William Blake's Ten Virgins Painting (Based on The Parable of the Ten Virgins)
Contrary to popular opinion, the Ten Virgins’ parable is not about Israel being grafted back onto the Olive Tree just in time to rule with Christ during His millennial reign. Spiritually speaking, since the Kingdom of Heaven/Kingdom of God is inside every born again and saved believer in Christ, the Ten Virgins’ parable, thus, is about all believers (Jews and Gentiles) who live and die on Earth during the CHURCH Age (cf. Matthew 25:1-13).
Moreover, in this parable, Christ is teaching that not everyone who professes Christ as Lord will be counted in His true CHURCH number, because not every believer will have both an inner and outer appearance of righteousness, as confirmed by His description of the five wise and the five foolish Virgins¹. The five foolish Virgins, though professed Christians, are more like the quasi-religious Pharisees who only had an external show of righteousness, and because of that Christ publicly rebukes them for their hypocritical righteousness and calls them whitewashed tombs (cf. Matthew 5:20-7:1-5; Matthew 23:2-28). On the other hand, the five wise Virgins are fully prepared and alert believers because they take the Oil of the Holy Spirit with them as they enter into the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. The Oil of the Holy Spirit is what makes it possible for trimmed yet burning lamps to be continuously refilled, and the Oil of the Holy Spirit is what makes it possible for believers to be prepared and watchful, as they await the rapture of the CHURCH.
For these reasons, it is important to understand that the Ten Virgins’ parable does not deal with Israel (Jewish people having the “spiritual” scales to fall off of their eyes). Indeed, the Ten Virgins’ parable focuses instead on the marriage between Christ and the CHURCH, which is that great mystery the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians Chapter 5. Christ, thus, uses the Ten Virgins’ parable to teach all believers about the parallels between the traditional Jewish marriage custom and the Kingdom of Heaven’s spiritual Truths about the ultimate Bridegroom’s proposal submitted to the perfect Bride. Furthermore, in the Ten Virgins’ parable, Christ uses the Hebrews’ understanding of a marriage contract, the cup of wine, the bride price, the bridegroom’s midnight return, the shout, the bridal procession, the bridal chamber, and the wedding feast to reveal God’s spiritual Truths about the Rapture of Christ’s true CHURCH and what happens to His true CHURCH immediately thereafter.
For sure, the parable about the Ten Virgin’s is intended to teach ALL believers about the suddenness and unexpectedness of their Lord’s Second Coming—a second coming that happens in stages, with the final stage being Christ’s visible bodily return, when He comes back to Earth with His saints and allows His feet to touchdown on the Mount of Olives! Thus, the parable of the Ten Virgins is the true CHURCH’s wake-up call; this parable is intended to convince Christ’s true CHURCH about the necessity for each member to be prepared for that unknown moment when the Bridegroom returns for His Bride—returns in the air to rapture His dead in Christ and alive in Christ CHURCH members who are spiritually pure, righteous, and perfect in His sight!
The symbolisms in the Ten Virgins’ parable are: (1) Christ, who is the Bridegroom (cf. Ephesians 5:25-28a, 31-33); (2) the Ten Virgins, who are the CHURCH Age Christian believers (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:2); without a doubt, the five Wise Virgins represent the watchful, prepared genuine believers (Bride of Christ) who are raptured—the alive believers who are caught up to meet Christ in the air; the five Foolish Virgins represent the alive careless, negligent, unprepared believers who are left behind to experience the Tribulation Period along with the ungodly unbelievers living in the world after the Rapture; (3) the Holy Spirit of God, who is the Oil in the five Wise Virgins’ lamps—the spiritual Oil that sanctifies believers with real righteousness, as well as the spiritual Oil that will glorify them; (4) the Shout, which signifies the prophesied thunderous sound that alerts the watchful, prepared Virgins (Bride) about their betrothed’s (Bridegroom’s) promised return—in this case, the time of the Rapture; moreover, this Shout consists of Christ’s (the Bridegroom’s) command “to come,” the archangel’s call, and the trumpet sound of Almighty God (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:16); (5) the Shut Door, which symbolizes what Christ means when He says “I know you not” (cf. Matthew 25:12b, KJV), and the Shut Door also highlights the fact that Christ has not been fooled by some believers’ external appearance of righteousness; lastly, the Shut Door symbolizes the end of the CHURCH Age—that there will be no more chances for the alive unprepared Christians or the alive ungodly unbelievers to enter into the physical heavenly Kingdom of God with Christ before the Tribulation Period starts; and (6) the Marriage Feast, which is the promised Marriage Supper of the Lamb or the wedding reception that the Bridegroom (Christ) has prepared for His Bride.
