To Meet the Bridegroom
This chapter is based on
the following verses:
CHRIST with His disciples is seated upon the Mount
of Olives. The sun has set behind the mountains, and the heavens are curtained with the
shades of evening. In full view is a dwelling house lighted up brilliantly as if for some
festive scene. The light streams from the openings, and an expectant company wait around,
indicating that a marriage procession is soon to appear. In many parts of the East,
wedding festivities are held in the evening. The bridegroom goes forth to meet his bride
and bring her to his home. By torchlight the bridal party proceed from her father's house
to his own, where a feast is provided for the invited guests. In the scene upon which
Christ looks, a company are awaiting the appearance of the bridal party, intending to join
Lingering near the bride's house are
ten young women robed in white. Each carries a lighted lamp and a small flagon for oil.
All are anxiously watching for the appearance
of the bridegroom. But there is a delay.
Hour after hour passes; the watchers become weary and fall asleep. At midnight the cry is
heard, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." The sleepers,
suddenly awaking, spring to their feet. They see the procession moving on, bright with
torches and glad with music. They hear the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the
bride. The ten maidens seize their lamps and begin to trim them, in haste to go forth. But
five have neglected to fill their flasks with oil. They did not anticipate so long a
delay, and they have not prepared for the emergency. In distress they appeal to their
wiser companions saying, "Give us of your oil; for our lamps are going out."
(Margin.) But the waiting five, with their freshly trimmed lamps, have emptied their
flagons. They have no oil to spare, and they answer, "Not so; lest there be not
enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves."
While they went to buy, the
procession moved on, and left them behind. The five with lighted lamps joined the throng
and entered the house with the bridal train, and the door was shut. When the foolish
virgins reached the banqueting hall, they received an unexpected denial. The master of the
feast declared, "I know you not." They were left standing without, in the empty
street, in the blackness of the night.
As Christ sat looking upon the party
that waited for the bridegroom, He told His disciples the story of the ten virgins, by
their experience illustrating the experience of the church that shall live just before His
The two classes of watchers
represent the two classes who profess to be waiting for their Lord. They are called
virgins because they profess a pure faith. By the lamps is represented the word of God.
The psalmist says, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."
Ps. 119:105. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Thus the Spirit is represented in the
prophecy of Zechariah. "The angel that talked with me came again," he says,
"and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, and said unto me, What
seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl
upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which
are upon the top thereof; and two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl,
and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked
with me, saying, What are these, my lord? . . . Then he answered and spake unto me,
saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power,
but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. . . . And I answered again, and said unto him,
What be these two olive branches which
through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil
out of themselves? . . . Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the
Lord of the whole earth." Zech. 4:1-14.
From the two olive trees the golden
oil was emptied through the golden pipes into the bowl of the candlestick, and thence into
the golden lamps that gave light to the sanctuary. So from the holy ones that stand in
God's presence His Spirit is imparted to the human instrumentalities who are consecrated
to His service. The mission of the two anointed ones is to communicate to God's people
that heavenly grace which alone can make His word a lamp to the feet and a light to the
path. "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
In the parable, all the ten virgins
went out to meet the bridegroom. All had lamps and vessels for oil. For a time there was
seen no difference between them. So with the church that lives just before Christ's second
coming. All have a knowledge of the Scriptures. All have heard the message of Christ's
near approach, and confidently expect His appearing. But as in the parable, so it is now.
A time of waiting intervenes, faith is tried; and when the cry is heard, "Behold, the
Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him," many are unready. They have no oil in
their vessels with their lamps. They are destitute of the Holy Spirit.
Without the Spirit of God a
knowledge of His word is of no avail. The theory of truth, unaccompanied by the Holy
Spirit, cannot quicken the soul or sanctify the heart. One may be familiar with the
commands and promises of the Bible; but unless the Spirit of God sets the truth home, the
character will not be transformed. Without the enlightenment of the Spirit, men will not
be able to
distinguish truth from error, and they will fall under the masterful
temptations of Satan.
