The Parable of the Ten Virgins
Matthew 25: 1-13 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lampsa and went to meet the bridegroom.b 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
In Biblical times it was customary for the bride to have attendants, just as we do today, however they were called virgins, we call them bridesmaids. In the parable of the 10 virgins the bride isn’t mentioned at all, but every one of the virgins who were invited to the wedding could actually qualify to be the bride, as the Hebrew word for virgin is B’toolah, which means bride, city, state, or to separate.
We must watch and be ready for we know not what hour or day our Bridegroom will come. The Foolish Virgins were called but had no oil to light their way (or the Holy Spirit living in them to guide their way: 1 Samuel 16:13). The Wise Virgins however carried the oil of the Spirit with them, so could easily see the way to their Bridegroom when he called. Not only could they see their way, but their light could be seen by others too so that they could be guided as well to the light of the world. (Matthew 5: 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.) (John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”)
Here is a story told from the 1800’s about a watchman who worked for the railways which is a very sobering picture for us all.
The watchman’s job was to go out on dark evenings with a shining lantern to warn oncoming trains that they were to briefly branch off on to another railway line in order to avoid a collision from an approaching train from the opposite direction. Tragically two trains collided one night on the watchman’s duty. A court hearing resulted from the accident and the watchman was asked the question, “Did you take the lamp out to warn the train driver”? His answer was “yes”; he told the truth, but what he neglected to tell the court was that he had no oil in the lantern, so therefore the oncoming train was not warned of the terrible danger ahead. How many of us fail to shine the light of Christ to prevent impending disaster for those who wander in darkness?
This example above really brings home what that parable means. Five of the virgins failed to drink in the Holy Spirit’s oil in order to shine Jesus light to a dark desperate world.
Gavin Finley has kindly given permission for people to use the image above, which I am very grateful for –
Please see the story about the image on this page here Ten Virgins Photo