Since Jesus is God, as well as a Jewish man, He most assuredly is aware of the old marriage custom practiced by Jewish couples living in Israel, or in other places throughout the world. That’s why Jesus has no problem effectively using the parable of the Ten Virgins to illustrate how a Jewish man’s proposal to his beloved bride-to-be is, indeed, the most unforgettable marriage story of all time.
By telling the parable of the Ten Virgins, Christ is proving that He knows that from the first moment that a Jewish male decides who he wants for a wife (the female he either chooses or the one his parents have chosen for him to marry, as in an arranged marriage), there are three established steps to the Jewish marriage process that the Jewish male must follow. Step one: After deciding who he wants to marry, the Jewish male then leaves his father’s house and goes to his intended bride’s house, taking with him a contract of marriage, a cup of wine, and the “bride price” (money). When he arrives at his intended’s home, the first order of business involves the contract negotiations. If the guy and the girl are too young to accept their adult roles, the contract is negotiated between their parents. Whether the marriage is arranged or the young lady is chosen by the young man himself, and whether the intended bride’s parents negotiate the terms of the marriage contract with the young man’s father or the young man negotiates the terms of the marriage contract directly with his intended, the two parties—the prospective Jewish couple—will know each other’s responsibilities, for these responsibilities will be spelled out in the marriage contract.
Not only are the terms of the marriage contract very clear, but also, if accepted, this marriage contract becomes a legal agreement (covenant) binding both parties. They legally are betrothed (married), even though they are forbidden to have any sexual contact during their betrothal period. In fact, since they are considered officially married, if the marriage contract is broken, the couple is considered divorced (cf. Matthew 1:18-19). Moreover, if the husband dies during the betrothal period, the wife is considered a widow—even though the marriage had not been physically consummated.
Furthermore, during Step One, before the negotiated and presented marriage contract could be enforced, the husband-to-be must give the marriage contract to his intended, must put the cup of wine in front of his intended (which symbolizes his act of proposal), and must place before her the mohar, the cash gift or the bride price. She not only must read the marriage contract but also she must count her money. Once she does all that, the husband-to-be would toast the bride with a cup of wine, giving her a short period of time (about 10 seconds) to decide if she wants to spend the rest of her life with him. To accept the proposal, the bride-to-be would pick up the cup of wine and drink from it, or she could push the cup of wine away, which would mean she has rejected the proposal. If she drinks the wine, she not only is accepting but also is sealing the covenant—agreeing to remain true to her husband throughout the betrothal period while she waits for him to return for her and take her home with him. Moreover, if her answer is “yes,” then the bridegroom tells her, “I go to prepare a place for you” (cf. John 14:2a), but before the bridegroom leaves for his father’s house his bride covers her face with a veil.
This veiling custom signifies that this woman is unavailable (that she has separated herself from the pool of available young ladies)—that she is consecrated, set apart, and bought with a price. Moreover, the wearing of a veil after accepting a marriage contract, lets others know that this woman is “taken.” For these reasons, in everything, this wife now must submit to her husband.
In the traditional Jewish marriage, no engagement ring is exchanged; however, the tie between the betrothed Jewish couple is a much stronger one than the tie between Gentile fiancés and fiancées. Furthermore, this betrothal period gives the two parties a chance to grow or mature in their relationship—to get to know one another better—before they consummate their vows. For sure, this betrothal period gives the couple time to mature emotionally, affectionately, and faithfully.
Step Two: During the betrothal period, while the husband and wife are getting to know one another better, and maturing emotionally, affectionately, and faithfully, the bridegroom is preparing a proper room (bridal chamber) in his father’s house, where he and his bride will consummate their marriage vows. The bridegroom’s father is the ONLY one who can sign off on the completion of this bridal chamber. This custom prevents the young man from rushing through his building responsibilities—keeps him from building a lean-to or some poorly constructed structure that would not be an adequate place to bring his wife. For this reason, neither the bridegroom nor the bride would know the day or the time of the wedding ceremony, which is why in Matthew 25:13 Christ tells ALL of His believes to “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh”; only God, Christ’s Father, knows when the Bridegroom (Christ) will return for His Bride (the true CHURCH).
