THE PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS
The parable of the ten virgins in the 25th chapter of Matthew contains lessons for all of God's elect children regardless of when they are called to salvation. This parable is easily understood as a prophecy for the end of the age because it is set within a group of parables in which the only subject matter discussed is Christ's return and those who will be allowed to enter the Family and Kingdom of God at that time.
MATTHEW 25:1-13 NIV
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep“ (vs.1-5).
“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“ (vs.6-10).
“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 wherein the Son of man comes“ (vs.11-13).
Because the fulfillment of this prophetic parable will clearly be in the end of the age when the elect of God are anticipating the return of Jesus as King of kings, it seems to be very much a part of the warning message that is given to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation.
It is important to examine this parable in detail along with other parables concerning the same topic in order to discover an extremely valuable lesson for the elect of God today.
“At that time [the time of the end] the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins [the Father's elect children] who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom“ (v1).
It is very clear that the ten virgins represent a significant part of the entire body of elect. Because of the warning messages in Revelation 2 and 3 to the seven churches of God which will exist just before Christ's return, it appears likely that the ten virgins represent all the elect that exist during the end of the age, except for those of the Philadelphia church: This will be explained further along in this study.
Perhaps the reason that there are ten virgins divided into two groups is the numerical meaning of the numbers 10 and 5 as they apply to biblical symbolism. The number 10 is symbolic of the law of God and the number 5 is symbolic of God's grace. It is also a biblical fact that no one will enter the Family and Kingdom of God who is unwilling to practice the law of God. Even then, entry is only granted to those whom the Father calls to salvation through his grace.
This parable indicates that all of these people knew that the banquet would occur very soon and they were looking forward to the arrival of the bridegroom (Jesus Christ at the first resurrection) and participating in the celebration after his arrival.
The Wise and the Foolish
“Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps“ (vs.2-4).
Jesus immediately separates those who are awaiting his return into two types of individuals: the wise and the foolish. Notice that all of the virgins began their wait with full lamps, which seems to indicate that they all had anticipated that they were going to have to wait in the darkness for some time before the bridegroom came to bring them into the wedding banquet. Moreover, the wise anticipated that they might have to wait far into the night before the bridegroom came, so they brought extra oil in order to keep their lights burning as long as necessary.
Because being wise or foolish is clearly associated with the necessity of keeping the lamps burning, it is important to understand the symbolism of the lamps:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path“ (Psa.119:105 Para.).
A lamp symbolizes the word of God (i.e., the truth of God) which lights one's pathway through life.
“My son, keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching [allegorically referring to God the Father and Jesus Christ]. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life“ (Pro.6:20-23 Para.).
The lamp represents the laws, precepts, and principles of God that are to guide a person in the righteous way of life.
The primary emphasis in verses 2-4 is upon keeping one's lamp lit (i.e., making sure a person has enough of God's truth to light their spiritual pathway), because if a persons lamp runs out of oil, they are left in spiritual darkness and will be unable to find their spiritual way. Jesus considers anyone who lets their light run out of fuel foolish and undeserving of entrance into the Kingdom of God.
“The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep“ (v5).
Each of those who are considered to be one of the ten virgins falls asleep. This is very important because it tells us who is considered one of the ten virgins within the body of Christ. When one reads the warning messages to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, it is very clear that only one of the seven churches that will exist in the end of the age does not go to sleep—the Philadelphia church.
Nowhere in the message to the elect of Philadelphia do we find them pictured as being asleep. On the contrary, they are shown as being the zealous elect who are commended for faithfully keeping the truth of God and upholding the name of Jesus. Thus, it is clear that the parable of the 10 virgins is talking about the rest of the elect who are all spiritually asleep just before Christ's return and the first resurrection.
What happened during the first age of the church is an example of what we see today among most of the elect of God. As time went on and Christ did not return to establish his Father's Kingdom on earth, many became apathetic and went to sleep spiritually. History shows us that because of spiritual lethargy the early church disappeared as a united, powerful entity. However, throughout the centuries, there have been a few among the elect of God who have kept awake while the great majority have gone to sleep.
