DO YOU HAVE OIL IN YOUR LAMP?
Many of us have heard the Lord impress upon us that He is coming soon. I believe we need to take this very seriously. Matthew 24 outlines the signs of the end of the age. Natural disasters as described in this passage are increasing in the earth today. Let us not be blind to the signs of the times.
Following His teaching on the end times in Matthew 24, the Lord goes on to talk about the hour of His return specifically. Jesus describes it in the context of ten virgins – five wise and five foolish. The significance of this parable (as found in Matthew 25:1-13) is worth contemplating in these times:
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “‘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.’
10 “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.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
WHO WERE THE TEN VIRGINS
One of the first questions we need to ask is “Who were the ten virgins?” One might think they are believers (wise) and unbelievers (foolish). However, you’ll note that all ten had lamps. The lamps point to the presence of God or more specifically Christ, the light of the world. So we know from this that all ten were believers. They were all waiting for the Bridegroom. They have all received Jesus. They all believed in Him. However, the difference between the two groups of virgins lies in this: five were wise and five were foolish. Did you know you could be a believer and still be foolish?
The distinction between the wise and foolish is seen clearly in verses 7-8 of the parable where we see the foolish virgins have run out of oil to keep their lamps burning. What does oil represent? The Holy Spirit or the presence of God. The wise virgins, however, had oil in their lamps: the flame of Christ was lit by the power of the Holy Spirit!
Whereas the wise virgins had a relationship with the Holy Spirit and so were ready when the cry rang out to meet the Bridegroom the foolish had only a lamp for as the hour grew late, they had run out of oil. Why did they run out of “oil?” Because they had failed to cultivate a relationship with the Holy Spirit while there was still time to do so.
GET YOUR OWN OIL
The parable tells us that the cry rang out at midnight – that’s late. All virgins, including the wise had fallen asleep! However, they were all awakened by the cry and they all wanted to go to the wedding feast. Again, it wasn’t just the wise who had their hearts set on the feast, the foolish ones did too. However, the foolish were not prepared for the feast when it was time. This is clearly seen in the fact that their lamps were going out due to an insufficient supply of oil.
Running out of oil the foolish virgins said to the wise virgins: “Give us some of your oil.” The wise in essence, said: “If we give you some of our oil we won’t have enough!” The wise had gotten their oil from the Source and were not about to give what they had plumbed to the foolish. This reminds us that we each need to get our own oil, not by sponging off of others, but by drinking directly from Christ for our supply. It’s not about going to the latest conference or asking others to pray for us all the time. We need to have our lamps directly filled by the Holy Spirit and exhort others to do the same. Hence, the wise virgins told the foolish to go buy their own oil.
THERE IS A PRICE TO BE PAID
There was a price to be paid for the oil needed. Here we are reminded of Christ’s words to His Church in Revelation 3:18: “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” Again, there is a price to pay to be found in Jesus – to have oil in our lamps. We see that those who pay the price are wise, but those who don’t are foolish. So what is the price to pay for oil?
Clearly, it is the laying down of our lives in the service of our Beloved. In this regard, the wise virgins had sought to walk and grow in the Lord by the power of His Holy Spirit and had stayed in step with the Spirit till the end. The foolish had obviously been busy with something else than pursuing God and forcefully advancing the kingdom or they wouldn’t have run out of oil. I believe they represent believers who were busy with the things of this world who, rather than paying the price for oil, had spent what they had on themselves.
DESIRE ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH
Although the foolish, at the last hour wanted to buy oil and enter the kingdom, they couldn’t. There was no time left. This reminds us that there is a window of time in which we can prepare for what is coming, whether it’s Jesus’ return or the next season of the Spirit. In either case there comes a time when the door is shut and God moves on with what has been determined to unfold at that time. If we want to move on with Him we have to be ready to move when He moves.
What does it mean to be ready? It means we have the proper things in place to accommodate the journey or reality when the appointed time arrives. For example, if a mountain climb club has scheduled an event, the people invited will need to acquire the proper climbing gear. It’s not enough to just have a desire to go to the event; if people are going to be able climb the mountain, they will need the appropriate equipment to do so. Moreover, they need to have their gear in place by the day of the event. The leader of the climb is not going to delay the climb he has planned just because someone isn’t ready. Rather, such a person will bear the consequence of their failure to have prepared in the time frame that was allotted them to do so.
The above principle is likewise seen in the parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22. Here we see a picture of the wedding feast that will take place at the end of the age. In this parable the king had his attendants invite many people to the event. However, only those who responded properly, being clothed with the garments of salvation (as symbolized by “wedding clothes”) could join in the festivities as verses 11-13 indicate:
“But when the king came in to see the guests, 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. “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.”
In other words the King says “Hey this is a wedding. There’s a dress code. You need to respect the house rules. You don’t have wedding clothes on, so you need to leave.” Here again we see that it wasn’t a matter of the person not wanting to go to the wedding, but of lack of preparation. He didn’t acquire what was needed beforehand when he had the chance.