Be that as it may, after the bridegroom’s father agrees that the bridal chamber is finished and that it is properly built, the bridegroom, accompanied by his companions/friends/groomsmen, returns to his bride’s house and escorts her to the bridal chamber that he has prepared for the both of them. It is while they are in this bridal chamber that they will exchange gifts—the bridegroom’s additional gifts for his bride and her dowry (offering) to him, which she laid up for him while she waited for His return. During the betrothal period, the bride also will keep her literal lamp filled with oil so that she will be ready for her bridegroom, in case he comes at night.
Traditionally, the bridegroom does return during the night, and his night arrival is the reason why he loudly calls out to his bride (or sounds a trumpet). To give his bride time to make herself presentable for receiving him (time to put on her veil and get her lamp), the bridegroom courteously alerts his bride to the fact that he is drawing close to her parents’ home. After he arrives and unveils his bride, the two of them leave for the place the bridegroom has prepared in his father’s house. Once there, they say their vows, then enter their bridal chamber, where, as aforesaid, they exchange their gifts and consummate their marriage.
Step Three: Seven days later, after their marriage has been consummated, the husband and wife come out of their bridal chamber for the Marriage Supper (Wedding Feast). The friend (best man) hears the husband’s voice, as the couple approaches the banquet room, and then the friend (best man) announces the union between the bride and the groom to the Wedding Feast’s invited guests. Only the husband’s special friend gets to stand beside him as one of the honored guests at the Wedding Feast. For this reason, the husband’s grateful friend rejoices in knowing that the bride and groom finally have become one (cf. John 3:29).
As Christ draws the parallels between the traditional Jewish marriage custom and the Kingdom of Heaven’s spiritual Truths about the ultimate Bridegroom’s proposal submitted to the perfect Bride, Christ presents modern-day believers with a beautiful portrait of the mysterious union between Christ (Bridegroom) and His CHURCH (Bride). We, thus, come to understand that through the parable of the Ten Virgins Christ is teaching us about His own return for us—teaching us about our Jewish Bridegroom (Christ) who loved us so much that He enacted the same marriage custom for us that God’s chosen Jewish people traditionally followed.
The mysterious union between Christ (Bridegroom) and His CHURCH (Bride) that Apostle Paul writes about in Ephesians 5:25-28a, 31-33 begins when we are born again and saved by Grace through our confessed faith in and acceptance of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus the Christ. As New Testament believers, we now have entered into a legal marriage contract with Christ, who left His Father’s House in Heaven to come to us (His Bride-to-be) as our Jewish Bridegroom. Along with bringing us His marriage contract—the New Testament, which spells out for us our responsibilities as His Bride and His responsibilities as our Bridegroom—Christ also brings His gifts of the cup of wine (Christ’s shed blood) and His bride price (Christ’s atoning sacrifice–His death on the Cross).
After we accept Christ’s gifts, He lets us know that He is going (ascending) to His Father’s house (Heaven) where He will be preparing a place for us (cf. John 14:2-4). He also lets us know that He is coming back for us once our bridal chamber is completed. While He is in His Father’s house, we, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, must endeavor to live consecrated and sanctified lives for Him—we must wear our individual “spiritual” veils that let the world know that we have been bought by a price and, thus, belong to Christ.
Then too, during our betrothal period (the Church Age), while we live and walk in the Holy Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:25; Romans 8:9a, 11) and allow the Word of God to be a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (cf. Psalm 119:105), we also are busy for the Lord. We are making sure that we lay up for ourselves treasures in Heaven (cf. Matthew 6:20-21); during the CHURCH Age, we obediently and righteously do the kinds of works for Christ that are of gold, silver and precious gemstone quality (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). These righteous works become our dowry to our Bridegroom (Christ)—our righteous works that earn us the gifts/rewards Christ has promised us: (1) our crown of glory (cf. Proverbs 4:9; 1 Peter 5:4, KJV); (2) our crown of rejoicing (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:19, KJV); (3) our crown of righteousness (cf. 2 Timothy 4:8, KJV); (4) our crown of life (cf. James 1:12; Revelation 2:10, KJV); and (5) our robes of white linen (cf. Revelation 19:8, KJV). During this Second Step of the Body of Christ’s (the CHURCH’s) marriage process, we also are keeping our vessels filled with the Oil of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in us, fills us, and helps us to develop our necessary daily and intimate fellowship, and righteous and holy relationship, with God so that our spiritual life can mature morally, spiritually, emotionally, and faithfully, and so that we can be a watchful and ready (prepared) Bride—the One the Bridegroom will recognize and find acceptable when He comes back for Her.
