Ten Virgins and Five Brothers

by Jack M. Lane

 

The scriptures tell us that believers are already in a state of salvation.  The scriptures talk about salvation in the present tense as well as in the future tense.  The reason for that is simple:  We look forward to the resurrection in the future, but in the meantime we are already in a state of grace (or favor), which is a state of forgiveness, acceptance. 

Our job is to walk in the Way rather than down the broad, easy path.  Our job is to live in obedience to God rather than to Satan.  Our job is to live in the Spirit and die to the flesh. Our job is to put our hand to the plow and move forward along the path, not turning around and looking back. 

Those of us who have dedicated our lives to living this Way, who are now living under the reign of God, being led by the Spirit of God, are on the right path.  But any time you go down a pathway, there will always be side trips, distractions, alternate routes, stumbling blocks, things which can take us off the path.  It’s possible to endure almost to the end.  Prophecy shows times will be tough.  It would be tragic to endure almost to the end.

Let’s turn to Matthew 25 and look at this concept, in the parable of the ten virgins.


The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Matthew 25:1-13 (NKJV):

1 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.

2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,

4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

6 And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!'

7 "Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.

8 And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'

9 "But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.'

10 "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!'

12 "But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.'

13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

A lot of people think the parable of the ten virgins is a prophecy.  It may be. But I think it’s really a parable, a story, an illustration, which teaches a lesson. So what lessons are we to learn from the parable? 

To cut right to the heart of the matter, the major lesson of the story of the ten virgins is that there will be some people who will not be able to enter into something they were sure they would enter into.  This lesson in Matthew 25 is part of the Olivet prophecy of Matthew 24 and 25, so of course the parable has something to do with the coming of Christ.  But it also has lessons we could apply to ourselves in everyday life. 

What about these five foolish virgins?  When it comes right down to it, they didn’t have what it takes. 

We’re looking at a wedding festival.  Customarily, on the day of the wedding, the bridegroom escorted his bride from her father's house to his house. Along the way, friends of the groom and bride joined the procession. Others waited at the groom's home where the marriage feast was to occur. In effect, these ten virgins were bridesmaids. 

Some bridesmaids would accompany the bride from her dad’s house to the place where the marriage was to take place. These ten were already at the place, waiting outside.  They expected that the wedding party would arrive after dark, so they brought lamps. However, none of them knew how long the bridegroom would delay coming. Five of the virgins had made adequate preparation, and five didn’t.

After considerable delay, and after all ten virgins fell asleep, the groom arrived. The five virgins whose lamps were extinguished for lack of oil turned from the oncoming procession to acquire more oil for their lamps. While they were absent, everyone present entered the house, and the door was shut. Later, the unprepared five returned and were denied entry. These five didn’t expect the delay.  They didn’t anticipate that they would be denied admission to the marriage feast.

There was nothing immoral or evil about these five virgins.  They had simply not made enough preparation.  In the end, they didn’t have what it takes.  And they were surprised to find that they couldn’t get in.

This parable doesn’t apply to people out in the world.  It applies to those who are part of the wedding party.  That includes the Jews to whom Christ told the story, and it includes us in the Christian faith today.

The ten virgins represent something.  The oil represents something.  Verse one states, "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.”

The important thing to remember is that there were some virgins, some bridesmaids, and they were at the right place, but not at the right time.  They didn’t have what it takes to go inside. 

We can consider ourselves to be part of the bridesmaids in this story.  Of course, we realize we are the bride of Christ, but for the purposes of this parable, we are the bridesmaids. 

John the Baptizer said, in reference to himself, “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice” (John 3:29). 

That’s the role we take in this parable.  We wait for the bridegroom, and we expect to be full of joy when we hear the bridegroom’s voice.  The purpose of the parable is to warn us that not everyone who waits for the bridegroom will get in.  You might be able to think of some other scriptures that warn us of the same thing. 

We should ponder the following question:  What do we need to do to be a wise virgin and not a foolish virgin?


The Parable of the River

While we’re reflecting on that, I’d like to read you another parable.  This is called “The Parable of the River,” by Max Lucado (from his book, In the Grip of Grace):

Once there were five sons who lived in a mountain castle with their father. The eldest was an obedient son, but his four younger brothers were rebellious. Their father had warned them of the river, but they had not listened. He had begged them to stay clear of the bank lest they be swept downstream, but the river’s lure was too strong.

