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A LAMP WITHOUT OIL

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작성자 최고관리자 작성일15-12-29 22:39 조회917회 댓글0건

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<MATTHEW 25: 1-13>


  Today’s scripture is often referred to as ‘the parable of ten virgins.’  It is a parable that talks about the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus, i.e., PAROUSIA. 

 In modern era, where logic and science govern our thoughts, such topics as the second coming of Jesus and the end of the world arouse little interest.  Therefore, most pastors try to avoid these topics during their sermons.

 

 Sometimes, I find myself doubting whether the second coming of Jesus and the end of the world will indeed take place anytime soon, while the world turns as usual.  But we must heed the warning of Jesus, when He told us that the end of the world will come upon us like a thief in the middle of the night silent and unexpected.  Just because things seem normal and usual, things may not be well.  The end of the world the catastrophe may have already started.

 

 America is in a quandary, deciding whether or not to wage a war against Iraq.  The reports of North Korean nuclear development add to already tense atmosphere.  Whenever I turn on the television, reports about one of these two hot spots always seem to be on air.  No one knows for sure what will happen in the future. 

 

 The amount of weapons of mass destruction nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons that the nations of this world possess is enough to destroy this world ten times over.  While we were oblivious to this aspect of the world, a truly harrowing and frightening endeavor has been ongoing for several decades.  In times like this, we must have a good philosophical view of life and death established in our minds.  We must prepare ourselves for the end of the world, which could come at any moment.  Therefore, I chose ‘the parable of ten virgins’ as the topic of sermon today.

 

 We can interpret this parable allegorically or metaphorically.  First, what does the ‘bridegroom’ represent?  It represents Jesus Christ.  The Bible uses groom to depict Jesus in many places (Matthew 9: 15, John 3: 29, 2 Corinthians 11: 2, Ephesians 5: 27, The Revelation 19: 7-9).  Jesus indeed is our spiritual groom.

 

 Then what does the ‘ten virgins’ represent?  Needless to say, it depicts us those who believe in Jesus Christ.  More specifically, it depicts the Christians who await the second advent of Jesus.  Then what does the wedding reception represent?  It probably represents the party in heaven after the second coming of Jesus.  Closing of the doors probably means the final judgment, where those who are saved and those who are not will be distinguished.

 

 But the two items that arouse our curiosity is the ‘lamp’ and the ‘oil,’ and what those two items represent.  Ten virgins waited for the arrival of the groom, and five of them were foolish and five were wise.  What made five of the virgins foolish and the other five virgins wise?

 

  Verses 3 and 4 of today’s scripture have the answer.  Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”  What does this mean?  Each of the ten virgins carried a lamp.  Therefore, lamp is not the distinguishing factor between the foolish and the wise.

 

  But it is stated that those who had the lamp but no oil were foolish.  On the other hand, those who had both the lamp and the oil were wise.  The factor that differentiated the foolish virgins from the wise was the oil whether they had oil to go with their lamp or not.

 

 So today, we will look at today’s scripture and figure out why it was so important to have oil with the lamp.

 

 First of all, let’s look at the surrounding situation of the wedding reception.  According to the Jewish custom, we know that this event took place at the house of the bride.  After the groom paid the marriage price to the bride’s father, the groom probably received permission to marry.  The groom then poured bride a glass of wine and gave her gifts.  Then the groom returned to his home to build a house that he and his new bride will live in.

   

 After the groom’s father gives his word, the groom must go to the bride’s house to bring the bride back with him.  It usually took about one year before the groom made this second trip to the bride’s house, and during this time, the bride must purify herself and prepare herself for making a new family.

  

 Events of today’s scripture take place when the groom is about to make this second trip to the bride’s house.  The background of today’s scripture is set in the midst of the anxious waiting by the bride’s family, as they eagerly and nervously await the arrival of the groom.  And remember that the ten virgins were bridesmaids who were preparing to receive the groom!

 

 While waiting for the groom to return, the ten virgins fell asleep.  Both the foolish and the wise virgins all slept.  No one can berate them for falling asleep, for each of them possessed fragile bodies that required sleep when fatigued.

 

God does not chastise us for our physical weaknesses.  The Bible does not tell us to work 24 hours a day without sleep, like the angels who do God’s word 24 hours a day.  It merely asks us to do our Lord’s work within the limits of our physical capabilities.

 

 When the ten virgins were asleep, the groom suddenly arrives.  This tells us that the end of the world and the advent of Jesus will come upon us suddenly and unexpectedly.  Just as the September 11 terrorist attacks took place unexpectedly and without warning, the end of the world will approach us when we least expect it.

 

 Jesus says the following in Mark 13: 32-33 and 35.  “But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is…Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning.”  He is stressing that Jesus, our groom, will come again suddenly and most unexpectedly.

 

 When the groom indeed arrived at this most unexpected hour, the ten virgins hurriedly awoke.  And they checked their lamps.  They tried to light the lamps to greet the groom.

