The Fate Of The Unprepared
In this parable of the Ten Virgins Jesus is continuing the solemn declaration of the uncertainty of the time of His return and of the necessity of being ready for such an event. This is why the opening word "then" is important. It is the link binding the previous chapter and this one together. There was no break in our Lord’s discourse. In the preceding chapter the certainty and the suddenness of the Lord’s coming has been solemnly stressed.
Delay has often the downfall of countless individuals and nations. An army delays its attack an hour and loses the battle. As Douglas MacArthur once said, "In war all tragedy can be summarized in two words, ’too late.’"
Shakespeare once said, "Delays have dangerous ends."
In early 1874 an inventor named Elisha Gray transmitted a few musical notes over a telegraph wire. He thought to himself, "If I can send music, perhaps I could send the human voice." The NEW YORK TIMES reported predictions of a "talking telegraph", and the public began to grow eager for it.
Just one-year later Gray believed he had the answer. Tin can like voice chambers connected by a wire in a liquid that could turn vibrations into signals is what came into his mind. However, he did not put his idea on paper for two months. After finally making a sketch, he waited four more days before he went to the patent office.
When he arrived, Mr. Gray was told that just two hours earlier a school teacher had come through that same door with his own sketch and had already applied for the patent. His name was Alexander Graham Bell.
When you compared the sketches, the voice chambers, the wire, and the liquid everything was identical.
The reason we know the name Alexander Graham Bell and until today, never heard the name Elisah Gray is simply because one man seized the opportunity when he could. The other one waited until it was too late.
Man’s history is filled with the wrecks of delay. ONE MOMENT’S DELAY MAY USHER IN AN ETERNITY OF REGRET.
Delay poses so serious a threat to mankind that Christ offered up this parable on the danger of being unprepared at the coming of Christ.
I. The CERTAINTY OF HIS RETURN
Matthew 24:3 “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
By preaching and by parable the Lord granted thier request and insturcted them regarding His return. In the end of the parable, Jesus sums up the reason for the parable. “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” This is the scope and design of this whole parable. This is the great truth Jesus wished to stress, and all parts of the parable are to be interpreted in reference to this admonition. JESUS IS COMING AGAIN.
As you well know you certainly cannot always believe everything you read in the papers. Some of the headlines in papers are absolutely astounding. Listen to a few of the actual headlines that have run in American newspapers.
Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Prostitutes Appeal to Pope
Teachers Strike Idle Kids
Enraged Cow Injures Farmer With Ax
Miners Refuse to Work after
Two Sisters Reunited After 18 Years in Checkout Counter
Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds
New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Well, I really wish that every newspaper in America, in fact every newspaper around the world, would run this headline at least once a week: Jesus Is Coming
He is coming again.
The second coming of Jesus Christ is the greatest prophetic event of the ages. Now there are many things that are important in the Bible such as the new birth, but it is only mentioned nine times. As Baptists, we believe baptism is important, but baptism is only mentioned twenty times. You cannot be saved apart from repentance, but repentance is mentioned only seventy times . However, one out of every twenty-five verses in the word of God says, speak about the coming again Jesus Christ.
A. His Coming Is Imminent.
Jesus can come at any moment. He can come at any time. He can come at any time.
After church, where she had been taught about the Second Coming, a little was quizzing her mother. "Mommy, do you believe Jesus will come back?" "Yes."
"In a few minutes?" "Yes, dear." "Mommy, would you comb my hair?"
B. His Coming Is Inevitable.
You cannot stop it. You cannot escape it. In fact, the second coming of Jesus is the only thing that really is inevitable. You see even is not. There is a chance that you and I may not die if Jesus comes back today. The only reason that is not necessarily inevitable is because the second coming of Jesus is inevitable. There is a real possibility that I may not die but there is no possibility that Jesus will not come again. His coming is inevitable.
All of Biblical revelation can be summarized in three simple statements, "He is coming, He has come, and He is coming again."
When General Douglas McArthur was forced from the Philippines during World War II he left with a promise that he would return to free the islands from the occupying forces of the Japanese. That promise, "I shall return," inspired the guerrillas during the dark days of the war. They continued to fight in the jungles because they counted on McArthur’s promise to help.
As the end of the war drew near, their hope was renewed as Allied planes flew over the jungles and dropped supplies to them. In these supplies were pictures of General McArthur with the words, "I shall return." That message gave the guerrillas renewed determination to continue the battle. Finally, McArthur did return and delivered them from the oppressing enemy. He kept his promise.
