“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Matthew 25:13 (NIV)
This scripture is the last verse in which Jesus talks about the foolish and wise virgins. In this parable Jesus uses the analogy of ten virgins, five foolish, and five wise. All were waiting for the bridegroom. All had oil lamps, but the foolish virgins took only their lamps, whilst the wise virgins also took jars of oil. By the time the bridegroom came all the lamps had run out of oil. As the foolish virgins went to buy more, the bridegroom arrived. The wise virgins, who had refilled their lamps with oil from their jars, went in to the wedding banquet, and the door was closed. When the foolish virgins returned, they were excluded from the wedding banquet.
Can we understand why some of the virgins were not allowed in? I think that the book of Esther appears to have a parallel to this story. King Xerxes commands Queen Vashti to come before him (Esther 1:11). Queen Vashti refuses. We’re not told why. We are told, however, that Queen Vashti had herself been giving a banquet for the women at the same time. Perhaps Queen Vashti focused on that and not on making herself ready to appear before the King, should she be asked, as she was. Because she was not prepared to appear before the King, he rejected her as Queen.
On the other hand, look at the preparation Esther made to ready herself to come into the King’s presence. She completed twelve months of beauty treatment. The King, attracted to Esther, made her Queen instead of Vashti.
The parallels we might draw:
1) The foolish virgins didn’t prepare for any delay of the bridegroom, therefore they ran out of oil, and were shut out of the wedding banquet. Queen Vashti neglected to prepare for King Xerxes, perhaps because she was preoccupied with her own banquet.
2) The wise virgins prepared for any delay by the bridegroom and were ready when he came. Esther spent 12 months preparing to appear before King Xerxes.
3) Queen Vashti disobeyed King Xerxes command, and so was banished from his presence forever. The foolish virgins were not where they should have been when the bridegroom appeared; they too ‘rebelled’, and were shut out of the bridegroom’s presence.
Hence Jesus’ conclusion to his story: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Dear Heavenly Father, help us always to be watching, and to be prepared for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray for your guidance and direction, that we might be like the wise virgins, acceptable in your sight, and able to go in to the wedding banquet. We ask this through our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Study by Kevin Shaw
Worldwide Church of God Norwich
New Hope Christian Centre
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