- I know some of you found it difficult to fully understand the message last Sunday of the 70 weeks of Daniel
- if you don’t grasp anymore than this: understand this prophecy in Daniel tells us clearly that there will come a final 7 year period upon the earth in which God will once again deal specifically with Israel
- this final 7 year period is known as the great tribulation, a time when God’s wrath and judgment is poured out upon the earth
- what I want talk about today is the event that happens before this final 7 years begins
- the event is called “the rapture”
- the Rapture is as the Greek says the “catching away”, or “snatching away” of believers to be with the Lord
1 Thess 4:17 ....we who are still alive and left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
- and so the church is removed from the earth and now God deals once again with national Israel and the nations of the world .....but the church is in heaven
- our scripture portion read today is often titled the 10 virgins or the 10 bridesmaids and it is a parable that follows the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 24 which deals solely with the second coming
- in Matthew 24 the disciples have asked Jesus what the signs will be at the end of the age... and Jesus tells them
- at the end of the chapter he brings a warning “keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
- and in the next chapter shares this parable about 10 bridesmaids (No chapter divisions)
- for us in the 21st century this parable does not make a lot of sense because our customs have changed and so we need to understand the custom of the 1st century Jewish wedding
- the first difference we would notice is that in this 1st century Jewish wedding the bridegroom was a more important figure than the bride, (umm) and the bride would pay for all the expenses of the wedding (very different!)
- the wedding was quite different ..... 1st came the formal engagement which was usually arranged by the parents of the future groom and bride
- the bridegroom settled on the purchase price with her parents and the marriage covenant was established,
- from that moment the young man and woman were regarded as husband and wife, even though the actual ceremony had not yet taken place, and they were not to be intimate
- the young man then left his bride to go to his own father’s house and prepare a place for them to both live, the general time frame for this was about a year
- At the end of the period of separation, the bridegroom would come unexpectedly usually at night - to take his bride to live with him.
- the groom, the best man, and other male escorts left the father’s house and conducted a torch-light procession to the home of the bride.
- although the bride was expecting her groom to come for her at some time, she did not know the day of his coming (she knew the season but not the day)
- she and the bridesmaids had to be ready, because it was usually at night and so they needed to have lamps filled with oil to light the way
- the groom’s arrival was preceded by a shout, which announced her sudden departure to be gathered with him.
- it was now that the actual marriage ceremony began and lasted for 7 days
- during these 7 days the bride and groom remained hidden in the bridal chamber
- at the end of the 7 days the groom comes out of the bridal chamber and presents his bride to everyone
- the veil is removed from his wife so now everyone can clearly see her
- this of course parallels Jesus coming for his bride, the church and our necessity to be ready
- and so Jesus used this parable of 10 virgins or bridesmaids to illustrate a truth
- this is the picture that Jesus paints for us… 10 young women are waiting to join a wedding party, they are all expecting the groom to arrive any day
- please read that ALL WERE EXPECTING the groom to return at some time
- but 5 were wise and 5 were foolish
- the only difference between the wise and foolish was the foolish had no oil for their lamps, they had failed to prepare
- and the words of Jesus to these 5 foolish is grim “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you”
- remember all 10 were expecting the groom to return at some point but only 5 were prepared
- today I want to bring out 3 warnings from this passage of scripture
1) the 1st is we must “be alert”
- the second coming of Jesus is mentioned 318 times in the 260 chapters of the New Testament.
- it occupies one in every 25 verses from Matthew to Revelation.
- you would need your head buried in the sand to know that present world events are happening and aligning with the very things talked about in scripture
- a radio can tune in a certain station and in doing so tunes out all others, we also need to tune into what the Spirit of God is saying in these days
- these are days when each of us needs to be listening as never before
- we need to grow in wisdom and be able differentiate between the 4 kinds of voices: our own, other people, the enemy and the Holy Spirit
- we also need to be alert to every message of heaven and not be foolish
- the 5 foolish were not watching for the signs of the bridegroom’s arrival, they thought it would be later….. they still had time to but some oil, later! , and because of that, they missed it. They fell asleep instead of staying alert.