Before His withdrawal from this world, the Lord Jesus registered a similar resolve. "I will come again." He is coming again.
To some it could be a SHOCKING reality; to others it may be a SAD reality; to the saved it will be a SWEET reality, but to all it will be SURE reality. Jesus is coming again.
“I will come again” is His personal promise.
G. Campbell Morgan, a preacher from the last century said “The second coming is the perpetual light in the path which makes the present bearable.”
II. The CONDITION AT HIS RETURN
Mt 25:1,2 “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.”
Here are two classes are seen in bold contrast. All ten virgins believed in the coming of the bridegroom, and hoped to be present at the marriage reception. The entire party waiting for the this glad event, but five were found unprepared.
Some would say (and I would agree) that this parable describes the condition of the church at the second coming.
Jesus is warning us in this parable that there will be a many who look like Christians, who associate with Christians, and who even think they are Christians, who will be shocked to learn that they are not saved at the return of our Lord. What a sobering thought.
This text is not seeking to create uncertainty and doubt in the heart of the Christian. It is not seeking to rob the Christian of his assurance. But it is seeking to warn those who have a false assurance but not salvation. At the coming of Christ, there will be those who appear to be Christians but are not.
Observe verse 5.
A. The delay in His coming
Why is Christ delaying his coming? II Peter 3:9; 2 Peter 3:15 “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.....”
God delays His coming cause He loves men and wants them to be saved.
B. The drowsiness at His coming
How sadly true it is, that, in the history of the Church, genuine saints and mere professors have often "slumbered and slept" side by side! Those who have the oil of grace are not always wide awake to serve their Master and watch for His appearing. In the case of even true believers, the delay in Christ’s coming often causes weariness and laziness, when we ought to be watching for the Lord.
The foolish virgins remind of the vast multitudes who will not be ready for his appearing. Even the wise virgins were content to sit at ease and slumber when at their side were people in urgent need.
Ten in the Bible is the number signifying responsibility. All ten went to sleep. As to living up to our responsibility many believers have gone to sleep.
It is not enough to be believe in Christ’s return, we must be ready for it.
Both the wise and the foolish virgins were asleep. So being asleep was not the problem. The wise virgins prepared before they fell asleep. They were ready for whatever might come when they woke up. But the foolish were caught unprepared. They should have gotten oil for their lamps while they had the opportunity. Their false security let them sleep through the day of opportunity.
1. The visible appearance which was similar
“ten virgins” - their characters were without reproach. They were blameless in the sight of men. There was not five virgins and five harlots.
Now don’t miss this very important point. From the outside all ten of these virgins looked identical. They were all dressed appropriately in their wedding garments. They all had their lamps to carry when the birde groom came, but they were not truly alike because five were ready and five were not.
On the surface the ten bridesmaids are indistinguishable.. Yet they are not alike. Verse 2 says "five of them were wise, and five were foolish.” It may not be clear to us which is which, but He who searches men’s hearts knows .
The Lord can look at all those who go to church and profess to be Christians, and He know who is truly His and who isn’t--who is wise and who isn’t.
2. The vital difference which was spiritual
“they that were ready went in” verse 10.
Wisdom and foolishness manifests itself in how prepared you are for Christ’s return.
Churches everywhere are filled with people who are not saved and not prepared for His return. Is there any significance about there being five wise virgins and five foolish ones? I don’t think the Lord was saying that half of those who profess to be Christians aren’t really saved; however, He was simply pointing out that there are many unredeemed people in the church. There are many people who are unprepared to meet the Lord upon or at the time of the second coming. Some of them will deceive themselves by thinking that everything is OK because they are involved in church.
Jesus is speaking here to His disciples; He is not speaking to His adversaries, the Jewish religious leaders nor to the crowds. Thus, this parable, should serve as a warning to the church.
III. THE CALAMITY (tragedy ) AT HIS RETURN
Matthew 25:6 begins, "At midnight there was a cry made." Apparently the bridegroom tarried a long time. Midnight is a late time to start a wedding. Now, the point our Lord wanted to make is that He will return at an unexpected time. We now understand why the bridesmaids fell asleep: most people are asleep by midnight. No one would expect a wedding to start that late. Interestingly, we learn from Exodus 12:29-33 that the deliverance of Israel from Egypt took place at midnight.
Midnight is a late hour. As 1 Thessalonians 5:2 says, Christ will come as a thief in the night. The world will somehow be lulled into complacency, and the Lord will come at an unexpected moment. The bridesmaids knew the wedding was near, but five of them wasted their opportunity to be prepared. Then came the cry at midnight--the cry that announced His approach.
