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From: Dean and Susan Wheelock
Subject: Preparing the Bride: Oil for Our Lamps (Part 1 of 3)
Dean and Susan Wheelock have a ministry called Hebrew roots. They produce a quarterly magazine called Hebrew roots. If you would like to receive the magazine, please send an e-mail to Dean and Susan at: (firstname.lastname@example.org) or write them at the following address:
P.O. Box 98
Lakewood, WI 54138
Preparing the Bride: Oil for Our Lamps (Part 1 of 3)
From the website: http://www.geocities.com/hebrew_roots/html/hr-2-3-01.html#Lamps
The Parable of the Ten Virgins is probably one of the better known of Yeshua's teachings. Many commentaries have been written on this parable, yet many differences of opinion still exist, and a number of questions remain. Who are the ten virgins? What relationship do they have with the Messiah? Why do five of them not have enough oil for their lamps? Just what does that missing oil signify? Is there something Believers can do to insure that they will have enough oil to see their way to the wedding ceremony.
~ A Principle for Parable Study ~
When studying a parable it is important to keep in mind that one must not try to interpret each detail before understanding the overall concept. To do so may lead to confusion rather than understanding. Parables, by their very nature, contain analogies. The details of analogies will almost always begin to break down at some point. This fact does not invalidate the analogy or parable in question, nor does it invalidate the study of the details. Rather, it points directly back to the very first question which must be asked; what is the moral teaching of the story? Each parable usually has one overriding principle that is being taught. If one does not understand that principle, then examination of the details will probably not be helpful. With this in mind, let us look at the Parable of the Ten Virgins.
"`Then the kingdom of heaven shalt be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. "`Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. "`And at midnight a cry was heard: "Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!" "`Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out." "`But the wise answered, saying, "No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves." And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. "`Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us!" But he answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you." "`Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.'" (Matt. 25:1-13)
The overriding principle upon which Yeshua built this particular parable, is to warn His disciples that they must be in a constant state of preparedness This could be likened to a nation's military being on constant alert; maybe not a `red alert' but at least on alert. The reason Yeshua wants His disciples to be on alert is because they do not know the exact time when He will be returning, and He does not want them to be found derelict in their duty. Only the Father holds all the information concerning Yeshua's return, and only He can issue the command for Yeshua to go and fetch His Bride.
"`But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray for you do not know when the time is. "`It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. "`Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming--in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning--lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. "`And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!'" (Mark 13:32-37)
~ The Watchful Bride ~
The implication here is clear. If the Bride is watching she will not be taken by surprise when her Husband Yeshua comes for her. This is not to say that the Bride will know the exact time of His return, but rather that she will be able to discern the signs of the times and thereby know approximately when that promised return will take place. This idea was confirmed by the apostle Paul
(Hebrew = Shaul):
"But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, `Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. "Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation." (I Thess. 5:1-8)
Believers are not supposed to be in total darkness concerning the return of their Husband, Yeshua HaMashiach. That day is not to overtake us the way a pickpocket might sneak up unsuspectingly and steal our wallet while we are preoccupied with other things. Rather, Yeshua's return is likened to an expectant mother getting ready to birth her child. She does not know the exact day or time when the baby will be born, but she has a pretty good idea when delivery is near.
As Believers, we need to develop the awareness of an expectant mother. We need to discern the times in which we live, comparing them to the prophecies found in Scripture concerning the coming of the Messiah, so that we might be able to recognize when we are entering the `last days.' It is interesting to note that the phrase `Day of the Lord,' which identifies the very time when Messiah will come, is also known, in Jewish thought, as `The Birthpains of the Messiah.'
So, it is clear from scripture; "...of that day and hour no one knows..." (Matt. 24:36). Yet it is also clear from scripture that: "...you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief." (I Thess. 5:4) Therefore, the key is to always be ready; to never allow yourself the luxury of letting down your guard, of falling asleep in a spiritual sense, for that may be just the time when the Father chooses to send Yeshua for His Bride, and you may find yourself without sufficient spiritual oil. This is the overriding moral teaching of the Parable of the Ten Virgins.
~ Times and Seasons ~
However, there will come a certain period of time when one will want to be most ready. These might be called the `red alert' days. Recall that Shaul said; "But concerning the times and the seasons..." (I Thess. 5:1) Just what are these `times and seasons?'
The English word `times' is translated from the Greek word chronos (Strong's #5550). It means; "a space of time." In other words, as Believers we need to be able to discern when the `space of time' occurs during which we should expect Messiah's return. This can be done iii a number of ways.
