It’s In The Oil

I know I’ve written about the parable of the ten virgins located in Matthew 25:1-13 in previous blogs, but today I want to focus on a particular aspect of this parable. Just as a reminder, this parable speaks of ten virgins, five who were foolish and five who were wise.  The setting, or the picture you can say, comes from the wedding customs of the ancient Jews.  In this setting, the bride and groom have already entered into a marriage contract with each other, and before the consummation of this process the groom leaves the bride to prepare a place for her.  During this time they don’t have any contact with each other.  While the groom is away at his father’s house preparing a place for his bride, the bride is identified and set apart as one who is spoken for and already married, and her time is to be spent preparing herself with diligence for her groom, not knowing when he will return for her.  While it is the groom’s responsibility to prepare a place for his bride, the bride’s responsibility is to diligently prepare herself for him by the time he returns for her.  During this time she is to be watching with anticipation for her grooms return, and this is because she knows that if he finds her not watching with anticipation, he will return to his father’s house without her and will subsequently give her a letter of divorcement.  It is a shameful thing for a bride to get left behind because she wasn’t watching for her grooms return, but if she is found watching the groom will take her back to his father’s house where they will finally consummate their marriage.


In this parable, the virgins represent Christians, those who have entered into a saving relationship with Christ. Just as these virgins are waiting for the return of the groom, even so we are waiting for the return of our groom, Jesus.  At midnight the cry is sounded indicating the imminent return of the groom, and for us as Christians the cry of Christ’s return for us has been sounding through the explosive rate in which end-time Bible prophecy has been getting fulfilled right before our eyes.  As the virgins awoke from the sounding cry announcing the return of the bridegroom, even so we need to awaken to the cry of our grooms soon and imminent return for us, His bride.  When the virgins awoke to the cry, they immediately began to make final preparations for the grooms return.  So, seeing the fulfillment of end-times Bible prophecy indicating Jesus’ imminent return, are we making final preparations for Him?


When the virgins awoke they began to check and to trim their lamps, and it wasn’t until this point in the parable that it became evident who were wise and who were foolish. Those who were foolish were identified by their lack of oil, and when they asked the wise for some of theirs they were told to go to those who sell to buy their own.  It was during this time that the bridegroom returned and took the wise back to his father’s house, and when the foolish returned they were denied entrance to the wedding.  What does the oil represent in the life of a Christian, and how does one obtain it?


Over the years I have heard two arguments as to what the oil represents, but I want to propose a third argument of what it represents. Based on the fact that the Holy Spirit is sometimes represented in scripture as oil, some have argued that the oil in this parable also represents the Holy Spirit.  The problem I have with this argument is that we cannot buy the Holy Spirit.  In Acts 8:9-25, we have someone that tried to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit, and he was rebuked for it by the Apostles.  The second argument is that the oil represents ones works, and while I do believe there is some basis for this view I do disagree with that one.  Our salvation is not a result of works, but scripture does point to works resulting from and because of our salvation and relationship with Christ.  Some would argue that we are free from having to do any works because of the grace by which we are saved, but this isn’t so.  In Philippians 2:12-13, we are told by the Apostle Paul to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling”, and that we are “to do” for His good pleasure.  In other instances of Paul’s writing’s, when he mentions “fear and trembling”, it is connected to obedience which implies works on our part.  In James 2:14-26, James the brother of Jesus tells us that faith without works is dead, and that our faith is made perfect by our works.  Okay, I got onto a bit of a rabbit trail with that, but I do not believe the oil entirely represents our works.


The third argument I would like to suggest for what the oil represents is based on the comments of the wise virgins to the foolish, specifically that they were to go and buy from those who sell. As was mentioned previously, you can’t buy and sell the Holy Spirit, so what does this mean?  I realize this is a parable, but I believe Jesus is trying to tell us something with that statement.  In fact, does Jesus make any reference anywhere else about buying or costs?  Yes, He does in fact.  In Luke 14:25-33, Jesus talks about the cost of following Him.  In this passage He talks of one seeking to build and that a wise builder counts whether or not he has enough to finish building, and in the same way talks of a king seeking to go to war and that a good king will count the cost of whether or not he has enough to win the war.  Jesus goes on to say we need to count the cost of following Him, and that anything less than totally surrendering to Him and dying to self is not enough.  While some may argue there is no cost in following Jesus, Jesus makes it very clear that there is a very significant cost to following after Him.  The cost He is requiring of us is a New Testament version of the first commandment of the Old Testament, to love the Lord our God with all our strength, mind, heart and soul.  Where the Old Testament laws focused on words and actions, the two New Testament commandments Jesus gave us in Matthew 22:34-40 not only encapsulated the ten into two, but also enhanced them by focusing on the heart and our motivations and attitudes.  Jesus’ teachings reinforced by the rest of the New Testament writings, requires us to check our heart condition by the motivations, attitudes, and priorities of our heart.  To follow after Jesus and to be His disciples requires us to die to self, to deny ourselves and carry our cross to follow Him.  To do so means we place our goals, our agendas, our selfish desires, our likes and dislikes, our successes and failures, our friends and family, and even our reputations on the cross and let Him live through us.  The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 2:20 that we need to die to self so that Christ will live through us.


