By Ronald Graham
“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk 2:4. The just – those who’ve become justified in God’s eye’s – will live by their faith. Old Testament or New, the just lived and do live by their faith. The Old Testament believers looked forward to and believed in the coming of their Messiah, the New Testament saints look back to the cross and the death, burial, and resurrection of their God and Savior, our Messiah, our coming King, Jesus the Christ, and believe. Three categories of believers are in view here, and they are all saved by faith through the grace of God, yet there remains a distinct difference as we view the salvation imparted to the Old Testament saints, the salvation of the New Testament Church age saints, and New Testament tribulation saints who will be saved while occupying the most horrible period of time known to mankind. Let me explain.
“Two Distinct Events” – a commentary I wrote – was posted to the internet about three weeks ago. Afterwards I was bombarded with letters from readers who requested further explanations, especially concerning the role of the Holy Spirit during the 70th week of Daniel. I was accused of all sorts of errors concerning the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. A few even accused me of becoming a convert to another faith. Though I thought I had explained the role of the Holy Spirit in the last seven years leading up to Christ’s return, as I looked back on that commentary I realized it needed a more thorough explanation.
The Holy Spirit will certainly play a very significant role during the last seven year period of time on earth prior to Jesus setting up His millennial Kingdom, and this period of time is spoken of as Daniels 70th week. During that space of time the Holy Spirit will be hard at work pointing people to Jesus Christ for salvation. That has always been His job. He never points to Himself, always to Jesus. But the Church age, having passed at this point, was a very distinct period in God’s economy. The Church, the body of Christ, consisted of individuals who were all indwelt with the Holy Spirit. “…in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13b-14.
Fact: The Holy Spirit is sealed inside of every born again believer in Christ today. Once the Church has been Raptured, this gift will be gone. Anyone who comes to believe in Christ for salvation after the Rapture will not be sealed with the Holy Spirit, but will be responsible for keeping themselves saved. The Holy Spirit will still be working, but not indwelling.
In the Old Testament the believers were led by the Holy Spirit to believe, to have faith in the coming of the Messiah, but were not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The tribulation saints will be similarly led. But they, as the Old Testament believers, will not be sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. They must be prepared to endure all sorts of battles, and one such battle will be the waiting as it will seem as though their Master’s return is far off. Hence the parable of the ten virgins and the bridegroom of Matthew 25.
Matthew 24 ends with Jesus’ parable of the wise servant vs. the foolish servant. The wise servant diligently waited for His master’s return “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matthew 24:13. Matthew 25 is simply a continuation of that same thought. These onetime Christ rejecters must now endure through that horrible period to be saved. Many will be martyred for their faith, which will be the same as enduring to the end.
“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.” Matthew 25:1. Here begins Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins and this one is going to shock many of my readers. Jesus begins this parable by referring to the traditions of a Jewish wedding; his audience must be Jewish since they would be the only ones to recognize the significance of these ten virgins (bridesmaids) and especially their lamps.
“There were three stages to a Jewish wedding in that day. The first was engagement – a formal agreement made by the fathers. The second was betrothal – the ceremony where mutual promises are made. The third was marriage – approximately one year later when the bridegroom came at an unexpected time for his bride.
In this parable, the first two stages have already taken place. Now the wedding party (the ten virgins) await the coming of the bridegroom for his bride.
Why does Jesus describe ten virgins? Talmudic authorities affirm that there were usually ten lamps in a bridal procession” – David Guzik
“And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” Matthew 25:2-4. Here Jesus explains the foolishness of the virgins who had no oil in their lamp. We find that five of the virgins awaiting the bridegroom had their lamps trimmed sufficiently with oil; the other five took no oil for their lamps as they waited for the bridegroom. Oil is seen here as an idiom referring to the Holy Spirit. Almost from the beginning of this parable we can see something horrible is about to occur.
“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” Matthew 25:5. In other words, the wise as well as the foolish virgins were equally complacent and as they waited on the bridegroom they each fell asleep. The wise could legitimately slumber as they were secure in what they possessed (their lamps were full of oil). The foolish virgins slumbered unaware of the peril they faced (possessing lamps with no oil).