When people in world leadership say; `peace and safety,' then be prepared, for the chronos (space of time) for Yeshua's return draws near. When there occur signs in the heavens that point towards the end of days, then he prepared, for the chronos (space of time) for Yeshua's return draws near. When Yeshua's prophecies concerning the end times begin to come to pass, then be prepared, for the chronos (space of time) for Yeshua's return draws near. When the world reaches a time which finds that a majority of the people are living in a way that is similar to the time of Noah, then be prepared, for the chronos (space of time) for Yeshua's return draws near. When the world seems to be in the throes of great weather upsets, then be prepared, for the chronos (space of time) for Yeshua's return draws near. When the world reaches the year 6000 from creation, then be prepared, for the chronos (space of time) for Yeshua's return draws near. When you see the Temple or Tabernacle rebuilt and animal sacrifices resumed in Israel, then be prepared, for the chronos (space of time) for Yeshua's return draws near. When you see `great tribulation' such as the world has never seen before, then be prepared, for the chronos (space of time) for Yeshua's return draws near.
We have examined the meaning of the word `times,' now let us take a look at the word `seasons.' The English word `seasons' is translated from the Greek word kairos (Strong's #2540). It means; "an occasion, i.e. set or proper time." Now we have moved from a "space of time," or span of years, to a specific time during the year when the Bride can expect her Husband Yeshua to come for her. Immediately one is drawn to make the comparison with the Hebrew word moed (Strong's #4 150) which means: "an appointment, i.e. a fixed time or season; spec. a festival." Moed is commonly translated as `Feasts' in the Hebrew scriptures.
So kairos points towards the annual festivals listed in Leviticus chapter 23. These festivals are called by God: "...The feasts of the LORD..." (Lev. 23:2). The phraseology used by Yeshua in describing His return points specifically to one particular festival, Rosh HaShanah, the Feast of Trumpets. That phrase is found in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32: "But of that day and hour no one knows..." This is a Hebrew idiomatic expression which denotes Rosh HaShanah. The reason for this understanding is because Rosh HaShanah is the only festival which is celebrated on the first day of a month. In Yeshua's day, months were determined when at least two credible witnesses actually observed the new moon crescent with the naked eye. The festival could not be officially proclaimed until the new moon had been sighted and the Sanhedrin (Jewish supreme court) had accepted the sighting as valid. If the evening of the expected new moon did not produce a clear sighting, then the beginning of the festival was postponed until the next evening. Thus, Rosh HaShanah became known as the Holyday for which "no one knew the day or the hour" of its beginning.
Thus, the Greek word kairos gives us a clear indication that Yeshua will return at a specific `season' or `appointed time' or moed. When coupled with the expression from Matthew 24:36 we find that it is a very distinct possibility that Yeshua will return for His Bride on the festival of Rosh HaShanah (The Feast of Trumpets).
Yet the question always lingers, could this too be a device that will lull those who are not fully prepared into a yearly slumber, or even deep sleep, once Rosh HaShanah has passed by each year. Therefore, it is very important to always be ready, never allowing spiritual sleep to overtake us at any time of the year. With this principle in mind let us go on to examine some of the details of the Parable of the Ten Virgins, to see what else can be learned from these verses.
~ Ten Virgins ~
Why are there ten virgins in this parable? Why not seven or twelve? After all, seven is considered to be the number of perfection and completion, and twelve is the number of governmental perfection.
Ten, however, has a somewhat different meaning from the above numbers which makes it very important to the understanding of this parable. In Jewish practice it required ten men, who knew the Torah, in order to form a new assembly or synagogue. Such a group of men were called a `minion.' (Interestingly enough, when an assembly became to large it was expected that at least ten men would break off and form a new synagogue. A far cry from some of the megachurches of today.)
This principle was derived from the custom established by Moshe (Mow-shay = Moses) at the suggestion of his father-in-law, Jethro.
"So Moses' father-in-law said to him, `The thing that you do is not good. ... Listen to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: ... "`...you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them Judge the people at all times. ...'" (Ex. 18:17,19,21-22)
Ten was considered the smallest unit that was practical for matters concerning judgment. Also, it was a number that allowed all of the members to be active participants in the congregation or assembly, thus providing leadership training so that when the assembly again became to large, ten qualified men could be found to form another new assembly.
Prophecy seems to indicate that this practice will again he established in the `last days.'
"Thus says the LORD of hosts: `In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."'" (Zech. 8:23)
Thus it is that the number ten, in the Parable of the Ten Virgins, represents the entirety of the body of Believers, the Church, the called out ones, the Bride of Messiah. All are looking for the return of Yeshua, the Bridegroom. All have gathered into a certain place in expectation of His return. All have brought lamps to use in case He comes during the night. All have made some degree of preparations in anticipation of this event.