As the Bridegroom is coming down from Heaven, He alerts us with a loud shout, the archangel’s call, and God’s blast from His trumpet. Next, Christ catches us up into the air where we meet Him in the clouds; this event is better known as the Rapture (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). After we enter the heavenly realm of the Kingdom of God, we will say our marriage vows. Then, we immediately will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ where we will be judged according to the “quality” of the works we did on Earth under the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). Our Bridegroom then will take us to the place He has prepared for us (our heavenly bridal chamber). Next, we will exchange gifts—our dowry of laid up treasures—for the rewards we will receive from our well-pleased Bridegroom (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5, 9-10; Revelation 22:12).
After consummating the marriage, becoming one with Christ, which is a seven-day ceremony biblically and symbolically represented as the seven years of the Tribulation, we will celebrate our marriage at the Lamb’s Marriage Supper, which will not happen until the beginning of Christ’s millennial reign—when Christ sets up His physical Kingdom of God on Earth. Now, what should be noted is that Father God is the One who invites the special guests of honor to our Marriage Feast, but who we can expect to see there as honored guests are the Old Testament saints who died before Christ and the Tribulation saints who died during the Tribulation Period. Other guests will be the ones who not only survived the Tribulation Period but also the ones who made the last-minute decision to receive God’s gifts of Salvation and Eternal Life during the Tribulation Period (cf. Matthew 22:8-10; Luke 14:21b-23; Revelation 19:6-9).
It is sad to say, but in spite of the outpourings of the Holy Spirit, there still will be hard-hearted individuals who will not accept Christ as their personal Savior. Consequently, Christ’s Rapture and bodily Second Coming, the latter of which will trigger the end of our present world as we know it, will shock numerous men and women who are not in the least bit prepared for Him, just like the masses of people during the flood in Noah’s generation were shocked when the rains finally came. The flood caught the majority of Noah’s unprepared generation by surprise. Moreover, as only a handful of humans got to enter the ark to be saved from the flood, (exactly eight people … cf. 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5, KJV), likewise, in the end times, it also appears that only a remnant of individuals will be caught up to meet Christ in the air (see the mini-parables of the two field individuals, whose gender is not specified, and the two women grinding at the mill … Matthew 24:40-41, KJV).
In these aforesaid Matthew Chapter 24 mini-parables and in the Ten Virgins’ parable of Matthew Chapter 25, as each of these parables serves as a picture of believers, Christ is making it crystal clear that after the dead in Christ arise ONLY the living true CHURCH members will be allowed to enter into the bridal chamber with Him and be saved from the Tribulation—saved from ALL of God and the Antichrist’s wrath that will come upon this Earth. Christ describes how ONLY one of the two field workers, one of the two women grinding at the mill, and five of the ten Virgins will be representatives of His True CHURCH members. As such, they will be the ones who are saved from the Tribulation Period. The fate that will await those who are not raptured will be that they become the left-behind individuals who will experience the prophesied second destruction of the world.
What’s more, the Ten Virgins’ parable makes a salient point that needs to be mentioned here, and that salient point is that the Bridegroom will Shut the Door (will close off any access to Himself), which underscores the aforementioned statement about the careless, negligent, unprepared believers being left behind. Without a doubt, Christ not only is the five wise Virgins’ Bridegroom but also He is the five foolish Virgins’ Bridegroom. Now, since Christ is the ONLY Door through whom ALL believers must enter into the Kingdom of God (cf. John 10:7, 9), then the Word of God is clear: the Door will close on ONLY those believers who are foolish (careless and unprepared). Christ Shuts the Door, because He has judged those standing on the Earth side of the Door to be unworthy to enter into the physical heavenly Kingdom of God.
Most of us will agree that having any door shut in our faces is probably one of the most embarrassing feelings we ever could experience in this life. In the case of the foolish Virgins, the experience of having the Bridegroom Shut the Door to the Kingdom of Heaven in their faces is more than an embarrassment, because the closed Door is a harsh reality check that comes in the form of a twofold rejection: verbal and observable. Christ, the Bridegroom, not only tells them that He doesn’t know them but also He shows them that He doesn’t know them by keeping the Door closed—by intentionally ignoring their knocking and pleading.