Those who didn’t have oil now realized they were unprepared; they didn’t anticipate the bridegroom would come when it was too late to buy any oil. They were unprepared. When the bridegroom arrived, the truth was revealed: they were unprepared.
A. . The plans that were commendable
All the virgins planned on meeting the Bridegroom and share in the marriage feast.
Intentions are not good enough. No man intends on going to hell.
B. The predicament that was inexcusable
Five of the virgins forgot to take oil with their lamps. The Jewish lamp was a shallow vessel filled with oil, on which the wick floated. These virgins had oil in their lamps when they started but had no oil to replenish them.
They had just the oil enough to make their lamps burn for a while, but no cruse or bottle of oil with them to refuel if the bridegroom tarried.
Seldom did Christ use so harsh a word of condemnation and call someone a fool or foolish. But one of those rare occasion for which Christ reserves the usage of the word is in this case where a person who knows full well what he ought to do delays doing it until it is too late. "Tomorrow is a period nowhere to be found - unless in the fool’s calendar."
1. To fail to prepare is foolish because of a failure to recognize your present need.
The five foolish virgins felt that they had sufficient oil to last the rest of the night. Theirs was a pressing need, but they failed to see it.
Oftentimes your present need is overshadowed by other interest. Five virgins were so excited about the events of the evening that they failed to see their present need. What in your life is overshadowing your need of Jesus Christ as Saviour? Is it the pursuit of education, success in business, pleasure, money, family, or friends? It doesn’t make any difference how noble it may be, if you allow it to overshadow your pressing and present need of Christ you are foolish.
2. To fail to prepare is foolish because of a failure to exercise any forethought.
Five virgins did not anticipate the bridegroom’s tarrying. Forethought is a mark of wisdom. They failed to anticipate the possible events of the future. They had good intentions, but no forethought. They wanted to see the bridegroom, but intentions alone are not good enough.
Many today plan for all the events of life, and yet take no thought of tomorrow as far as their soul is concerned.
Many are like the man who feel out of window of a twenty-story building, who, as he fell past the tenth floor, waved at a friend and said, "Everything is all right --so far."
D. The pronouncement that was unchangeable
The foolish hurry away to buy oil, and while they are away the bridal party arrives, and the door is shut. "They that were ready went in."
"They that were ready went in" --not they that intended to be ready, or they that were in the process of getting ready.
Death or the return of Christ terminates all possibilities of getting ready. Once the door was shut, there is no hint of a second chance to get ready.
To delay is to run the risk of being rejected because of the imminence of Christ’s coming or the suddenness of .
The church is filled with people who are not ready. Jesus gives a warning to such people in Luke 13: "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are."
In Matthew 25:11-12 we read, "Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not." There’s no second chance. The only way you can make sure you are ready for the Lord’s return is to be ready every day. You never know when you might die or the Lord may come. If you are caught unprepared, the door of heaven will be forever closed to you.
Salvation is non-transferable. No one can give
you salvation. You have to go to God on your own. The foolish virgins could have gotten oil, but not at midnight. They had the opportunity, but they slept it away.
In our text, the five foolish virgins are not given the time to reverse their folly, once the groom has come. They had their opportunity, and they lost it. Now it is too late.
Jesus taught repeatedly that there are multitudes of people attaching themselves to the church who are unprepared to face God. They are self-deceived about their status with God. When they finally realize they are unprepared, it will be too late to do anything about it.
Sinner, don’t waste the opportunities that you have
today. Saint, do not waste the opportunities you also have today.
Don’t be caught unprepared. That’s the message in the parable of the ten virgins.
Now this parable is intended to teach us about the suddenness and unexpectedness of the Lord’s coming. It calls for us to be prepared for that unknown day.
A young lady busied herself getting ready for a blind date. This was not just dinner and a movie; her date had planned dinner at an exclusive downtown restaurant with live music. Wanting to make a good first impression she had taken the day off work. She cleaned her apartment; she went out that afternoon to have her hair done and get a manicure. When she got home she did her makeup, put on her best dress and was ready for her date’s arrival. His expected arrival came and went, but she continued to wait patiently. Finally after waiting over an hour she decided she had been stood up, so she took off her dress, let down her hair put on her pajamas, gathered all her favorite junk food and sat down to watch TV with her dog.
Sometime later there was a knock at the door; it was her date. He looked at her surprised and said, “What I gave you an extra two hours and you’re still not ready to go!”
Jesus is coming again. Will you be ready for His return, or will He catch you unprepared?