The fact that the ten virgins represent all of the Believers is confirmed within the parable itself:
"And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, `Lord, Lord, open to us!'" (Matt. 25:10-11)
Since the practice, in the ancient Hebrew wedding, was for only the Bridegroom and the Bride to enter the Chuppah (Who-pah = wedding chamber) by themselves, and the five foolish virgins are knocking at the door trying to enter, it is clear that the virgins represent the Bride herself, and are not to be considered merely attendants. In the ancient Hebrew wedding practice the guests who were present always stood outside the wedding chamber; they were never allowed to enter and would not have dared knock on the door.
* Detail #1 *
The first detail of this parable tells us that the ten virgins represent the entirety of the Bride, the Church of called out ones.
~ Slumber and Sleep ~
~ Two Witnesses ~
In the Parable of the Ten Virgins it is apparent the Bridegroom is expected to come at night. In fact, this was the normal custom in the ancient Hebrew wedding. In those days, the Bridegroom was assisted by two attendants who were also witnesses to the marriage. One of the witnesses represented Moshe, the other represented Elijah. The witness representing Moshe provided assistance to the Bride, while the one representing Elijah provided assistance to the Bridegroom.
This sharing of duties was based on the fact that it was Moshe who led the first Bride, the children of Israel, through the wilderness and right up to the wedding chamber at Mount Sinai. Then, after the wedding, he went on to lead the Bride to the door of their new home, the promised land of Canaan.
On the other hand, the original Elijah provided witness for God against the evil of his day, especially that of King Ahab and his wicked queen, Jezebel. The second Elijah was, of course, John the Baptist (Yochanan the Immerser) who proclaimed the arrival of the Messiah, and called the people to repentance. He also proclaimed himself to be the friend of the Bridegroom, a Hebrew idiom for the `Elijah' attendant at a wedding.
"Then there arose a dispute between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, `Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified--behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!'
"John answered and said, `A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, "I am not the Christ," but, "I have been sent before Him." "`He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.'" (John 3:25-30)
One of the responsibilities of the `friend of the Bridegroom' was to wait outside the door of the Chuppah (Wedding Chamber). Once the marriage had been consummated the Bridegroom would come to the door with the bloody sheets of the marriage bed, hand them to the `friend of the Bridegroom,' telling him that the marriage was complete. This would bring joy to the heart of the attendant called `Elijah,' for he truly felt the joy that was in the heart of the Bridegroom.
~ Sending Forth the Bridegroom ~
Once the father of the bridegroom announced to his son that it was time to fetch his bride, the bridegroom would call the Moshe and Elijah witnesses and last minute preparations would begin.
If the bridegroom and bride lived in the same village, it would be but a short journey for him to fetch her. However, if they lived a long distance apart, more extensive preparations would need to be made. If the journey were to take several days, provisions would have to be gathered and other people would need to be enlisted to aid in the journey.
Prior to the Father's decision to send his son, the Bride had already been in a state of waiting for quite a long time. Anciently, the period of time between the betrothal and full marriage was about one year. During this time the Bride did all that she believed was necessary to prepare for the wedding. Once the preparations were completed, all she had left to do was wait.
When the Father declared all was ready, `Moshe' was sent ahead to announce the coming of the Husband. The Bride then gathered her things and put on her wedding gown. The bridesmaids were called and all waited in eager anticipation. This is the situation that exists at the beginning of this parable.
"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom." (Matt. 25:1)
Here we see that the Bride has been warned by `Moshe' of the coming of her Husband, and she has gone out to meet Him, but for some unknown reason He is delayed in coming.
"But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept." (Matt. 25:5)
At first this final waiting period is filled with alertness and energy, such as the first love of a new Believer, but as time wears on her nervous energy begins to turn to weariness. Gradually the Bride begins to nod off, reawakening herself again and again, but ultimately she succumbs to deep sleep.
Right now, many Believers are on high alert in the expectation of Yeshua's return. The conditions listed earlier in this article seem to be happening before our very eyes, "Moshe's" message of Messiah's return is being delivered from many different sources. Also, the idea that we are reaching the turn of a millennium is having a very significant effect on great numbers of people.
But what if the Father's timetable is not what we expect? What if Yeshua does not return within the next very few years? What if the 21st century comes, and there is still no sign of Messiah's return? Could that cause the Church to fall asleep?
According to this parable, the end time Church will be in this precise condition when the final cry comes warning the Bride about the imminent return of Messiah. At that time the entire Church will be asleep, even though She has previously been warned that the end of Her wait is near.
* Detail #2 *
The second detail of this parable tells us that the entire Church will be asleep when Messiah returns, even though she has been warned that Messiah's return is close.
