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12. The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins
(Matthew 25:1-13)
1“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.2Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.3Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,4but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.5But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. (Luke12:35-26, Revelation19:7)

In Jewish custom, the bride waited for the bridegroom to come to her with his friends, late at night. She was attended by her bridesmaids (virgins), who prepared and waited for the bridegroom. Upon the bridegroom's approach, they were to go out with lamps in their hands and light his way into the house, with ceremony and formality, so that he might enter with great joy into the holy celebrations.
Some speculate that on these occasions, there were ten bridesmaids. Their speculation is based on the fact that the Jews never held a meeting in the synagogue, performed a circumcision, kept the Passover, or contracted marriage unless at least ten persons were present. Boaz, when he married Ruth, had ten witnesses (Ruth 4:2).
The kingdom of God is likened to ten virgins, five of them wise and the others foolish. All ten were chosen. They all received the Holy Spirit, put on the wedding clothes of Christ's forgiveness, and waited for the coming Son of God. They all believed in Christ and expected Him.
Yet, just as the bridegroom does not come during the heat of noon, but late during the coolness of night, so Christ will not come at the time of prosperity of the church, but during the night of persecution. As we read in the parable, all ten of the virgins fell asleep because they had been rejoicing for long hours before drowsiness overcame them. So both the wise and the foolish Christians will become sleepy while they wait. The Son of God will not come when they expect. This is our weakness in hope. We do not persevere in waiting for Christ, but lose hope, forget, and become sleepy. The churches that are falling asleep in these last days are like the bridesmaids who grew tired and slept when darkness came. How astonishing that Christ did not rebuke their sleepiness, but anticipated it, knowing that long waiting, lack of illumination and temptation weigh heavily on all believers!
However, there is a great difference among the sleeping churches of the end of time. Some of them are filled with the Holy spirit, and others are empty. The oil in the parable indicates the Holy Spirit, and the wick is the Word of God, for the power of the Spirit comes to us through the Word of God and enlightens us.
It was the folly of the virgins that they were not fully prepared: they took their lamps, but took little oil with them. They had just enough oil to make their lamps burn for the present, to make a show with, as if they intended to meet the bridegroom. They did not have enough oil with them in the event that the bridegroom was a long time in coming. They had a lamp of profession in their hands, but lacked a store of sound knowledge, and faithfulness necessary to carry them through the pressure and trial of the new situation they were in. They acted under the influence of external inducements, but were empty of spiritual life.
The obvious question to all churches is, "Are you filled with the power of God's Spirit and the word of God, or do you rely on traditions, rituals, committees, contributions, and endowments?" Earthly doctrines, efforts and treasures are empty of the power to enlighten, for the power of the Holy Spirit alone brings divine and eternal illumination to our hearts.
Dear friend, do you continually read the Word of God for your edification and learn it by heart? Be encouraged! Such deep study will give you the power to overcome many trials in this world.

Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us if we have forgotten You and become occupied with other matters. Forgive the churches and groups if they have devoted their attention to daily problems and neglected Your fast approaching return. Help us to understand and grasp Your promises, and share them with others that they may be comforted with Your words, receive remission, become revived by the Holy Spirit, and learn patience and hope. Have mercy on us that we may become wise, not fools.
What is the difference between the wise and the foolish virgins?