“And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 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.” Matthew 25:6-9. The five foolish virgins, hearing the bridegroom was on His way, scrambled to get prepared. The bridegroom is Jesus Christ, and the five wise virgins are those who’ve became saved during the last seven year period leading up to Christ’s return. The five foolish virgins were never saved.
Those who remain after the rapture of the Church and become born again will face very strong opposition to their faith, but they will need to endure to the end to be saved. They must keep the word of God, keep His precepts, keep the faith, and keep the Holy Spirit close. “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. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” Matthew 25:10-12. When Jesus returns, some of those who think they are saved will be surprised at His response just as the foolish virgins were surprised at the response from the bridegroom. Jesus, being the bridegroom, says that He knew them not, which means He never knew them. They were never a part of His family of born again believers. They had all the signs of being saved except the main ingredient. They had no oil in their lamps. The Holy Spirit was not present in their lives. They had neglected the Holy Spirit’s message and lived without faith in the coming King.
“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 25:13. Obviously Jesus is speaking about His Second Advent as He’s addressing the folks that are living during those last seven years. Everyone who places their faith and trust in Jesus Christ during the 70th week of Daniel will need to keep themselves ready – they all need to be as the 5 wise virgins who keep their oil (the Holy Spirit). In other words they are saved by faith just as the Church is today, but they must keep that faith – and not turn away because of the horrible events that are about to unfold before them. The five foolish virgins never had the faith as the five wise virgins and that’s why they wanted some of their oil. They neglected the oil (the Holy Spirit) to trim their lamps. They very foolishly allowed the tribulations of that time to suck any faith they might have had right out of them, hence the bridegroom never knew them.
“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.” Matthew 25:14-18. This parable is somewhat similar to our Lord’s parable of the ten virgins in that there were two groups of people, the wise and the foolish. In this case He’s addressing servants belonging to the Master (Jesus is the Master). The wise servants – well what can we say? They kept the faith, they endured till the end, and they never lost their hold on the Holy Spirit.
After Jesus rewards the wise servants He turns His attention to the foolish servant who had a real heart problem. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth by the foolish servant – the third servant demonstrated that he was not a true servant of his master (he was not saved). Is it not fitting then that he (and those who show the same heart) is cast forever out of the master’s presence into outer darkness?
The next part of chapter 25 gives us a great view of our Lords heart. “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” Matthew 25:34-36. Jesus tells them that the true believer is not at all self-centered, but others centered. The righteous were doing what they did for those mentioned by the King out of love. Their helpfulness came naturally as children of the King, and as they saw a person’s needs they reacted in a Godly way, and for no other reason than love.
“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” Matthew 25:41. Then there are the self-centered, the ungodly, who wouldn’t lift a finger to help someone in need. They are the unrighteous and Jesus lets them know in no uncertain terms that by not helping those in need they turned their backs on Him. “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” Matthew 25:46. Jesus clearly points out that Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. Men only go to Hell because they have willingly cast their lot with the devil and his angels.
Through all we’ve learned here, there is one thing we must keep in mind. Jesus is still addressing the folks of the last seven year period – what many refer to as the tribulation week. As Jesus finishes the last of His parables of this chapter He concludes with two distinct categories of people. He arranges them in groups, His sheep on the right and those who rejected Him (the goats) on His left. The sheep were those who endured until the end; as they were keeping the faith they also helped others no matter what hardship it caused them. The goats were those who had no love for their fellow man, they lived completely contrary to what Jesus taught and expected from His followers; they did not endure until the end. The sheep inherited the Kingdom and the goats were cast into Hell.
I know there are seemingly numerous parallels to that which can be seen in the Church population of today, and it’s a fact that many even in the Church are not really saved (have no oil). But even though there are similarities to the Church age in these parables, the fact is we who are truly born again cannot lose what’s sealed within us, and therein we see the difference.
One last comment. I hope I’ve made it plain that Jesus is addressing those who are occupying that last seven year period of time. He has returned at this point to set everything right, and to set up His millennial Kingdom on earth. And guess who returns with Him? You guessed it, His Church. We are at His side. “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” 1 Thessalonians 3:13. Therefore Jesus the Christ, Creator of the universe can’t be addressing His Church in either this chapter or in the previous one.
God bless you all,
All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed