The Parable of the Ten Virgins

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MR No. 1223—The Parable of the Ten Virgins

[Matthew 25:1-13, quoted.]


A special message has come to our world in the messages of the first and second angels. [Revelation 14:6-8, quoted.]     {16MR 267.1}


Under the proclamation of these messages, the midnight cry was made, and the believers in the messages were compelled to go out from the churches because they preached the second appearing of Christ in the clouds of heaven. The whole world was to hear that message, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him.” Here is the parable of the ten virgins.    {16MR 267.2}


When the ten virgins went forth to meet the bridegroom, their lamps were trimmed and burning. Five of these virgins were wise. They anticipated delay, and filled their flagons with oil, prepared for any emergency. From those flagons their lamps were supplied, and not left to go out. But five of their number had not this foresight. They made no provision for disappointment or delay. {16MR 267.3}


The second call is made, and the ten virgins are still watching for the bridegroom. Hour after hour passes. Their eyes are anxiously looking for the appearance of the bridegroom. But there is a delay, and the weary, watching ones fall asleep. But at midnight, at the very darkest hour, when their lamps are most needed, the cry is heard, “Behold the bridegroom cometh.” The sleeping eyes are opened. Everyone is astir. They see the procession they are to join moving on, bright with torches and with music. They hear the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. The five wise virgins trim their lamps from the oil in their flagons, and their lamps burn brightly. {16MR 267.4}


“But five of them were foolish.” These had made no provision wherewith to replenish their lamps, and when aroused from their slumbers they found their lights going out. Their flagons were empty.      {16MR 268.1}


Their first thought was to borrow of their neighbors, and they said to the wise virgins, “Give us of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the answer comes back, “Not so; lest there be not enough for yourselves and for us. Go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.” And while they went to buy, the procession moved on and left them behind. The bridal train entered within the house, and the door was shut. When the foolish virgins reached the banqueting hall, an unexpected denial was given them. They were left outside in the blackness of the night. The door was shut.      {16MR 268.2}


All the Christian world is represented in this parable. The bride constitutes the church that is waiting for the second appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Some who have a nominal faith are not prepared for His coming. The oil of grace is not feeding their lamps, and they are not prepared to enter in to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The representation is such as to call forth our earnest study, that we may know what preparation we who are living in the last days are to make, that we may enter in and partake of the marriage supper of the Lamb. We are to accept the last message of mercy given to a fallen world: “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”      {16MR 268.3}


There is a delay in the coming of the Bridegroom in order that all may have an opportunity to hear the last message of mercy to a fallen world. The first and second angels’ messages are all united and complete in the third: “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.”         {16MR 269.1}


John was shown these things in holy vision. He saw the company represented by the five wise virgins, with their lamps trimmed and burning, and he exclaimed in rapture, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.”          {16MR 269.2}


Many who heard the first and second angels’ messages thought they would live to see Christ coming in the clouds of heaven. Had all who claimed to believe the truth acted their part as wise virgins, the message would ere this have been proclaimed to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. But five were wise and five were foolish. The truth should have been proclaimed by the ten virgins, but only five had made the provision essential to join that company who walked in the light that had come to them. The third angel’s message was needed. This proclamation was to be made. Many who went forth to meet the Bridegroom under the messages of the first and second angels, refused the third angel’s message, the last testing message to be given to the world. {16MR 269.3}


A similar work will be accomplished when that other angel, represented in Revelation 18, gives his message. The first, second, and third angels’ messages will need to be repeated. The call will be given to the church, “Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins.” “Babylon, the great, is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.... Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues: for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities” [Revelation 18:2-5].      {16MR 270.1}


Take each verse of this chapter, and read it carefully, especially the last two: “And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.”       {16MR 270.2}

The parable of the ten virgins was given by Christ Himself, and every specification should be carefully studied. A time will come when the door will be shut. We are represented either by the wise or the foolish virgins. We cannot now distinguish, nor have we authority to say, who are wise and who foolish. There are those who hold the truth in unrighteousness, and these appear outwardly like the wise.         {16MR 270.3}


Said Christ, “Every plant, which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.... Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man” [Matthew 15:13, 18-20].   {16MR 271.1}


It is impossible for men to read the human heart, for the tares so closely resemble the wheat. It is not given to human beings to try to separate them. But the angels of God know them, for their fruits declare their character. Have they not been commissioned to counterwork the work of those who fight against the truth of God’s word? These angels will never make a mistake in gathering the wheat from among the tares.  {16MR 271.2}

[Matthew 7:15-23, quoted.]


