Tuesday, January 1, 2013
BEHOLD, THE BRIDEGROOM IS COMING! by LaTawnia Kintz
BEHOLD, THE BRIDEGROOM IS COMING!
Text: Matthew 25:1-13 (NKJV)
1 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,
4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 "And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!'
7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'
9 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.'
10 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.
11 "Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!'
12 But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.'
13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. (BerBible - NKJV)
Today is January 1, 2013. Now for some that may not mean much other than it’s the beginning of a new year. For those who were waiting for the collapse of civilization and the world as we know it to end on December 12, 2012, well, hang in there. You don’t know what this year is going to hold.
In pondering on this day for many days prior, I came to the conclusion, nay, the desire, that I want, need for my life to make a difference in the kingdom of God. This is more than just a need. It is more than just a desire. It is a burning drive within my soul. Instead of making New Year resolutions, today I rededicated my life, heart, soul and mind to my Lord and Savior. Though I am but a clay pot with many cracks, He is the Potter Who is able to take this broken vessel and make it new. That being said let us prepare for the coming of the Bridegroom!
I have been reading in Matthew about the coming of our Lord Jesus and throughout, He tells us to be prepared because we don’t know when He is going to return. The portion of scripture we are going to look at is the parable of the ten virgins, found in Matthew 25. For your convenience I have added the verses at the beginning of this blog, but I encourage you to read it from your own bible, so you may underline or mark what verses stand out to you.
For a little historical background, in Jewish custom the brides-maids would wait for the bridegroom to arrive at the bride’s house. When they knew he was on his way, they would take their filled, lighted lamps and guide the bridegroom to his bride.
In this parable we have the picture of Jesus, our Bridegroom, returning for His Bride- the Church. The brides-maids represent the individuals of the Church; they are a picture of Christians. As Christians, we attend the Bridegroom by proclaiming Him to all creation. As His expectants, we wait on His return with great expectation. Are you waiting for His return with great expectation? Or are you hoping He will wait for a while longer?
In verse two we are told there were five wise virgins and five foolish virgins. In the Church there are two types of people, those who serve God and those who serve themselves.
Matthew 13:24-30 is the parable of the man who had sown good seed in his wheat fields then his enemy came in the night and sown tares. When his servant asked his master if he should pull out the tares, his master told him to wait until the harvest. At that time the tares would be separated from the wheat and burned with fire and the wheat will be put in the barn.
Matthew 22:1-14 tells of a king arranging a wedding for his son. He sent out invitations and when the time came for the wedding those invited and they didn’t come, he told his servants to gather others from the highways and they did. They brought both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. Now that isn’t the end of the story, there was a man there without the wedding garments. He was not one of the ones invited. The king commanded he be bound and cast in outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. “For many are called but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)
Matthew 13:47-50 tells us about a dragnet cast into the sea and when it’s full it is brought to the shore and then the good is gathered into vessels and the bad is thrown away. We are told that “at the end of the age, the angels will come forth, separate the wicked from the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
So we see in the Church both wise and foolish, believer, hypocrite, unsaved and backslidden, all in one body. We also see from scripture that there will be a sorting out in the end.
Back to our text, in verse three of Matthew 25, we are told the foolish virgins took their lamps but took no extra oil.
Here I want you to see that this picture of the foolish virgins is not a picture of the Christian who struggles with their walk with God. This is not a new believer. These virgins are the hypocrites in the Church. They have plenty of fanfare but no substance. They have a lot of show, they look good on the outside, but they have absolutely nothing on the inside. Their lamps are polished to a high sheen but they have nothing inside to sustain the flame, they have nothing to carry them through the trials and hardships. They are empty shells that will crush under pressure.
Matthew 23:1-36 gives us the biblical definition of the hypocrite. Is a hypocrite one who falls in his walk with God but is willing to be corrected? No! A hypocrite is one who looks good on the outside but inside is death.
Verse 4 of Matthew 25 we see the wise virgins took oil in their vessels along with their lamps. See the wisdom here; because they not only took their lamps which were filled with oil in order to meet the Bridegroom, they also took additional oil. They were prepared in case He tarried.
I would suggest that the oil is grace and the lamp is the heart. Take a moment to look at a couple of verses with me. The first being, 2 Corinthians 4:7 – “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (NKJV) and the second being Acts 4:33 – “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” (NKJV) [Emphasis is mine.]
