For while we were yet weak, in due season Christ died for the ungodly. Rom. 5,6



Matthew 25:1-13

   1 "Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 "Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. 3 "For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. 5 "Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. 6 "But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' 7 "Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 "The foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9 "But the prudent answered, 'No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' 10 "And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. 11 "Later the other virgins also came, saying, ' Lord, lord, open up for us.' 12 "But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' 13 "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”

   “Who shall enter, and who shall be left outside?”
   This serious stanza gives you a sound, when you hear this passage, - the words on the last Sunday in the church year – the so called judgment Sunday. It’s like a last shout out to the people, before the doors are shut for good, this passage: “Strive to enter through the narrow door!” (Luke 13:24), there is suppose to be many who does not reach all the way there.

   And what makes this passage so especially serious for us, that there are so many of those who strive to enter, who are not capable to.
   This passage doesn’t talk about the obvious world contra the visible church on earth. – No, this goes far deeper than that. Let us just look at who Jesus talks about here: “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” (v.1).
   As you can see He talks about the kingdom of the heavens. It is not about what we normally connect with heaven, - that is to say the actual goal, home with God. We can see that among other things that these were on their way to meet the bridegroom. They were in other words still on the way here on earth. That’s also coming out of this parable that no one goes in there who isn’t ready for it. That is the main point for this parable.
   It is addressed to the visible church here on earth. And Jesus divides that into two flocks – it shall therefore consist of two flocks. One of them He calls – the foolish, and the other – prudent. The fact that He here talks about five of each doesn’t mean that a church always has to be equally divided, but pure and simple that the church are going to exist of two flocks. And His apportionment here shows that at least the flock of the foolish won’t be a rare case, but on the contrary constitute an essential part of the visible church.

   The wise, who are they?
   Many will say: That is those who want to belong to Jesus! Yes, that is quite true. But don’t the foolish also want that, as far the natural eye can see? They “took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” (v.1).
   They “took their lamps.” They received the preaching that they had heard, and grabbed a hold of the confession. And “they rose.” They turned their back on the world. This is what has been understood as true repentance at all times. One enters into a new relationship with the world, its things and its ways. One experiences its emptiness. Therefore they turned their backs to it. But that wasn’t all that they did – many people stop right there, - well these went further – they “went out to meet the bridegroom.” And as we know – the bridegroom is the Lord Jesus Christ. We can actually say that they went to meet Jesus. Both the prudent and the foolish! Can you see any difference so far? Do you think you could see the difference better if you met them personally all ten? Hardly! If you go to a church, you walk according to the word of the Lord exactly among these two flocks.
   There are actually people among us, who testifies, and serves and reads, yes, even looks forward to heaven and the beatitude, on their way to a closed heavenly door. On their way to a gruesome discovery: “Our lamps are extinguishing!” What a tragedy!

   This is of course the destiny of the obvious world. They will on that day find themselves in that situation, that they don’t have anything to collect or fetch that can save them – they will be found naked. But this is people that have strived to reach heaven, yes, as we see – to reach Jesus. And then they see all of sudden, - in a blink of an eye – deceived. They were wrong! They were building, in the middle of it all, on a foundation that did not hold.

   We can find a little help to understand all this in the story about Abraham, - or Abram as he was called at that time – and his father Terah. We probably all know the story about Abraham – the heathen who God called, and promised a land. Abraham followed this call from the Lord, and reached the promised land Canaan, even though he lived there in a tent - a stranger and a foreigner.
   Notice the call from the Lord. What was it? Was it like we often perceive it, a marching order? No, it was a promise! A promise about a land he would receive for nothing. It was to be given to him. He was just going to walk there on the word of the Lord, and find it ready for him. This is the true calling!

