Keep Your Lamp Trimmed – My Daily Bread!
Our call to hear God’s voice is taken from Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25: 8-13, NIV which reads:
“The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No, they replied, there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Sir, sir’ they said, ‘Open the door for us!’ ‘But he replied, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Jesus gave many parables during His sojourn here on earth that described what it meant to treasure the kingdom of God in this life and in the life to come. Each of the parables shared a unique aspect of what was required of those who desired to attain to the manifold blessings that would become available through His death, burial and resurrection.
Here in the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Christ was speaking about what it means to be ready for His return and how to live until He comes. The admonishment in the last sentence of the passage above was given by Jesus to the five virgins who were not prepared to meet the bridegroom and who in the end missed out on the wedding feast altogether. Today it is a warning to the Church.
What happened in the case of the foolish virgins, did they not go out to meet the bridegroom? Indeed they did; however listen carefully to what the five virgins lacked: “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come to meet him! Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.” (Matthew 25: 1-7, NIV)
There were many similarities between the wise and the foolish virgins, but only one difference between them. In fact, the foolish were almost indistinguishable from the wise for a period of time. Both were virgins. Both had been invited, both had lamps, both had fallen asleep, both understood when the bridegroom had arrived. The one difference between the five foolish virgins and the wise virgins became notable when it came time to trim their lamps once they had gotten the call that the bridegroom had arrived. The passage tells us that the foolish virgins had brought no oil! Ouch! You see those invited had a specific part to play in the procession, they were to light the torch for a portion of the ceremony for the bridegroom. They certainly should not have come without oil which was used to wet the wicks and ensure that the light continued to burn in their lamps! It is clear that they all received the same invitation, but for whatever reason the foolish virgins did not feel the urgency to be prepared by buying oil in advance. Sadly, from the moment they set out to meet the bridegroom they were not prepared to march in his procession!
So what does all this have to do with the Kingdom of God and our faith today? There are lots of valuable lesions that we can glean from this parable. The coming of the bridegroom is figurative of the second coming of Christ when He returns to earth in all His glory. The wise virgins are true Christians who have accepted the salvation of Christ and hold the light of truth to a lost and dying world. The five foolish virgins are those who profess Christ but somehow never devote themselves to the things of God and neglect to prepare for His return.
But at the coming of Christ when the figurative ‘trimming of the lamps’ or preparing to meet God occurs, the true state of those foolish virgins hearts will be made manifest. Even though they will know that Jesus is Lord, look like true Christians, act like true Christians, they will not enter into the rest of the King. They looked useful, and even held out the promise of producing light as evidenced by their lamps, but never produced any! These Jesus also spoke of when He said: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.’ 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?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7: 21-23, NIV)
Now we are all a bit alarmed that the wise virgins would not share their oil, would not that have been the charitable thing to do so all could have a chance to meet the groom? Well the key point here Saints is that God extends His invitation of salvation to everyone but no one can enter heaven based upon the salvation of others. Each of us is accountable for our own choices in life and each of us must “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2: 12, NIV)
In contrast the wise virgins heard the invitation, accepted it and were discerning enough to bring oil for their lamps sufficient enough to light their way during the night, and for the procession whenever the bridegroom arrived! These Sisters were prepared and ready! Today, they are the true Christians who believe in the Lord, the figurative lamps that shine forth the truth of the gospel with the Word of God. God’s Word is their light and the Holy Spirit is the oil that keeps the fire in them ignited for their King! Salvation is the difference between the wise and the foolish! God’s Spirit resides in His own and they hold forth His truths!
Saints, this parable is about being prepared for the return of our King! Since no man knows the hour of His return the question that begs an answer is: Are you wise or foolish? Is your lamp burning and pointing the way to Christ and His return? As you wait on your King be ever ‘trimming your lamp’ examining and preparing yourself as you live in the Spirit of God! “You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 14, 16, NIV) Remember, God’s invitation does have a time limit for each of us, do not let the door be shut in your face!
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