"There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah"
2 Nephi 2:8 (The Book of Mormon)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Oh Be Wise!

In the 25th chapter of Matthew, Christ gives a powerful parable stressing the importance of constant personal preparedness for His Second Coming.  The parable of the Ten Virgins is a warning for each of us that NOW is the time to prepare for His return.

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.
They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” 


What does the oil represent and How do I fill my vessel?
The oil is a representation of spiritual preparedness.  This type of oil is accumulated by righteous living, one choice at a time... one drop at a time.  As we exercise the faith necessary to walk in line with God's will, He in turn strengthens our faith and righteous living becomes natural and instinctive.  As we discussed last week, those who are prepared (the elect) are those who "hear the voice of God and harden not their hearts" and those who are filled with charity.  A life devoted to the becoming of these qualities is the life of filling one's vessel.

In this process, the fundamental need for the grace (enabling power) of Jesus Christ cannot be overstated!  Each of us will misstep at times.  I am SO grateful for a loving Father who tenderly beckons me back into His fold through the infinite Atonement of His Son.  Drawing on His grace is essential to filling my vessel.


Why didn't the wise share their oil?
"The wise were not unkind or selfish when they refused oil to the foolish in the moment of truth. The kind of oil needed by all of us to light up the darkness and illuminate the way is not shareable."

"How can one share the blessings that come through visiting the sick? How can one share in the blessings that come from assisting the widow or the fatherless? How can one share a personal testimony? How can one share the blessings of conference attendance? How can one share the lesson of obedience learned in living the principle of tithing? Certainly each must accumulate this kind of oil for himself. Let us not procrastinate. Midnight is so far and yet so close to those who have procrastinated. “But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure. …” (Hel. 13:38.) "


Now is the time to prepare to meet God!  What a gift it is to live a life of devotion to the Father!  The peace and assurance that are born of this commitment are beyond price.  Don't be one who falls victim to the fallacy that midnight will never come.  While no man knows the day or hour that the Son will come... we can be certain that He indeed will return to redeem His people!  The signs He gave as a warning for those who would follow Him are upon us!  The responsibility to fill our lamps is one which we must not procrastinate.  Today is the day to seek His grace in walking in His will!


2 comments:

  1. This is one of my favorite parables. I have contemplated it often. I recently read this take on it and wanted to share it with you!
    "The background to this parable is a Jewish wedding custom. The wedding is not only a joyful but a protracted affair. The couple would not go away on honeymoon, but stay at home and welcome all comers. It was a relaxed affair; there was no set time when the bridegroom would come to the house of his bride, either to eat the wedding feast there or, more frequently, to take her to his own home for the wedding feast. The festivities lasted for a week or even two, and were marked by great joy, feasting and music. The virgins waited to escort the bridegroom into the house. Once he arrived and went in, the door was shut, and there was no possibility of late access. So the foolish virgins will have missed the whole week, not just one supper, in being shut out.
    So much for the customs. How did Jesus use them for his purposes as he looked to his return?
    It is not difficult to ‘read’ the main thrust of the parable. Jesus is the bridegroom. He will come one day—nobody knows when—to take his bride and celebrate the marriage supper.
    The virgins are Christian people. Half of them were prepared for his coming: they had the lamps required for any night-time wedding, and had taken the trouble to put oil in them. The other half were not prepared, should the bridegroom choose to come at night. The message, in the light of the return of Christ at the end of time, is clear: ‘Be prepared.’ Most of the Jews were not prepared when Jesus came, and have not gone in with the bridegroom. But Jesus hopes for better things in his church.
    There are three surprises awaiting us here, as so often in the parables. The girls all looked the same, but they were not. Only half of them were ready for the feast and went in to enjoy the festivities with the bride and groom. And then the door was shut! What a warning! It tells us that it is all too possible to be often in church and [Matthew, Page 261] in Christian company and yet be a stranger to the Holy Spirit. It is possible to have a lamp that looks good, but has no oil in it.It is possible that one day Jesus may have to say, ‘I never knew you’ (7:23). All that is a great surprise to churchgoers, in Matthew’s day and ours.
    The second surprise is to discover that there are some things you cannot borrow. You need to possess them for yourself. It simply is not possible to rely on anyone else for them. Salvation is one of those things. It cannot be traded. If you are not what you profess to be, nobody else can help you or stand in for you. The bridegroom will come. And then it will be too late.
    And that is the third surprise. There are some times when it is too late. ‘Too late’ is a terrible verdict. The job has been lost; it is too late now to say you will try harder. The divorce has come through; it is too late now to make amends. The examination starts today; it is too late now to prepare for it. And those terrible words are never more awesome than when applied to the parousia. Make sure you don’t miss the party! That is what Jesus means. Readiness is the key."

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