Each day the four rebellious brothers ventured closer and closer until one son dared to reach in and feel the waters. “Hold my hand so I won’t fall in,” he said, and his brothers did. But when he touched the water, the current yanked him and the other three into the rapids and rolled them down the river.

Over rocks they bounced, through the channels they roared, on the swells they rode. Their cries for help were lost in the rage of the river. Though they fought to gain their balance, they were powerless against the strength of the current. After hours of struggle, they surrendered to the pull of the river. The waters finally dumped them on the bank in a strange land, in a distant country, in a barren place.

Savage people dwelt in the land. It was not safe like their home.

Cold winds chilled the land. It was not warm like their home.

Rugged mountains marked the land. It was not inviting like their home.

Though they did not know where they were, of one fact they were sure: They were not intended for this place. For a long time the four young sons lay on the bank, stunned at their fall and not knowing where to turn. After some time they gathered their courage and reentered the waters, hoping to walk upstream. But the current was too strong. They attempted to walk along the river’s edge, but the terrain was too steep. They considered climbing the mountains, but the peaks were too high. Besides, they didn’t know the way.

Finally, they built a fire and sat down. “We shouldn’t have disobeyed our father,” they admitted. “We are a long way from home.”

With the passage of time the sons learned to survive in the strange land. They found nuts for food and killed animals for skins. They determined not to forget their homeland nor abandon hopes of returning. Each day they set about the task of finding food and building shelter. Each evening they built a fire and told stories of their father and brother. All four sons longed to see them again.

Then, one night, one brother failed to come to the fire. The others found him the next morning in the valley with the savages. He was building a hut of grass and mud. “I’ve grown tired of our talks,” he told them. “What good does it do to remember? Besides, this land isn’t so bad. I will build a great house and settle here.”

“But it isn’t home,” they objected.

“No, but it is if you don’t think of the real one.”

“But what of Father?”

“What of him? He isn’t here. He isn’t near. Am I to spend forever awaiting his arrival? I’m making new friends; I’m learning new ways. If he comes, he comes, but I’m not holding my breath.”

And so the other three left their hut-building brother and walked away. They continued to meet around the fire, speaking of home and dreaming of their return.

Some days later, a second brother failed to appear at the campfire. The next morning his siblings found him on a hillside staring at the hut of his brother.

“How disgusting,” he told them as they approached. “Our brother is an utter failure. An insult to our family name. Can you imagine a more despicable deed? Building a hut and forgetting our father?”

“What he’s doing is wrong,” agreed the youngest, “but what we did was wrong as well. We disobeyed. We touched the river. We ignored our father’s warnings.”

“Well, we may have made a mistake or two, but compared to the sleaze in the hut, we are saints. Father will dismiss our sin and punish him.”

“Come,” urged his two brothers, “return to the fire with us.”

“No, I think I’ll keep an eye on our brother. Someone needs to keep a record of his wrongs to show Father.”

And so the two returned, leaving one brother building and the other judging.

The remaining two sons stayed near the fire, encouraging each other and speaking of home. Then one morning the youngest son awoke to find he was alone. He searched for his brother and found him near the river, stacking rocks.

“It’s no use,” the rock-stacking brother explained as he worked. Father won’t come for me. I must go to him. I offended him. I insulted him. I failed him. There is only one option. I will build a path back up the river and walk into our father’s presence. Rock upon rock I will stack until I have enough rocks to travel upstream to the castle. When he sees how hard I have worked and how diligent I have been, he will have no choice but to open the door and let me into his house.”

The last brother did not know what to say. He returned to sit by the fire, alone. One morning he heard a familiar voice behind him. “Father has sent me to bring you home.”

The youngest lifted his eyes to see the face of his oldest brother. “You have come for us!” he shouted. For a long time the two embraced.

“And your brothers?” the eldest finally asked.

“One has made a home here. Another is watching him. The third is building a path up the river.”

And so Firstborn set out to find his siblings. He went first to the thatched hut in the valley.

“Go away, stranger!” screamed the brother through the window. “You are not welcome here!”

“I have come to take you home.”

