The Burning Lamp – A Vessel of Honor

cropped-oil_lamp2.jpgWhen the wedding day finally arrives, the bridegroom  emerges –  from an unknown place at an unknown time –  dressed ornately with festive garments and gold crown.  With carefully chosen attendants, he proceeds to the bride’s father’s house.  Virgins of Israel wait along the path, holding their lit oil lamps, with anticipation for the loud cry, “Behold the Bridegroom Cometh! Go Ye Out to Meet Him!”  As vessels of honor, they meet their Bridegroom with joy and proceed onward – to the bride’s father’s house.    (Bible History Online)

In Matthew 25, Jesus declares that the Kingdom of God will be like those virgins waiting along the wedding path for the bridegroomThe ten virgins in His parable reveal powerful truths for us today.  Five were deemed wise, five are called foolish.  There is no gray area in this revelation of God’s Kingdom.

While worthy of careful personal study, in brief the oil in this parable represents God’s Holy Spirit.  Through the ‘virgins’ or bridesmaids, we see two types of professing ‘believers’.  Note, all ten  prepared and anticipated this Bridegroom, the coming of Christ the King.  They all waited along the appointed path with lamps lit.  Pointed in this story however, five run out of oil before this Bridegroom arrives.   They were unprepared, even knowing that traditionally, the Bridegroom arrives from an unknown place at an unknown time. 

At the midnight cry, the foolish virgins sought the oil of the wise to light their dark lamps.  Not possible, replied the wise, who further advised them to go buy more oil.  Tragically, as the unprepared sought to buy more oil, the Bridegroom arrived. Scrambling to lay hold of more oil, the indwelling Holy Spirit, the five were excluded from the procession and from the glorious wedding feast – the Kingdom of God. 

Wise are those who ‘count the cost’ of following Christ – living with a view of His promised return.  True faith strengthens them to persevere and wait upon the Lord even as darkness falls upon them.  Oil comes from that which is pressed, crushed, and refined.  It is often in times of brokenness and darkness that the Holy Spirit pours oil into our hearts bringing hope and revelation of Christ.  However, have we, for this infilling, set ourselves where Christ may be found?  Do we seek, with anticipation, His ‘arrival’ of deliverance, truth, and light through His Word?   When we fellowship with God through His living Word, He lights the lamp within us.

Friends, in times of darkness, do we have enough of the Word to light our path?  Can we see the coming presence of Christ?  The Lord clearly depicts how the faith and devotion of others cannot light our lamp – we must have our own hearts prepared to see Christ. 

While all may say ‘yes’ to Christ, not all will see Him.  The ‘extra oil of the wise’ is that which is personally obtained through Bible study, prayer, and daily walk with the Lord.   What the Holy Spirit imparts to us is that which will light up our path.  “Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  (Psalm 119:105)

The ‘midnight hour’ is crucial – a time of awakenings, victories and defeats.  For many who merely ‘profess’ Christ, it will be a time of dread – in Matthew 25:12  Christ reveals their destiny.  Passive faith is never enough to bring light and life – it has no power at the ‘midnight hour’.   Victory and reward awaits those who set their hearts toward God, those who cherish and hold forth the “oil of joy” – which Christ Himself pours upon those who seek and wait for His Kingdom.

“You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning;  my God turns my darkness into light.”  (Psalm 18:28)

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