THE DOOR WILL BE SHUT ON THE FOOLISH
As for the parable of the ten virgins, the five wise made their way to meet the Bridegroom while the five foolish suddenly decided to go by oil. However, by the time the foolish returned with oil the doors to the wedding were shut. It’s too late. They now had their oil; but the time to respond to the Bridegroom’s call has come and gone. He has moved on.
The foolish virgins clearly did not spend their time preparing to meet the Bridegroom. As noted previously, they were busy doing their own thing. And so we see that although they had a lamp – a belief in Christ – this alone was not enough to bring them through the doors of the kingdom. They did not cultivate their relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit as seen in their lack of oil. Even so, there are many today who believe in God, but they’re just doing church and living their own lives. They are not busy buying oil and keeping their lamps lit. They are being disqualified by their own foolishness for they are not living for Christ, but have been caught up in the affairs of this world.
I want to just emphasize what I shared above because this is where the Lord really began to impress this parable on my heart. Listen. The five virgins that didn’t make it into the wedding were not wicked. This parable doesn’t say they were sinful. It says they were foolish. It’s not simply the wicked that will be left out, but the foolish!
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE FOOLISH?
The Lord began to speak to me about what it means to be foolish. Psalm 53:1 begins by saying “The fool says in his heart there is no God.” To be foolish is to convince oneself there is no God. Now, the foolish virgins had a belief in God. However, they didn’t live as though they believed in Him because they didn’t take His warnings seriously. They didn’t live as though there was a God that was coming back for them. Rather, the foolish live as though this world is all there is. Their thoughts, their motives, their plans are based around building a life rooted in this world.
The Spirit also quickened to me that to be foolish is to ignore the warnings of what is to come. The word of God is full of warnings. Moreover, many voices today are crying out for the Church to repent and warning that the time is short and the return of our Lord is near. Are we listening? Are we doing all we can to prepare? Are we walking in holiness? Or are we still living like we belong to this world?
So many believe they are saved but they have no oil. So many are believing the lie that just believing and going to church and doing good deeds is enough. It’s the easy way out but it’s not the way in. It’s the sign of a Church that has became numb and dead and lazy. She has decided: “This is comfortable. I have everything I need. I have all the material things I need.” This deception is presenting many from seeing the desperateness of their human condition. Hence, Christianity has been reduced to nothing more than a convenient religion among a lukewarm church! The wise, however, are preparing for what is to come – the kingdom of God and the midnight hour.
WE MUST PREPARE BEFORE MIDNIGHT FALLS
“Midnight” – the beginning of the end will be a season in which we will walk through the darkness toward our Bridegroom with our lamps lit. It is a passage that will serve as a bridge leading up to His return. In order to find our way in the dark of this hour, we will need light – the Light of the world. We will need oil – the oil of the Holy Spirit for it is only through Him that our lamps (our Light) will be lit. We can’t light it ourselves. We can’t do the Christian life in our own strength even if we believe in Christ! It is only through the Holy Spirit that the light of Christ can be fanned into flame within us to light our pathway before us. As already discussed this investment must precede the midnight hour, so that we have in place all we need when darkness falls and man can work no more (John 12:35-36).
As for the five foolish virgins, it’s not like the foolish were not given ample time to buy oil. The Scripture tells us the cry rang out at midnight. There are many hours leading up to midnight. Why didn’t they make use of the time while they still had the light? Didn’t they take time to think that when midnight came it would be too late? No. Because foolish people don’t think of the consequences of their actions. They don’t consider things beyond the present moment and the present world. However, that does not change the fact that when midnight comes it will be too late for those who are unprepared to ready themselves for the fullness of the hour.
Do you see how imperative it is that we prepare NOW, that we ‘buy oil’ NOW…that we don’t wait until the cry rings out or the door is shut? When the midnight hour comes it will be too late to prepare. The darkness will fall and we will need to already be equipped at that time in order to have what we need to overcome it and endure until the end. Similarly, Jesus has said in Luke 12:38-40: “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” But if we are spending our lives on this world, how can we expect to be found ready?
If only souls would understand that friendship with the world is enmity toward God! (James 4:4) If only they would understand that the lukewarm church is an enemy of the gospel and not a co-laborer, that what they are actually serving is a false religion…then these foolish ones could turn and be saved! For God does not desire that these ones should remain among the foolish but that they would repent and become wise while there is still time…but there is so little time left. Even so, as I recited this message into my tape recorder (to later transcribe here), things ended like this: “It’s time to get serious. There is so little time left. There is little time left. “Ring!” My husband spoke: “My cell phone is ringing…” In deed! The cry is even now ringing out dear Church. Awaken and hear! Prepare!
On a positive note, as I wrote the section about the unfolding of the midnight hour, I heard the Spirit saying: “See the awakening that’s coming. See many who sleep will awake.” I don’t know exactly how this fits in, but let’s pray this awakening comes forth in the fullness that the Lord desires and that many who hear this message will even now “Awaken!”
Kimberly Lefebvre April 12 2011