Grace is known as the unmerited favor of God for salvation. It is also the operation of the power of God. In other words, speaking “grace” to obstacles we face is a action of faith, drawing on the operations of God’s great power. We only speak; the work is entirely His.
We need that grace to get through each day. The darker is becomes the more grace is needed.
The oil also represents the Holy Spirit anointing. Without His anointing all we do is the work of the flesh. Christians today need as much grace and anointing possible – even to overflowing- to get through each day as they wait for His return. Or they won’t make it. They will become tired and then fall asleep. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9 NKJV)
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I do get weary. When that happens, I have to press into God; I have to seek His face more; because I don’t want to be asleep when the Bridegroom comes like the virgins did in verse 5.
Here we see Christians are no better than the hypocrite or the unsaved. While the Bridegroom delays His coming the hypocrite, unsaved and backslidden remains completely unconcerned with the danger his soul is in.
The Christian who is toiling in the kingdom of God has become weary and loses heart. He or she has become lax in their vigilant watching. They are no longer spiritually discerning the Spirit of God. [I believe is this the main reason there is so much apostasy in the Church, today.]
The Christian has become complacent even – Jesus hasn’t returned yet, and he feels that He probably won’t – in his lifetime. We are admonished in 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6 not to sleep as others do. Why? Because Jesus Christ is returning in the clouds with power and great glory! John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; Mark 13:26; Daniel 7:13; Luke 21:27
We must not become secure in ourselves or careless in our watchfulness not indulge in spiritual sloth and idleness. If this is something you have been doing, this let this day be the day you turn from serving yourself and serve the Living Lord instead. Gird up your loins! “Gird[ed] your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all of fiery darts of the wicked one, and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints –“ (Ephesians 6:14-18 NKJV)
The Christian today especially needs to be aware of spiritual enemies that would hinder the work of the Lord. He needs not to care for the things of this world but rather seek the kingdom of God. This world is not our home; we are merely sojourners, pilgrims, strangers and foreigners. Our home is in heaven; our Lord has already gone and prepared a place for us. Matthew 6:19-21, 25-35; John 14: 1-3; John 17:16
We are not of this world, just as He wasn’t of the world. We must exercise self-control (Galatians 5:22-25); not walk in the flesh but rather walk in the Spirit. (1 Peter 5:8-10). We are not to give into fleshly desires but seek that better thing which is Christ Jesus.
Those who sleep are not sensible of their danger and those who are drunk are not sensible of their duty. (Luke 21:34; Romans 13:11) Therefore beloved, let us be neither asleep nor drunk but rather awake and prepared for the coming of our Bridegroom.
Verse six of our main text tells us that at “midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!”
He will return when we least expect it. He will return at His Father’s appointed time; Matthew 24:36. SO WAKE UP! “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand…” Romans 13:11-12a (NKJV)
In verse seven we read all the virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. They trimmed the wicks so the light would be pure and without smoke and those who had brought extra oil filled their lamps so their light wouldn’t go out while they prepared themselves to meet the Bridegroom.
The Christian needs to be prepared when Jesus returns. We should be found in peace (2 Peter 3:14), we should be found doing our Master’s work (Matthew 24:46) and we should not be found naked or lacking (Matthew 25:3).
The hypocrite goes through the motion of “trimming lamps” – he shows a vain confidence, a conceit of goodness of his own spiritual state. He believes all is okay, there is nothing wrong with him. Luke 18:10-12.
Then they realize the Bridegroom really is coming… (Matthew 25:8) and they recognize how totally unprepared they are to receive Him. So the foolish go to the wise seeking oil for their lamps before they burn out. But it is too late.
This not only a picture of the hypocrite but also of those who are unsaved and backslidden – this soul may possibly be laying on his death bed not ready to meet the Maker of the universe.
These who are not prepared see the folly in not being prepared. The hypocrite sees that without oil (the anointing of the Holy Spirit and God’s grace) what began in the Spirit ends in the flesh. They see all their credibility is lost, all their hope fails, all their comfort is gone. The unsaved and backslidden sees the misery of the state of their soul on the other side of death and judgment.
These all see that what they had in the beginning of their watch could only carry them so far. It may have given light along this world, but the darkness of the valley of the shadow of death will put the light out. They had jeered the wise and called them foolish at the first, but now they find themselves beholden to them for oil.