Although it is not stated in this parable, it is clear from Revelation 2 and 3 and other prophecies in the Bible that the Father actively calls many people to participate in the first resurrection in preparation for the return of Christ. It is these elect who are spoken of as the ten virgins who fell asleep. They are the ones who once looked for Jesus Christ's return with great excitement, zeal, and anticipation, but have fallen asleep spiritually
The Twentieth Century Christian
If this is truly the end of the age, this parable clearly fits the circumstances today among individuals who have been called to salvation among the various congregations of the true God. Since the middle of the twentieth century, the vast majority of the body of the elect have thought that Christ's return was very near and would happen before the end of the century. Many people thought that he would return no later than 1975. When it became apparent that this was not going to happen, many of the elect, except those of the Philadelphia church, went to sleep. In other words, they believed that “The Lord delays his coming“ (Lk.12:45).
The foolish became apathetic and went back into the ways of the society around them. Many of the elect ceased to associate with an organized congregation, believing that they would worship God by themselves. But, what many were really doing was abandoning their calling. Many of these people stopped observing the Passover, the annual festivals, and the Sabbath and they even began observing pagan holidays again.
Others held on to the basic truth they had learned and continued to be nominal Christians who attended Sabbath services and fellowshiped with one another. But in reality, most had stopped growing in grace and knowledge.
During that same period, the Philadelphia group maintained their faithfulness, diligence, study, and prayer relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ. And they continued to be overcomers. The Philadelphians never went to sleep. These individuals based their faith on the Father and their Savior Jesus Christ, not on men or organizations. Today, these individuals are rooted in the calling that comes from the Father and in the salvation that comes through his Son, Jesus Christ. They recognize that their calling transcends human beings and organizations.
Those whom God considers the Philadelphia elect continue to maintain a positive relationship with the Father and his Son. This is why Jesus Christ is going to use them in a major way to proclaim his Father's good news message as a warning and a witness to the world in the end of the age.
The Midnight Cry
“At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him“ (v6).
This midnight cry will happen very close to Christ's return (perhaps only 3½ to 6 years prior to his return). It is a warning message to the elect of God throughout the earth to awake out of their spiritual slumber and repent of their wrong attitudes and behaviors and pursue their calling to salvation with zeal, because Jesus Christ is about to return as Conquering King.
Who Gives the Midnight Cry?
But who will give the alarm to the elect of God? There is a high likelihood that the ones who give this warning are the elect who are of the spiritual church of Philadelphia, because they are the only ones who have not gone to sleep and have been promised an open door to preach the gospel.
This cry of warning follows the pattern of all the warnings given by prophets to God's people throughout history. God never lets his people go into severe trials without a resounding warning and an opportunity to repent. The issue here is a very serious one. It is an issue of salvation or the Lake of Fire. This is not a minor reprimand or chastisement. This is an issue of whether one will respond to the warning, repent, and return to the faith once delivered and return to God the Father and Jesus Christ in a proper attitude. The window of opportunity for true repentance seems very short. It appears likely that there will be little time to get one's spiritual house in order before the door to salvation is shut forever.
All of the Elect Hear the Cry
In verse seven, when the cry went out to warn that the bridegroom is coming, “All the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps“ (v7). Notice that they all woke up; they all truly realize the seriousness of the situation and begin to prepare to meet Jesus Christ. This is encouraging because it shows that Jesus Christ will make sure that all who have been called by God the Father to salvation will get a wake up call.
The Wise and the Foolish
This parable clearly shows that when the midnight cry goes out, there will be a very quick separation made between the wise and the foolish, based on attitude and behavior. This parable also clearly shows that as many as half of the elect who compose six of the churches noted in Revelation 2 and 3 are not going to make it into the Family of God.
