Ladies and gentlemen, there was much talk a few years ago - at least, more than there is today - concerning the seventy virgins who anxiously await the arrival of those who die while in the act of conducting great feats of terrorism all in the name of Allah. According to the teachings of Mohammed that are found in the Muslims’ Koran, those who die while attempting to kill the enemies of Islam will be rewarded in heaven with having their own harem of seventy virgins for all eternity. Of course, this is all the figment of someone’s lust-filled imagination; but come to think of it, much in the realm of religion is the result of someone’s imagination. But for those who believe such nonsense as this, I suppose this is an adequate and appropriate reward to motivate someone to blow up himself and others to smithereens. If I were eighteen once again and believed in this “seventy-virgin-doctrine” maybe I would consider it too. I don’t know. But what I do know is that Mohammed was not inspired, his writings are not inspired, and therefore neither is his sensuous “seventy-virgin-doctrine.”
With all this being said, however, I do believe in the “ten-virgin-doctrine” that is recorded in God's holy, inspired writ. You will find this doctrine in Matthew 25. It was spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ Who is God and Whose word is Divine. It is sometimes referred to as the “Parable of the Ten Virgins”. We will spend the next few minutes noticing various facts made known by Jesus, the Christ, about these parabolic "virgins."
The first fact that we notice about these "virgins" concerns their . . .
In verse 1 Jesus said these ten virgins " . . . took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.” At this point in the parable we can only applaud each of these "virgins." The "bridegroom" in this parable is Christ Himself Who is returning for His people so it is only proper that His people, "virgins" in this parable, go out to meet Him when He returns. His people, Christians, the church, should anxiously anticipate His return and demonstrate their eagerness to meet Him by going out to meet Him. The truth of the matter is, whether or not His people take the initiative to meet Him, they all will. Even those who are not His people will meet Him at His judgment seat.
Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica concerning this event these familiar words recorded in I Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first: Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall ever be with the Lord.” I won't be as presumptuous as some men are to tell you exactly how all this is going to happen, but we Christians will "meet the Lord in the air" and then be taken by Him on to the "New Jerusalem" of Revelation 21:2 which will be our ultimate and final destination.
The second fact that we notice about these "virgins" concerns their . . .
Jesus said in verse 2 that “ . . . five of them were wise, and five were foolish.” Much has been written by others about the division of these virgins right down the middle. Some have suggested that perhaps what is meant is that 50% of the visible church is really not the church at all. Maybe in every congregation only one-half of the membership is really the church. The other 50% are on the roll books and in the pew seats but not on the Lamb’s "Book of Life." (1) This may be true and it may not be true. Jesus never told us why He chose to "split" these ten virgins down the middle.
Nevertheless, when we think about 50-50 splits, we cannot help but note that in many congregations, brethren are about evenly split on many matters concerning the church. About half are for the preacher staying while the other half is for the preacher leaving. About half, and we are being very generous here, are for teaching and preaching New Testament doctrine while the other half is not. Most churches are split on most doctrinal issues. Of course, those who accept and abide by the teachings of the New Testament are "wise" and the others are "foolish."
One of the most "foolish" ideas there is as far as some are concerned is that a person must be immersed in water "in the name of Jesus Christ" in order to receive "the forgiveness of sins" even though this was preached in Acts 2:38 by Peter, an inspired Apostle chosen by Christ. Some "foolish" people of the church - not to mention those in denominationalism - do not even believe that Jesus meant what He said in Mark 16:16 - “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” But those who are the "wise" members of the congregation take Jesus at His word here and everywhere else in the sacred script.
The third fact that we notice about these "virgins" concerns their . . .
Five were “foolish”; five were “wise.” That which differentiated the two groups was their state of preparation for meeting the bridegroom when He returned. Jesus described them in verses 3 and 4 in this way: “They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”
It is worth taking notice here that they are not described as the “five good” and the “five bad” "virgins." Actually, the five “foolish” "virgins" weren’t bad at all; they were as sincere and as good as were the five "wise" "virgins." Their sincerity and their "goodness" are seen in the fact that they, like the five “wise” "virgins," also ”went forth to meet the bridegroom.” In fact, there are several similarities between these two groups of "virgins." Both groups responded to the call to meet the bridal procession; both groups desired to go to the bridal feast; both groups were dressed alike, in the same "virgin" clothing; both groups carried the same kind of "lamp"; both groups had a like knowledge and regard for the "bridegroom"; both groups had their "lamps" burning; both groups "slumbered and slept"; both groups arose at the call of the "bridegroom"; and, both groups "trimmed their lamps." But that which made the difference between the two groups was their state of readiness for the bridegroom’s return. The "five...wise...virgins" brought "oil"; the "five...foolish...virgins" did not.
