If we want to learn and understand the figures of speech used by Jesus when he talks about 'The Wedding Feast' and the Church as the 'Bride of Christ', it's important to learn the ancient culture and forget everything we know about the modern wedding ceremonies.
In those days, biblical times, there were three stages.
The Bride had to choose her husband and the FATHER would sign the legal contract in order to have that marriage come into being. Once the Father signed this contract, the couple were MARRIED. BUT, they did not have sex.
Stage 2: The Consummation
I learned this in Family Law as well. Even though we have the Wedding and signed the Marital Contract, you were not married until you consummated that marriage. So, in Biblical Times, the groom had to raise the money set out in the Contract and notify the Father of the Bride, who sets a date to consummate the marriage at the Bride's Home. The Bride would wait with her Bridesmaids for the groom and his companions.
The Groom would then have the bloodied 'proof of virginity cloth' to the witnesses chosen by the Bride's parents, who then give it to the Bride for safekeeping. When the groom satisfied the father of the bride that he had fulfilled the financial and legal requirements of the Contract, he would then set the date to 'consummate the marriage' and notify the bride.
The Bride and Groom may have friends of up to ten who would act as witnesses to the event. These witnesses would wait outside or in a room nearby while the couple consummated the marriage in the wedding bed.
John 3:29: 'It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hears his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success'.
Stage 3: The Wedding Feast
So, after consummation, the entire wedding party walks to the house of the Groom in a procession for a wedding feast. At the conclusion of the wedding feast, the couple has completed the ancient ritual of marriage.
So, in telling this Parable, the Lord, Jesus, was referring it back to Jewish Custom so that the people in those days would understand the love God has for us.
So, the Parable of the Foolish Virgins is talking about the Bridesmaids, who would wait for the GROOM and his friends. The bridesmaids or the 'ten virgins', were the witnesses and would walk with the BRIDE in a ceremony to the Wedding Feast in the HOUSE of the GROOM. As the Bride was waiting for the groom to arrive and join her in the Consummation bed, they fell asleep due to the lateness of the groom. But, once the groom arrived, the witnesses of the GROOM announced his arrival and called in HIS own voice to the bride and her maidens.
The Parable: - Matthew 25:1-13
"God's kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were the silly virgins and the other five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps but no extra oil. The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bridegroom did not show up when they expected Him so the virgins fell asleep.
In the middle of the night, someone yelled, 'HE'S HERE! THE BRIDEGROOM'S HERE! GET OUT AND GREET HIM!'
The ten virgins quickly got up and got their lamps ready. The silly virgins said to the smart ones, 'Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.'
They answered, 'There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.'
They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom had arrived. When everyone who was there to meet him had gone into the Wedding feast, the door was locked. Much later, the silly virgins, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, 'Master, we're here. Let us in'
He answered, 'Do I know you? I don't think I know you.'
So, stay alert, You have no idea when HE might arrive."
The Prophet Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would come to speak in Parables but only those who were wise would understand his parables.
Isaiah 6:9-10 - "Yes, go and say this to the people, 'listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely but learn nothing. Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing."
God said certain people will have hard hearts because they do not want to hear or listen or understand, their hearts will get harder.
This is fulfilled in Matthew 13:34 - 'Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables.'
Daniel 12:9-10 - "But he said, 'Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is kept secret and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, cleansed and refined by these trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are wise will know what it means.'"
If you want to be the wise virgin, ensure that you make Christ the centre of your thought life. Let the Lord be in all your thoughts. When you wake up in the morning, thank Him. At night before you go to bed, call out to Him in thought and on your knees.
Phillipians 4:8 - "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
Pray out to God, 'Lord, you are true, you are just, you are pure, lovely, You are my GOOD REPORT. Help me focus on you.'
1 Corinthians 3:20 - "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise...". God knows our thoughts, He records them all. He knows every time we think of Him.
Meaning Of The Parable:
The prayer is the oil for your lamp. Pray daily as you begin to prepare to meet the Lord. Jesus obviously knows who we are. But, to be rejected and for the Lord to say to you, 'I never knew you', He is definitely saying, 'You never took me seriously. You never put me first. Your heart is NOT in this relationship and you have neglected me. I cannot recognise you, your spirit. How can I know you?'
Do you know the Lord? Do you speak to Him? When you're driving to work, walking to work? When the Church doors open, are you there?
We need to be prepared and this preparation means washing ourselves, putting off our SIN and SELF, being refilled with the Holy Spirit and producing the Works of RIGHTEOUSNESS. Its not enough to just have that outward look of being a Christian, we must allow the Lord to complete the inward beautification that will produce the fruit that He is looking for in our lives.
The five foolish virgins were shut out of that Wedding feast due to the fact that they were not ready. They were not partaker's of Christ's life and they were not overcomers. For them, they were shut out.
The Bride must make herself ready. If you don't know by now, the bride represents the Church. We must be ready, this is our bridal preparation. It's how we continue to make ourselves ready and prepared.
Revelations 19:7-8 - "Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honour to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear." - For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God's holy people.
Christ must not only be on us as a robe, but also as a way of life. The wise virgins took extra oil and this represents those who are truly born again and are eager for the coming of Christ. They are determined, with whatever happens, be it the length of time or certain circumstances, they will be prepared. The five virgins WITHOUT the oil represents those with false beliefs but just reap the benefits of being a Christian by name, without even having that true love for Christ. Their hope is that, being in association with the true believers, will give them access into the kingdom of God.
That can never happen though. You have to know the Lord personally. Remember, the Lord Himself said, 'Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord', will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but He who does the will of my Father in heaven, will enter. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'
I don't now about you but I know that 'Be Ye Ready' is NOT a JOKE. I don't want the Lord to reject me on that day. I don't want the Lord to say I never spent time with Him. I don't want to be rejected or even the Lord to feel that rejection. I don't want to hurt Him. My heart feels heavy when I even have that thought. I want to be more godly and reject sin. Of course I cannot be perfect like Christ was, but the Lord tells me to strive perfection just like Jesus was. So, the most I can do is try. I can guard my heart against anything that is against His Word, anything that will make me question my faith in God. I hope you do the same.
Happy New Month. Xo