I have to admit a certain amount of trepidation in writing today’s devotional. The main reason for this is because this passage is the source of some debate among Evangelicals, and most people come to this passage interpreting it according to their own viewpoints on the Second Coming. I want to be fair in dealing with Bible-believing siblings who disagree with me.
To start out, let’s have a little primer on Jewish wedding customs in 1st century Israel. It would start with a man coming to a woman’s family and asking for their consent to marry. They would agree on a “Bride Price,” which the man would pay to the family to show how much he loved her. He'd then take his leave and begin building a honeymoon suite in his father’s house, and the room wouldn't be complete until the man’s father gave approval. If someone asked him when the wedding would take place, he'd tell them, “Only my father knows.” While this construction was ongoing, the fiancée was expected to be ready for her beloved’s arrival, and her bridesmaids were expected to keep lamps and oil prepared as well. Once the bridegroom’s father said that the wedding chamber was ready, the groom and his friends would approach the girl’s house, blowing a horn called a shofar to signal their arrival. He'd claim his bride, take her to his wedding chamber and consummate the marriage, and the week-long wedding celebration would begin outside.
Now, to be fair, some teachers claim that the virgins can’t represent the church, since that would be the bride in the story, but I think they’re guilty of over-allegorizing the parable. Remember, parables aren't allegories. Not everything in the story is a symbol for something else.
What does the oil represent, if anything, since it seems to be a focal point here? Oil was used for anointing priests and kings, and the Messiah was anointed by the Holy Spirit at his baptism, so it seems to be a reasonable assumption that the oil represents the Holy Spirit. Since every Christian has the Holy Spirit living inside them, this would be a division between genuine and false Christians.
So how can we apply this today? First, we need to realize that the visible church will have both believers and non-believers within it. They worship together, pray together, and mingle every Sunday. But there will come a day when this conflating will end. The Master will come at a time when we least expect him, and the door will shut. On one side will be those who've truly given their hearts to Christ, and on the other side will be those who will hear the most frightening words ever uttered: “Truly I tell you, I don't know you.”
So what about you? Have you truly given your heart to Christ? If you're not sure, please read this. If you have, then what about your family? Your friends? Your neighbors? If the trumpet called today, would they be ready?
Lord Jesus, all around me are people who need to hear about you, and to see you reflected in how I talk and act. Please show me these opportunities, and give me the strength and courage to claim them.