I've heard many sermons based on the parable of the ten virgins. Almost inevitably the five wise virgins are considered representative of those of us who have put our faith in Jesus, and that the five foolish represent people who have not accepted Jesus. Lately I've spent some time studying this parable and have realized that the parable of the ten virgins has very little if anything to do with the unsaved, it's talking about Christians! The beginning of the parable makes this very clear:
Matthew 25:1, "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom."
It could hardly be more clear here that Jesus is talking about believers, people who have accepted the salvation that He bought for us on the cross and gained the right to become children of God (John 1:12). He is illustrating the kingdom of heaven and those who have the right of citizenship there. If He had been talking about the world in general and it's population of believers and unbelievers He would not have said 'kingdom of heaven'.
Just as the virgins took their lamps, many people make a profession of faith in Jesus. And just as the virgins went out to meet the bridegroom, people who have accepted Jesus and made the profession of faith in Him then begin their journey on the road of life that ends at the judgment at the throne of Jesus. But this is where the similarity between the wise and the foolish ends:
Matthew 25:3-4, "They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps."
The foolish ones didn't take extra oil for their lamps, and many of the people who accept Jesus and profess faith in Him do little else. Most don't read their bibles very often if at all. They don't take the time to learn what God wants them to do, witnessing, studying the bible, prayer, actively seek to be filled with and be led by the Holy Spirit etc. Some are actually 'on fire' for a time. But over time, the cares of this world, hard times, and being made fun of by their friends and/or family causes the fire to die out and they become spiritual 'do nothings'. In short, their faith is dead. James 2:20, "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?"
The wise ones however did take extra oil for their lamps. They are 'on fire' all the time. They spend time in prayer regularly, bible study, witnessing, preaching, teaching and generally supporting and participating in efforts to spread the good news of Jesus, The Anointed One and His Anointing. These people know who they are in Jesus and are filled with and led by the Holy Spirit. Their faith is backed up by works based on that faith.
Matthew 25:5, "While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept."
While the virgins waited on the bridegroom to arrive, they fell asleep. And while we await Jesus' return, we often forget to be watchful, awake and alert for His return. Of course, in the nearly two thousand years since he arose from the dead, many have entered the sleep of death that they will be awakened from when He returns: 1 Thessalonians 4:16, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:"
But this sleep is not the only one. There are the slumbering spirits of many of today's Christians. They have accepted Jesus and have some degree of faith in him, but they've not made the effort to keep awake in a spiritual sense. Many times, Jesus gave us warnings like: Matthew 24:42, "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.". He made it clear that just because we may think that He's not coming back right away does not guarantee He wont return tomorrow morning or even ten minutes from now. Even without a knowledge of prophecies, the ever worsening moral situation in the world today and the fact that the longer we wait, it is obvious that the closer we are to His return and the greater the danger of being caught unaware and unprepared for His return.
Matthew 25:6-7, "And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps."
Obviously although the virgins slumbered and slept, that not all of them were asleep at the same time. Somebody was on watch, alert for the bridegroom's arrival. The one who was awake and alert at the time saw the signs that the bridegroom was going to be there soon and alerted the rest. Today there are more and more people sounding the same kind of warning that while we don't know when Jesus will return, we can see the signs of the times. (Matthew 16:1-3) We can tell from the indicators He gave us that the time is growing short. (Matthew 24:3-34). The warnings are being given and need to be heeded. Whether you believe it or not, we are indeed living in the last days. Jesus will soon return.
Matthew 25:8-10, "And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 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. 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."
The most important point of this parable is that of readiness. The five foolish virgins were not ready for the bridegroom's arrival because they had not made sure they would have enough oil to keep their lamps burning. Are you ready for Jesus' return? Have you been obeying His command to love one another? Have you done anything to try to reach the lost? Have you sought to be filled with and led by the Holy Spirit? Or are you just a 'Sunday Christian"? Do you go to church because you want to learn more about God and what His will is for you or do you go because it is expected of you or socially advantageous? Is God's will your desire? Or is it something that you are only interested in if it happens to agree with yours or can somehow be used to convince people that you are right in doing what you want to do or make some kind of point? Will you be ready when He returns? Or will you, like the five foolish virgins, have to try at the last minute to go out and prepare yourself? I must warn you that not being ready when Jesus returns will have a horrendous cost:
Matthew 25:11-12, "Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not."
The foolish ones, having waited too long to make sure they were ready for the bridegroom's arrival, went out to buy the oil they needed so that they could be ready. However, while they were trying to make themselves ready He arrived. They came back after the door had been shut asking to come in. However they were NOT admitted because they were not ready when he arrived. Sadly, this will be the case with many people who THINK that they are ready for Jesus to return and who do no more than say "I accept Jesus" and then never bother living the life that He wants us to live. There are many people, especially today, that at the judgement will be seeking admittance into the kingdom of heaven only to hear the saddened voice of the Lord send them away:
Matthew 7:21-23, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
Even though you are a doing all sorts of good things in His name, if you are not seeking and doing the will of God, then you are none of His and He does not know you. If Jesus, His will, and a love and compassion for the unsaved is not the most important thing in your life then it is time to stop and reexamine your priorities and loyalty. Are you being faithful to Jesus? Did you tell your unsaved neighbor, family member, or coworker about Jesus? Remember, you cannot be a "closet Christian": Matthew 10:33, "But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.". Have you actively supported people who are reaching out to the lost? Are you concerned enough for a new Christian to spend serious time in prayer and bible study so that you can help teach them who they are in The Anointed One and His Anointing? Have you surrendered your wants and desires to God? If not, then it's time right now to stop what you are doing, and drop to your knees, and repent! Confess to God that you have failed Him and repent of it.
To repent is to change direction, to turn around and go the other way. It involves admitting that you have sinned, being genuinely regretful of it, and submitting to God. It also means to accept the forgiveness that Jesus bought for us on the cross and inviting him to live in your heart. If you have never done this, or if you have allowed yourself to backslide, then I invite and urge you to pray right now a prayer something like this:
"Lord God, I have sinned against you, against myself, and against others. I admit that, like the foolish virgins. I am not ready and if the judgement were to happen right now I would be deserving of the lake of fire. Come into my heart and live through me. Fill me and lead me with your Holy Spirit. Show me what you want me to do and how to tell others about you. Guide me in studying your Word and learning about you. Thank you. Lord, for saving me and making me able and worthy to enter the kingdom of heaven. I ask this in the name of Jesus, Amen."
If you have just prayed a prayer like this, then it is time to rejoice. You are now a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. It is time to get a bible and a concordance and study. It's time to witness, telling others about Jesus is NOT an option, it is a requirement: Matthew 12:30, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.", Psalms 107:2, "Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;" Most of all, be ready and always watchful: Matthew 24:42, "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.".