Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ten Virgins and their Lamps

Painting by William Blake
Biblical story of ten virgins is one of the most strange and enigmatic parables. 
"Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. Those who were foolish, when they took their lamps, took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, "Behold! The bridegroom is coming! Come out to meet him!" Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out." But the wise answered, saying, "What if there isn't enough for us and you? You go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves." While they went away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins also came, saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us." But he answered, "Most certainly I tell you, I don't know you." Watch therefore, for you don't know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." (Matthew 25:1-13)
We see, this problem with oil happened to all ten of the virgins, including the five wise. All of the virgins were in the same predicament. As the midnight hour approached they had all come to a moment of crisis. Burnout happens to all of us from time to time as we come to low points and times of crisis in our lives. There is nothing wrong with this at all. It is a common human experience. In our times both the wise and the foolish were running low on oil. But our response to the high calling in God amid the challenges of life is what seems to be the issue. Do we seek His face when our world enters into a crisis? Can we keep the higher fire inside in our dark passages through life? 
The foolish are going their own way no matter what. Only the wise stop to listen. Those who were wise had looked around them and seen that the darkness was coming. They were ready for the great drama that would unfold at the midnight hour. When the hour of burnout came they were not left destitute in the darkness. They were prepared to recharge their lamps with a fresh supply of oil. The wise virgins were ready to go out. And the lamp, or candle, is the spirit of man. 
"The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, 
Searching all the inner depths of his heart". (Proverbs, 20:27)

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