   It is written about Terah, Abrahams father: “Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife; and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan” (Gen.11:31).
   Here is something we should pause to: Terah took… Terah was not the one who was called. He set out on another man’s call, to a land he didn’t know the nature of. Terah was strong, Terah took… and they went out “to enter the land of Canaan,” as it is written. We will mention two things here: First: Did he reach the goal he had set before him? No! It says further in the chapter in Genesis: “And they went as far as Haran, and settled there. The days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran.”
   Just hear this! “And they went as far as Haran!” Our lamps are extinguishing!
   In our Norwegian translation Canaan is called Kana'an, and Haran is called Karan. This similarity in names can tell us something important, even if it's not biblical.
   And then it says so tragically: “And Terah died in Haran.” He who was going to Canaan!
   We read that they settled in Haran. They actually settled down, without reaching the goal for their journey. Without being able to look around and say: Now we have reached Canaan the promised land! Without the certainty that we now are in the land that the Lord have called us to. Yes, but isn’t that exactly foolishness?

   Second of all: Of what nature was it, the land Abraham was called to?
In Psalm 68 verse 11, we read: “Your creatures settled in it; You provided in Your goodness for the poor, O God.”
   It is the tired soul’s place of rest! The Lord wants to guide us out from our trouble, the one the sin causes, and to rest. It is not the land for strong “Terah’s!”
   Paul writes for one about this: “For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God,” they did not lack will power to reach heaven and the beatitude, “but not in accordance with knowledge.” Therefore foolish.
   And what did their foolishness contain of? “For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.” (Rom.10:2-3).

   What did the call of the prudent's consist of? What was the cause of their wisdom and knowledge – a wisdom and knowledge that led them all the way into the holy place? We read further on in Rom.10: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (v.4).  They were called to a land that was ready for them – a land that floats with milk and honey. A land that is rich enough for everybody. A land you don’t have to bring anything of your own to survive, yes, live in abundance. The goal is already reached in Him! He is the end of the law! He is the end goal! This was the prudent's oil! That they knew Him? Yes, but even more that they were known by Him.
   This was exactly the eternal vital lack with the foolish – He did not knew them. (v.12). They were Terah’s children, not Abraham’s! Therefore they didn’t reach the goal, but settled in a foreign land, and remained strangers to the Lord.
   But in the middle of this that they confessed the name of Jesus. Put your mind on this! Just think about if you could help some of these into the way that leads to the goal? Preach the Gospel! – The Lord’s way. And preach also the way that does not lead to the goal – our way.

   As you see from this parable, it will take time before the bridegroom comes. (v.5). Which means, that there will be a period which for us will seem long. It will be a period that will show signs of darkness. It’s going towards midnight, and as we know, it is a period that only gets darker and darker, till its at its darkest. Therefore it will also show signs of sleep, both of what the prudent and the foolish is concerned. But consequently, also in this has the Lord power to take care of His – He keeps them alive despite the sleep – and when the shout sounds they are immediately ready. They don’t have to look for the “key,” they stand in front of an open door. That is Jesus! (John 10:9a) – He whom they have always put their trust in, concerning their salvation.

   It is worse with the foolish (v.8) – they wake up to the gruesome acknowledgment that they don’t have anything.
   They didn’t really receive the word about Jesus! – The word about the cross! – The word about the suffering! – The word about the forgiveness of sins in Jesus name! – The word about God’s mercy in Him alone! And now they stand in the midnight darkness without light
   After that they – from what they mean themselves – have gotten their lamps in order, they come and knock on the closed door. (v.11). We must add, that the prudent will never come to a door that he has to knock on, for “Behold, I have put before you an open door,” says the Lord. (Rev.3:8). (Norw. transl.: - an opened door). These on the other hand meet a closed door – a door where you have to make the person concerned on the inside attentive on your arrival. Again they were wrong! (v.12).

   Therefore be on the alert! (v.13).

   When you hear the Savior knocking,
Calling at your door,
O receive Him, let Him enter,
And your soul restore!
Then when breaks the golden morning,
Bright, eternal, fair,
He will open Heaven's portals
And receive you there.

                                     Arthur Cleveland Coxe

   Listen! "Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts!" (Heb. 3:7). Today is the day of salvation!


New American Standard Version
Translator: Benedicte H.Smart