The parable of the virgins is not meant to show that only those who wait diligently for the Lord go to the wedding with Him. The whole company consists of confessors, they are all people who have met the groom. What matters is to show the difference between the confessors. There are both real and false confessors.
The Lord in this parable is not the Bridegroom of the church. The bride is not mentioned in this parable. This is about personal responsibility during the absence of Christ. It is a parable of the kingdom of heaven that is compared to ten virgins. The number ten speaks of responsibility. The word “virgins” speaks of devotion, of having one beloved. They all have lamps, that is to say light. They know the future. They all go out to meet the groom.
Then the Lord makes a distinction in the ten virgins. He calls five foolish and five wise. The difference is not in going out, because they all go out. They also all have lamps. The distinction lies in having or not having oil in their lamps. What makes the foolish virgins foolish is that they have no oil. Oil speaks of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, kings, priests, and in some cases prophets were anointed with oil. The New Testament believer is anointed with the Holy Spirit in this way (1Jn 2:20,2720But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.27As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.; 2Cor 1:21-2221Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God,22who also sealed us and gave [us] the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.). The flasks speak of the body (2Cor 4:77But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;).
When the bridegroom delays, all ten of them fall asleep. The possession of the Holy Spirit does not prevent the wise virgins from falling asleep. This indicates that the entire confessing church, even those who have the Spirit, lose sight of the Lord’s return. In the early days of the church, the believers were looking forward to the coming of the Lord. But because of the delay of His coming, the expectation has subsided.
Then, when it is midnight, when the night is at its darkest, there is a cry. The bridegroom is approaching! The call of the Holy Spirit is: “Behold, the bridegroom!” The person of the bridegroom awakens the sleepers from their sleep. Moreover, the exclamation “behold, the bridegroom” is not only meant to awaken in order to meet Him. It also implies an appeal to see in the examination of the Scriptures the magnificent characteristics of His Person.
Besides waking up, activity is also expected. That’s why it sounds as follows: “Come out, to meet [him]”. In verse 11“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. they have already gone out once. Now the cry is to do that again. Going out means separation from the world, also in its Christian form. But that is not all. There follows: ‘To meet Him’. It is about Christ.
In the history of Christianity we see this happening when, through the action of God’s Spirit in the 19th century, there arises a renewed interest in the coming of Christ. Through the examination of the Scriptures, especially of prophecy, the hope of the church is also rediscovered, as it was in the days of Paul. For the sake of Christ, wrong associations were given up and people began to live in accordance with the true calling of the Christian. What we see in the history of Christianity also applies to the life of the individual believer. Whoever lives with and in the expectation of the imminent coming of Christ, does not live for the earth, but for heaven.
All the virgins wake up. Both real and false Christians are preparing to meet the groom. They all trim their lamps. They let the light they have shine again. That is also the moment that the foolish come to the discovery that they have no oil. They see that their lamps are going out. They had only lit the wick, but had not supplied themselves with oil. The lamp without oil represents a man who does not possess the Holy Spirit. The lamp of a natural person can sometimes let light shine for a while, giving the impression that there is oil, but in reality such a lamp goes out quickly.
There is enough time between the call and the coming to make everyone’s condition clear. Now the foolish come to the discovery that they have no oil. They miss the essence of the light. The light they possessed was but an appearance. They recognize that the wise do have oil. They see that the wise have a real relationship with the bridegroom. Their question to the wise is whether they may have some of their oil. But the wise know that they cannot supply oil. They refer the foolish to the dealers.
When the foolish have left to buy oil, the bridegroom comes. The wise, those who are ready, enter the wedding feast with him. Then the door is closed. When the other virgins come, they also want to go in. Oil is not mentioned. They want to go inside and beg the Lord to open up for them. But for the foolish virgins it is too late. They should have been ready when the bridegroom presented himself.
The Lord remands them with words indicating that there is no connection between him and them. He does not know them. He does not pretend not to know them, but he really does not know them. They have never surrendered to him. There has never been love for Him in their hearts. They found him interesting, but they never bowed before him.
The Lord Jesus ends the parable with a warning to be alert. This is the purpose of the parable. It must move the wise to keep their eyes well open and not fall asleep. It must move the foolish to become wise now by buying oil before it’s too late.