This is the test. Those who are counted among the wise virgins will let their light burn in good works. There are many who will not remain at the feet of Jesus, and learn of Him. They have not a knowledge of His ways. Let none rest in the idea that baptism has saved them, while they give no evidence that they are conformed to the image of Christ, while they cling to their old habits, while they exert their influence on the side of the world, and weave their fabric with the threads of worldly ideas and customs. These have not kept the oil in the vessels with their lamps. They are not ready for the Bridegroom. The oil is the holy grace that is sent from heaven, and there must be an inward adorning with that grace, that they may be enabled to stand when He appeareth.        {16MR 271.3}


Note: “The oil of grace gives to men the courage, and supplies to them the motives, for doing every day the work that God appoints to them. The five foolish virgins had lamps (this means a knowledge of Scripture truth), but they had not the grace [the Holy Spirit] of Christ. Day by day they went through a round of ceremonies and external duties, but their service was lifeless, devoid of the righteousness of Christ. The Sun of Righteousness did not shine in their hearts and minds, and they had not the love of the truth which conforms to the life and character, the image and superscription, of Christ. The oil of grace was not mingled with their endeavors. Their religion was a dry husk without the true kernel. They held fast to forms of doctrines, but they were deceived in their Christian life, full of self-righteousness, and failing to learn lessons in the school of Christ, which, if practiced, would have made them wise unto salvation.”—The Review and Herald, March 27, 1894.     {ChS 263.1}


Definition of grace


“They must have His grace, the Spirit of Christ, to help their infirmities, or they cannot form a Christian character. Jesus loves to have us come to Him, just as we are—sinful, helpless, dependent.” Faith and Works, p. 38.


“There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before man can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace [the Spirit of Christ] alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness.” (ST, May 28, 1902, par. 3).


Our Dispositions Unchanged


     If you would be a saint in heaven you must first be a saint on earth. The traits of character you cherish in life will not be changed by death or by the resurrection. You will come up from the grave with the same disposition you manifested in your home and in society. Jesus does not change the character at His coming. The work of transformation must be done now. Our daily lives are determining our destiny. Defects of character must be repented of and overcome through the grace of Christ, and a symmetrical character must be formed while in this probationary state, that we may be fitted for the mansions above.--13MR 82 (1891).  {LDE 295.1}


“The Glory that the Father gave to Christ is given to us: “Jesus is waiting to breathe upon all his disciples, and give them the inspiration of his sanctifying spirit, and transfuse the vital influence from himself to his people . . . Christ is to live in his human agents, and work through their faculties, and act through their capabilities. Their will must be submitted to His will, they must act with His Spirit, that it may be no more they that live, but Christ that liveth in them. Jesus is seeking to impress upon them the thought that in giving His Holy Spirit He is giving to them the glory which the Father has given Him, that He and His people may be one in God.” Signs of the Times, October 3, 1892, par. 4.


“Courage, fortitude, faith, and implicit trust in God's power to save do not come in a moment. These heavenly graces are acquired by the experience of years. By a life of holy endeavor and firm adherence to the right the children of God were sealing their destiny. Beset with temptations without number, they knew they must resist firmly or be conquered. They felt that they had a great work to do, and at any hour they might be called to lay off their armor; and should they come to the close of life with their work undone, it would be an eternal loss. They eagerly accepted the light from heaven, as did the first disciples from the lips of Jesus. When those early Christians were exiled to mountains and deserts, when left in dungeons to die with hunger, cold, and torture, when martyrdom seemed the only way out of their distress, they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ, who was crucified for them. Their worthy example will be a comfort and encouragement to the people of God who will be brought into the time of trouble such as never was.” {5T 213.1} End note.


The parable of the talents is given to represent the kingdom of heaven, and to show the necessity of an accurate use of the endowments that God has entrusted to us. It is of the highest importance that we understand these parables and know wherein they have any bearing upon us individually. The ten virgins are represented as watching in the evening of this earth’s history. They represent the church of professed Christians. This lesson should fill our minds with serious thought, and drive us to our Bibles, the Word of the living God. It should lead us to most earnest supplication that God will lead us into all truth. {16MR 271.4}


Said Christ: [Matthew 7:24-27, quoted].

The apostle says: [Jude 1:20-25, quoted].

We must not stand in a neutral position. Our position must be one of strong and living faith. We are to rear our houses for eternity, as is represented in the parable of the hearers and the doers of the Word. Those who are superficial in their piety may be willing to take the name of Christians, but they will not comply with the conditions laid down in the Word of God. They do not conform their characters to the Word of God and to the pattern He has given. All are hearers of the word. They comment upon that which they hear, but some, while they assent to the message sent by God to them, do not have the faith that will enable them to place the word of God in their hearts. God knows full well that if self does not die, it will become a controlling power in the soul. When the transforming power of God works upon the hearts of men, then they are represented by the wise virgins.         {16MR 272.1}


There are many who profess to be the sons and daughters of God who have no connection with Him. But God sees every spot and stain that is upon the characters of those who profess to follow Him, and He will prove every soul. He says: [Malachi 3:1-3, quoted].   {16MR 272.2}


God has commanded His people: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and keep His charge, and His statutes, and His judgments, and His commandments, alway[Deuteronomy 11:1]. [Verses 13-15, 19-23; 27:1-10, quoted.]         {16MR 273.1}


The five wise virgins represent those who have perfected a Christian character, who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. God’s message to His people is: [Revelation 3:3-5, quoted].     {16MR 273.2}


Note: The above statement is fraught with important meaning. Ellen White is saying that the message to the church in Sardis is God’s message to His people. This message is in contradistinction to the message to His bride, Philadelphia. This message is to the wise virgin “people” of the church, the guests who are not the bride, The Great Controversy, pp. 426, 427. COL 406 says that the voice of God and the voice of the bride awaken the ten virgins. Matthew 25 says all those virgins slumbered and slept. Some believe that Laodicea is the only message that applies to God’s people at the end-time. In Acts of the Apostles, p. 585, Ellen White says that all the seven messages of Revelation 2 and 3 apply to the end of time.