“You have not. You have come to take my mansion.”

“This is no mansion,” Firstborn countered. “This is a hut.”

“It is a mansion! The finest in the lowlands. I built it with my own hands. Now, go away. You cannot have my mansion.”

“Don’t you remember the house of your father?”

“I have no father.”

“You were born in a castle in a distant land where the air is warm and the fruit is plentiful. You disobeyed your father and ended up in this strange land. I have come to take you home.”

The brother peered through the window at Firstborn as if recognizing a face he’d remembered from a dream. But the pause was brief, for suddenly the savages in the house filled the window as well. “Go away, intruder!” they demanded. “This is not your home.”

“You are right,” responded the firstborn son, “but neither is it his.”

The eyes of the two brothers met again. Once more the hut-building brother felt a tug at his heart, but the savages had won his trust. “He just wants your mansion,” they cried. “Send him away!”

And so he did.

Firstborn sought the next brother. He didn’t have to walk far. On the hillside near the hut, within eyesight of the savages, sat the fault-finding son. When he saw Firstborn approaching, he shouted, “How good that you are here to behold the sin of our brother! Are you aware that he turned his back on the castle? Are you aware that he never speaks of home? I knew you would come. I have kept careful account of his deeds. Punish him! I will applaud your anger. He deserves it! Deal with the sins of our brother.”

Firstborn spoke softly, “We need to deal with your sins first.”

“My sins?”

“Yes, you disobeyed Father.”

The son smirked and slapped at the air. “My sins are nothing. There is the sinner,” he claimed, pointing to the hut. “Let me tell you of the savages who stay there...”

“I’d rather you tell me about yourself.”

“Don’t worry about me. Let me show you who needs help,” he said, running toward the hut. “Come, we’ll peek in the windows. He never sees me. Let’s go together.” The son was at the hut before he noticed that Firstborn hadn’t followed him.

Next, the eldest son walked to the river. There he found the last brother, knee-deep in the water, stacking rocks.

“Father has sent me to take you home.”

The brother never looked up. “I can’t talk now. I must work.”

“Father knows you have fallen. But he will forgive you...”

“He may,” the brother interrupted, struggling to keep his balance against the current, “but I have to get to the castle first. I must build a pathway up the river. First I will show him that I am worthy. Then I will ask for his mercy.”

“He has already given his mercy. I will carry you up the river. You will never be able to build a pathway. The river is too long. The task is too great for your hands. Father sent me to carry you home. I am stronger.”

For the first time the rock-stacking brother looked up. “How dare you speak with such irreverence! My father will not simply forgive. I have sinned. I have sinned greatly! He told us to avoid the river, and we disobeyed. I am a great sinner. I need much work.”

“No, my brother, you don’t need much work. You need much grace. The distance between you and our father’s house is too great. You haven’t enough strength nor the stones to build the road. That is why our father sent me. He wants me to carry you home.”

“Are you saying I can’t do it? Are you saying I’m not strong enough? Look at my work. Look at my rocks. Already I can walk five steps!”

“But you have five million to go!”

The younger brother looked at Firstborn with anger. “I know who you are. You are the voice of evil. You are trying to seduce me from my holy work. Get behind me, you serpent!” He hurled at Firstborn the rock he was about to place in the river.

“Heretic!” screamed the path-builder. “Leave this land. You can’t stop me! I will build this walkway and stand before my father, and he will have to forgive me. I will win his favor. I will earn his mercy.”

Firstborn shook his head. “Favor won is no favor. Mercy earned is no mercy. I implore you, let me carry you up the river.”

The response was another rock. So Firstborn turned and left.

The youngest brother was waiting near the fire when Firstborn returned.

“The others didn’t come?”

“No. One chose to indulge, the other to judge, and the third to work. None of them chose our father.”

“So they will remain here?”

The eldest brother nodded slowly. “For now.”

“And we will return to Father?” asked the brother.

“Yes.”

“Will he forgive me?”

“Would he have sent me if he wouldn’t?”

And so the younger brother climbed on the back of the Firstborn and began the journey home.

The Parable of the River, by Max Lucado, Copyright © 1996 by Max Lucado (from In the Grip of Grace)

 

There are some similarities in these two parables.  In the Parable of the River, only one brother of the four manages to return home and enter the castle.  All four brothers heard the same invitation. Each had an opportunity to be carried home by the elder brother.

