In the parable of the ten virgins, we have seen that all ten of the virgins took their lamps or torches and an initial supply of oil, but only those who were wise or prudent thought to take along extra oil for their lamps, allowing that the Bridegroom might tarry and their lamps go out in the darkest part of the night and they have no light to go out and meet Him. We have also seen that because the Bridegroom did tarry late into the night, they all became drowsy and began to sleep in regard to the spiritual needs of their souls and the righteous requirements of the gospel to which they ought to have been awake and alert. What immediate example do we find in Scripture of Christ’s disciples becoming drowsy and falling asleep in the middle of the night when they ought to have been awake and keeping watch? See Mat 26:36-46. If such could happen to His closest disciples while He was yet with them in person, is it possible that the same could happen to us today?
At what time of the night does the parable say that the Bridegroom finally arrived? See Mat 25:6, and notice that midnight is literally the middle or midst of the night, and not necessarily a specific time on a clock as we might think of it. In regard to the two-fold nature of Christ’s coming both for the deliverance of His people and the destruction of His enemies, what other significant event in salvation history also took place at midnight? See Exo 12:29-32.
How were the slumbering virgins awakened to know that the Bridegroom had arrived, and it was time to go out and meet Him? See Mat 25:6. What is the significance, again in the context of the two-fold nature of Christ’s coming in a time of great darkness, that the shout described by the NAS is not a shout of command as in 1Th 4:16 (“The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout…”), but an uproar, a cry of distress, or an outcry against evil, as it is used throughout the LXX? See Gen 18:20-21, 19:13, Exo 3:7,9, 11:6, 12:30, Neh 5:1,6, 9:9, Psa 9:12, 18:6, 102:1, Isa 5:7, 66:6, Jer 8:19, 14:2, 25:36, 31:35 (roar, cf. Luk 21:25), Jer 46:12, 50:46, 51:54-55, Jon 1:2 (lit. “the cry of its wickedness is come up to me”); see also Luke’s use of the word in Act 23:9 (uproar) and Paul’s use in Eph 4:31 (clamor). How does this understanding of the nature of the shout that awakened the slumbering virgins help us to better understand what it means to come out and meet the Bridegroom? See 2Co 6:17, Rev 18:4; cf. Jer 50:8, 51:6,45. We have seen that if people are unwilling to come out and be gathered under the Lord’s wings of refuge, it is not possible for the Lord to save them from the coming destruction (Mat 23:37-38); what does this parable teach us even about those who are willing to come out if they are foolishly unprepared? Cf. Luk 13:23-27. How are the foolish virgins then like so many Christians today who serve the Lord only in pretense? When is the time to get prepared and give heed to the potential need for extra oil and take steps to procure it? Is it at spiritual midnight, after one’s oil has run out, or during the day, before the Bridegroom has come? Cf. Joh 12:35. What does this remind us about the need to resist the world’s appeal that lulls people to sleep spiritually and our need for regular prayer and meditation upon God’s word and meeting with other saints to spur one another on to love and good deeds in order that we always have a reserve of the oil of God’s Holy Spirit?
What does the parable say the virgins did at the sound of the shout or clamor? See Mat 25:7, and notice that rose (NAS) or arose (KJV) is also the same word for awakened as it is translated by the NET and NIV; cf. Act 12:7, Rom 13:11. Was it just the wise virgins who were awakened from their slumber by the uproar to go out and meet the Bridegroom? Although the foolish virgins woke up just like the wise virgins, did that mean that they would be admitted to the wedding feast? See Mat 25:10-12. Hence, although the Lord is patient and does not want any to perish, does that mean that one can safely put off the demands of the gospel until the need appears? Or is there more to salvation than just saying a sinner’s prayer at the last minute in order to receive a get into heaven free card? Cf. Rom 2:4-5.
1. If it was hard to the disciples to watch with Christ an hour, much more to watch with him an age. Matthew Henry.↩