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Friday: Further Study: Getting Ready for the Harvest — 10 Comments

  1. Getting ready for the harvest - are we really? The parable of the ten virgins in Matt 25:1-13 does not paint the most exciting picture of a people on the move for God. All ten virgins slept, in fact, the only difference between the two groups was the amount of oil they carried with them. They all started out with enough oil for the time but the long delay used up the current supply. Only the ones who had extra oil were able to see their way to the wedding feast.

    The oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit and I believe that the lack of it in the end is the reason why the evil servant in the previous parable said, "in his heart,`My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards" (Matt. 24:48-49 NKJV). But how does one obtain the extra oil for "God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3 NKJV)? That measure, however, is only the base amount. What we need more than that to sustain us to the end.

    To me the parable of the talents and the scenes of judgment following the parable of the ten virgins define why the evil servant didn't have enough oil and finally lost faith in the end. It was what he was or was not doing that determined how much oil he had to light the way during the darkest hours just before the wedding feast. Talents are like muscles if you don't use them you will lose them for a tree that is not growing is a dead tree. "For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away" (Matt. 25:29 NKJV). So what are we doing with what God has given us? Can God bless our use of His gifts and add more?

    • I believe the oil stands for the faith, hoping for the best while we endure in our hardships and uncertainity with patience. The 5 wise virgins knew the wait might be longer. Christians alike, we need to understand that everything will not always go according to our plans, what we do when we are faced with darkness is what will define us.

    • How do we get more oil? Please consider the illustration in Zechariah 4. The oil comes from the two olive trees, "the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth." If we work with the mission of the two anointed ones, the oil flows abundantly. In the commentary in Christ's Object Lessons, pages 407 to 421, emphasis is placed on the character of God shining out through His people. Yes, this will result in talents being used, and specifically they will be used in ways that will bring glory to God. They will be used in ways that will reveal the character of Christ through us to those for whom the angels would minister (Heb 1:14).

  2. For by grace you have been saved through faith. (Ephesians 2:8)...

    From the verse above, we see that we are saved through faith, the five wise virgins were saved coz they had oil. A consistent looking for His coming will mark our lives.

    The five virgins who had the extra oil represent the truly born again who are looking with eagerness to the coming of Christ. They have saving faith and have determined that, whatever occurs, be it lengthy time or adverse circumstances, when Jesus returns, they will be looking with eagerness. The five virgins without the oil represent false believers who enjoy the benefits of the Christian community without true love for Christ. They are more concerned about the party than about longing to see the bridegroom. Their hope is that their association with true believers (“give us some of your oil” of verse 8) will bring them into the kingdom at the end. The same can be compared to those who go to church just to keep the 4th commandment. This, of course, is never the case. One person’s faith in Jesus cannot save another.

    The Lord will come for the righteous, what makes us righteous?

    Romans 3:21-23 ESV
    But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

    It's the faith we have in the word of the Lord, believing and abiding in his laws with love.

    The Wise Virgins rejoiced for their lamps are providing the "Light of the Righteous."

    "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1John 1:7)

    "Ye are the light of the world...Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works..." (Matthew 5:14a, 16a)

    We should walk in faith and obedience so that the unbelievers can see the light in us.

    "...we have received grace...for
    obedience to the faith..." (Romans 1:5)

    Romans 5:1- ESV
    Therefore, since we have been justified by faith(the five virgins were justified by the fact that they had oil for their lamps), we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God....

  3. John, I do believe that two olive branches (anointed ones) were Joshua the high priest, and Zerubbabel the prince or king. They represent Christ as Priest and King. Zechariah 6:13. They are spewing out olive oil. Representing Christ as the source of olive oil. I do believe that we are promised the Holy Spirit if we request Him in prayer. David said in Psalms 23 You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

    • The question of the oil is an important one to me. One text that is a long standing one in Adventist circles is, "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path (Ps. 119:105 NKJV). If this is so then we need to ask what powers it. Is it by two human individuals or by something much greater? Besides Zech 6 has messianic overtones in it. My NKJV capitalizes the word "branch" because they recognize that word as having messianic significance, therefore the chapter goes far beyond that local event.

      I think we also need to recognize that Zech 4 is rooted and grounded in the lampstand of the sanctuary which speaks of the body of Christ. Not only is Christ the light of the world (Jn 8:12) but we who make up the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27) are also the light of the world (Mat 5:14). That base symbol predates Joshua and Zerubbabel by centuries. They may have had local importance in their day but the symbol transcends that short period of history and is even applicable today.

      To me the Holy Spirit is the one that powers the word of God and enables the lamps to shine:
      Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you" (Jn. 16:7-14 NKJV)

  4. Alot can be said about how best to understand the meaning of this parable, four brief observations adequately suggest to us what Jesus was trying to say:
    (1) The delay of the bridegroom plays a critical role in the story. Had the bridegroom not delayed, all of the virgins would have been ready and waiting when the marriage procession arrived, and they all would have accompanied the bridegroom to the feast. Only because the bridegroom was delayed were half of the virgins caught unprepared and not able to accompany him to the feast.
    (2) The wisdom of the wise virgins consisted in their understanding that the bridegroom might be delayed. Why did the wise virgins take the flask of extra oil with them? Was it not because they had the foresight to anticipate that they might have to wait? Had they thought there would be no delay, it would have been completely unnecessary for them to carry extra oil.
    (3) In the end, the only crime of the foolish virgins was not being ready to follow the bridegroom to the feast when finally he came.
    (4) The bridegroom’s response to the crime of these foolish virgins is severe: he bars them from entering the marriage feast altogether; and, more severely, he makes the astounding claim that he does not know them.

    From other verses in the Bible, we know Jesus to be the groom and us, the church, the bride. Jesus is saying you have to be ready.

    Why is Jesus issuing such a warning?
    Because he knows that his coming will be delayed. It is easy to be ready if the bridegroom comes quickly. It is so much harder to be ready if he is delayed. And he will be delayed.
    Notice that both the wise and the foolish virgins fell asleep as they waited, but there is a critical difference between the two. While the foolish virgins slept, their readiness to follow the bridegroom was depleted. The wise virgins’ readiness to follow was not depleted, for they had enough oil.
    This resembles our day to day life, we hear and read the word of God daily/weekly. Jesus is coming soon is more than a song to our ears. But not all of us have the will power and faith to hold to God's promises in the bible. We get swept away by the desires of this world.
    The oil that the foolish virgins found depleted when the bridegroom came is analogous to our desire for, belief in, and commitment to the eternal Life which God has promised. Many people will desire it; many will believe God’s promise; many will commit themselves to wait for its realization. But only a few will find their desire, their belief, and their commitment in ample supply.

    • Sam, I'm a bit reluctant to accept interpretations of every detail of a parable. Generally parables are meant to make one main point, and when we try to milk them for more, we may be led into confusing bypaths.

      In this case, I believe Jesus intended to show the necessity of remaining in a state of preparedness by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our lives continuously - to keep our lamps filled, so to speak. Oil is used throughout the Bible to symbolize the Holy Spirit. And if we want to milk the parable for just a bit more detail, we might say that the original oil was the gift of the Holy Spirit upon baptism and the transformation brought about in our beginning Christian experience. The "extra oil" would then be the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers who continue to seek an ever-growing experience with Him, rather than to rest content with a shallow experience. The foolish virgins were like Laodicea, feeling content with their experience and not asking for more until the crisis was upon them.

      But better than reading my thought would be to read the chapter, "To Meet the Bridegroom," in Christ's Object Lessons, p. 406. I highly recommend it.


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