearly always happened at night. They would know the basic time period he would come, but not the specific hour. So it was important to be and stay ready!
So here we are in verse 5
“(5) Since the groom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. (6) “In the middle of the night there was a shout: ‘Here’s the groom! Come out to meet him.’
Along with the groom were his friends who would herald his coming. There would be a procession down the roads of the town with blasts of the shofar and shouts in the street. So while the bride did not know the specific day or hour, she knew it would be before a year’s end (in most cases) and she would have a brief head’s up by all the approaching commotion in the streets.
When brides in ancient Israel heard that their bridegroom was coming, they prepared themselves to enter a palanquin (it was a covered cart carried much in the same way as the ark of the covenant was carried). It is mentioned in the Song of Solomon 3:9-10: “Of the wood of Lebanon Solomon the King made himself a palanquin (aperion): He made its pillars of silver, its support of gold, its seat of purple, its interior paved with love, by the daughters of Jerusalem.”
(7) “Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. (8) But the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ (9) “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.’
So the groom would arrive with a shout, to let them all know he was there to come get his bride.
This was the beginning of a procession back to the home of the bridegroom accompanied by musicians, singers, dancers, friends, family and bridal attendants carrying torches or lamps.
An interesting tidbit is that the bride was veiled, and the bridegroom would periodically sneak a peek under the veil in a ceremony called bedeken – it was a type of shout back to Jacob getting the wrong bride.
The job of the friends of the groom and the bride’s maids at this point was to illuminate the way to the groom’s house for the wedding celebration which began with the consummation of the wedding in a room prepared by the groom where they spent a week together while all waited outside. Then as they exited the room they would enter the wedding celebration with family and friends.
(10) “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. (11) “Later the rest of the virgins also came and said, ‘Master, master, open up for us!’ (12) “But he replied, ‘I assure you: I do not know you!’ (13) “Therefore be alert, because you don’t know either the day or the hour.”
So whether the parable of Jesus here was rushed or whether it was intended to reveal just how lazy these friends of the bride were in that they did not arrive for a full week – I do not know – but the point is still solidly made!
Now, as for the oil and the bridesmaids…what part do they play since in reality – WE are the bride?
Well, that is where I believe this parable serves a dual meaning.
Yes we are the bride. But the wedding was not the focal point of this parable – being ready was!
The jobs of these bride’s maids was to illuminate the way to the Father’s house for the consummation of the wedding. These bridesmaids missed this entire event and only showed up a week later for the celebration.
To me, this points to the readiness of the Jews for their Messiah and their purpose of illuminating the way to His house (to salvation so to speak). This also, can speak to us as Gentile Christians only in regard to His return for us. If we are (like the servants with the Minas) doing our job or doing business – we illuminate the way to oneness with Christ to our brothers and sisters and then to the world.
The oil can symbolize the Holy Spirit in a few ways.
1 – Oil was used to consecrate people into service. The oil being the point of being set apart.
2 – The virgins could therefore be those who were ready for their Lord by the aid of the Spirit Who illuminated their path – causing them to see. Those who were bound to the law did not have any oil – they were not prepared and so missed their day of visitation.
3 – Oil was also used in the preparation of Esther for marriage as seen in Esther 2:12. She was prepared for 1 year with oils – 6 months for purification and 6 months for beautifying – which nicely fits this wedding analogy as well – though admittedly indirectly.
But whoever the bride and the bridesmaids were – the message is abundantly clear – be ready!
And the method and means of being ready require that we hold His return in our hearts with eager anticipation.
1Jn 3:1-3, HCSB “(1) Look at how great a love the Father has given us, that we should be called God’s children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know Him. (2) Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is. (3) And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure.”
1Thess. 5:1-11, HCSB “(1) About the times and the seasons: brothers, you do not need anything to be written to you. (2) For you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. (3) When they say, “Peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (4) But you, brothers, are not in the dark, so that this day would overtake you like a thief. (5) For you are all sons of light and sons of the day. We’re not of the night or of darkness. (6) So then, we must not sleep, like the rest, but we must stay awake and be sober. (7) For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. (8) But since we are of the day, we must be sober and put the armor of faith and love on our chests, and put on a helmet of the hope of salvation. (9) For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (10) who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. (11) Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.”
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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