The application for men and women today is obvious. That which will make the difference at the second coming of Christ is the state of readiness of the human race. Some will be ready; others will not. Another parable of Jesus, that of Matthew 7:24 and 26, comes to mind. “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock . . . But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” That which will make the difference between going to the eternal "New Jerusalem" or going to eternal hell, between being eternally saved or being eternally lost, between receiving eternal rewards or receiving eternal condemnation all depends upon what an individual has done with the Word of God in his life. Those who are well-prepared are those who not only have heard the Word of God but also have done what the Word of God says to do. Those who are the ill-prepared are those who have heard the Word of God but have not done the will of the Word of God.
It is not enough to hear “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (2) but not do it. It is not enough to hear “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching” (3) but not do it. It is not enough to hear “ . . . upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread” (4) but not follow this Apostolic example. It is not enough to hear “ . . . you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength . . . you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (5) but not do it. Ladies and gentlemen, church pews are filled with people who have heard all of this - and much more - a hundred, a thousand, and maybe ten thousand times but who think nothing of never doing them. Simply hearing the Word is not enough.
And then the fourth fact that we notice about these "virgins" concerns their . . .
According to Matthew25:5, “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered.” Not only did the "foolish" "virgins" slumber but also did the "wise" "virgins." At this point we cannot help but remember the events that took place on the night of Jesus’ betrayal. It is written in Matthew’s account that on two occasions Jesus found His disciples sleeping while He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Of the Apostle Peter the Lord asked, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (6)
Of course, we all need our physical sleep and rest. But there is another sleep that is very dangerous to take – the spiritual sleep. It is written in Paul’s letter to the church that Jesus built and was located at Thessalonica, “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do; but let us watch and be sober.” (7) Ladies and gentlemen, the church is to be spiritually wide awake until the "bridegroom" Jesus Christ, the Lord, comes for His bride, the church. Unfortunately, many are in a dangerously deep sleep in the church. They are in such a deep sleep they are dead to their surroundings. To the church of Christ in Ephesus Paul found it necessary to write in chapter 5 and verse 14, “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead! . . .” Some preachers are snoozing while behind the pulpit. Some elders are snoozing in their "board meeting" chairs. Some deacons are snoozing at the tables they are supposed to serve. And many members have been lulled into a dangerous sleep after having been fed a meal of pabulum and warm milk. ZZZZZ!
Then the fifth fact that we notice about these "virgins" concerns their . . .
It was made at midnight. “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet Him!,” we are told in verse 6 of this parable. Without any warning, the declaration of the bridegroom’s return was made. It will be this way when He comes again, ladies and gentlemen. Again, “ . . . the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.” Ready or not, here He comes! You will be ready or you will not be ready. If you have believed that Jesus is the Christ, the only begotten Son of God Who resurrected from the dead, repented of your sins, confessed your faith in Christ, been immersed in water for the remission of your sins, and are living the Christian life, you will be ready. If you have not, you are not ready. But, ready or not, here He comes! So, the question is, "Are you ready or not?"
The sixth fact that we notice about these "virgins" concerns their . . .
In verse 8 the five "foolish" "virgins" “ . . . said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’” Their "lamps" had not "gone out" as the Old King James Version states; their "lamps" were "going out." Much has been written concerning how the words "lamp" and "oil" are to be understood in this parable. Some say the "lamp" is what could be seen outwardly by men while the "oil" is what could be seen inwardly, only by God. Ladies and gentlemen, it is true that we can really only see what is on the outside of people while only God can see what is on their inside. Whether or not this is what is intended we may never know.
Perhaps the more important question is why didn’t the five "foolish" "virgins" bring "oil" with them as did the five "wise" "virgins?" Some have suggested many good answers to this question. I have a few of my own. Perhaps they thought they could get the "oil" they needed from someone else. In view of the fact that some Christians give us the appearance that they think they can get through the pearly gates on the coat tails of a preacher or elder this view is as good as any other. Or, perhaps could it be that they did not realize how little time would take place between the announcement of the bridegroom’s coming and the closing of the "door?" In view of the fact that some Christians live a lifestyle that suggests they believe they will have plenty of time to repent and return to Christ before the judgement, this view is also as good as any other, I suppose. But perhaps the best answer is simply the fact that they were stupidly careless. They were careless with their being ready for His return. The call of the "bridegroom" came differently for each group of "virgins." To those who were "wise" it came when they did not expect it; but, to those who were "foolish" it came when they were unprepared.