 

 But a problem arose.  The foolish virgins failed to get oil for their lamps.  They only had a little bit of oil that was already in the lamps, and once the lamps were lit, the flame began to flicker as oil level got low.  So they asked the other five virgins, who had prepared additional oil, to give them some oil.

   

The answer from the five virgins who had oil is cold and terse.  Take a look at verse 9.  But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to whose who sell, and buy for yourselves.’” 

 

 What do they mean?  They mean that should they give the other five the oil that they had, then all of them will be short on oil; therefore, the ones that do not have oil should go out and buy some instead.  The key point is that when the moment of truth the final judgment day comes, there will be no time for people to look out for others.  Each man must fend for himself.

 

 While the five foolish virgins went out to buy some oil, the door to the wedding reception closed shut.  The five wise virgins, who prepared oil beforehand, went to the reception with the groom.  But the five foolish ones were left outside the door, and they had to knock on the closed door to let them in.  While they shouted, ‘Lord, lord, let us in,’ the answer from the groom was cold and cruel.

 

 Take a look at verse 12.  But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’”  Because they had failed to properly prepare beforehand, they were left out of the party.

 

 ​Going back to today’s scripture, why did this event unfold?  What is the significance of this lamp oil? 

 From this, we can deduce two spiritual lessons.

 

 First, the lamp can be interpreted as ‘faith,’ while the oil is ‘action.’ 

The parable of ten virgins teaches us that faith without action or demonstration of faith through action is a dead faith.  The ten virgins all represent Christians, or people of faith.  All ten of them go to church on Sundays.  All are people who believe in Christ.

 

 But among the ten, five of them had the lamp, or faith, but no oil, or action.  On the outside, they were good Christians but from the inside, they lacked the fortitude.  They looked holy, but lacked the ability to truly be holy. (2 Corinthians 3: 5)

 

 ​These five may have received the Holy Spirit, but they could not bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  They could not bear the fruits such as love, joy, peace, patience, mercy, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5: 22-23).  Like a fig tree, which has a lot of leaves but no fruit, they could not bear any fruits.

 

  As the second coming of Jesus was delayed and signs of the end of the world did not appear, they had no interest in putting their faith into action.  They had no interest in carrying out the commandments that Jesus had given them.  They were Christians in name only, without any of the God-given abilities.  They were people of faith but with no power of faith.

 

 Jesus told is in Matthew 7: 21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”  James 2: 14 tells us, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can faith save him?”  And James 2: 26 proclaims, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

 

  A lamp without oil is but a mere decoration.  A lamp can only light this world and rid this world of darkness when it has oil in its basin.  Jesus states in Matthew 5: 16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” 

 

 The five virgins did not have oil, so they could not light the lamp and get rid of darkness.  Likewise, if we do not act as Christians, then we cannot become the lights of this world.  The other five virgins had oil, for they prepared it in advance.  They could light their lamps and shine light onto darkness.  If we carry out God’s love and His will, then we will become the lights of this world.

 

 Second, it shows the difference between those who are prepared and those who are not. 

 God uses those who are prepared.  Those who have gone through the fire the temptation, the tribulations and weathered them with faith, those who are forged through their faith will be victorious in the end.

 

 The other five virgins prepared well in advance.  They made sure that they had oil, even though the groom was late, so that they can receive him.  But the five virgins did not prepare so well.  When the groom was delayed, they got complacent and lazy.  They thought, “I don’t know when he is going to come; what is the use of preparing oil? 

I can borrow some from the girl next to me.”  They were complacent and lax in their thinking.

 

  Faith can become strong all of a sudden, but it is best to constantly maintain good faith.  We must lead a life of faith when it seems like the second coming of Jesus will not take place at all.  We must pray and serve when it seems like the end of the world is far away.  Only then can we stand before the judgment day.  Only then can we enter the gathering of our Lord in heaven.

  

 In conclusion, Jesus says the following as he wraps up his parable in verse 13.  Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”  He is telling us to be spiritually vigilant, for no one knows when He will come or when the world will end.

 

 ​The world is not a stable place.  The talk of war is too loud and often.  The threat of terrorist attacks is everywhere.  Demonstrations and protests of hate are never ending.  Economically, many face difficulties.  We live in a world where tomorrow is more and more uncertain and even more difficult to predict.

 

 In times like this, we must learn the spiritual lessons of the parable of ten virgins.  We must never fall into the trap of complacency and laxness, thinking that the end of the world will never come.

 

 The foolish virgins had a lamp but they failed to have oil in advance.  What does this mean?  They seem like people of faith, but they failed to put their faith into action.  The wise virgins had lamp and the oil that was required, and vigilantly awaited the groom.  What does this mean?  Even when the advent of Jesus seemed delayed, they did not become lax or complacent, and vigilantly prayed and served others.

 

 Jesus, who is supposed to come again on a bed of clouds, has not come yet.  Even in times like this, we must prove our faith through our actions.  We must be vigilant, and we must be prepared.  So when Jesus comes, each of us can receive Him with joy and happiness.

 

 I pray in the name of our Lord that each of us can be like the five wise virgins.  Amen.        

 

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