The first said no, choosing a grass hut over his father’s house.  He says, “I’ll indulge myself.  No harm can come to me.” The second said no, preferring to analyze the mistakes of his brother rather than admit his own. He says, “I’ll compare myself.  I’m doing well, while others aren’t.” The third said no, thinking it wiser to make a good impression than an honest confession. He says, “I’ll work really hard, and I’ll save myself.” And the fourth simply said yes, choosing gratitude over guilt. He says, “I’ll entrust myself to you.  I can’t do it without you”

In this case, it’s pretty easy to see what the story teller is trying to say to us, and what we need to do to be successful. Are there steps we can take to be among the wise virgins rather than the foolish ones? Are there right and wrong approaches to Christianity that we ought to consider as we walk this walk? Could something keep us, in the end of the age, from being accepted into the wedding, or from climbing onto the back of our Brother and going to the Father’s castle?

 

What does the Lord require?

Micah 6:6-8:

6 With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?

7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

Should I build a rocky road to the kingdom?  Should I try to get the oil I need from other people?

Verse 8:  “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

These are important things to do in our lives. To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.  We need to check our motives, too. We don’t obey God to show Him that we are Christians.  We obey God because we ARE Christians. 

In order to do these things – to act justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God – we must be a certain kind of person. God’s Spirit helps people become that kind of person. We must always call out to God to give us His Spirit so we can be successful at becoming the kind of person           who will be invited into the wedding.

 

The love chapter

We’re looking at ways we might be among the wise virgins who go into the wedding. There is much to be learned about being a wise virgin in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, the “love chapter.”

1 Corinthians 13:

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

If I live lavishly, if I compare myself to others, or if I spend my own energies building a rocky road against the current, but if I don’t have agape love in my heart, my head, and my hand, what good does it do?

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

Look at verse 8. Prophecies will cease? What does that mean? Does it mean predictions of the future won’t come true? It actually means that the gift of prophecy will cease.  Continuing in verse 8, tongues will be stilled. Does that mean people won’t be talking any more? No, there’s an awful lot of talking going on these days. It’s the gift of tongues that won’t be common any more.  Knowledge will pass away. We have more knowledge today than ever before in history. No doubt, Paul is talking about spiritual knowledge, true knowledge, the faith once delivered to the saints. Verse 8 is telling us that, as time goes by, we may not see the gift of prophecy, or the gift of tongues, or the gift of knowledge. However, in contrast to this, love never fails.

Then Paul tells us in verse 13 that, even though these three gifts may go away, there are three things that remain: Faith, hope, and love.

What is faith?  Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” But if we talk specifically about “the faith,” we’re talking about a set of doctrinal understandings. So we might have “the faith,” and we might have faith that all these things will take place. These are the two ways we can look at faith.  Then there’s hope. We hope for certain things. We have a hope based on our faith. Paul said to the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, ... I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 23:6). Our hope is based on our faith.  And then there’s love. Paul said that if we had to choose among these three, the greatest of these is love.

Does that mean that if we have the right faith and the right hope, but we don’t have love, we’re not going to make it? It sounds like a real possibility.  It’s something to think about.  On the other hand, we could have love, the right kind of love, but not have all the specific details of the right faith or the right hope.

If love is the greatest, will we make it? Is love more important than having all the correct details regarding faith and hope, all the little particulars of doctrine just right? Is love the key that makes the difference between a wise virgin and a foolish one?  I don’t know if we can set a doctrinal understanding on this, but it sure looks like that’s the case. If you had to choose between those three, the greatest of the three is love.

We’re looking at things we can do, or ways we can be, in order to have enough oil and to be invited into the wedding feast. Or, are there things we need to avoid that would mean we don’t have enough oil, and we’ll be locked out?

The five foolish virgins really were part of the group of virgins who were supposed to go in. Or at the very least, they thought they were! They say, “Lord, Lord, open the door!” But the bridegroom says, “So, who are you?” How would you like to get right up to the locked gate – a little late, but you’re there; a little short of oil, but you made it – and hear the bridegroom tell you, “I don’t know you.” “I have no idea who you are.” “You’re not invited to this wedding.” “Go away.” That’s how serious this is. 