Revelation 3

 1And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

 2Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

 3Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

 4Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

 5He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. Rev. 3:1-5. End note.

A great price has been paid for the redemption of man, and none who are untruthful, impure, or unrighteous can enter the kingdom of heaven. If men do not make Christ their personal Saviour, and become true and pure and holy, there is only one course for the Lord to pursue. He must destroy the sinner, for evil natures cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Thus it is that sin, if not destroyed, will destroy the sinner, just as Satan designed it should.     {16MR 273.3}


As God made man, he was perfect, reflecting the moral image of God. He was left free to choose good or evil. If he should decide to choose the evil, he must have the evil. And man abused the high prerogative of his nature. Christ gave His life to make it possible for all to be wise virgins, partakers of the divine nature, that they might become complete in Jesus Christ, perfect, without spot, and blameless. Thus through Jesus Christ human nature was placed on vantage ground with God, before the heavenly universe and the fallen world.  {16MR 273.4}


But the Lord does not release men from responsibility. “Work out your own salvation,” He says, “with fear and trembling. For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Here is a cooperation of God with man and man with God. Here is encouragement for the most earnest, noble strivings. Christ declares that the life is more than meat, and the body than raiment. “What shall it profit a man,” He says, “if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” [Mark 8:36, 37]. {16MR 273.5}


Christ has made it possible for man to rise in moral value with God. By resisting all wrong, by subduing the evil temper, selfishness, and pride, he may attain to the righteousness of Christ. Man is to become one with Christ in God. Sin is degrading, and there is no place for it in heaven. It is our privilege to have the power of self-control, and if we do not have it we reveal that sin still reigns in our mortal bodies. In Christ is all sufficiency for a self-directed life. “Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me,” He says, “and he shall make peace with Me” [Isaiah 27:5].     {16MR 274.1}


The ten virgins all claim to be Christians, but five are true and five are false. All have a name, a call, a lamp, and all claim to be doing God service. All apparently watch for His appearing. All started apparently prepared, but five were wanting. Five were found surprised, dismayed, without oil, outside the wedding banquet, and the door was shut. There are many who cry peace, peace, when there is no peace. This is the most perilous belief for the human soul to entertain. Christ speaks to all who bear His name, who claim to be His followers, to eat His flesh and drink His blood, else they can have no part with Him. Be not like the foolish virgins, who take for granted that the promises of God are theirs, while they do not live as Christ has enjoined upon them. Christ teaches us that profession is nothing. “He that will come after Me,” He says, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” [Luke 9:23].  {16MR 274.2}


Let no one take for granted that he is saved. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime. Said Christ, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 5:19, 20].       {16MR 275.1}


When we stand the test of God, in the refining, purifying process, when the furnace fires consume the dross, and the true gold of a purified character appears, then we may say as did Paul, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after.... This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” [Philippians 3:12-14].        {16MR 275.2}


These parables were spoken after the solemn lessons given in the twenty-third and twenty-fourth chapters of Matthew, when Christ dwelt particularly upon His second coming, and revealed things which would transpire before His second appearing in the clouds of heaven. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” Christ said, “thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not” [Matthew 23:37].   {16MR 275.3}


In this lamentation over Jerusalem is given the assurance of protection to all who will come unto Christ. He will accept and protect them, poor, defenseless, dependent, even as the hen spreads her protecting wings over her brood. If her chickens wander from her, the hen has a peculiar call by which she warns them of peril or storm. If they will heed the danger signal, and can reach their mother’s protecting wings, they find warmth and safety, for she will defend them while she has any life. She forgets herself, and will give her life in defending her helpless little flock. {16MR 275.4}


What a touching figure is this! What an idea it gives us of the watchful care of Christ for all who trust in Him. Christ longed to gather Israel under His mediatorial wings. He longed to hear their voice calling upon Him, and saying: “Hold up my going in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. I have called upon Thee, for Thou wilt hear me, O God: incline Thine ear unto me, and hear my speech. Show Thy marvelous loving kindness, O Thou that savest by Thy right hand them which put their trust in Thee from those that rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of Thy wings” [Psalm 17:5-8].    {16MR 276.1}


[Psalm 36:5-11, quoted.]

“I will abide in Thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of Thy wings” [Psalm 61:4].        {16MR 276.2}


But Christ could not do for Israel all that He desired to do, because they would not respond to His invitations. “Ye would not,” He said. Their will was stubborn and unyielding. His last words to the impenitent nation were, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” [Matthew 23:38, 39].—Ms 92a, 1898.      {16MR 276.3}


Ellen G. White Estate

October 30, 1986.         {16MR 276.4}

Entire Manuscript.        {16MR 276.5}