The Review and Herald
"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 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.
"Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."
When the ten virgins went forth to meet the bridegroom, their lamps were trimmed and burning. Apparently there was no difference between the five who were wise and the five who were foolish. To outward appearance all were prepared, robed in white, and carrying their lighted lamps. But only five of these virgins were wise. These anticipated delay, and filled their flagons with oil, ready for any emergency. Five of the number had not this foresight; they made no provision for disappointment or delay.
All the virgins are watching for the bridegroom. Hour after hour passes, and they are still anxiously looking for his appearing. But at last the weary, watching ones fall asleep. And at , the very darkest hour, when their lamps are most needed, the cry is heard, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him."
At the call, the sleeping eyes are opened, and every one is aroused. They see the procession they are to join moving on, bright with torches and glad with music. They hear the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. The five wise virgins trim their lamps, and go forth to meet the bridegroom.
The foolish virgins made no provision for their lamps; and when aroused from their slumbers, they found that their lights were going out. They now see the consequences of their carelessness, and plead with their companions for a supply of oil: "Give us of your oil," they say; "for our lamps are going out." But the waiting five, with their freshly trimmed lamps, have emptied their vessels. They have no oil to spare, and they answer: "Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you. But go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves." But while they went to buy, the procession moved on, and left them behind. The bridal train entered the house, and the door was shut. When the foolish virgins reached the banqueting hall, they received an unexpected denial. They were left outside in the blackness of the night.
This parable is not a representation of open
sinners, but of those who profess Christ. The bride is the church who is
waiting for the second appearing of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ. In the proclamation of the first and second angels of Revelation
14, a special message has come to our world. Speaking of these messages, John
says: "I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the
everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every
nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear
God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship
him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And
there followed another angel, saying,
The first and second angels' messages are united and made complete in the third. -John says: "And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb."
Under the proclamation of these messages the cry was made, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh." The believers in these messages were compelled to go out from the churches because they preached the second appearing of Christ in the clouds of heaven. The whole world was to hear the message, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." Many who heard these messages thought they would live to see Christ come; but there was a delay in the coming of the Bridegroom, in order that all might have an opportunity to hear the last message of mercy to a fallen world.
Had those who claimed to believe the truth acted their part as wise virgins, the message would ere this have been given to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. But five were foolish. The truth should have been proclaimed by the ten virgins, but only five had made the provision essential to join the company that walked in the light given to them.
The first, second, and third
angels' messages are to be repeated. The call is to be given to the church:
Many who went forth to meet the Bridegroom under the messages of the first and second angels, refused the third, the last testing message to be given to the world, and a similar position will be taken when the last call is made.
Every specification of this parable should be carefully studied. We are represented either by the wise or by the foolish virgins. There are many who will not remain at the feet of Jesus, and learn of him. They have not a knowledge of his ways; they are not prepared for his coming. They have made a pretense of waiting for their Lord. They have not watched and prayed with that faith which works by love and purifies the soul. They have lived a life of carelessness. They have heard and assented to the truth, but they have never brought it into their practical life. The oil of grace is not feeding their lamps, and they are not prepared to enter into the marriage supper of the Lamb. The oil is the holy grace that is sent from heaven; and there must be an inward adorning with that grace, if we would stand when he appears.
The men of the world do not wish the light of truth, and they are one in spirit with those who, while professing to be children of God, do not let their light shine in words of truth and deeds of holiness. Unconverted men who claim to be Christians only encourage the sinner to continue in his sin. In the place of seeking to save the souls that are ready to perish, they live for self. Their vessels are empty, and therefore they can not keep their lamps replenished. To these Christ says, I know you not. You have not taken me as your counselor. You have not walked in the light of my word. You have not come under my yoke. Your light is darkness, because you have walked in the sparks of the fire of your own kindling. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
We are not to rest in the idea that because we are church-members we are saved, while we give no evidence that we are conformed to the image of Christ, while we cling to our old habits, and weave our fabric with the threads of worldly ideas and customs. Christ declares: "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."
This representation should call forth our earnest study in order that we may know what preparation to make that we may enter in and partake of the marriage supper of the Lamb. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."
The ten virgins are watching in the evening of this earth's history. All claim to be Christians. All have a call, a name, a lamp, and all claim to be doing God service. All apparently watch for his appearing. But five are wanting. Five will be found surprised, dismayed, outside the banquet hall. There are many who cry, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. This is the most perilous belief that the human soul can entertain. Christ calls upon all who bear his name, who claim to be his followers, to eat his flesh and drink his blood, or they can have no part with him.
Be not like the foolish virgins, who take for granted that the promises of God are theirs, while they do not follow the injunctions of Christ. Christ teaches us that profession is nothing. "If any man will come after me," he says, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."
When we stand the test of God in the refining, purifying process; when the furnace fire consumes the dross, and the true gold of a purified character appears, we may still say, with Paul, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after. . . . This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."