The Parable of the Ten Virgins - Part 1

We now look at the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25.

We've established elsewhere that Israel is seen as "virgin" in the New Covenant (Jer 31; etc.) and it is specifically virgins of Israel who are sent to preach in Rev 7 (Rev 14:4).

The Revelation tells us the New Jerusalem "comes down as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev 21:2,9). This is the "better resurrection" reward, "the city whose builder and maker is God" (Heb 11:10,35), that faithful Israelites looked for (and why they shunned comfort in this life). We looked at the "better resurrection" and the difference between life (free gift) and reward (earned) in recent studies.

In the previous parable of the wicked servant, we noted that the central figure is a "servant." He is in employ of the Master. Here we have Virgins and they are invited to the wedding feast. We, again, are looking at a called-out company (Israel).

"The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, 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.."
-Matt 25:3-5

They ALL fell asleep waiting for the bridegroom. ALL of Israel is pictured here.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
-Matt 25:6

This should take our minds to 1 Thessalonians 4, and the expectation of Israel for her Lord to come and establish his kingdom.

"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord."
-1 Thess 4:16-17

The "coming in the clouds" in scripture is a picture of the Lord returning as he left (Acts 1) and coming to establish his kingdom (not to come and leave again). This is the "parousia" of scripture (the presence of the King), not the "epiphenae" (the appearing we look and live for).

See Titus 2:13; 2 Tim 4:1,8.

Those events may be closely related, but the effects and expectations differ.

The Lord is very specific as to the timing in Mark.

“But in those days, AFTER THAT TRIBULATION, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man COMING IN THE CLOUDS with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His ELECT [Israel] from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven."
-Mark 13:24-27

The Revelation speaks of the last trumpet of 1 Thess 4:

“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
-Rev 11:15

The Revelation is not sequential. Like its counterpart, Daniel, it must be rightly divided. Clearly here we see the last Trumpet heralding the rule of the King. [A great study is comparing the events described in Matthew 24 with the events of the Seven Trumpets of the Revelation. The parallels will be evident.]

The ten in our parable are all "virgins." They are all of chosen Israel. They are all pure. Yet they are not all overcomers. The New Jerusalem is for the overcomer. [Note: I'm inclined to think there is a picture of the 10 northern tribes of Israel here, but I wouldn't be dogmatic about it.]

Rev 2-3 speaks of the promises to the Jews who overcome in that age. Here is one of the promises:

"He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the NEW JERUSALEM, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name."-Rev 3:12

ALL the virgins sleep, but when the call comes, it is the ones who have ENOUGH oil in their lamps (they are ready) that are called to the wedding. Note the punishment for those with no oil left (they all started with oil).

"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."
-Matt 24:10

The Lord says to them,"Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you." This sounds familiar. We look back at Matt 7:

"Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’"
-Matt 7:22-23

They did things in His name, but he did not have intimacy with them.

Why?

They are cast out because they "practice lawlessness." Lawlessness (Gk: anomía) of being without the Law. This is solely applicable for a Jewish audience. In our seven epistles, "the Law" is clearly something against us, something not given to the Body. We are called to walk "lawfully," that is "according the rules" given us, if we want to receive a reward or the prize.

Paul teaches us that The Law is for the lawless (Gk: ánomos; 1 Tim 1:8-9). We walk according to our calling and it is this calling (by grace and found in the Mystery of Ephesians 3 and the last seven epistles of Paul) by which our race will be judged. These are the "rules" we follow.

The charge of "lawlessness" is made against those of us who preach grace is incompatible with the Law of Moses. But I challenge anyone to read Ephesians chapters 4-6 and Colossians chapter 3 and not come away convicted at its "high calling" (Phil 3:14).

We will contrast the punishment of the foolish virgins in this parable with the punishment meted out in the next two parables in future thoughts. We will be "testing things that differ" (Phil 1:10) that we learned, in a previous study, is a key to Bible interpretation.

I will say a brief word about the oil in the next TTotD.
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[Note: I will NOT be doing these parable full justice. There is much to be said about them that cannot fit here. These short studies are to introduce a template for later study. Traditional interpretations have done violence to the context, IMHO, and I am suggesting a fresh look.]

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Addendum:

"The great point of this parable is that of ‘entering’. The five wise virgins ‘went in’ (eiserchomai) to the marriage, and the door was shut. Here we have the Lord in His last discourses referring back to His first. The man who heard His sayings, and who did them, is likened to a wise man who built upon a rock. The other man is likened to a foolish man. In the day of testing the wise man’s building stands. Reward is promised to the servant who is not only faithful, but wise (Matt. 24:45-47). The Lord does not use the word ‘foolish’ of any others except those cited in Matthew 7 and 25."

-Charles Welch (DBG, Parable Miracle and Sign, page 14)

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