Watching at Midnight
“Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. -Matthew 25:13
What a master storyteller Jesus was and is! His parables were well-crafted to both intrigue His hearers, because they were drawn from pictures common to first century Jewish life, as well as always elucidating a particular truth essential to salvation. These parables are profound; they are a matchless enlightening of the Gospel message, both the intricacy and simplicity of your redemption.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins, which Jesus tells here, pricks the ears of His audience, for they know well the peculiarities of first century Jewish weddings. The concept of maidens going out to meet the bridegroom at midnight is most familiar to them but alien to Gentile ears, especially in the modern era. Yet this is not an insurmountable problem for the one who really desires to grasp the truth of God’s Word, a seeker eager to do the research. “Study to show yourself approved to God…accurately dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
The lesson of this parable is crucial to the living of your life today, whether or not you see it as essential to your survival. It is vital in that you must immediately be about “procuring oil because it won’t be available later when you must have it, no matter how hard you try to obtain it. This oil which must be in your possession prior to midnight, or, that is, prior to the unknown arrival time of the Bridegroom, cannot be bought with all the money in the world.
What is this oil? Oil is the fuel which keeps your lamp burning. The light of your lamp never goes out as long as fuel is there. Without this oil, one is not able to greet the Bridegroom when He comes and immediately enter with Him into His open-door home for a great banquet. This door then, according to Jesus’ words, closes irrevocably!
The oil to light your lamp is God Himself; the actual presence of God is your oil. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: The Father who sends His Son and sends His Spirit; The Son who is the visible manifestation of the Triune God, the Savior, the Redeemer of lost mankind; the Spirit who shines light on this Son, who sparks your salvation and comforts you. God in all three persons is the oil of your lamp.
This oil is procured in your persistent seeking of Him. It is accumulated through a growing relationship with Him; in loving Him, worshipping Him, and respecting Him with awe and reverence. Little by little, or much by much, in the seeking and finding of Him, oil is filling your jar. But then also, like the thief on his cross in sincere and humble repentance beside Jesus, it might flow, more unusually so, into your jar all at once. In any case, the oil required to keep your lamp burning as you greet the Bridegroom is abundantly supplied. However, attempting to procure it when the Bridegroom is already on His way is simply a lost cause.
Jesus tells this parable during the last few days before His crucifixion, essentially only moments before His death. It is a timely, very significant warning not to be ignored. They are words to hang your life on. He says you must be diligently watching; that is, actively watching, not stagnantly watching. Be about the business of getting this oil, living today with eternal priorities, that is, living with continuous watching, yearning, and sensitivity for His arrival. He Himself tells you poignantly, “Yes, I am coming soon! Will your continual response be, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!?
“Rejoice, all ye believers, and let your lights appear; the evening is advancing, and darker night is near. The Bridegroom is arising, and soon He draweth nigh. Up, pray, and watch, and wrestle; at midnight comes the cry.
(1st verse of Laurentius Laurenti’s hymn, “Rejoice, All Ye Believers, 1700)
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