Summary: Believers and unbelievers alike have the responsibility to prepare for Christ's return.
Preparing For Christ’s Return
I was once sent an interesting book entitled, Jesus Is Finally Coming Are You Ready for the Rapture? October 28, 1992. It was sent to me free of charge by the Mission For The Coming Days. This is an organization that was formed in 1988 after, they say, a calling by God through the Holy Spirit. They have 61 divisions in Korea and 40 others throughout the world with headquarters in Seoul, Korea. In this book under the chapter Jesus Knows When, the following quotation is found: "Will Jesus not know the time of His return? By studying who Jesus really is, you will not only agree with us, but become one of our believers in '24:00 of 28 October 1992.'" Of course, this date-like many others, has come and gone and still Jesus has not returned.
Jesus warns us about trying to set a time for his return, but in the same vein, he instructs us in the matter of being ready for his return no matter when it may take place. This is the most important part of the Second Coming of the Lord. It does not matter when he comes. It matters whether we are ready or not.
We can look in the Old and New Testaments and find references to the second coming of Christ. Some have said that out of the 27 books in the New Testament, 23 of them give reference to the second coming of Christ. They have found 318 references to this coming in these books. This translates into about one out of every 30 verses.
Now we cannot deny that there are various views among Christians about how the events surrounding the Second Coming will transpire. Some believe in a literal seven year tribulation and a literal thousand-year reign of Christ on earth. Others interpret these events in a symbolic manner. No matter how we interpret these events, the thing that should occupy our attention is the fact that Christ will return.
The parable that we read today speaks of the Second Coming of Christ. It does not tell how all of the events will take place. What it does tell us is that we must be prepared for the Coming. First through twenty-first century Christians have looked for his arrival. He has not come yet, but we hold to the belief that he will come, and it is our responsibility to be ready and to try to get others ready as well by warning them of this coming event.
I. WHO SHOULD PREPARE ( 1-5)
The parable deals with a wedding. During this period, the marriage affected the entire family. The decision for marriage partners was made by the parents not the participants in the marriage. This decision was often made while the man and woman were children. When they reached a certain age, they entered into a betrothal ceremony. A dowry was paid by the parents of the bride. Betrothal was much more binding that our engagement. So binding was it that if the marriage did not take place for whatever reason, a divorce had to be secured before either party could marry another. Even though not legally married, the man and woman were viewed as being husband and wife. If there was unfaithfulness during this period, it was considered adultery. We can think about the events surrounding the birth of Jesus and determine that this was the normal mindset. At the time of the wedding, the friends of the groom would bring the bride to the groom's house.
In our story, we are introduced to ten bridesmaids who take their lamps and go out to meet the groom. The number ten is probably used because it stands for completeness in God's Word. They then wait for the groom so they can escort him to the bride's house. So in this parable there is a difference. The groom is away and the bridesmaids are waiting to escort him to the bride's home.
Then we learn that five of these bridesmaids are foolish and the other five are wise, and we are told the reason they are considered so. Five of them took oil in their lamps and five did not. In reality, the reference is to extra oil. Five of them took extra oil, but five of them did not. Since the lamps were so small, it made good sense to take along extra oil. While they were waiting for the groom, they fell asleep.
The reference to the groom must be a reference to Christ. Paul pictures Christ as the groom and husband of the church. In turn, the church is pictured as the bride and wife of Christ. The coming of the groom is a reference to the coming of Christ. This coming can be compared to a marriage feast for those who have accepted him as their Savior.