The class represented by the foolish
virgins are not hypocrites. They have a regard for the truth, they have advocated the
truth, they are attracted to those who believe the truth; but they have not yielded
themselves to the Holy Spirit's working. They have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus,
and permitted their old nature to be broken up. This class are represented also by the
stony-ground hearers. They receive the word with readiness, but they fail of assimilating
its principles. Its influence is not abiding. The Spirit works upon man's heart, according
to his desire and consent implanting in him a new nature; but the class represented the
foolish virgins have been content with a superficial work. They do not know God. They have
not studied His character; they have not held communion with Him; therefore they do not
know how to trust, how to look and live. Their service to God degenerates into a form.
"They come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as My people, and
they hear thy words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they show much love,
but their heart goeth after their covetousness." Eze. 33:31. The apostle Paul points
out that this will be the special characteristic of those who live just before Christ's
second coming. He says, "In the last days perilous times shall come: for men shall be
lovers of their own selves; . . . lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a
form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." 2 Tim. 3:1-5.
This is the class that in time of
peril are found crying, Peace and safety. They lull their hearts into security, and dream
not of danger. When startled from their lethargy, they discern their destitution, and
entreat others to supply their lack; but in spiritual things no man can make up
deficiency. The grace of God has been freely offered to every soul. The message of the
gospel has been heralded, "Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him
take the water of life freely." Rev. 22:17. But character is not transferable. No man
can believe for another. No man can receive the Spirit for another. No man can impart to
another the character which is the fruit of the Spirit's working. "Though Noah,
Daniel, and Job were in it [xxxthe land], as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall
deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their
righteousness." Eze. 14:20.
It is in a crisis that character is
revealed. When the earnest voice proclaimed at midnight, "Behold, the bridegroom
cometh; go ye out to meet him," and the sleeping virgins were roused from their
slumbers, it was seen who had made preparation for the event. Both parties were taken
unawares; but one was prepared for the emergency, and the other was found without
preparation. So now, a sudden and unlooked-for calamity, something that brings the soul
face to face with death, will show whether there is any real faith in the promises of God.
It will show whether the soul is sustained by grace. The great final test comes at the
close of human probation, when it will be too late for the soul's need to be supplied.
The ten virgins are watching in the
evening of this earth's history. All claim to be Christians. All have a call, a name, a
lamp, and all profess to be doing God's service. All apparently wait for Christ's
appearing. But five are unready. Five will be found surprised, dismayed, outside the
At the final day, many will claim
admission to Christ's kingdom, saying, "We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and
Thou hast taught in our streets." "Lord, Lord,
have we not prophesied in Thy
name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful
works?" But the answer is, "I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart
from Me." Luke 13:26, 27; Matt. 7:22. In this life they have not entered into
fellowship with Christ; therefore they know not the language of heaven, they are strangers
to its joy. "What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in
him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." I Cor. 2:11.
Saddest of all words that ever fell
on mortal ear are those words of doom, "I know you not." The fellowship of the
Spirit, which you have slighted, could alone make you one with the joyous throng at the
marriage feast. In that scene you cannot participate. Its light would fall on blinded
eyes, its melody upon deaf ears. Its love and joy could awake no chord of gladness in the
world-benumbed heart. You are shut out from heaven by your own unfitness for its
We cannot be ready to meet the Lord
by waking when
the cry is heard, "Behold, the Bridegroom!" and then gathering up
our empty lamps to have them replenished. We cannot keep Christ apart from our lives here,
and yet be fitted for His companionship in heaven.
In the parable the wise virgins had
oil in their vessels with their lamps. Their light burned with undimmed flame through the
night of watching. It helped to swell the illumination for the bridegroom's honor. Shining
out in the darkness, it helped to illuminate the way to the home of the bridegroom, to the
So the followers of Christ are to
shed light into the darkness of the world. Through the Holy Spirit, God's word is a light
as it becomes a transforming power in the life of the receiver. By implanting in their
hearts the principles of His word, the Holy Spirit develops in men the attributes of God.
The light of His glory--His character--is to shine forth in His followers. Thus they are
to glorify God, to lighten the path to the Bridegroom's home, to the city of God, to the
marriage supper of the Lamb.