It appears likely that when the cry rings out, the wise who have hung on to enough of the basic truths of God will see the seriousness of their situation and respond correctly by repenting of their poor attitude and behavior toward God the Father and Jesus Christ. Although they repent, they will still experience severe persecution and trials at the hands of the evil Beast System and Jesus Christ in order to help them revitalize their relationship with the Father and Jesus Christ.
“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 yourself“ (vs.8-9).
These foolish Christians have allowed themselves to become spiritually weak and lethargic. They have not kept the truth of God alive in their hearts through diligent study and meditation on God's word and constant communication with the Father. They have not done the things that are required in order to keep the light of God burning brightly in their lives. They have no reserve of spiritual strength to rely upon in this time of stress. In desperation, they hope that an association with those who are in a better spiritual condition will get them into the Kingdom. These people have forgotten the admonition by the apostle Paul to the Philippians to “Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling“ (Phil.2:12).
The five foolish virgins have allowed their calling and their understanding to erode, and they have gone so far back into the world that they cannot make the transition from unrighteousness to righteousness. They have ignored God's truth and ways too long and have become cold toward God. What they have done is reject an opportunity to repent because they have become so self-willed that they have quenched the spirit of God within them; they have adopted the standards of the world; and they have, in fact, sentenced themselves to the Lake of Fire:
“But while they [the foolish Christians] were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom [Christ] arrived. The virgins who were ready [the wise Christians] went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut“ (v10).
When Jesus Christ arrives at the time of the first resurrection to gather the Father's elect children and returns to heaven with them, the opportunity of salvation will have come to those who have been called during the gospel age. It is too late for anyone who has ignored the Father's call to enter his family and kingdom as a first-born son of his new creation.
Too Little, Too Late
“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 wherein the Son of man comes“ (vs.10-13).
This is clearly speaking of Jesus Christ's return to gather the elect of God at the first resurrection. Those who are wise will heed the midnight warning cry and become overcomers in the faith through trials and persecution. Thereby, they will become worthy to participate in the first resurrection and partake of the heavenly banquet with Jesus Christ.
The door being shut implies that the other virgins are excluded from the Kingdom of God and are no longer considered the elect of God. Once the elect are gathered from the earth, there will no longer be a person alive on earth who has the spirit of God within them. This is why Jesus says to the foolish virgins, “I don't know you.“ They no longer have the spirit of God available to them and they have lost their opportunity for salvation, which means that their fate is the Lake of Fire, because they were called of God but they did not remain faithful.
The sad truth is that, if one allows themselves to get into the condition pictured by the five foolish virgins, there is no hope of salvation. One must take positive action today, because when the midnight cry goes out, it is too late to start over again. Today is the opportunity to repent, return to the truth of God, and to reestablish a relationship with both God the Father and Jesus Christ. Tomorrow may be too late.
There are many parables similar to the parable of the ten virgins in which Jesus puts forth the same dire warning message to the Father's elect children during the time just before his return. Because of the seriousness of this subject we will explore some of these other parables as well in order to show that it is far better to heed the warning now, accept the truth contained in these parables, repent of wrong attitudes and behaviors, and start to grow in grace and knowledge while there is still time.
READINESS AND WATCHFULNESS
Luke 12:35-40 seems to be a part of the parable of the 10 virgins that was recorded by Matthew. Even if it is not, it still expands on what Jesus said about being ready to participate in the first resurrection:
“Let your loins be girded [active and faithful readiness] and your lamps [the truth of God] burning [be living in truth]. Be as men [zealous elect of God] who wait [be ready] for their lord [Jesus Christ] to return from the wedding [wedding feast] so that when he comes and knocks they will open to him“ (vs.35-36 KJV).
The English words 'to return' and 'from' in this text are from the Greek words 'analuo' and 'ex'. They can be translated to mean 'to leave' or 'to return' and 'out, of, by, from, or away from' and may also indicate a source, cause, separation, or direction.
The translators' difficulty in translating the last part of this text is due to their lack of understanding the plan of God in relation to the events that surround the first resurrection and Jesus Christ's marriage to the church.