So, I believe the oil in this parable represents the cost of following Christ, and how much or how little we paid that price. This would also explain why it was it took the foolish virgin’s time to acquire more oil as this is something that takes time.  It isn’t based on our words but on our priorities and the actions or works we do that reflect them.  So, it’s in the oil.  Is our life one where we’ve been paying the price of following Him, or did our relationship with Him start correctly at the time we said “I do” to Him only to fade as we allowed the cares of life, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, or the pride of life to take precedence in our life.  Depending on the translation of the Bible you use, either the foolish virgins lamps had already gone out, or they were in the process of going out.  In either case, they didn’t have enough oil to keep their lamps burning and were in dire need of getting more oil.


In this parable, the five foolish virgins got more oil, missed the grooms return and went to the groom’s house, but the door was shut and they were denied entrance. The parable doesn’t indicate what happened to them beyond their being denied entrance, but one thing for sure is that they were no longer the bride.  In regards to the rapture of the church, the bride of Christ, there will be some who are left behind and no longer considered the bride.  In Luke 14:29, Jesus said the builder who didn’t have enough to finish would be mocked by those who see it, and in Revelation 16:15 Jesus tells us in the midst of the judgments that those who had not watched and kept their garments (of righteousness) would be seen naked and ashamed.  I don’t know about you, but I have no intentions of being left behind to be seen as naked and ashamed.


Where does it leave those who weren’t prepared for Jesus’ return and was left behind? In previous blogs I have written about the seven feasts God established to show us His plan of redemption for all mankind.  The first four have already been fulfilled with three remaining.  The next feast to be fulfilled is the Feast of Trumpets, also known as Rosh Hashanah.  This feast represents what we know to be the rapture of the church, where as the Jews understand it is when God separates the wholly righteous from the wholly unrighteous and those in between.  It is the period of time between this feast and the following feast called Yom Kippur that we have an idea of what awaits those who don’t go up in the rapture.  The dispensation of grace ends with the rapture of the bride, Rosh Hashanah, and afterwards people will solidify their eternal destination based on their works.  Either they will do works that will reinforce their desire to spend eternity in heaven, or they will do works that will reinforce their decision to reject God and His only begotten Son, Jesus.  If this understanding is accurate, then those who are left behind will have to prove by their works that they desire to spend eternity in Heaven, even if it means giving their own life for the sake of Jesus.  They might not enter Heaven as the bride of Christ, but they could possibly enter as the friend of the bride and groom.


So, it’s in the oil. Do you have enough oil to last until He returns, or should you go and buy some more?  I hope you have enough, and I hope you are watching for Christ’s return.  I also encourage you to read the words of Jesus found in the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation, words that Jesus gave the Apostle John about 60 years after His ascension, words that each of us who take on the name of Christian must heed and take seriously and to heart.  Again, it’s in the oil.

The Midnight Cry

There is a well-known parable found in Matthew 25. It is the parable of the ten virgins, five who were wise and five who were foolish.  This parable has been one I’ve thought about frequently.  Have you?  As the time of our messiah’s return draws closer for that event we commonly refer to as the rapture, this is one of those parables that has captured my attention.  While my understanding of it has increased significantly over the past few years, there has been one thing that I’ve wondered about in the parable.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I understand this is a parable, a word-picture of sorts to help us understand various truths that God wants to relate to us, but I can’t help but think that Jesus was trying to tell us something in the seemingly insignificant parts of this parable.  Jesus isn’t one to say things He doesn’t mean, or to say things simply to say things, or to say things that have no purpose or significance for us.


In this parable we understand that the ten virgins represent those who have entered into a saving relationship with Christ. We also understand that their waiting for the bridegroom to return relates to Christians waiting for Christ’s return to take them back to His eternal home in Heaven.  We know that five of them were wise while five of them were foolish as brides in not adequately preparing themselves for the bridegrooms return.  When the cry was made all ten of the virgins woke up and began to trim their lamps, and it was at this time that the foolish ones were discovered in that they didn’t have enough oil for their lamps.  Prior to this point in the parable none of them seemed to know who was foolish and who was wise, but once this became apparent the wise instructed the foolish to go to those who buy and sell.  While the foolish are looking to get more oil before the bridegroom’s return, the bridegroom returns and takes with him the five wise virgins leaving the five foolish ones behind.  When the five foolish ones return they find that the door is shut and they are denied entry to be with the others.  I’ve touched on the above points at different times in previous blogs, but now I want to focus on one particular point in the parable.


