Thursday, September 2, 2010

Be Prepared! - September 2, 2010

Matthew 25:1-13 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
A Story About Ten Bridesmaids

1“When the end comes, the kingdom of heaven will be like ten bridesmaids. They took their oil lamps and went to meet the groom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3The foolish bridesmaids took their lamps, but they didn’t take any extra oil. 4The wise bridesmaids, however, took along extra oil for their lamps. 5Since the groom was late, all the bridesmaids became drowsy and fell asleep.

6“At midnight someone shouted, ‘The groom is here! Come to meet him!’ 7Then all the bridesmaids woke up and got their lamps ready.

8“The foolish ones said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil. Our lamps are going out.’

9“But the wise bridesmaids replied, ‘We can’t do that. There won’t be enough for both of us. Go! Find someone to sell you some oil.’

10“While they were buying oil, the groom arrived. The bridesmaids who were ready went with him into the wedding hall, and the door was shut.

11“Later the other bridesmaids arrived and said, ‘Sir, sir, open the door for us!’

12“But he answered them, ‘I don’t even know who you are!’

13“So stay awake, because you don’t know the day or the hour.

Jesus often spoke in parables concerning everyday things to educate and prepare the listener for the future. These verses come right after he answers in length the questions concerning end time events from his disciples in Matthew 24:3 (New International Version): 3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

I have spoken before that the Bridgroom in the Bible represents Jesus Christ, and the soon coming wedding feast will be for his bride, all of those who believe, when he gathers her with him in heaven for eternity. Also, the oil here mentioned represents the Holy Spirit that is available to all, and the lamps are the vessels that hold the Spirit of God and illuminate the world around them, here again the individual believer. Here the bridesmaids have been thought to be the individual person or Christian, but since a bridesmaid attends the bride, in my opinion they represent present day churches.

Now if you take all the points, in today's context I would explain the parable in this way:

There are wise and foolish churches that consist of individuals seeking God. The foolish aren't alive with the Holy Spirit, having a sense of the Spirit and the things of God in practices, doctrines and rituals, but lacking the inspiration to fill the people attending to have a Spirit-filled relationship with Christ. The wise continually focus on the Spirit of God, emphasizing relationship over ritual and constantly preparing themselves and their congregations for the Lord's coming. They know that they have to reach out and share that spirit with the world around them, bringing as many to that spirit-filled relationship with God as possible.

Since Jesus has not yet come, and in human terms he has been long in coming, all the churches have grown weary and fallen asleep to the impending return of Jesus. That is very easy to see today, since many that claim to be Christians are not thinking that Jesus will return in their lifetime, and believe that his return is merely representative, a story that will only be fulfilled after we die. To them it is more of a supernatural thing that won't happen in a literal sense. That is the problem with many churches today.

As the parable continues, Jesus does return when he is least expected. Those who had prepared and had continued building up their people with faith and in relationship with God, were ready to greet him at his coming. Not so with the foolish. "Their church membership is routine, merely going through the motions. They have enough faith that they at least show up for church services. They have beliefs and character and motivation—but not enough!"is how John W. Ritenbaugh put it in The World, the Church and Laodiceanism.In other words, they were not prepared spiritually to be ready for the second coming of Jesus Christ for his people.

Where does that leave you? If you are a believer, someone who has accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, and made him the Lord of your life, you have been given the Holy Spirit to help you grow in knowledge and in your relationship with God. You need to continually spend time focusing on growing your faith, learning and serving, and waiting in anticipation that Jesus will come back. If your are not a believer, or you are just lukewarm in your faith, it is time to get off of the fence before it is too late. Confess your sinfulness, recommit your faith, and seek the mercy and grace of God available through the work of Jesus on the cross.

As with all of my posts, what I write is my opinion and my understanding of what I study in the Bible. It is limited by the fact that I am not a theologian, and I have never had any formal univeristy study. As I have said before, I am just a fallible guy seeking to understand what God is trying to tell me through His Word, sharing my thoughts and opinions with you. I pray that I can inspire you to do your own personal study, meditation and prayer, and seek Him dilligently. God has a purpose and message for each one of us, and it is up to you to learn what that is.

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