November 2017 is our month of the Eleventh-hour Miracle, but sadly, not everyone that is waiting for this miracle will get one.
In the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt. 25: 1-13), the ten virgins had a number of unifying traits; they were all virgins, they all had lamps, all went purposefully to meet the bridegroom, all became weary and slumbered, all heard the cry announcing the bridegroom, they all arose and trimmed their lamps. Which indicates that all ten were of the same purpose and intent. In outward appearances there would be nothing to set one virgin apart from another.
A lamp in scripture is often referred to as ‘the Word of God’. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet…” (Psalm 119: 105). The effect of the word of God in a person’s life is to enlighten them, which is the function of the oil. Oil on the other hand, is often referred to as a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
In this parable, the oil is the element that causes the lamp to function, in the case of Scripture, the Holy Spirit is that which causes the word of God to function. The Bible reveals that without the Spirit of God the natural man cannot receive the things of God for they are spiritually discerned (1st Cor. 2: 9-16). Therefore, without the Holy Spirit there will be no spiritual illumination.
All the virgins possessed lamps, just as many Christians carry the Bible. Yet only five of the virgins had oil in their lamps and could actually produce light. Likewise, only half of those that call themselves Christian have the Holy Spirit and are capable of spiritual enlightenment. Only those virgins that possessed the essential element of oil in their lamps were allowed to enter the wedding chamber when the bridegroom arrived. Likewise, only those who have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, will benefit from the eleventh-hour miracle. Check yourself.
God may delay the eleventh-hour miracle longer than we expect, like the wise bridesmaids, we must be prepared for such a delay. The foolish virgins were not reprobates; they were members of the church, but were not born-again.
The primary principle of this parable is preparation. There is only one preparation that provides the oil of the Holy Spirit, and that is the new-birth. Be born-again.
This parable provides an illustration of the difference between religious profession and a renewing confession. On the religious side, some people possess all of the marks and outward evidences of God’s people, yet without the Holy Spirit. On the righteous side, Christians are marked by the Holy Spirit who is their seal; (Eph. 1:13-14), the only one that can assure them of their salvation as He confirms to them that they are the sons of God (Rom. 8: 17).
Don’t be left out of the eleventh-hour miracle, prepare yourself and be ready.
Your Vicar and Friend,
The Revd. Canon Kiri Wakama