By Colleen Donahue

Jesus in speaking with his disciples about end times, is trying to illustrate what it means for us to watch and wait for him. In the first story (Matthew 24:45-51) he compared a faithful servant with an unfaithful servant -- both were Christians serving God by "feeding" other believers with the truth of God's word. We saw in this study the devastating result of a Christian who has lost their hope of the Lord's return and carries on as though He won't be coming for a long time.

Now, in this second story, we'll see a contrast between Christians who are wise and others who are foolish. We'll be looking in this study at what is called the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25: 1-13.


Watching and Waiting For the Lord - Part 2

Study from Matthew 25:1-13

A Cultural Note of Explanation

Wedding traditions in the ancient Middle Eastern culture were quite different from what happens in the West. The bridegroom (NOT the bride) was the focus of attention. Weddings were held at night. The bridegroom went to the house of the bride to take her to the wedding. As they walked through the streets they would be joined by guests along the road. The bride is not mentioned in this parable because she is already with the bridegroom.

Day 1- When will the Kingdom of Heaven be like ten virgins?
Notice the beginning phrase or word of Matthew 25:1 --"Then" or "At that time". This is the link connecting chapter 25 with chapter 24 (so it is still part of the Olivet Discourse). It is referring to:
Matthew 24: 42,44

The Characters and Symbolism

The bridegroom is Jesus Christ. The virgins are young, chaste, unmarried girls. They symbolize two kinds of believers. (Nonbelievers would not be going out to look for Jesus Christ). The "wise virgins" are those who know Jesus and Jesus knows them. They are full of the Holy Spirit and live a life dedicated to their master -- always ready to respond to him.

The "foolish virgins" are ones with just enough knowledge of Jesus to have a little temporary light. Outwardly they look like the wise virgins. They may know all the right doctrines and have a superficial knowledge of the Lord. But they are not filled with the Holy Spirit, nor do they have a surrendered life for the Master's purposes. In the end while they know the bridegroom, he honestly does not know them.

The oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. The wise virgins having oil represent the truly regenerated. The absence of the oil means a lack of salvation. While many profess Jesus Christ they have no divine resources within themselves.

Day 2- This is a parable about personal responsibility. Read through the parable and make a list of all that the virgins did that were alike.
Matthew 25: 1-13

Were you able to list these activities?
1-All respond to meet the bridegroom (i.e. they were all on the same mission)
2- All took lamps
3- All had the same knowledge of the bride and groom.
4- All grew weary
5- All fell asleep
6- All were roused to action when the call went out.

Day 3- Now read again and make a list of all the ways that the group of ten virgins were divided.
Matthew 25:1-13

Does your list look something like this?
1- One half were wise, one half were foolish
2- Half had to go and buy while half went into the feast
3- Half knew the Lord while half the Lord didn't know.

Day 4- At first we see a common expectation. All are waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. It is a happy, expectant waiting. It symbolizes believers waiting for the coming of Jesus Christ. An example of this expectancy is found in ....
Luke 3:15

Day 5- All ten virgins are equally sincere and devoted. Jesus is not making a distinction between good and bad. They are divided by how they choose to wait. What did the wise virgins do that the others didn't?
Proverbs 14:8

There are wise and foolish people in the church today. What separates the wise and foolish?
Hosea 14:9 / Matthew 7:24 / 2 Timothy 3:15

Day 6- The next part of this story is the delay of the bridegroom and the need to wait. "The bridegroom was a long time in coming." When we think of the times in life when we've had to wait, we'd probably agree that it was a real test that tried our courage and patience. Maybe these verses might describe for us this time.
Psalm 13:1 / Psalm 69:3 / Psalm 119:82 / Isaiah 33:2

What does waiting develop in us?
James 5:7

Day 7- The Lord, representing the bridegroom has still not returned at the time of this writing in 2009. What is His heart for all men during this time of waiting?
1 Corinthians 15:34 / 2 Peter 3:9

Notice in this part of the story they all grew tired and fell asleep. This is part of life -- i.e. to rest when we are tired.

Day 8- While the virgins are sleeping the lamps have been burning. Now is when we see the separation. The wise thought ahead to bring extra oil. How do they respond to those who have run out of oil?
Matthew 25: 8-9

The oil of the Holy Spirit is an individual matter. He cannot be shared. Because your mom is saved does not mean that you are saved. Each man and woman must be born again and filled with God's Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the only resource given by God to men that will never run out. If you do not have the Holy Spirit living within you what is true?
Romans 8:9

Many profess Jesus Christ but have no divine resource within. No true Christian can share his salvation with another. Each must go to God to buy without money and without price the necessary oil.
Isaiah 55:1

Day 9- Oil cannot be transferred. Salvation is an individual matter. Each of us have a clear choice. What is it?
Matthew 16: 24-25

Partial commitment is not a third choice. Jesus is either Lord of ALL or He won't be Lord at all. There is no compromise. An unbeliever rejects Jesus Christ outright but the foolish person tries to have their own life and Christianity too.

"Then those who had the oil went into the marriage feast, a picture of the sifting of Christendom at the conclusion of the age; an hour when profession with its symbols and ritual, devoid of oil and light and power will have no avail: an hour when if there have been similar provision, similar symbols, PLUS the oil that keeps the flame burning, these will be the password, and the passport to the marriage feast." G. Campbell Morgan

Day 10- The delay of the bridegroom brought the second delay of the need to go buy oil. The period of waiting revealed the foolish virgins for what they were -- strangers and outcasts. What was the result?
Matthew 25: 10-12

Day 11- There is a split interpretation of this parable. Some say it talks of the rapture of the whole church leaving the unbelievers. Others say that it shows that not all the church will be raptured at the same time. Either way there is the same message for us.
Matthew 25:13

The parable of the evil servant in Matthew 24: 43-51 teaches believers to be ready to meet the Lord today. But this parable instructs us to be prepared for any unexpected delay.

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