I continually find things in the Bible that I never fully understood, no matter how many times I’ve read the passage. For instance, the parable about the ten virgins in Matthew 25. I understood that it was about us being prepared for Christ’s return. But I don’t think I fully understood what that entailed.
I’ve recently been reading a book by Jeff Deyo called Spark. I a great source for worship leaders. As I began reading chapter 3, the lie that we shouldn’t be concerned what our congregants do outside of church was the topic. It caught my interest.
Jeff shared a chapter written by Julie Meyer in the book The Lost Art of Pure Worship written by James Goll. The chapter was entitled ”Oil For Pure Worship”, I will never look at this parable in the same way!
Let’s take a look at the parable:
1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wisse, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 ”At midnight they cry rang out: ’Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 ”Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 ’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.’
10 ”But while there were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were readu went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 ”Later the others also came. ’Sir! Sir!’ they said. ’Open the door for us!’
12 ”But he replied, ’I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
13 ”Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.Matthew 25:1-13
I realized that it was about being ready when Jesus returned, but there’s so much more to this parable than that. The Bible is full of mysteries that the Spirit reveals to us when we’re ready. I used to take scripture at face value and not go any deeper, not any more!
Let’s look at the oil in the lanterns. The five virgins who brought extra jars of oil were prepared. But how do we prepare for Jesus to know us? We spend time with him, right? Isn’t that how we get to know people? It’s the same with Jesus, but that time is spent in the secret place, in prayer. We talk, he listens and if we take time to listen, we’ll learn to recognize his voice. So the oil represents our relationship that we build through prayer. No relationship, Jesus won’t know you and you’ll be locked out.
It used to kind of bother me that the wise virgins wouldn’t share their oil with the foolish virgins. Now I see that they couldn’t share. We all have to nurture our own relationship with Christ, one person can’t build it for another. We’re each responsible for our own faith.
We can’t fake this relationship, though many try. Their ministry may seem all glorified and grand, but it’s all show if there’s no oil. No anointing. We must never put our ministry above replenishing ourselves at the feet of Jesus! That’s when burn out becomes a problem. It makes me wonder if the foolish virgins were more concerned about the outside of their lanterns than they were about the oil inside it. They forgot about the most important part of following our Savior — to know him!
Three things can help us build this relationship: read the Word, private prayer, and worshiping in song. We need all three to happen daily and that requires some planning. Consistency will lead to success, so pick a time that works for you and write it in your planner. Morning has always worked best for me and before I go to bed with prayers scattered throughout the day for whatever God puts on my heart or requests that I get from others.
Now that I see this clearly, I can’t see how I missed the relationship between the oil and a relationship with Christ.
I’m not exactly sure why these ladies were called virgins or what that significance is. Maybe someone can enlighten me on that. For another day…