1 "Then the
kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their
lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 "Five of them were foolish,
and five were prudent. 3 "For when the foolish took their lamps, they
took no oil with them, 4 but the prudent took oil in flasks along with
their lamps. 5 "Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got
drowsy and began to sleep. 6 "But at midnight there was a shout,
'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' 7 "Then all those
virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 "The foolish said to the prudent,
'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9 "But the
prudent answered, 'No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go
instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' 10 "And while they
were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who
were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.
11 "Later the other virgins also came, saying, ' Lord, lord, open up for
us.' 12 "But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' 13
"Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”
enter, and who shall be left outside?”
This serious stanza gives you a sound, when you hear this passage,
- the words on the last Sunday in the church year – the so called
judgment Sunday. It’s like a last shout out to the people, before the
doors are shut for good, this passage: “Strive to enter through
the narrow door!” (Luke 13:24), there is suppose to be many who does not
reach all the way there.
And what makes
this passage so especially serious for us, that there are so many of
those who strive to enter, who are not capable to.
This passage doesn’t talk about the obvious world contra the
visible church on earth. – No, this goes far deeper than that. Let us
just look at who Jesus talks about here: “Then the kingdom of heaven
will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to
meet the bridegroom.” (v.1).
As you can see He talks about the kingdom of the heavens. It
is not about what we normally connect with heaven, - that is to say the
actual goal, home with God. We can see that among other things that
these were on their way to meet the bridegroom. They were in other words
still on the way here on earth. That’s also coming out of this parable
that no one goes in there who isn’t ready for it. That is the main point
for this parable.
It is addressed to the visible church here on earth. And Jesus
divides that into two flocks – it shall therefore consist of two flocks.
One of them He calls – the foolish, and the other – prudent.
The fact that He here talks about five of each doesn’t mean that a
church always has to be equally divided, but pure and simple that the
church are going to exist of two flocks. And His apportionment here
shows that at least the flock of the foolish won’t be a rare case, but
on the contrary constitute an essential part of the visible church.
The wise, who
Many will say: That is those who want to belong to Jesus! Yes, that
is quite true. But don’t the foolish also want that, as far the natural
eye can see? They “took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.”
They “took their lamps.” They received the preaching that they had
heard, and grabbed a hold of the confession. And “they rose.” They
turned their back on the world. This is what has been understood as true
repentance at all times. One enters into a new relationship with the
world, its things and its ways. One experiences its emptiness. Therefore
they turned their backs to it. But that wasn’t all that they did – many
people stop right there, - well these went further – they “went out
to meet the bridegroom.” And as we know – the bridegroom is the Lord
Jesus Christ. We can actually say that they went to meet Jesus.
Both the prudent and the foolish! Can you see any difference so far? Do
you think you could see the difference better if you met them personally
all ten? Hardly! If you go to a church, you walk according to the word
of the Lord exactly among these two flocks.
There are actually people among us, who testifies, and serves and
reads, yes, even looks forward to heaven and the beatitude, on their way
to a closed heavenly door. On their way to a gruesome discovery: “Our
lamps are extinguishing!” What a tragedy!
This is of
course the destiny of the obvious world. They will on that day find
themselves in that situation, that they don’t have anything to collect
or fetch that can save them – they will be found naked. But this is
people that have strived to reach heaven, yes, as we see – to reach
Jesus. And then they see all of sudden, - in a blink of an eye –
deceived. They were wrong! They were building, in the middle of it all,
on a foundation that did not hold.
We can find a
little help to understand all this in the story about Abraham, - or
Abram as he was called at that time – and his father Terah. We probably
all know the story about Abraham – the heathen who God called, and
promised a land. Abraham followed this call from the Lord, and reached
the promised land Canaan, even though he lived there in a tent - a
stranger and a foreigner.
Notice the call from the Lord. What was it? Was it like we often
perceive it, a marching order? No, it was a promise! A
promise about a land he would receive for nothing. It was to be given to
him. He was just going to walk there on the word of the Lord, and find
it ready for him. This is the true calling!
It is written
about Terah, Abrahams father: “Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son
of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's
wife; and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to
enter the land of Canaan” (Gen.11:31).