The coming of the bridegroom was at
midnight--the darkest hour. So the coming of Christ will take place in the darkest period
of this earth's history. The days of Noah and Lot pictured the condition of the world just
before the coming of the Son of man. The Scriptures pointing forward to this time declare
that Satan will work with all power and "with all deceivableness of
unrighteousness." 2 Thess. 2:9, 10. His working is plainly revealed by the rapidly
increasing darkness, the multitudinous errors, heresies, and delusions of these last days.
Not only is Satan leading the world captive, but his deceptions are leavening the
professed churches of our Lord Jesus Christ. The great apostasy will develop into darkness
deep as midnight, impenetrable as sackcloth of hair. To God's people it will
be a night of
trial, a night of weeping, a night of persecution for the truth's sake. But out of that
night of darkness God's light will shine.
He causes "the light to shine
out of darkness." 2 Cor. 4:6. When "the earth was without form, and void, and
darkness was upon the face of the deep," "the Spirit of God moved upon the face
of the waters. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light." Gen. 1:2,3. So
in the night of spiritual darkness, God's word goes forth, "Let there be light."
To His people He says, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the
Lord is risen upon thee." Isa. 60:1.
"Behold," says the
Scripture, "the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but
the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee." Isa. 60:2.
It is the darkness of
misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge of
His character. It has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. At this time a message from
God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power.
His character is to be made known. Into the darkness of the world is to be shed the light
of His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy, and truth.
This is the work outlined by the
prophet Isaiah in the words, "O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy
voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your
God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him;
behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him." Isa. 40:9,10.
Those who wait for the Bridegroom's
coming are to say to the people, "Behold your God." The last rays of merciful
light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His
character of love. The children
of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and
character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them.
The light of the Sun of
Righteousness is to shine forth in good works--in words of truth and deeds of holiness.
Christ, the outshining of the
Father's glory, came to the world as its light. He came to represent God to men, and
Him it is written that He was anointed "with the Holy Ghost and with power," and
"went about doing good." Acts 10:38. In the synagogue at Nazareth He said,
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel
to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the
captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4:18, 19. This was the work He
commissioned His disciples to do. "Ye are the light of the world," He said.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify
your Father which is in heaven." Matt. 5:14, 16.
This is the work which the prophet
Isaiah describes when he says, "Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that
thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou
cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break
forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness
shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward." Isa. 58:7, 8.
Thus in the night of spiritual
darkness God's glory is to shine forth through His church in lifting up the bowed down and
comforting those that mourn.
All around us are heard the wails of
a world's sorrow. On every hand are the needy and distressed. It is ours to aid in
relieving and softening life's hardships and misery.
Practical work will have far more
effect than mere sermonizing. We are to give food to the hungry, clothing to the naked,
and shelter to the homeless. And we are called to do more than this. The wants of the
soul, only the love of Christ can satisfy. If Christ is abiding in us, our hearts will be
full of divine sympathy. The sealed fountains of earnest, Christlike love will be
God calls not only for our gifts for
the needy, but for our cheerful countenance, our hopeful words, our kindly handclasp. When
Christ healed the sick, He laid His hands upon them. So should we come in close touch with
those whom we seek to benefit.
There are many from whom hope has
departed. Bring back the sunshine to them. Many have lost their courage. Speak to them
words of cheer. Pray for them. There are those who need the bread of life. Read to them
from the word of God. Upon many is a soul sickness which no earthly balm can reach nor
physician heal. Pray for these souls, bring them to Jesus. Tell them that there is a balm
in Gilead and a Physician there.
Light is a blessing, a universal
blessing, pouring forth its treasures on a world unthankful, unholy, demoralized. So it is
with the light of the Sun of Righteousness. The whole earth, wrapped as it is in the
darkness of sin, and sorrow, and pain, is to be lighted with the knowledge of God's love.
From no sect, rank, or class of people is the light shining from heaven's throne to be
The message of hope and mercy is to
be carried to the ends of the earth. Whosoever will, may reach forth and take hold of
God's strength and make peace with Him, and he shall make peace. No longer are the heathen
to be wrapped in midnight darkness. The gloom is to disappear before the bright beams of
the Sun of Righteousness. The power of hell has been overcome.