“Lord, Lord”

What about this phrase, “Lord, Lord”? Yeshua uses it a lot. For instance, look at Matthew chapter 7, part of the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 7:13-14, 21-27:

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. ...

 

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’

23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise [virgin] who built his house on the rock.

25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish [virgin] who built his house on sand.

27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

 

There are going to be people who say, “Lord, Lord,” and he’s going to say, “I never knew you.”  What’s the key to success? Doing the Father’s will. Hearing Yeshua’s words and putting them into practice. In the parallel account of this story, Yeshua says, in Luke 6:46: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

 

Rewording the 10 virgins

We can also see this in Luke chapters 12.

Luke 12:35-40:

35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning,

36 like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.

37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.

38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night.

39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.

40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

 

It’s much the same warning as the warning in the parable of the ten virgins.  Watch.  Be ready. You don’t know when the coach will call time and the game is over. You don’t know when the teacher will announce a pop quiz and “it’s show time!”

A woman received a phone call that her daughter was very sick with a fever. She left work and stopped by the pharmacy for some medication for her daughter. When she returned to her car, she found she had locked her keys inside.  She had to get home to her sick daughter, and didn't know what to do. She called her home to the baby sitter, and was told her daughter was getting worse.  She said, "You might find a coat hanger and use that to open the door." 

The woman found an old rusty coat hanger on the ground, as if someone else had locked their keys in their car. Then she looked at the hanger and said, "I don't know how to use this."  She bowed her head and asked God for help. 

An old rusty car pulled up, driven by a dirty, greasy, bearded man with a biker skull rag on his head.  The woman thought, "Great God. This is what you sent to help me?"  But she was desperate, and thankful.  The man got out of his car and asked if he could help.  She said "Yes, my daughter is very sick. I must get home to her. Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?" He said, "Sure."   He walked over to the car and in seconds the car was opened.  She hugged the man and through her tears she said, "Thank you so much.  You are a very nice man." The man replied, "Lady, I ain't a nice man.  I just got out of prison for car theft."  The woman hugged the man again and cried out loud, “Thank you, God, for sending me a professional!"

I guess the moral of the story is that God can use you, or He can use someone from the lower levels of society, to be the right person in the right place at the right time.  We need to be prepared for God to use us at a moment’s notice.

 

What is the oil?

In the parable of the ten virgins, what does the oil represent?  We often think it represents God’s spirit.  It might.  But it might also represent something else.  Do we need Holy Spirit to get into the wedding?  Yes.  However, I think all ten virgins already had oil.  There was something about the passing of time.  A long time went by.  Some of them ran out of something they needed.  When the time came, they didn’t have enough of it.  What is it? 

The oil in the parable may well represent faith.  Or, it may represent our hope, which is part of our faith.  Or, it may represent the greatest thing, love. 

Remember 1 Corinthians 11:19: “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.” Our goal should be to be among those who have God’s approval, the ones who have enough oil, the ones who are willing to let Messiah do the heavy lifting, the ones who are ready to go back to the Father’s mansion.

I’ve come to see, over the years, that doctrine is not king, nor is it the key to salvation. We have known people who went through the “one true church” thing who will beat you over the head with doctrine and argument until you’re reeling and bloody. The sense I get from the parable of the 10 virgins, the parable of the river, and many other scriptures, is that we can know all things, and understand all doctrinal mysteries, but if we don’t have the oil, we’re going to find ourselves on the outside banging on the door trying to get in.

The foolish virgins, the ones who are left out, are frankly puzzled. “Hey, wait a minute, Lord! We deserve to go in, too. After all, we were in your one true church, and we regularly went around beating people over the head with doctrines. We studied your word and had all the scriptures lined up just right. Won’t you let us in?” His answer is enough to curl your hair: “I never knew you. Go away.” Whatever the oil might represent, it doesn’t represent doctrine.

It might signify the Spirit of God. It might represent good deeds, or righteousness, or showing love to others. Whatever the oil represents, now is the time to be accumulating it!

A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago.   They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner.  Well, as such things go, one thing led to another.  The sales manager went longer than anticipated and the meeting ran overtime.  Their flights were scheduled to leave out of Chicago's O'Hare Airport, and they had to race to the airport. 

