Sabbath, May 9, 2015

“By the lamps is represented the word of God. The psalmist says, ‘Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto may path.’ Psalm 119:105. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Thus the Spirit is represented in the prophecy of Zechariah….

“So the followers of Christ are to shed light into the darkness of the world. Through the Holy Spirit, God’s word is a light as it becomes a transforming power in the life of the receiver. By implanting in their hearts the principles of His word, the Holy Spirit develops in men the attributes of God. The light of His glory–His character–is to shine forth in His followers. Thus they are to glorify God, to lighten the path to the Bridegroom’s home, to the city of God, to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 406, 407, 414.

All waiting but not all prepared

1. What parable did Jesus present to illustrate the constant necessity of the Holy Spirit?

Matthew 25:1, 2 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

“Very many follow on in their own ways and indulge their sinful desires and yet profess to be disciples of Christ. They have never submitted their hearts to God. Like the foolish virgins they have neglected to obtain the oil of grace in their vessels with their lamps. I tell you, my brethren, that a large number who profess to believe and even to teach the truth are under the bondage of sin. Base passions defile the mind and corrupt the soul. Some who are in the vilest iniquity have borrowed the livery of heaven, that they may serve Satan more effectively….

“Those who are destitute of heavenly wisdom, destitute of living power with God, are not competent to steer the gospel ship amid icebergs and tempests. The church is passing through severe conflicts, but in her peril many would trust her to hands that will surely wreck her. We need a pilot on board now, for we are nearing the harbor. As a people we should be the light of the world. But how many are foolish virgins, having no oil in their vessels with their lamps. May the Lord of all grace, abundant in mercy, full of forgiveness, pity and save us, that we perish not with the wicked!” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 219, 104, 105.

2. What was different about the ways the virgins prepared for the bridegroom’s coming?

Matthew 25:3, 4 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

“Such enthusiasm and inspiration have not a heavenly origin. They are entirely of this earth. Sadly the angels of heaven look upon the forgetfulness of those for whom Christ has done so much. When sickness and death come to those who have lived merely for self-pleasing, too late they find that they have no oil in their lamps, and that they are utterly unfit to close their life’s history.” –Messages to Young People, p. 387; Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 85.

“A genuine religious experience unfolds and intensifies. Continual advancement, increasing knowledge and power in the word of God, is the natural result of a vital connection with God. The light of holy love will grow brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. It was Brother P’s privilege to have such an experience as this; but he has not had the oil of grace in his vessel with his lamp, and his light has been growing dim. If he does not make a decided change soon, he will be where no warnings or entreaties will ever reach him. His light will go out in darkness, and he will be left in despair.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 413.

Taken by surprise 

3. What did all the virgins do when they heard the cry at midnight that the bridegroom was coming?

Matthew 25:5-7 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 

“No soul can prosper without time to pray, to search the Scriptures; and all should, as far as possible, have the privilege of attending public worship. All need to keep the oil of grace in their vessels with their lamps. Above all others, the workers who are thrown into the society of worldlings need to have Jesus held up before them, that they may behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. The godless element to which they are exposed makes it essential that personal labor should be bestowed upon them.” –Counsels on Health, p. 422.

“The members of the church of Christ should gather up the divine rays of light from Jesus, and reflect them to others, leaving a bright track heavenward in the world. They are to be as the wise virgins, having their lamps trimmed and burning, representing the character of Christ to the world. We are not to be satisfied with anything short of this. We are not to be satisfied with our own righteousness, and content without the deep movings of the Spirit of God.” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 326.

4. What terrible surprise confronted the virgins who did not have a reserve supply of oil? What did they ask from their companions? 

