Saturday, August 6, 2016

Are You Ready?

Matthew 25:1-4 - Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 

This parable bears mentioning. It is easy for me to understand because I'm a woman but it might be more difficult for a man to wrap his head around. Spiritually Jesus is our Bridegroom. Spiritually all followers of Christ, man or woman, young or old, are considered His bride. Jesus is our spiritual Bridegroom and we are to have a relationship with Him.

According to the parable half of these virgins were ready to meet the bridegroom for a grand wedding. Their lamps were filled with oil. While the bridegroom delayed all the virgins slept. When the bridegroom was finally on his way, those who had not maintained their lamps were in a sorry state. They pleaded with the other virgins to share their oil, but it was too late, they had just what they needed and no more to offer. The five unprepared virgins left quickly to obtain what oil they needed. In the meantime the bridegroom came and received those who were ready for the marriage and the door was shut behind them.

The unprepared virgins could not enter. They pleaded "Lord, Lord, open to us!'' But he answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you'' (verses 11-12).

I think about Noah, the flood, those who scoffed at Noah's persistence that there would be a flood and wouldn't they come into the ark for safety. Eventually the ark door had to be closed. All perished but Noah and his family...eight people compared to the thousands left to die. And then there's this: the road is narrow that leads to life and few follow it while there is a wide road to destruction. God speaks also about a remnant...which means a few in comparison to all the people in the world. Why would all these and other parables or accounts from the Bible be there if not to warn us?

This parable of the virgins is like the ancient Hebrew marriage ritual. When a man spied a woman he desired to marry the families would meet and a proposal would be made. The woman could accept or reject. If she accepted, they were considered married, much like our engagement. The next step was for the man to build an addition on to his parents' existing home as a place for them to live. This would take about a year, then the actual wedding ceremony would take place. In the meantime, the bride was to prepare herself for this wedding and marriage supper. She waited anxiously for the bridegroom to come back and say he was ready for her, that their "room" was ready.

This parallels the story of the virgins and the bridegroom. The virgins, or brides, didn't know exactly when he would return but they had to be ready at all times. I'm guessing that there could have been some brides who were tired of waiting and when the groom came to get them found out they had basically reneged on their promise.

This also reminds me of the scripture in John 14:2-4 where Jesus tells us "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know." And then in Revelation 19:7 we are told Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the MARRIAGE of the LAMB has come, and His wife has made herself ready. (God prepared a place for all in Noah's ark.)

Oh, all the little wonderful details God has given us to understand the meaning of salvation through Jesus Christ...our Bridegroom, our Lamb. The whole point of all of this is about accepting the invitation, the proposal as it were, that Jesus offers us of salvation. We can accept or reject the proposal, the promise of a life in Christ. The promise that when we accept His proposal of salvation there will be a room in His house for us. If one chooses to slumber or sleep and think that it is not necessary to be prepared for the Bridegroom's return, which will occur, He will tell them they are not known and will not allow them in. This also goes for Christians who are lax in their life regarding Christ, those who don't take the time to acknowledge Him as part of their daily lives.

We must live as though the Bridegroom will come tomorrow. We must have that relationship now and we must be serious about it. We cannot shrug off the notion that it's been 2,000 years and we've not seen Christ return yet although people have predicted it. It just don't matter! We are, in a way, in that one year's period of time when the Bridegroom is preparing that house for us. We don't know exactly the day Jesus will return but we must be prepared....Matthew 24:36 - "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." Jesus is God and yet even He doesn't know when He will return. It could be tomorrow. Are you ready?

We are told at the end of the parable of the ten virgins, and it's a warning for us now:

Matthew 25:13 - "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming."

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