With tickets in hand, they barged through the terminal to catch their flight back home.  In their rush, with tickets and brief-cases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of baskets of apples.  Apples flew everywhere.  Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly missed boarding.  All but one.  He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.  He told his buddies to go on without him, waved goodbye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived   at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight.  Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.  He was glad he did.

The 16 year old girl was totally blind!  She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her, no one stopping, and no one to care for her plight.  The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them into the baskets, and helped set the display up once more.  As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.   When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $20 for the damage we did.  Are you okay?"  She nodded through her tears.  He continued on with, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly." 

As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, "Mister...." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes.  She continued, "Are you Jesus?"

When we get to the point where the blinded people of the world can look at us and see Yeshua, then we’ve accomplished something.  But then again, have we really accomplished something?  Isn’t it really the Spirit of God in us that achieves perfection? 

If we get beyond wanting to be a part of this world, beyond judging our brothers as unworthy of eternal life, or trying to do it all ourselves, we might be ready to jump on the strong back of the Savior and let HIM return us to the Father. 

If we get to the point where we have so much oil in our lamps that we are ready to go into the wedding feast without a moment’s hesitation, that will be a triumphant day for us. 

What is it for you?  What’s going to keep you out of the wedding feast? What are you still working on? What are you still trying to overcome? Is there some secret fault, some presumptuous sin?

Remember what the risen Savior proclaimed in Revelation chapter 22:  “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Revelation 22:12, NKJV). People get worked up about whether or not we earn our salvation. No, we don’t earn our salvation.  But it says here, pretty clearly, that we earn our reward!  Messiah says He is coming, and He is bringing His reward to give to every one according to his work.

How’s your work?  How’s your oil supply?  Do you have enough?  Do you have some extra?  Bill Creamer refers to it as “extra virgin oil.”

 

Why should we want it?

Let me conclude by reminding us of why we should want to have enough oil.  What have we traditionally thought the Feast of Tabernacles represents? The Millennium.  The time when Christ has returned to earth in power to subdue all enemies and to rule along with the resurrected saints. 

It is the objective of the ekklesia, the church of God, the body of Christ, to achieve the goal of being in the first resurrection at Christ’s return. It is our hope of the resurrection that keeps us going.  It’s the carrot on a stick that keeps us moving forward. 

We look forward to the time when God will take two entirely different life forms – carnal, mortal, sinful flesh and holy, righteous, immortal spirit – and make the two into one eternal family through the resurrection of the dead to immortal spirit life, into a family that will go out into the universe and do – what? 

The Bible doesn’t quite say what we will be doing for eternity.  But it does assure us that the life to come, as immortal sons of God, will be filled with pleasure, satisfaction, joy, peace, and fulfillment. 

We look forward to that life.  But to get there, we have to go through this mine field of a temporary life. We have to struggle, and endure, and persevere, and build character.  But the outcome of our struggle, the finish line of our race, is, literally, out of this world! Our job is to have the oil we need, and have enough of it, so we can be among the five wise virgins and be there in eternity with our Father and older Brother. 

So I encourage you to obtain the extra virgin oil you need, and guard that valuable commodity as a priceless treasure.  I encourage you to be the brother who makes the right choice. I would like all of us to be invited into the wedding feast. I would like all of us to climb onto the back of our Savior for the journey back to our Father’s castle. I would like all of us to have a very real vision of what the future holds.

Close your eyes sometime and visualize the Millennium, one thousand years of Messiah’s righteous rule on earth. Imagine a time when there won’t be hundreds of religions, denominations, and churches disagreeing with each other, warring against each other, crippling their members, and straying wildly from the love for each other Christ’s disciples would be known by.

Imagine a future with unlimited opportunities to explore and build, with no end of discovery and adventure. Imagine being changed from mortal, material flesh to eternal spirit, living forever in one dynamic God family, forever.

That future is yours – if you live a converted life in Christ, if you devote your thoughts to the things of God, if you earnestly desire the righteousness that comes from God’s Spirit, if you completely yield yourself to God as your Father and Christ as your Brother.  That future is yours.

Right now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. When tomorrow comes, when a new day has dawned, we’ll understand fully what God’s plan for mankind has always been.

 

 

 

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