In Matthew 25:6, Jesus starts off by saying, “And at midnight a cry was heard: …” This statement for whatever reason has stuck with me for quite some time.  To begin with I noticed it does not say at the ‘midnight hour’, but instead ‘at midnight’.  This might seem trivial to some but I think there is a lot of significance behind it.  After all, the foolish virgins did not have enough time to go get more ‘oil’ before the bridegroom returned.  This one point seems to not only expose who were foolish in their preparations for his return, but also shows the consequences of such foolishness by not giving them a lot of notice between the cry of his return and his return.  It’s almost as if the bridegroom didn’t want to reward their foolishness by giving them time after the cry is made to get prepared if they were not already prepared.  When I think about it, what better reward would one have for their wisdom and efforts to be prepared at any time than to be numbered among the selected few who are ‘taken’ back to the bridegrooms home?  So, the nugget we could pull from this is that there is very little time between the cry at midnight and the return of the bridegroom.  Are you ready and prepared?  We see that all ten virgins wanted to go with the bridegroom and were looking forward to his return, so this isn’t the issue.  The issue is more how wise or foolish they were in preparing for it.


Another thing about this statement of Jesus in the parable is the ‘cry’. I have to admit that for the longest time I was stuck on the fact that Jesus said ‘at midnight’ and not ‘at the midnight hour’, and because of that I didn’t give much thought to the ‘cry’ and what it is.  I think for the most part I thought it would be anointed and Spirit lead teaching and preaching alerting people to Christ’s soon return, until recently that is.  A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend about end time events and this very parable.  In our conversation he asked if it was safe to say that the ‘cry’ mentioned in the parable was anointed teaching and preaching on the soon return of Christ.  At first I said it could be but the more I thought about it I realized that could not be the case.  I know that many think that there will be a great revival that comes before the rapture of the church, and I would join in the hope and excitement of such, but I find myself leaning more to a great revival happening after the rapture instead of before it.  There are numerous passages that indicate not everyone that calls themselves a Christian will be chosen, especially from statements that Jesus, Himself, made.  I also find myself thinking that anointed teaching and preaching could not be the ‘cry’ since we’ve been hearing that literally for decades.  So, what could the ‘cry’ be that we should be ‘listening’ for?  Hmmm.


Is there anything in Biblical prophecy that might indicate what that ‘cry’ might be? Can we even say that the ‘cry’ is mentioned and identified in prophecy?  I believe there has to be something that we can point to as the ‘cry’ so that we know what to be listening for, or are we supposed to be in the ‘dark’ until it sounds hoping we will know what it is when we hear it?  In the ancient Jewish marriage customs, the very customs that we find parallel with our relationship with Christ in so, so, so many ways, the virgins waiting for their bridegrooms return had some idea of what that ‘cry’ would sound like and what it would involve, so how is it that we could think that Jesus would not make us aware of what that ‘cry’ would sound like or what it would involve?  Well, I believe He has in fact given us some clues as to what that ‘cry’ would be and what it would involve.  Are you ready for it?  It’s probably not what you’re thinking.


When asked by His disciples Jesus gave a list of things to look for as a way of knowing when He was going about to return. Many of these things have been around for a long time, so to look at the individual items may not be a good pointer of the ‘cry’, but we know when all the things He mentions begin to happen at the same time with increased frequency and intensity then we can know that His return is very near.  Did you catch it?  I know you did but let me tell you anyways.  I believe the ‘cry’ mentioned in the parable of the ten virgins refers to the increasing fulfillment of Biblical end-time prophecies before our very eyes.  Think about it.  It isn’t something that mankind can dictate, manipulate or control, so when it happens we know it is God and not us.  We cannot control, though we may try at times and in different ways, when and how Biblical end-time prophecies are fulfilled, but Jesus said that when we see these things begin to happen we know that His return is very near.


Unlike any other time in history we are literally seeing, for those who are watching, the fulfillment of end-times Bible prophecy before our very eyes at a rate of speed that could make one’s head spin. It seems that key pieces, both small and great, are coming together like never before and in ways never before imagined or believed, taking final steps in preparation of the tribulation period.  And, if the rapture happens before the tribulation as I and others believe it would, then what we are seeing must be the ‘cry’ of His soon and perhaps imminent return.  So, if the ‘cry’ is the fulfillment of end-time Bible prophecy as I said, then it behooves us to make sure we respond to that ‘cry’, trim our lamps, and prepare for His very soon return.


John Johansson

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