He is saying that a person should always be ready to respond quickly to the truth of God (have your lamps burning) when Jesus knocks at the door of one's heart and mind. When one understands that this parable speaks of being ready to participate in the first resurrection and the attending celebration, and that the ancient Jewish custom extended the marriage celebration over several days (a whole week in the case of a virgin), and the celebrating sometimes went far into the night, it becomes apparent what Jesus is saying by using the analogy of a wedding and its attending celebration.
Just as with any invitation to a wedding banquet, not all of the guests receive the invitation at the same time, nor do all of them arrive at the wedding banquet at the same time. This is the situation of those who have been called to salvation during the gospel age. However, when a wedding and its attending banquet is finished, it is finished, and those who do not get there in time will not have another opportunity to participate.
In this parable, the invited guests (the elect of God) should be ready to participate in the first resurrection and its attending celebration. We also see the bridegroom (Jesus Christ) actively encouraging those who have been invited to come and participate in the banquet.
At the end of his warning messages to the seven churches Jesus says:
“Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and I will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcomes I will grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne“ (Rev.3:20-21 Para.).
The key to securing salvation is to immediately respond in a positive manner when one comes to the understanding that one is out of alignment with the word of God and in need of repentance and forgiveness. This is exactly what the wise virgins do when they are awakened from their spiritual slumber; they hear the warning and immediately refill their lamps (they make sure that the light of God's word will continue to light their pathway). The filling of the lamps also indicates that a wise Christian will use the light they have to grow in grace and knowledge, whereas the foolish will not.
Blessings Come From Watching
“Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he comes shall find watching He will have them sit down and eat as he serves them“ (Lk.12:37 Para.).
Active watching involves responsiveness, faithfulness, and effort. Why is a Christian blessed for watching? The reason is that if one actively watches (i.e., attends to the business of growing spiritually) one will be blessed with all of the things that are promised to those who participate in the first resurrection. Verse 37 is also a clear reference to the righteous being given rewards in the Family of God by Jesus Christ after the first resurrection and the wedding supper of the Lamb.
“If he [Jesus Christ] comes in the second watch or the third watch [delays his coming] and still finds them watching, blessed are those servants“ (Lk.12:38 Para.).
Who is watching? The Philadelphia grouping of God's people appear to be the only ones who have been consistently and faithfully watching. When the rewards of the Philadelphia grouping are examined, one can easily see how blessed these particular servants will be at the return of Christ. See Rev.3:12.
In a broader sense, this blessing also applies to the wise Christians (the five wise virgins) who are among the other six groupings of elect described in Revelation 2 and 3 who receive severe correction from Christ. Even though Christ's return appears to be delayed until the second or third watch, he does come and he finds the wise watching, because they have heeded the midnight warning cry. Because the wise are actively watching and have a reserve of oil to keep their lamps burning, they will also be blessed. When the rewards of those who heed the warnings to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are reviewed, we see that they are also given substantial rewards along with eternal and immortal life in the Family and Kingdom of God.
“Be therefore, ready, for the Son of man [Jesus Christ] comes in an hour when you are not expecting him“ (v40 Para.).
One must be consistent in one's faithfulness and dedication to the Father and Jesus Christ, because none of us knows the hour when Jesus Christ will come. We are each but a breath away from death, and when we die, our fate is sealed. If we have been faithful to the very end of our life, we will be in the first resurrection and will be rewarded accordingly. However, if we have been unfaithful in our walk with God, we will be punished for our wickedness in the Lake of Fire, which is the second death.
Anyone who is called to salvation must be ready, consistent, and faithful at all times. Remember, it is the person who overcomes to the end that is saved. Whenever that end comes for us, whether we die tomorrow, are martyred for our belief in the Father and his Son, or live until the return of Jesus Christ, it is the consistent overcomer who secures eternal and immortal life in the Family and Kingdom of God.
THE FAITHFUL AND UNFAITHFUL STEWARDS
Luke 12:42-48 Paraphrased
Just as the parable of the ten virgins in Luke 12:35-40 speaks about being a watchful servant, the context of the parable of the faithful and unfaithful stewards is also set in the time of the end of the age just before Christ's return at the first resurrection.