Here is something we should pause to: Terah took… Terah was not the
one who was called. He set out on another man’s call, to a land
he didn’t know the nature of. Terah was strong, Terah took… and they
went out “to enter the land of Canaan,” as it is written. We will
mention two things here: First: Did he reach the goal he had set
before him? No! It says further in the chapter in Genesis: “And they
went as far as Haran, and settled there. The days of Terah were two
hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran.”
Just hear this! “And they went as far as Haran!” Our lamps are
In our Norwegian translation Canaan is called Kana'an, and
Haran is called Karan. This similarity in names can tell us
something important, even if it's not biblical.
And then it says so tragically: “And Terah died in Haran.”
He who was going to Canaan!
We read that they settled in Haran. They actually settled
down, without reaching the goal for their journey. Without being able to
look around and say: Now we have reached Canaan the promised land!
Without the certainty that we now are in the land that the Lord have
called us to. Yes, but isn’t that exactly foolishness?
of all: Of what nature was it, the land Abraham was called to?
In Psalm 68 verse 11, we read: “Your creatures settled in it; You
provided in Your goodness for the poor, O God.”
It is the tired soul’s place of rest! The Lord wants to guide us
out from our trouble, the one the sin causes, and to rest. It is
not the land for strong “Terah’s!”
Paul writes for one about this: “For I testify about them that they
have a zeal for God,” they did not lack will power to reach heaven and
the beatitude, “but not in accordance with knowledge.” Therefore foolish.
And what did their foolishness contain of? “For not knowing about
God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not
subject themselves to the righteousness of God.” (Rom.10:2-3).
the call of the prudent's consist of? What was the cause of their
wisdom and knowledge – a wisdom and knowledge that led them all the way
into the holy place? We read further on in Rom.10: “For Christ is the
end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (v.4).
They were called to a land that was ready for them – a land that floats
with milk and honey. A land that is rich enough for everybody. A land
you don’t have to bring anything of your own to survive, yes, live in
abundance. The goal is already reached in Him! He is the
end of the law! He is the end goal! This was the prudent's oil!
That they knew Him? Yes, but even more that they were known by
This was exactly the eternal vital lack with the foolish – He did
not knew them. (v.12). They were Terah’s children, not Abraham’s!
Therefore they didn’t reach the goal, but settled in a foreign land, and
remained strangers to the Lord.
But in the middle of this that they confessed the name of Jesus.
Put your mind on this! Just think about if you could help some of these
into the way that leads to the goal? Preach the Gospel! – The Lord’s
way. And preach also the way that does not lead to the goal – our
As you see
from this parable, it will take time before the bridegroom comes.
(v.5). Which means, that there will be a period which for us will seem
long. It will be a period that will show signs of darkness. It’s going
towards midnight, and as we know, it is a period that only gets darker
and darker, till its at its darkest. Therefore it will also show signs
of sleep, both of what the prudent and the foolish is concerned. But
consequently, also in this has the Lord power to take care of His – He
keeps them alive despite the sleep – and when the shout sounds they are
immediately ready. They don’t have to look for the “key,” they stand in
front of an open door. That is Jesus! (John 10:9a) – He whom they
have always put their trust in, concerning their salvation.
It is worse
with the foolish (v.8) – they wake up to the gruesome acknowledgment
that they don’t have anything.
They didn’t really receive the word about Jesus! – The word about
the cross! – The word about the suffering! – The word about the
forgiveness of sins in Jesus name! – The word about God’s mercy in Him
alone! And now they stand in the midnight darkness without light
After that they – from what they mean themselves – have gotten
their lamps in order, they come and knock on the closed door. (v.11). We
must add, that the prudent will never come to a door that he has to
knock on, for “Behold, I have put before you
an open door,” says the
Lord. (Rev.3:8). (Norw. transl.: - an opened door). These on the
other hand meet a closed door – a door where you have to make the person
concerned on the inside attentive on your arrival. Again they were wrong!
on the alert! (v.13).
hear the Savior knocking,
Calling at your door,
O receive Him, let Him enter,
And your soul restore!
Then when breaks the golden morning,
Bright, eternal, fair,
He will open Heaven's portals
And receive you there.
Arthur Cleveland Coxe
Listen! "Therefore, just
as the Holy Spirit says, "today
if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts!" (Heb. 3:7).
is the day of salvation!
New American Standard Version
Translator: Benedicte H.Smart