What a horrible reality check we (modern-day believers) will have if we end up being careless, negligent, and unprepared believers to whom our Bridegroom says “I know you not”! How devastated we will be to realize that we not only are EMPTY of the Oil of the Holy Spirit—empty of the power and authority that keeps us in covenant agreement with our Bridegroom, and keeps us willing and able to fulfill our own marital responsibilities—but also we will be devastated when we realize that we are homeless, uncovered, and on our own, for the Holy Spirit can no longer live in left-behind believers who do not have the seal of God in their foreheads (cf. Revelation 7:2-4). In this awful state, we will come to realize too late that we are the very personification of Christ’s foolish five Virgins who find themselves on the outside of the Door that leads to the physical Kingdom of Heaven, pleading with Christ to let them in, only to realize that He will not.
The bottom line is this: If we do not have any Oil in our vessels when the Bridegroom comes in the air to Rapture His glorified CHURCH, He will Shut the Door on us. Thus, without the anointing that illuminates Divine TRUTH, we will not have any Light emanating from us that could move Christ to open the Door for us. How is it, then, that we who find ourselves left behind could ever run out of the Holy Spirit’s Oil?
Well, Christ makes it clear in the Ten Virgins’ parable that these ten Virgins are believers; however, He also makes it clear that only five of them are baptized with the Holy Spirit, as the other five are trying to live a holy and righteous life off of fumes! These foolish five are careless, unprepared (non-productive), inattentive and impure churchgoers because they believe in Christ yet they have “no oil for their lamps” (Matthew 25:3b, NLT); therefore, they are spiritually anemic, lacking the full power and full authority of the Holy Spirit who would have sustained their lamps’ light. They are without the anointed Oil that makes it possible for them to achieve the spiritual maturity that would have kept them enlightened, watchful and prepared while they waited for their Bridegroom’s return. The parable’s moral, then, is this: If we are foolish, carnal, non-productive, inattentive, impure Christians, we will be left behind! On the other hand, if we are wise, spiritually mature and productive, purified, watching and waiting Christians, we will be raptured.
Time is of the essence. We must take advantage of every opportunity we are given to become more like Christ, for we cannot afford to miss out on being the Bride who is to participate in the ultimate marriage, everlasting honeymoon, and glorious wedding feast of all time. We also cannot afford to miss out on our Jewish Bridegroom’s gift—the gift of living with Christ in the presence of God forever. For these reasons, we swiftly must become the CHURCH Christ is coming back for, realizing that He is not returning for members of brick and mortar churches, but rather we must realize that our Bridegroom is coming back for what we have within our individual vessels. Therefore, what we must have on the inside of us is the infilling (baptism) of the Holy Spirit’s power that works in us (cf. Ephesians 3:19b-20) and causes us to develop a righteous and holy conduct—one that demonstrates that we are walking worthy of our vocation (cf. Ephesians 4:1-6).
Additionally, we must be filled with the Oil of the Holy Spirit, because only His anointed Oil will cause us to be fruitful, purified, and wise servants who are pure in heart (cf. Matthew 5:8), as well as humble, holy, righteous, loving, forgiving, peaceable, merciful, and thankful believers. Finally, we must be filled with the Oil of the Holy Spirit, because only His anointed Oil will keep us faithful in our resolve to remain true to Christ—will keep us loyal to the commitments outlined in His marriage contract (the New Testament). The Holy Spirit’s anointed Oil also will reveal to us God’s Divine Truth, which makes us aware of this fact: since carnal Christians just have an outward form of religiosity without any inward spiritual reality, they ONLY serve Christ with their lips. Therefore, we must seek continuous fillings of the Holy Spirit’s anointed Oil so that our married faces will never become unveiled, for this unveiling would indicate that we have fallen into spiritual adultery, and our spiritual adultery will cause the Bridegroom to Shut the Door and leave us behind!
¹The English word “virgins,” as used in the King James Version of the Parable of the Ten Virgins, has been translated from the Greek word “parqevnoß,” which is transliterated as “parthenos.” Thus, in the context of the aforesaid parable, “parthenos” or “virgins” means a marriageable maiden who never has had sexual intercourse with a man.