Jesus says, “Who is that faithful and wise steward [a servant of God] whom his Lord [Jesus Christ] shall make ruler over his household?. . . Blessed is that servant who his Lord [Jesus Christ] when he comes shall find so doing. The Lord [Jesus Christ] shall make him [the elect] ruler over all he has“ (vs.42-44).
Here, Jesus gives the keys to understanding what is required in order to be one of those who are blessed at his coming. The keys that will help to secure one's place in the first resurrection are faithfulness, wisdom, and perseverance in one's walk with God.
“But if the servant [the elect] says in his heart, the Lord delays his coming [which all ten of the virgins did] and they begin to beat their fellow servants, and they eat and drink and get drunk. The Lord will come in the day when he is not looking for him, . . . and the Lord will cut him apart and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers“ (vs.45-46).
A person who becomes lazy in his walk with God, goes back into the world, or becomes abusive to others within the body of the elect will be cut off from God. This happened during the first age of the church and even some of those in leadership roles fell prey to this kind of attitude and behavior and began to abuse their brothers and sisters in Christ and to eat and drink with the drunken. This pictures sinful conduct that is associated with going back into the ways of the world.
It is a sad fact that this type of sinful behavior can easily be found among the elect of God today.
Being cut asunder and being seen as an unbeliever alludes to the punishment in the Day of The Lord, when Christ will punish the unbelievers with severe trials of correction, which will often result in their death:
“That servant [one of the elect] who knew his lord's [the Father and Christ] will, and did not prepare, neither did his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But if he did not know [understand or was ignorant], and did things worthy of stripes he shall be beaten with few. For to whom much is given much is required. . .“ (vs.47-48).
The context of verses 47 and 48 concerns the difference between knowing and not knowing what one's responsibilities are before God the Father and Jesus Christ. Those who know what the will of God is for their lives and do not faithfully practice what they know to do will be severely punished by Jesus Christ. However, those who are ignorant of what is required will receive a lighter punishment because they have not set their will against God. Nevertheless, the ignorant servant does not receive a lighter punishment because he is guiltless of sin, but because he is not guilty of blatant and willful sin. Instead, he is guilty of being lazy and faithless in pursuit of the will of God in his life.
The point in verses 47-48 is that, as a called-out-one, the more a person knows about the will of God for their life, the greater the requirement is to do the will of God in a righteous and diligent manner before the Father and Jesus Christ. Whether people have a great or a small amount of spiritual knowledge, they are expected to diligently pursue the Father's will in their lives.
Use Your Time Wisely
The following observations by William Barclay concisely state the necessity for those who believe they are followers of the God of the Bible to diligently seek and perform the Father's will in their life.
In The Daily Study Bible Series, The Gospel of Mark, Barclay says, "No man can tell the day or hour when eternity will invade time and the summons will come. We would like him to find us with our work completed. If we really know what Christianity means we will know that there is no part of life when the master is away. We are working and living forever in our great task master's eyes. There is nothing so fatal as to feel that we have plenty of time" (pp.167-168).
In The Daily Study Bible Series, Gospel of Matthew Volume II, Barclay observes, "The parable has two universal meanings, it warns us that there are certain things which cannot be obtained at the last minute. It is far too late for a student to be preparing when the day of the examination is come. It is too late for a man to acquire a skill or character if he does not already possess it. It warns us there are certain things which cannot be borrowed. A man cannot borrow a relationship with God, he must possess it for himself. We cannot always be living on a spiritual capital which others have amassed" (pp.320-321).
William Barclay's comments can easily be applied to the condition in which many people find themselves today. Many people think that they have spiritual capital that they do not have. Many others think that their association with those who seem to be righteous assures them of being in right-standing with God. However, they do not realize that they are bankrupt and are only playing church like the five foolish virgins.
