Scripture reading for February 6th: Matthew 25:1-13, Psalm 26, Proverbs 7:24-27
As Jesus was closing out this last message and answering His disciples questions about the end of the age, He told a parable about ten virgins who were waiting for the bridegroom to come for them. This story would have resonated with those in His culture immediately because of the customs there surrounding a wedding. When we understand what they did, this parable opens up another emphasis on being prepared and the perils of lack of preparation.
It was the custom of the day for the bride and her bridal party to prepare for the wedding day for up to a year prior to the actual wedding. The bridegroom was busy preparing a house for his bride and would come to get her when it was ready. The exact time was not set because this was part of the mystery and excitement of the wedding. As the date approached, the bridal party knew that the bridegroom could come at any time and take them to the wedding feast. The bridal party in the story knew that the bridegroom would come soon and went out to meet him. He delayed his coming and the virgins fell asleep. (Matthew 25:1-4)
“At midnight the cry rang out; ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil’ our lamps are going out.’ “‘No;’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.” “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said, ‘Open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.'” “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:6-13)
Five foolish virgins were not prepared. The delay had exposed their lack of preparation and consequent need for oil for their lamps. At that late hour, there was no time to get what they needed. When seeking entrance to the banquet, the bridegroom refused them entrance! Not all the visible church will attend the wedding!