2) we must “be prepared” in season and out
- Jesus said and warned us “keep watch”, maintain a state of preparation
- 20 years ago Flo and I has the privilege of going to Israel and we toured the Golan Heights in the north of the country
- our guide showed the remnants from the war with Syria and told us this account
- on October 6, 1973 the armies of Syria launched a major surprise attack on northern Israel
- the attack came on the "Day of Atonement" which is the most holy day in Israel called Yom Kippur..... this was the start what became known as the Yom Kippur War
- most of the army was away on leave for the holiday, so Syria knew exactly the best time to attack
- the Syrians began to move swiftly into northern Israel moving toward the Sea of Galilee and the Egyptians attacked from the south
- the nation was caught by surprise and came close to being overrun, except for God’s covenant promise with Israel they probably would have
- the nation was called to prayer by the rabbi’s
- as the nation prayed, a massive cloud descended upon the Syrian army and stalled it for several days, so they could not advance
- this allowed the Israeli Armed Forces to mobilize and meet the Syrians at the front lines, which they quickly did
- as the cloud lifted the Syrians then faced a fully mobilized Israeli army and within a week, Israeli tanks and infantry was marching into Syria and if not prevented by the UN would have seized the Syrian capital of Damascus
- God had again intervened in the course of human history
- there are lessons we can all learn from this account
- Israel has always kept a constant state of readiness ever since, they learned their lesson
- how is our state of readiness? .............OUR STATE OF PREPARATION
3) we must “be filled” with Spirit
- of the 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom it says 5 were foolish and 5 were wise
- the 5 foolish ones had not brought any oil for their lamps
- oil is used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit
- a lamp in those days was simply a small clay bowl filled with oil and a wick placed in it
- the lamp was useless without the oil and so they were called foolish
- a lamp without oil is only form without substance
- it looks like a lamp on the outside but when it comes time to give light, there’s no substance, no oil
- these 5 foolish virgins appeared just like the other 5 ……they all appeared to be alike.
- they all thought of themselves as bridesmaids. ……they all dressed alike. …….they were all expecting the bridegroom.
…..they all had lamps. ……all of them trimmed their lamps. ……they all wanted to be a part of the wedding feast.
- but 5, half of them did not bring any oil
- they would have known they needed oil and so they must have assumed they could buy some oil at a latter time
- which is what they did ….. however while they were on their way to buy oil.. the bridegroom arrived
- they thought they had enough time….. latter, we can do it later they thought
- the message is this ….the 5 foolish ones tried to borrow from the 5 who were wise
- no one can do it for you, the faith of parents, brothers or sisters, or friends does not help you……. Each of us must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
…. We cannot borrow anyone else’s faith
- whether you grew up in a Christian home, went to church all your life, know all the bible stories …… if you have never given your life to Jesus Christ then you are not ready for the banquet
- you might call yourself a Christian, act like a Christian, do Christian stuff, attend Christian events but if you have never given your heart, your life…… if you have never received the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins….. then you are like a lamp without oil
- we need to be in relationship with Jesus Christ… not just knowing about Him but knowing Him
- when we trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within our beings, the oil is present
- scripture tells us to be filled with the Holy Spirit
in conclusion…. Be alert, be prepared, be ready and be filled
- perhaps the most sobering part of this parable is that there is a time called “too late”
- those who were prepared went into the banquet and there was a great celebration.
– but the foolish bridesmaids later came to the home of the bridegroom, but the door was shut.
- they pounded on the door and asked that the door be opened so they could come in, but the groom said to them: “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.”
- Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers ’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
- the foolish bridesmaids cried for the door to be opened to them, but their cries were insincere, for even though they said they wanted in, …..they never made preparation to enter.
- their preparation would have been the proof of their true desire.
- we are to live in constant expectation, because there is coming a day when the future will be a thing of the past — don’t ignore the warning of scripture
- Jesus Christ is soon coming to take His bride, the Church, home to heaven for the Marriage Feast of the Lamb