The wise virgins wake up when they hear the midnight warning cry and quickly fill their lamps (the truth of God) with their reserve oil (they repent and begin to earnestly seek God). But the foolish virgins only bring with them what is in their lamp (i.e., their initial understanding of God's truth). They have not grown enough spiritually to have any reserve oil with which to keep their lamps burning. When the foolish virgins realize that Christ is about to come, they seek to make themselves ready by attempting to borrow from the five who had brought enough oil. Because they are foolish, they think that they can get into the kingdom of God through the effort of someone else. The implication is that these people have a wrong attitude and want to do things their own way instead of seeking God’s ways in a repentant attitude.
THE WEDDING BANQUET
Matthew 22:1-14 Paraphrased
“Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come, . . . and insulted and killed the messenger“ (vs.1-3, 6).
This parable was primarily aimed at the Jews of Jesus' day. But there is no doubt that it also applies to the end of the age when the Father will send an invitation to participate in the first resurrection and the wedding feast of his Son through his elect children. We also know that some of these messengers will be killed for delivering the Father's invitation.
“Then he said to his servants, The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited [the Jews of Jesus' day] did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find“ (vs.8-9).
Many people have been called to salvation throughout the centuries, since the Jews of Jesus' day rejected the Father's good news message. The scriptures indicate that, before Christ's return, vast numbers of people will be called to salvation (many will be invited to the wedding banquet).
“But when the king [Jesus Christ] came in to see the guests [those called to the first resurrection], he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend', he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless“ (vs.11-12).
This scripture is an extremely important warning for all who have been called to participate in the first resurrection and the wedding banquet of Christ to be spiritually prepared for the return of Christ.
During the time of Christ, when a person was invited to a prestigious wedding banquet and did not have fine enough clothing to attend, the person to be honored would provide the fine clothing. This is exactly what is done for those who are invited to participate in the first resurrection and the banquet that follows. God the Father removes our sinful clothing (Isa.64:6) and clothes us through the sacrifice of Christ with righteousness (Rev.3:5; 7:9-14) after which it is our responsibility to maintain this clothing of righteousness in a pure and sinless condition (1.Cor.1:1-8; 2.Pet.3:13-14) until we are allowed to enter the wedding banquet of Christ.
The man who tried to attend the wedding without proper clothing is symbolic of many who are called to salvation and are very excited at the prospect of being saved from eternal death and being given eternal and immortal life in the Kingdom of God. However, after accepting the invitation (they repent and are baptized), they do not prepare themselves through continued spiritual growth in grace and knowledge to be worthy to enter the Family and Kingdom of God. Because they have done very little with the opportunity that they have been given, they will have no excuse when Christ tells them that they have disqualified themselves from receiving eternal life:
“Then the king told the attendants, Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are invited, but few are chosen“ (vs.13-14).
Many have the attitude that they can enter the Family and Kingdom of God under their own terms and conditions and they disregard the clear instructions that are set forth in the Bible. These individuals try to get into the wedding banquet without meeting the standards for righteous attitudes and behaviors that must be maintained throughout one's life.
God the Father has invited many to the awesome calling of the first resurrection, but few ultimately are chosen to receive the reward, because so many reject his rule in their lives and are unwilling to put forth the time and effort to secure salvation.
THE GIVING OF TALENTS
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. . .“ (vs.14-15).
The master goes on the journey and comes back asking each of his servants to account for what they were given. The faithful servants show that they have in varying degrees increased the value of what they were given. However, one servant did not increase the value of what he was given:
“Then the man who had received the one talent came. Master, he said, I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you“ (vs.24-25).
Notice what happens to the one who does nothing with the opportunity of salvation and the spiritual blessings and gifts that he has been given:
“His master [Jesus] replied, You wicked, lazy servant! You knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed [You understood what I was doing and yet you did nothing]. . . Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents . . .. And throw that worthless servant outside into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth“ (vs.26, 28-30).
