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  • Writer's pictureShannon Bryant

Ready Lamps

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

Jesus was on the Mount of Olives with His disciples when they inquired of Him what would be the signs of His coming and the end of age. Jesus went on to tell the disciples that there would be wars and rumors of wars. Nation would rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. And there would be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places and all these things would be the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:6-8) Jesus spoke much of the trying things that would come to pass before His coming. He also taught many parables. One of which has been strongly impressed on my heart lately. The parable of the ten virgins.

I invite you to walk with me through Matthew 25:1-13. Please read and follow along with me as we dig a little deeper into this timely teaching of our Lord and Saviour. Let's direct our hearts to receive His love and admonishment.

This is a very familiar and rich passage and there is a whole lot to glean from it especially in this critical hour with so much chaos, destruction, pestilence, anarchy, and injustices. I'm yet wowed by God's pinpointed foreknowledge and faithfulness in equipping us with all we need every step of the way.

The parable of the ten virgins on the surface is about a wedding but when we dig deeper it's so much more. There is a lot of symbolism as is in all parables but this allegory paints a clear picture of the vitalness of being ready for Christ's return.

Jesus told the disciples, "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom." (Matthew 25:1)

The ten virgins were waiting for the bridegroom procession. This nighttime procession would use lamps to light the way because at that time they didn't have streetlights. The virgins represent professed followers of Christ. Five virgins were wise and five were foolish.

I noticed a few things that all of the virgins had access to. Both the foolish and the wise virgins had lamps, time, and the opportunity to acquire oil. But those who were foolish didn't take advantage of the resources they had available and ran out of time and oil. But the five wise virgins took oil in their vessels with their lamps. In fact, the wise had extra oil!

While the bridegroom was delayed, ALL of the virgins slumbered and slept. The wise and the foolish got drowsy and fell asleep while waiting. Here the virgins are pictured as physically sleep but symbolically this represents spiritual sleep. As is today, some are just plain tired, worn out from the immense stress of the world we're living in and this can cause us to neglect our spiritual lives and disciplines. Our prayer life, studying and meditating on the Word of God, and communion with Jesus can gradually fizzle out when we're at the end of our spiritual rope.

We must fight to stay woke lest we be found with empty lamps at Jesus' return.

Or on the other hand, many today and I'm including myself have been taking too many spiritual naps. The cares of this life, trials, uncertainty, and other perplexities have caused us to become drowsy and before you know it, we’re dozing off spiritually. Now we have been shaken, abruptly woken up by the things that are happening worldwide. Pestilence, lawlessness, anarchy, people falling away from the faith, economic collapse etc. We have been awakened out of our spiritual slumber and graced with time to recalibrate, rededicate, purify, examine our hearts and prepare for what and WHO is to come. God has so graciously granted us time to get oil.

God is not slow. He is merciful.

The oil in this parable symbolizes having a living, abiding relationship with Jesus in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. The bridegroom here represents Jesus. The bridegroom in this parable didn't come at the time that the virgins expected. To the ten virgins, he was late. Some today may think that Jesus is delayed. Many have heard our parents and/or grandparents speak of Jesus' return in what we deem as a long time ago. Even Jesus is seen here teaching the disciples regarding His coming way back in the Bible days. Others may think that they have time to "get themselves together" before the coming of the Lord. On the other hand, many are saying, "Come, Lord, Jesus, we're tired, get us out of here." But we can be confident that God is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) God is surely not slow. But He is ever so merciful. In His great mercy, the door of grace is still open.

In verse six it says, And at midnight a cry was heard; Behold the bridegroom is coming. Come out and meet him. I ask you, is there not a cry in this dark hour? Romans 8:22 speaks of how the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs. These birth pangs, trials, lawlessness, perilous, uncertain times that we are experiencing now is setting the stage and making way for the coming of the Lord.

In verse seven we see that all of the virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. The lamps used in this particular time only stayed lit for about two hours. So, they would have to regularly replenish the oil. In like manner in order for our lamps to remain ablaze, light our paths, reflect Jesus and be prepare us we must be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. This is wisdom.

On the contrary, the foolish virgins asked the wise virgins for some of their oil. Again, they had time and opportunity but yet they were were not prepared. The women said, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise answered saying, “No, lest there should not be enough for you and us." Then the wise virgins sent the others out to buy some oil.

First off, I don't know if anyone would be open at midnight to sell oil during that time and most importantly the Holy Spirit cannot be borrowed, bought, or sold. It is only through a personal relationship with the Living Word and a heart inclined to the written Word by faith that we are continually filled with the Holy Spirit.

While the foolish five went to buy oil, the bridegroom came and those who were ready (wise) went in with the bridegroom to the wedding; and the door was shut. What a blessing to be locked in, safe, secure, and shut-in with Jesus where there are joy, peace, and glory forevermore! But the fate of the foolish is very grim and final.

Afterward, the other virgins came saying, Lord, Lord, open to us! But he said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.” These are the MOST devastating words that anyone could ever hear. He did not KNOW them. “Know” indicates a closeness, intimacy and knowledge of a person. Knowing God helps us to trust Him even in these crazy, strange, and, sometimes scary world. Having an active, yielded, living, continual personal relationship with Jesus keeps our lamps lit, giving us power to stand. Power to pray. Power to witness. Power to overcome. Power to persevere and endure to the end.

He that endureth to the end shall be saved. Matthew 24:13

I admonish you today to keep your lamps filled and brimming over with oil and lit. Let's not be like the foolish virgins who were not ready. Keep your eyes on Jesus. I know there is SO much going on. Perilous times are here. Lawlessness has increased and the love of many has grown cold.

Lives are being loss from disease and senseless violence. Yet weep with those who weep. As the earth groans so does my heart weep. So much confusion. So much destruction. So much anger. So much hate. So much uncertainty. So much injustice.

Yes, there will be times when we will be angry. But be angry and sin not. We must not let the sun go down on our anger. Instead, we must go down on our knees lest we make more room for the devil. Yes, we speak out and stand up against injustices. We must not ignore it. But we cannot let these things move/shift us out of our character and identity in Christ Jesus.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God. Matthew 5:9

As we weep with those who weep we also rejoice with those who rejoice! Through it all, I'm fully convinced that God is doing His best work during this season in us and through us for our eternal good! He is after our hearts and He's doing a mighty work of washing and tenderizing our hearts if we are just willing, obedient, yielded, and repentant.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8

I'm fully persuaded that God is transforming hearts, shifting perspectives, bringing unity, and people are surrendering their lives to Christ! Yet there is still so much more work to be done.

Our highest priority must be to live close to the heart of Jesus and stay attuned to Him. Reflect His light to the harvest. Be about our Father’s business, doing the work He has called us to do with the power that He provides so that we may be found faithful.

Be found doing.

Be found loving.

Be found giving.

Be found at peace.

Be found pure.

Be found prepared.

Be found ready and lamps blazing at His return!

But it is written; "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

Watch therefore for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. Matthew 25:13

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