Report From The Tower
Consider first of all that all ten are virgins: a term meant to connote their devotion to pure living and righteousness. There is a righteousness that comes from the doing that which is right. These virgins certainly refer to born again saints. I find that I am totally not persuaded to believe, as the old commentators seemed to, that these were mere carnal confessors of religion. Jesus called all ten of these souls virgins: a living symbol of purity that is probably most difficult to be found in these last days and most rare.
These ten are classified as equal in their identity, but the differentiation comes when Jesus assesses their character: five He describes as foolish and five He describes as wise. The foolish ones have earned this approbation because they apparently had the same opportunity to obtain extra oil for their vessels as the five wise virgins, but for some foolish reason, they have not done so.
Please take note that all ten virgins are within earshot of a prophetic watchman. They are apparently aware of a more than general knowledge of the prophetic signs of the times. They are found waiting upon their Bridegroom to be, just as the five wise ones were. Apparently, their knowledge of prophecy did not suffice to deliver them from their foolish condition, yet still, they were pure, apparently righteous and in the right place at the right time...almost.
These five foolish virgins, in their proper attendance at such a place and time and in so doing, having displayed their awareness of prophecy and also, by keeping some tabs upon the utterances of a known prophetic watchman, place themselves far above all of the denominational Christians who believe that the gift of prophecy has passed out of the church. The denominations no longer believe a prophetic watchman is to be sent out from God, yet these five foolish virgins are said to be out there, even unto midnight, waiting while their bridegroom to be is apparently in the process of intentionally delaying His appearing. Why intentionally? Because He is all-knowing and and is certainly aware, even before their lamps have gone out, that they would go in search of oil at just the time when He would make His appearance to the remaining five. So, please take a moment to take the opposite course from all of the bible commentators and to consider and reflect upon the high estate of the five foolish virgins. Are you and I even as high as them? Are we aware that a prophetic watchman is near? If so, who is he? Where is he? Will we listen to him? Are we pure, avoiding defilement? Could the Lord describe us as virgins? Perhaps our Lord would describe us as foolish and as harlots, not as virgins. Will our Lord find us waiting until midnight with the other virgins, even though our lamps have gone out? Will we even be out there till midnight, or will be at home, receiving the ministry of pastor sheets and professor pillow, as Marvin Pressman used to say to us over at Cornerstone Church.
Consider what our Lord says to them as He denies them entry to the marriage supper upon their return to the door as they knock and knock, but find it closed to them. He says, "I know you not". Now up until this point, I had thought about the meaning of this answer and had determined that the Lord was really saying to them that He had not been intimate with them, but I realized today that I had, in effect, been ascribing some metaphorical disobedience to my Lord. He certainly will not "know" these virgins in "that" way until after the marriage supper. So, how is it that these five foolish ones are outside: they are pure, they were even waiting upon His appearing, yet they are found lacking? He says in the verse following that we are to learn from this parable and that we are to watch.
What is it that our Lord has found lacking in these five foolish ones? Why do they not qualify to be His bride? They are virgin pure, they are more watchful than most and they even had burning lamps. After all, every single one of the virgins fell asleep. What do they lack? In a word, I believe they lack passion. Every bridegroom looks forward to his wedding night and He must know that His bride to be is every bit as passionately awaiting their joining as He is. Passionate love, I believe, is the key, and it will get you through the low times, the dry times, the boring times and the late times. It will keep you on the watch and it will keep you worshiping even when there are only one or two of you and you do not have a faithful assembly to attend. You will keep being a worshiper even when there is no worship team or band around. God is, after all, looking for worshipers and in that, He is looking for those who will worship in Spirit and in truth, without hypocrisy. Yes, passionate love for Jesus will pull you through. It will make all the difference and set you apart from all the others and it will qualify you for all that is to be imparted to us as we enter into that marriage supper and we receive all the fullness of the Kingdom of God. Outside, those who have known only the deposit or token of the Spirit will certainly weep and nash their teeth, for they will know, better than anyone, just what they have narrowly missed out on.
Finally, I close my consideration with the aspect of this word that is probably at the center of the cause of my trembling. Namely, that the lack displayed by the foolish virgins, which I have identified as a lack of passionate love for their Lord, is going to be something that as of a certain place in time will not suffer what appears to be repentance. We, the recipients of grace, are not much familiar with these workings of the God of wrath: so much so that we never really entertain the possibility that the same God who rejected all of Esau's pleadings; who is also the same God who struck a man dead for trying to steady the Ark on a cart, might still behave in that way in the present day or in the near future. We have locked that God safely away in Old Testament times and we can only envision His reappearance after some future rapture and we feel more comfortable that He will pour that wrath upon the heathen. Still, it is even more shocking that He might behave that way toward many that we might regard as Christians. Yet, it seems abundantly clear that at some future time, some people who seem very outwardly devoted to God in their ritual purity, who appear to be devoted to Christ, who also spend a great deal of time in prophetic pursuits and who even respect the word of the Lord through a watchman prophet might encounter a situation in real time where no amount of apparent repentance will change the mind of our Lord, the Bridegroom. That is something that I certainly never want to see.
Stephen L. Bening
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