When the Father calls an individual to salvation, that person has enough personal attributes to successfully secure salvation and a high position in his Family and Kingdom with the help of the holy spirit; otherwise, the Father would never have called that person. Therefore, the Father and Jesus Christ expect a person to grow in grace and knowledge and to produce spiritual fruit in their life. They also expect their servants to accomplish a work for them. If a person becomes too fearful and lazy to do this, they are not worthy to enter the Family and Kingdom of God.
The reward that the unworthy servant should have received for faithful service was given to someone else who had seized the opportunity and was willing to produce for their master. This is a serious warning that a person called to salvation must make a personal effort to do what is necessary in order to enter the Father's Family and Kingdom.
AS IN THE DAYS OF NOAH
When Jesus was asked what the sign of his coming would be he says:
“For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be“ (Matt.24:38-39 KJV).
The apostle Paul says much the same thing that Jesus does concerning the times that would exist just before Christ's return:
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it“ (2.Tim.3:1-5, RSV).
On the surface, human behavior today seems to be much as it has been for centuries; however, this is not so. What Matthew and Paul record as great wickedness will be the behavior of people just before the return of Christ and evil behavior today is increasing exponentially. Extremely evil behavior is the norm and not the exception in today's world. The behavior of people today is the same as it was right before the great flood when God destroyed humanity for their wicked behavior. However, the conditions that exist in the world today are no excuse for the elect of God to forsake their calling.
One Taken, One Left
When the conditions of the world reach those of the times of Noah, Christ will return and collect the faithful. This is the context in which we see the two types of people who have been called to salvation:
“Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left“ (Matt.24:40-41 NIV).
The ones who are taken from this world at Christ's coming are symbolic of the righteous elect who are faithful to God's calling. The ones who are left are symbolic of those who are unfaithful and unworthy of eternal and immortal life in the Father's Family and Kingdom.
Being left on earth after the return of Christ and the first resurrection should be an extremely terrifying thing for the elect of God to contemplate. Because they are called to salvation during the gospel age, if they are not in the first resurrection, their fate is to be cast into the Lake of Fire, which is the second death:
“Therefore keep watch [ action, vigilance, consistency], because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him“ (Matt.24:42-44 NIV).
Who are the Faithful?
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, My master is staying away a long time, and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth“ (Matt.24: 45-51 NIV).
There are two groups of the elect being spoken of in the above scriptures. The first group seems to be those of the Philadelphia attitude that are likely the ones who are charged with proclaiming the gospel message—giving the midnight cry of warning—and are in charge of God's household under Christ during the end of the age. The second group seems to be those classified as the foolish and the wise virgins who are among the other six churches noted in chapters two and three of the Book of Revelation. Some of them will heed the midnight cry to repent and zealously secure their salvation, and some will not.
THE NARROW DOOR
“Someone asked him, Lord, are only a few people going to be saved? He said to them, Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, saying Sir, open the door for us. But he will answer, I don't know you or where you come from. Then you will say, We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets. But he will reply, I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers! There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out“ (Lk.13:23-28 NIV).
This is another example of the rejection of spiritually lazy people who were personally called to salvation by the Father to become his immortal sons in his Family and Kingdom. In the final judgment, these foolish servants will be cast into the Lake of Fire for their sinful attitudes and behaviors.
God the Father and Jesus Christ are extremely fair and equitable in their treatment of the elect and they give each individual tremendous latitude and opportunity to be diligent and faithful. God the Father has never called a single person to be one of his elect children who was not equipped to meet the challenge and enter into his family. This is why the consequences for failure are so severe. The Father is not going to give the reward of eternal and immortal life to a person that rejects and disdains his call and refuses to be faithful to him and his son.
Individually, we need to be diligent servants who
are energetic, dedicated, and faithful to this awesome and wonderful calling.
There are only two choices for those who have been called to salvation during
the gospel age: An individual can be lazy, unfaithful, and suffer the second
death in the Lake of Fire, or one can be zealous and faithful, and be rewarded
with eternal and immortal life in the Father's Family and Kingdom. If you have
been called to salvation or are being called now, the choice of whether to live
or die is yours!
By B.L. Cocherell and Charles E. Barrett
File b2w4 7/07