Those who now hate the strictness of following after Christ, laying aside sin that easily besets us, and giving up our life to take up His cross – will at the time of death and judgment wish they had done so. It will be too late for those who will then see the need of the grace of God which saves and sanctifies. 2 Corinthians 6:2; Titus 2:11, Hebrews 12:1, Matthew 10:38-39
There is no buying of oil when the store is close. It is now, while we can, work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Philippians 2:12
“For God did not appoint us to wrath; but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9 (NKJV)
“How shall we escape of we neglect so great a salvation which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.” Hebrews 2:3 (NKJV)
Those who would be saved must have their own grace (2 Corinthians 6:2). One’s own sanctification is indispensably necessary to their own salvation (Philippians 2:12). Everyone will give account of their own-self. No one will speak for him on that judgment day.
Matthew 25:9 “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.’” (NKJV)
I know, you are probably thinking the wise virgins were being unkind in their unwillingness to share their extra oil. But they really did give the best advice. They could not save the unsaved or the hypocrite. Those people have only one place to turn; only one Person could and would fill their need. They were given the advice to repent, turn to God, accept the free gift of salvation and believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is all very good advice – if taken in time.
But what about those who heard the Gospel message and choose to wait – how many heard the Gospel prior to 9-11, or before the destruction of the Japanese coast, or before the various floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and more that is affecting all of us world-wide. How many say they will wait to make the decision for eternal life with Christ Jesus, they will wait until their life is together; they don’t want to change their lifestyle yet because they are having too much fun, because they are making too much money, or waiting for that one true love… etc.
Don’t wait. The hour draws much closer than we are aware of. Today is the day for your salvation. Don’t put off receiving the free gift of salvation and eternal life with Christ Jesus. You are not guaranteed tomorrow, or your next breath. You could end up like those five foolish virgins who went looking for oil.
We are told when they went to buy more oil the Bridegroom came and those who were ready for Him went to the wedding and “the door was shut.” (Matthew 25:10)
Please listen to my heart and to the heart of God. He is pleading with you. He loves you so much he wants you to spend eternity with Him – to dine with Him at the wedding feast.
For those of you who have walked away from Him – He is calling you back – can’t you hear His sweet, gentle voice, full of love, mercy and forgiveness, just for you?
To those of you (including me) who are called to the ministry, who put off the call – the work because you are waiting for kids to grow up, to save enough money, to pay off the house, car, braces, what have you… one thousand (1,000) to one you will not find the time to do it in and then one day – that day- you will stand before Him, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords… what will you say?
Those who were prepared, those who were ready – went with Him to the wedding and the door was shut by the Bridegroom.
There is something else here I want you to see. When the foolish virgins came back, they did so without oil, without grace. Why? Because the grace was gone. Those who had grace had gone into the wedding. Those who could impart grace to the five foolish virgins had been taken with the Bridegroom. I want you to see this; the grace must be lifted for the wrath of God to come. That is what this whole dissertation Jesus gives about the end times means, that Matthew wrote about in chapters 24-25. He is returning for His Bride, His Church. The question then becomes, are we ready?
One more thing I want to point out about verse 10. We read “the door was shut.” The door was shut by the Bridegroom, just as the door to the ark that Noah built was shut by God.
Looking at verse 11 we find it was shut to secure those within (just as God secured those within the ark.) It was also shut to exclude those that were outside (too late). Matthew 7:21; Luke 13:25; Psalm 5:5; John 9:31. There will be a great gulf between those at the wedding and those outside the door. Luke 16:26.
Matthew 25:12 says, “But he answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’” (NKJV)
Oh beloved, don’t wait. Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is near. (Isaiah 55:6)
The proud won’t stand in His sight – He hates all workers of iniquity – humble yourselves before Him now while there is still time. Because when the door is closed He won’t hear you.
“They cried out, but there was none to save; even to the Lord, but He did not answer them.” Psalm 18:41
Psalm 5:5; John 9:31; Job 35:12; Proverbs 1:28-29; 15:29; 28:9; Ezra 8:18; Micah 3:4
He is warning you – telling you now is the time to turn your heart to Him – now is the time to come and believe in Him – now is the time – before He comes and closes the door.
Verse 13 – “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” (Mark 13:35-36; Matthew 24:42; Luke 12:40; 21:36; 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6, 8-10)
Dear Christian, our duty is to watch, be awake and be wakeful (Galatians 6:9). Be prepared at all time, be at peace, be doing what He has told us to do, not be found lacking; because we know neither the day nor the hour of His return.
Let us not be asleep when the cry goes out…
“Behold the Bridegroom is coming, go out and meet Him.”