Jesus’ Words to Those Left Behind – Part 2

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

(Hebrews 11:1)

In Jesus’ instructions to you, we are going to examine a parable that He told and a prophecy that He gave which both pertain to who will be qualified to enter His Kingdom.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.  For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them,  but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.  As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept.  But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’  Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’  And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut.  Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’  But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.  (Matthew 25:1-13)

The bridegroom in this parable is Jesus Christ, and it is speaking about His return.  The virgins are all expecting the bridegroom to come at some point, and thus have awareness of him (“believe” in him).  They are waiting.  He is taking so long that all of the virgins are sleeping when the sign of His imminent arrival appears.  The fact that they are sleeping isn’t the issue.  The problem is that some of them haven’t properly prepared, and “run out of oil”.  They realize this, and scramble to get ready at the last second, but it is too late.

This parable follows the Jewish wedding tradition.  In tradition, a young man would approach a young woman’s father to ask for her hand in marriage.  If the father accepted, the young man would pay the “bride price” and the two would now be considered betrothed.  The young man would return to his own father’s home and build a place for them to live in.  When his father announced that the new home was ready, the young man would go to collect the bride for her wedding.  Meanwhile, the bride was to watch and wait.  The groom would often show up unexpectedly, and carry her away “like a thief in the night”.  When the bride’s friends discovered the bride had been “snatched away”, a 7-day celebration began while the bride and groom consummated their marriage.

This part in the story has already occurred.  Jesus Christ paid the “bride price” for the “church” through His blood sacrifice (Romans 3:25).  He then went to heaven to prepare a place for her (John 14:3).  When it was ready and the time was right, He returned for his followers and “snatched them away” (1 Thessalonians 4).  They will be safely hidden in heaven during a time of wrath on earth (Isaiah 26).  And so began a 7 year time of tribulation on earth, after which Jesus will return.

In tradition, after the wedding week was completed, the bride and groom would emerge and the formal marriage supper would begin.  This is yet future, and will be fulfilled when Jesus Christ appears in the heavens again, followed by His holy ones (angels and the “bride of Christ” that He snatched away) (Revelation 19).

Here is where we come to the 10 waiting bridesmaids, or virgins.  Some of them are ready, and some are not.  The ones who aren’t ready, scramble to GET ready at the last second, but miss entrance to the wedding supper.  They are refused admittance.  There is no second chance, and the bridegroom denies even knowing them.

When we search the Bible, we find that “oil” is symbolic of the Holy Spirit.  All the bridesmaids start out with “oil” in their lamps – they all believe in Jesus at some point.  Whether the parable is meant to state that they are “born again” and anointed by the Holy Spirit or not, I am not sure.  However, the Holy Spirit’s anointing is no longer permanent after the “church age” closes.  It will be possible to “lose” your salvation.  Only those who hold firm in their faith until the end will be saved.

This parable illustrates what Jesus warned of during the time of greatest tribulation:

And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.  And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.  But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  (Matthew 24:10-13)

You won’t have time to “make things right with God” when the sign of Jesus’ return appears.  You must live your life in such a way as to always be ready.  Jesus issues a final warning between the 6th and 7th bowl judgments – (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”)  Our “garments” are on when we are clothed in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 61:10), which is salvation.

If you are watching and waiting for Jesus to return, be encouraged that “you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5)  If you study the signs around you and the books of Revelation and Daniel, you will know the season of His coming.  You will be ready for Him, and have “oil in your lamp”, if you are forgiven of your sins because of Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection on your behalf.

The Sheep and Goats Judgment

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’  Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’  Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  (Matthew 25:31-46)

This description of the Sheep and Goats Judgment is another way of expressing the story of the 10 Virgins Parable.  When Jesus returns, He is going to decide who will enter His earthly Kingdom and who will be denied entrance.  Just as the virgins were divided into “oil” and “no oil”, people are divided into two categories.  This time it is “sheep” (true believers) and “goats” (unbelievers).

The sheep are placed at Jesus’ right hand, and are given an inheritance in the Millennial Kingdom.  They will enter in their physical bodies and repopulate a restored earth, enjoying long life and reversal of the “curse”.  While not explicitly stated here, the sheep qualify for this inheritance by grace through faith in Jesus Christ – salvation (see John 1:12, Acts 15:11, Romans 3:22-24, Romans 4:4-8, Galatians 3:6-9, Ephesians 2:8-9).  They demonstrate the authenticity of their faith through good works throughout the times of tribulation – a monumental task given that this will be the most difficult period humanity has ever faced.  It will take true faith to share and give when resources are extremely scarce.  Remember that the sum of the law and the prophets is to love God and to love others:  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)

We know from Matthew 12 that Jesus considers those who do God’s will to be His brothers and sisters –  “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”  And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”  Thus, humanity will be particularly evaluated as to the authenticity of their salvation through how they tried to meet the needs of other believers. The specific examples Jesus gives are providing food, water, shelter, and clothing, as well as visiting the sick and imprisoned.  These are the basic elements of human survival.  Whatever we do for a fellow believer (or a fellow human being and “potential” believer), we do for God Himself.

Those who do not have an authentic faith, or those who openly reject Christ, will demonstrate this by acting selfishly.  Basic supplies will be limited and sinful human nature will struggle with “survival of the fittest”.  Those who rejected Christ will be killed (sent to hell/the abyss) and await the general resurrection and Great White Throne judgment following the Millennial Kingdom.

The Sheep and Goats Judgment illustrates what is clearly taught in the book of James:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.  (James 2:14-18, 26)

The good works are not the cause of salvation, but the effect of salvation.  Salvation is, as always, by God’s grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

God has called you to this time and for this purpose, and has prepared tasks for you for the sake of His glory and the purpose of His kingdom.

Summary

Though heaven and earth will be destroyed someday, the word of the Lord stands forever (Isaiah 40:8).  Our faith in Jesus isn’t built upon the shaky ground of human interpretation or wisdom (Matthew 7:24-27).  It’s not based upon what we see or hear, or what others around us are doing.  Our faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).

Let God be true, though every man a liar (Romans 3:4).

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus – S. Sundar Singh

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back, no turning back

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

 The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  Be a Berean – examine the scriptures for yourself to see if these things are so!

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