Matthew 25:8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 

“Lingering near the bride’s house are ten young women robed in white. Each carries a lighted lamp and a small flagon for oil. All are anxiously watching for the appearance of the bridegroom. But there is a delay. Hour after hour passes; the watchers become weary and fall asleep. At midnight the cry is heard, ‘Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.’ The sleepers, suddenly awaking, spring to their feet. They see the procession moving on, bright with torches and glad with music. They hear the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. The ten maidens seize their lamps and begin to trim them, in haste to go forth. But five have neglected to fill their flasks with oil. They did not anticipate so long a delay, and they have not prepared for the emergency. In distress they appeal to their wiser companions saying, ‘Give us of your oil; for our lamps are going out.’ Matthew 25:8, margin.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 405, 406.

“They had all been convicted that they must prepare for the coming of the bridegroom, and all had gained a knowledge of the truth. There was no apparent difference between the wise and the foolish … but the foolish had not provided for this emergency…. They had neglected to prepare themselves to meet the bridegroom….” –Review and Herald, September 17, 1895.

Secure reserves while there is time

5. Did the wise virgins have enough reserves so they could share some of their oil? If we do not have the Holy Spirit in fullness, can we expect to receive more at the last moment?

Matthew 25:9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 

“But the waiting five, with their freshly trimmed lamps, have emptied their flagons. They have no oil to spare, and they answer, ‘Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.’ Matthew 25:9.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 406.

“In reading this parable one cannot but pity the foolish virgins, and ask the question, Why is it that the wise did not divide their supply of oil? But as we make the spiritual application of the parable, we can see the reason. It is not possible for those who have faith and grace to divide their supply with those who have not. It is not possible for those who have made a thorough heart work, to impart the benefit of this to those who have done but surface work. The parable is designed to point out the peril of doing a surface work…. Are we building on the rock?… We should not soothe our consciences in expectation of heaven, when we are not bearing the distinguishing characteristics of the Christian life. Paul says, ‘Examine yourselves….’” –Review and Herald, September 17, 1895.

6. What happened while the unprepared virgins went to buy oil? What did they find out when they returned?

Matthew 25:10, 11 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 

“The Laodicean message applies to all who profess to keep the law of God, and yet are not doers of it. We are not to be selfish in anything. Every phase of the Christian life is to be a representation of the life of Christ. If it is not, we shall hear the terrible words, ‘I know you not.’” –(Review and Herald, October 17, 1899) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 962.

“There are those in the ministry who have had light and a knowledge of the truth, who will not be overcomers. They do not restrict their appetites and passions or deny themselves for Christ’s sake. Many poor outcasts, even publicans and sinners, will grasp the hope set before them in the gospel and will go into the kingdom of heaven before the ones who have had great opportunities and great light, but who have walked in darkness. In the last great day many will say: ‘Lord, Lord, open unto us.’ But the door will be shut, and their knock will be in vain.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 75.

7. What answer was given to their pleading? How important is the lesson concerning the need of the Holy Spirit that we learn from this illustration?

Matthew 25:12, 13 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

“Saddest of all words that ever fell on mortal ear are those words of doom, ‘I know you not.’ The fellowship of the Spirit, which you have slighted, could alone make you one with the joyous throng at the marriage feast. In that scene you cannot participate. Its light would fall on blinded eyes, its melody upon deaf ears. Its love and joy could awake no chord of gladness in the world-benumbed heart. You are shut out from heaven by your own unfitness for its companionship.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 413.

“God graciously grants a day of probation, a time of test and trial. He gives the invitation: ‘Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.’…” –Maranatha, p. 55.

For personal study

“Why has the Lord so long delayed His coming? The whole host of heaven is waiting to fulfill the last work for this lost world, and yet the work waits. It is because the few who profess to have the oil of grace in their vessels with their lamps, have not become burning and shining lights in the world. It is because missionaries are few….” –Maranatha, p. 55.

“The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 415, 416.

“Today the voice of mercy is calling, and Jesus is drawing men by the cords of His love; but the day will come when Jesus will put on the garments of vengeance…. The wickedness of the world is increasing every day, and when a certain line is reached, the register will be closed, and the account settled. There will be no more a sacrifice for sin. The Lord cometh. Long has mercy extended a hand of love, of patience and forbearance, toward a guilty world.” –Maranatha, p. 55.