But no man can impart that which he
himself has not received. In the work of God, humanity can originate nothing. No man can
by his own effort make himself a light bearer for God. It was the golden oil emptied by
the heavenly messengers into the golden tubes, to be conducted from the golden bowl into
the lamps of the sanctuary, that
produced a continuous bright and shining light. It is the
love of God continually transferred to man that enables him to impart light. Into the
hearts of all who are united to God by faith the golden oil of love flows freely, to shine
out again in good works, in real, heartfelt service for God.
In the great and measureless gift of
the Holy Spirit are contained all of heaven's resources. It is not because of any
restriction on the part of God that the riches of His grace do not flow earthward to men.
If all were willing to receive, all would become filled with His Spirit.
It is the privilege of every soul to
be a living channel through which God can communicate to the world the treasures of His
grace, the unsearchable riches of Christ. There is nothing that Christ desires so much as
agents who will represent to the world His Spirit and character. There is nothing that the
world needs so much as the manifestation through humanity of the Saviour's love. All
heaven is waiting for channels through which can be poured the holy oil to be a joy and
blessing to human hearts.
Christ has made every provision that
His church shall be a transformed body, illumined with the Light of the world, possessing
the glory of Emmanuel. It is His purpose that every Christian shall be surrounded with a
spiritual atmosphere of light and peace. He desires that we shall reveal His own joy in
The indwelling of the Spirit will be
shown by the outflowing of heavenly love. The divine fullness will flow through the
consecrated human agent, to be given forth to others.
The Sun of Righteousness has
"healing in His wings." Mal. 4:2. So from every true disciple is to be diffused
an influence for life, courage, helpfulness, and true healing.
The religion of Christ means more
than the forgiveness
of sin; it means taking away our sins, and filling the vacuum with
the graces of the Holy Spirit. It means divine illumination, rejoicing in God. It means a
heart emptied of self, and blessed with the abiding presence of Christ. When Christ reigns
in the soul, there is purity, freedom from sin. The glory, the fullness, the completeness
of the gospel plan is fulfilled in the life. The acceptance of the Saviour brings a glow
of perfect peace, perfect love, perfect assurance. The beauty and fragrance of the
character of Christ revealed in the life testifies that God has indeed sent His Son into
the world to be its Saviour.
Christ does not bid His followers
strive to shine. He says, Let your light shine. If you have received the grace of God, the
light is in you. Remove the obstructions, and the Lord's glory will be revealed. The light
will shine forth to penetrate and dispel the darkness. You cannot help shining within the
range of your influence.
The revelation of His own glory in
the form of humanity will bring heaven so near to men that the beauty adorning the inner
temple will be seen in every soul in whom the Saviour dwells. Men will be captivated by
the glory of an abiding Christ. And in currents of praise and thanksgiving from the many
souls thus won to God, glory will flow back to the great Giver.
"Arise, shine; for thy light is
come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." Isa. 60:1. To those who go out
to meet the Bridegroom is this message given. Christ is coming with power and great glory.
He is coming with His own glory and with the glory of the Father. He is coming with all
the holy angels with Him. While all the world is plunged in darkness, there will be light
in every dwelling of the saints. They will catch the first light of His second appearing.
The unsullied light will shine from
His splendor, and Christ the Redeemer will be admired
by all who have served Him. While the wicked flee from His presence, Christ's followers
will rejoice. The patriarch Job, looking down to the time of Christ's second advent, said,
"Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not a stranger."
Job 19:27, margin. To His faithful followers Christ has been a daily companion and
familiar friend. They have lived in close contact, in constant communion with God. Upon
them the glory of the Lord has risen. In them the light of the knowledge of the glory of
God in the face of Jesus Christ has been reflected. Now they rejoice in the undimmed rays
of the brightness and glory of the King in His majesty. They are prepared for the
communion of heaven; for they have heaven in their hearts.
With uplifted heads, with the bright
beams of the Sun of Righteousness shining upon them, with rejoicing that their redemption
draweth nigh, they go forth to meet the Bridegroom, saying, "Lo, this is our God; we
have waited for Him, and He will save us." Isa. 25:9.
"And I heard as it were the
voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty
thunderings, saying, Alleluia; for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and
rejoice, and give honour to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath
made herself ready. . . . And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called
unto the marriage supper of the Lamb." "He is Lord of lords, and King of kings;
and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful." Rev. 19:6-9; 17:14.