The Problem of the Ten Virgins


Did you ever puzzle over a scripture realizing that it contains a deeper meaning than meets the eye? You know there is something special about it, beyond all the explanations you have heard before, but you cannot give expression to it. Give God time to speak to your heart. You do not need to strain for answers. He will open it up as you learn to lean hard on Him. The Scripture says “Here a little there a little.” Sometimes God opens things in fragments for His people to see.


We find one of these passages in Matthew 25:1-13. There were ten virgins, but like many groups of people, there was a line of division among them. I would like to suggest that this division was from the Divine standpoint and not from a human perspective. ALL ten were kingdom people, for the Scripture says so, but five were wise and five were foolish. Some people might say that five were saved and five were unsaved. However, Jesus did not say that! The actual differences are quite minute and perhaps undetectable to the natural man. Let us consider the following: they were ALL virgins, separated from the world, or stated another way, they were ALL saved. They ALL had lamps lit and burning, filled with the blessings of God, letting their lights shine as they went. They were ALL called to the wedding feast, and they ALL came, unlike those in the parable of the feast where they that were bidden ALL made excuses. They ALL definitely loved the Lord, and they ALL were ready as they lined up to wait for Him.


However, something unexpected happen that no one could really foresee: the bridegroom tarried long. There was still no difference in any action or heart response for any one of the ten. They ALL grew drowsy and fell asleep and ALL the lamps went out. It is rather intriguing to consider all of their similarities. At midnight, the latest hour, a cry was made. They ALL arose from sleep, trimmed their lamps, and let their lights shine, burning gloriously in anticipation of His coming. Then, like a nightmare, it happened. The five foolish cried in dismay, “Our lamps are going out!” It was not something they wanted at all. They asked to share, which under other circumstances was the Christian thing to do. But this oil was something that could not be shared. It could, however, be bought for a price. The bridegroom had not yet come, so the five virgins went to the market to pay the price in that midnight hour. They were willing to pay the full price. The Scripture does not say that they bought something cheaper, they returned with the real thing. Unfortunately, when they returned, they found that in their absence the bridegroom had come and they had missed Him.


Apparently, each one of the ten virgins had a similar amount of desire. The real issue, however, is the oil. The five foolish definitely loved God, for they did not hesitate to buy more oil. But they could not enter in with what they had purchased at the midnight hour. What is the significance of this oil? If it were unexpected that the groom would be late, they could not really be blamed for running out of oil. The cost to them was great. The Lord’s response to them as they knocked on the door was, “Depart for I never knew you.” They had missed their hour of visitation.


Before we judge these five perhaps we should see how our lives compare to their qualification. We understand from the context that this is a warning of preparation for Christ’s second coming. It also applies to God’s visitation in the church, for a corporate action takes place here: “For where two or three are gathered in my name there am I in the midst of them: (Matt. 18:20). God desires to bring us into a spiritual feast and ALL the true virgins of the Lord look for this! Yet in a time that was inconvenient the Lord came, and those who were momentarily unprepared, even though in their hearts they meant well, missed their day of visitation.


It has been said many times that in God, good things, even “Christian things” are the enemy of God’s best! Good things can ruin you. What you do not know can hurt you, just as it did to those five. I would like to suppose that part of the answer to this problem for the ten virgins is that the five foolish were relying on their present experience—which suddenly dried up, whereas the five wise virgins had a reserve for the time of drought: something they had paid a price for earlier. They may not have even been aware of it but they had it with them in their hour of need. This something that the five had in their possession caused God to acknowledge them. Its lack in the five foolish caused Him to respond, “I never (intimately) knew you.”


Whatever the oil is, it definitely speaks of a personal relationship with the Lord since He stated that He did not know those who did not have it when He came. In addition to this, the oil was not freely available, but a price had to be paid for it in a timely manner. Think on these things.