~ Oil Vessels ~
Then comes that final, last minute awakening cry. The Bride is lifted out of her sleep.
"And at midnight a cry was heard: `Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!" (Matt. 25:6)
The Bride of Messiah is composed of many members. Each one of the ten virgins represents a part of the Bride. In this parable, the Bride is divided into two basic parts, the `wise virgins,' those who made adequate preparations, and the `foolish virgins' who did not. However, all ten virgins did make some type of preparation. The key to understanding this lesson is to determine what constitutes adequate preparation for the wedding.
All of the virgins did have lamps to aid them in seeing their way to the wedding. These lamps are devices that hold olive oil for fuel and are constructed in a way that, when lit, provide an adequate amount of light for their intended purpose. The lamps used for outdoor lighting had to be somewhat larger than the ones used indoors. According to archeological evidence, these lamps were fairly large and were mounted upon poles so they could be held aloft, thus providing a larger range of light. Because the outdoor lamps were considerably larger than indoor lamps, they also used a much greater amount of oil. For this reason, it was necessary to carry along an extra vessel of oil so that the lamps could be replenished along the way. This is the meaning of verse four which says: "...but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps." (Matt. 25:4)
It was this extra vessel, full of oil, which the `wise virgins' carried, that made them wise instead of foolish; since the `foolish virgins' brought only their lamp with the amount of oil which it contained. The `foolish virgins' might have thought that such a vessel would just be extra baggage that was not needed. Both groups had oil for the beginning of the journey, but the foolish ones did not have enough to complete it. Realizing this, they asked the `wise virgins' to share some of their oil with them so that all ten virgins would have light for their lamps. The `wise' answer was: "`No, lest there should not be enough for us and you..." (Matt. 25:9)
In the interpretation of this detail let us look at this extra vessel, which carried the additional oil. There are two Greek words translated as `vessel' into English. The one used in this parable is aggeion (Strong's #30). It means; "a receptacle." It is used in only two other places. #The first is in Matt. 13:48 where it refers to a basket. The other verse is found in I John 3:11:
"In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous." (I John 3:10-12)
The underlined word `message is the Greek word aggeion which means; "a receptacle." At first, this meaning seems incongruous to the context of the passage. Yet, this is God's word and we need to understand what is being communicated. If we do not understand a particular scripture the fault lies not with the original scripture itself, but rather with either the translation or with our lack of understanding.
So, pursuing this passage a little deeper we find that the object of the word `message' (Greek aggeion = receptacle) is the word love. Now we see that the Believer is to be a vessel or receptacle of love, not of hate such as Cain had for his brother Abel. Verse 10 takes this concept one step further and equates love with righteous acts. This is an indication that it is not only necessary to carry that extra vessel of oil to the wedding, but that it must be a particular kind of vessel, one that is constructed from love and righteousness. The specific kind of `love' spoken of for this vessel is agape love; the highest level of love, the kind of love that God has for us and that we are to have for each other.
There is another Greek word translated into the English word `vessel;' it is skeuos (Strong's #4632). It is defined as; "a vessel, implement; equipment or apparatus." It is kin to the Hebrew word keliy (kehl-lee; Strong's #3627), which is nearly identical except for the additional definition that it is; "something prepared."
There are many verses in both the Hebrew and Greek scriptures which indicate that people are considered to be vessels or receptacles. Shaul, the one who became the apostle Paul, was one such person:
"But the Lord said to him, `Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake.'" (Acts 9:15-16)
"But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand." (Isa. 64:8)
"What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared before hand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?" (Rom. 9:22-24)
Thus it is, that the mind and heart of the Believer is to be the vessel which carries the oil for the lamp. But we are not to be just any old kind of vessel, we are to be vessels of agape (love) and mercy. The message is clear; the Bride is to be a `righteous love vessel,' practicing loving acts of righteousness.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Rom. 12:1-2)
Just prior to the Parable of the Ten Virgins is another short parable called the Parable of the Two Servants. This parable is highly instructive, as it warns against being dogmatic about when the prophesied event of Yeshua's return will take place.
Just prior to the Parable of the Ten Virgins is another short parable called the Parable of the Two Servants. This parable is highly instructive, as it warns against being dogmatic about when the prophesied event of Yeshua's return will take place.
"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? "Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, `My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.
"There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt 24:45-5 1)
Apparently, the `foolish virgins' failed to prepare adequately by not bringing with them an attitude of righteous love. Perhaps they were the ones who were abusing their fellow servants because they did not agree in every detail of doctrine, or those members of the Bride who had little patience for others who did not have the same understanding of scripture as they did.
(End Part 1 of 3)
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