"The kingdom of heaven
shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to
meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise and five were foolish.
Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them"
Not long ago, I was looking for a street in a
nearby city. Enough time had been allowed to find the place where I was
to attend a meeting, but being late had not been factored into my plans.
It was a very dark and foggy night, and the street signs were small,
making them difficult to read. If I got out of the car and walked, I
could have read the street signs much better, but I would have been late
and might have missed the meeting altogether.
The problem? I had forgotten to bring the
directions! I left them at home! The written notes received from the
Internet had contained a lot of important information, such as the
distance between one point and another, and they listed a major street I
would pass before coming to the right street, the one that I needed.
The actual address of my destination was written
in the "planner" which I did have with me. I knew the address of my
goal, but had not been to the place before, causing me to drive ever
slower as I peered out the window at each street sign. The driver behind
me didn't like my decision to drive slowly, and he "tail-gated" me,
coming closer-and-closer until I pulled over and let him pass.
I arrived for the meeting almost on time and all
was well, but it was a reminder that written instructions eliminate
problems. Good things come from them. You get to the right place at the
right time, and the meeting isn't over when you get there. And here’s
something much better than driving directions: The "Word (which is) is a lamp unto my
feet and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105). The written Word
of God is essential to the direction of your life as you pass through
this time on earth and then enter your final destination.
So is His Spirit. The Word of God and the Spirit
of God are essential to our understanding.
There's a song from years ago (a children's
tune), which included the words, "Give me oil for
my lamp, keep me burnin;' give me oil for my lamp I pray…" The
song is based on our Scripture for today about the ten "virgins," and it isn’t just for "children" - it's a
prayer for God to fill us and help us.
The "lamp" of
today’s Scripture is a receptacle; a place where something (Someone) is
supposed to be. A "lamp" can be a church
(Revelation 1:20), the Bible (Psalm 119:105) or people. Jesus said we
are to be "the light of the world" (Matthew
5:14) but the "oil" (the Holy Spirit) must
be in us, or there will be no true light and the directions needed will
not be found.
Receiving Christ is a return to moral purity -
He paid the price by dying for our sins. We are "born
again," changed for the better - in Him. But though there are
those who have actually received Him, there are others who are merely
religious outwardly; and like those “virgins,”
from a human perspective all look very much alike. We're similar in
appearance and manner. All might say "amen" at precisely the right time;
all may sing the same religious songs, donate the "right" amount, and so
on. But do we have “oil” for our “lamps?”
The "written instructions" we need to receive
are collectively called the "Bible" (Greek
"biblios" or "book"),
which is a collection of writings by people who wrote as inspired by God
over a period of several hundred years. Those instructions are wonderful
and they form a true indicator of where you need to go and what must be
done in your life. And you need the "oil"
(the Holy Spirit) to understand what is written in those pages.
I remember an article in "Guideposts"
from many years ago, about surveyors who went to a mountainous area to
map the terrain. Often an old shepherd shared their nightly fire. One
evening, the shepherd said, "I must go with you
tomorrow." They didn't take him because, as they said, "We now have a written map of the area" – they felt they
had it all. The shepherd responded, "there is no
fog on your map," but the surveyors went by themselves. A thick
fog arose and they became hopelessly lost. Suddenly, out of the fog the
shepherd appeared and led them back to the camp. The Holy Spirit of God
will lead you through the “fog” of this
God has given us two witnesses and we need both
of them. The Psalmist correctly told us, "Thy Word
is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).
The lamp has to contain oil in order to light the way of the person who
carries it, and you must contain the Holy Spirit of God, the second
"Witness," in order to "see" what the Bible offers.
The Apostle Peter told us how to become ready
for eternity (Acts 2:38):
REPENT. Give what you have done and
who you are - to the Lord. "Christ died for
the ungodly" (Romans 5:6) and we must repent because the "ungodly" consists of everyone in humanity! "Sin" is
much more than acts we commit. It’s who we are.
BE BAPTIZED. To be "baptized" is to receive His death and His life, and
stop trying to live in our own strength. Paul said, "We were buried with Him through baptism into death"
and "we also should walk in newness of life"
(Romans 6:4). Water is a picture of your need: You can't live under
water - you must die to yourself and come alive in Him.
RECEIVE His Holy Spirit - to repent
and be baptized (your life for His; His life for yours), carries an
amazing bonus: We are to "receive the gift of
the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). In Christ we have much to be
thankful for. Thank Him for what He has done.
Maps and directions are very good in life and we
need them. The Bible contains the only set of complete directions that
will bring us to God. The whole Book points to Christ, in which we learn
He IS the way. For example, He revealed, "I am the
way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, except through
Me" (John 14:6). The “map” we need is found in and through
In that context, Jesus said "the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in
My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I
have said to you" (John 14:25). The Bible comes ALIVE as the Holy
Spirit opens the written Word to your understanding. And the Lord offers
His Word to you, so you might be fully alive in the life that comes from
Father, I come to You right now. I repent of
who I am, what I have thought and what I have done. I receive You, Lord
Jesus, asking that You will please send Your Holy Spirit to me. Fill me
with the wonder of Your love. Let me understand Your Word, as I place my
trust in You right now. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.