Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. (Matthew 25:1-2)
In today’s parable, Jesus relates a story of a bridegroom taking to himself ten virgins. He “tarried” for a time and the foolish virgins did not take oil for their lamps. The wise virgins did. It was a custom to have a path lit by the brides as a wedding custom. When the bridegroom came,the foolish virgins were gone out to buy oil for their lamps which had gone out. the bridegroom went in with the wise virgins leaving the rest outside and denying them entry.
The women in this passage represents professors of Christ in the church – true professors and false professors. While certainly the Reformed believe that there are the elect of God, we do not believe that the whole visible church of God consists only of those who are elect. The church is mixed with true professors and false professors. The lamps here represent their profession.
One thing that is evident is that they all took lamps with them. All of them could show, during the time of their waiting, that they were professors. All had a lamp burning for show. However, the foolish ones did not provide for the time of the coming of the bridegroom (Christ) by brining oil with them. They had the show of faith but not its substance.
Those who falsely profess Christ make no provision for his coming. As Matthew Henry comments on this passage:
“They took the lamps for a present show, but not oil for after use. This incogitancy is the ruin of many professors’ all their care is to recommend themselves to their neighbors whom they now converse with, not to approve themselves to Christ, whom they must hereafter appear before; as if any thing will serve, provide it will but serve for the present. Tell them of things not seen as yet, and you are like Lot to his sons-in-law, as one that mocked. They do not porivde for hereafter, as the ant does, nor lay up for the time to come (1 Tim. 6:19).”
For some, churchmanship and being a part of the Christian life is just for show. It is just to impress the neighbors, appease family, etc. Some may even believe that such their own faith is genuine. However, this kind of “faith” is nothing of the sort. It is only a carnal belief in being pardoned for the just judgment placed upon all men. The foolish virgins put on their show, having their lamps. They sleep but they do not have oil for the time of the coming of the bridegroom. As such, they are unprepared, found wanting, and looked over.
The wise virgins, on the other hand, have demonstrated that they are the true professors of Christ. They have made provision for his coming. Indeed, these are the ones of whom Paul spoke when he said to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14). Their provision is in their settled, resolute faith in Christ that is unwavering in its commitment and zeal. These are the ones that Christ will call his upon his second coming.
No one knows when the bridegroom will come; we know he tarries. We know he will come at an appointed time, just as the bridegroom came at midnight. In the meantime, we must press on in our commitment to Christ which is born out of a regenerate heart in love for Him. We must not become slack and idle in our dealings with things of the Kingdom. We must always be searching for the truth in His Word, proclaiming His glory to the nations, zealous for the right worship of Him, and anticipating His coming again.