The seventh fact that we notice about these "virgins" concerns the first . . .
It was in response to a request made by the five "foolish" "virgins." It is heard in verses 8 and 9 where we read these words: “And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you . . . ’” Ladies and gentlemen, either you are ready or you are not ready when Jesus comes again. You personally must prepare yourself for this moment. If you are not prepared when He returns, rest assured that you never will be prepared. Your life is not going to be extended into an overtime. This is a personal responsibility. "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," (8) at the sound of the judgment "trumpet" it will all be over as far as being ready for Christ’s return. There will be no borrowing of someone else's salvation. The Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian Christians in II Corinthians 5:10 that " . . . we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” If you are not ready at that moment for that event, you, like these five "foolish" "virgins," will be in a state of . . .
As was true with the five "foolish" "virgins," there will be no time to obtain what you will so desperately need. To these five "foolish" "virgins" “ . . . the door was shut.” Once the "door" to eternal life is "shut," ladies and gentlemen, it will never be opened again; it is "shut" forever. It was "shut" forever here to these "foolish" "virgins." It was "shut" forever to the "rich man" in Luke 16 who died and found himself without hope in the place of "torments" following his death. It was "shut" forever to those who lived and died in the days of Noah and the flood. We are told in the case of Noah in Genesis 7:16 that “ . . . the LORD shut him in” in the ark. For the Christian this will be good news. But for the "foolish" and damned this will be bad news. What "shut" in Noah "shut" out all others.
It will be an intense state of desperation for those who have died without Christ and for those who are living when He returns and who have never obeyed His admonition to “Repent and be baptized . . . in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Although Paul admonished the Philippian Christians "to be content" "in whatsoever state" (9) they found themselves, there will be no contentment for the lost who are in this horrible state of desperation.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, we close this message concerning the "Virgins Of The Kingdom Of Heaven" of Matthew 25 by considering the second . . .
After returning from their trip to buy themselves adequate oil, the Bible says in verses 11 and 12 that the "foolish virgins" returned saying, “’Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But He answered, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’” This is very unlike the words of the gentle shepherd in John 10:14 where we hear Him saying, “I know My sheep, and am known by My own"; or the shepherd in Matthew 11:28 Who invited all to "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Ladies and gentlemen, if you have obeyed the gospel terms of salvation you do not have to worry about whether or not the shepherd knows who you are or if you are indeed welcome. He not only knows your name; He knows everything about you including the fact that you have obeyed the terms of salvation from your sin that He has established forever in holy writ. But those who refuse to believe, who refuse to repent, who refuse to confess their faith, and who refuse to be baptized in water for the remission of their sins – the story will be entirely different at this point.
If you deny Christ by refusing to obediently submit to His will He will deny you. You have no one to blame but yourself. The "door" of eternal salvation is open to you now, and you are invited and welcomed to enter upon His terms of admission. But should you refuse to accept in this life His invitation to enter into that eternal salvation, be well assured that He will deny you entrance into the life to come no matter how many times you may beat upon that "door" that will be forever "shut."
Every parable has some moral, some point. The point of this parable is revealed by the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 25:13 – “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of man is coming.” We are not merely to watch but we are to watch in a state of anticipation and preparedness. It is one thing to believe that the Lord is coming back; it is another thing to live like you believe it. It is one thing to believe that there is a judgement to come; it is another thing to live like you believe it. It is one thing to be baptized into Christ for salvation; it is another thing to live like you are saved.
Jesus told about a wedding
In a parable one day.
And it teaches us a lesson.
Hear the things He had to say.
Jesus said the bridegroom tarried.
While he did, some fell asleep.
Then the cry “The bridgegroom cometh,”
Made five foolish virgins weep.
“There’s no oil, our lamps have gone out.
We must borrow or buy more.”
On return, they screamed and shouted,
But someone had closed the door.
It’s too late, how sad the verdict!
Is there not one minute more?
Much too late, now it’s forever.
Time for you just closed the door.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, I am . . .
(1) Revelation 20:12
(2) Acts 2:38
(3) Hebrews 10:25
(4) Acts 20:7
(5) Mark 12:30-31
(6) Matthew 26:40-41
(7) I Thessalonians 5:6
(8) I Corinthians 15:52
(9) Philippians 4:11