“The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'” Matthew 25:8
Recently I read the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25. This was the story of the virgins who went out with their lamps to wait on the coming bridegroom. The bridegroom was a long time coming, and the virgins actually fell asleep while they waited. When the call came out that the bridegroom was approaching, they woke up and trimmed their lamps so that they would burn brighter. However, 5 of the virgins were called “foolish”, because they’d brought no extra oil for their lamps. When their lamps began to burn out, they asked the other 5 “wise” virgins for some of their oil, but the wise virgins refused and told them they needed to go and get their own oil. While the foolish virgins were gone, the bridegroom arrived and went with the 5 wise virgins into the banquet and shut the door. When the foolish virgins returned with their oil, the bridegroom told them that he did not know them, and did not let them into the banquet.
Basically I’ve always taken this parable to mean, pretty simply, that I should always be prepared because no one knows at what time our Lord will return for us. However, as I read it this time, I noticed so many details that I really just didn’t understand.
For example, why did these virgins each need a lamp anyway? Couldn’t they just share? One lamp didn’t give enough light for 2 virgins? And why didn’t the “wise” virgins just give the “foolish” ones some of their oil? I mean, they’d just heard that the bridegroom had arrived – they had to know that they wouldn’t really need that much, right?
I went back to this passage several times this past week, thinking, “God, I know You don’t waste words. Show me what I’m missing in this.”
Then a thought occurred to me – Perhaps the reason those lamps were so important to the virgins was because the burning lamp was their way of indicating to the bridegroom – and to everyone else who passed by – that they were there waiting for HIM.
Now, I know that MY lamp is burning. I mean, I go to church, I hang out with other christians, I listen to “christian” music. I even moved to Russia with my family as a “missionary”! Certainly my lamp is burning, right? I mean, everyone who knows me knows that I am waiting on Him to return, right?
But then I had to ask myself: when He returns, will HE know that I’m waiting on Him?
Well, that takes me to this “oil” Jesus kept referring to in the parable. All of the “wise” virgins also brought oil with them while they waited on the bridegroom’s return.
Throughout scripture, oil is used by the children of God as an indication of the Lord’s anointing on a life. In 1 Samuel 10, Samuel poured a flask of oil on Saul’s head to indicate his anointing as the leader of God’s people. In the 23rd Psalm, the author says that the Lord “anoints his head with oil”.
The oil, it seems, is pretty significant. The oil is the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God on my life. Why didn’t the “wise” virgins give the “foolish” virgins any of their oil? Because it simply was not theirs to give.
The only source of this oil is Jesus Christ. His anointing MUST be on our lives or our lamps will simply burn out. No matter how hard we work to prove to ourselves and others that we are waiting on Him, nothing we do will stand at the time of His coming unless we have gone to Him and asked and allowed Him to anoint us with His Spirit.
Now, for anyone who has found any comfort in their life at all, the idea of allowing the Lord to anoint us with His presence is pretty scary:
What if it makes me look silly in front of the people at my church?
What if it embarrasses my parents or my spouse?
Or even worse, what if He tells me that He wants to make changes in my life? What if He asks me to give up my social habits, or to give more of “my” money to the poor? What if He tells me He wants me to change my career, or my lifestyle? What would I do then?
But then I remember all of those times sitting in the pew at church, singing the hymns or listening to the great rock band playing a praise song, giving my 10 percent, listening to the sermon, shaking hands with and hugging all the people I know, giving a pleasant “hello” to the new person, and then getting in my car and driving to my job the next morning and thinking – there must be more to life than this.
Any time a person from the West visits Russia for the first time, one of the first things they say is, “It seems so dark here.” Those of us who are not used to it can sense pretty quickly the presence of the evil one in this society through spirits of depression and shame, just to name a few.
However, I have to say that having been out of the USA for about a year now, I’ve also become keenly aware of an area of darkness plaguing our homeland – the spirit of fear.
We’re holding our lamps. We’ve heard about Christ and have decided that we’re going to be a part of that crowd of people who are waiting on Him. We know the desire that He has put in our hearts for more of Him. But we have flat allowed the enemy to use fear to keep us from falling on our face, giving our lives to Him, and letting Him use us to set His people free and usher in His kingdom.
So, the foolish ones said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.” All day today I’ve been asking myself the same question: On whose oil am I depending to light my lamp? My pastor’s? My parents’? My spouse’s? The missionary’s that I support?
In the name of Jesus, I rebuke the Spirit of Fear that plagues the homes of those in whom You’ve placed Your desire for the freedom, truth, and power that only come through You. I pray, Father that you will send Your Holy Spirit upon each of us in these days, that we will know You and that You will be glorified in us. Oh, how we love You, our Lord. Amen.