How often we have reminded our reading audience that we are living in the End Time of the last days. Acts 2:16, 17 and Hebrews 1:2 assure us that the last days began with the coming of Christ to earth. Therefore, we have been in the last days for the past two thousand years. In Matthew 24, Jesus Christ also spoke of an “end time.” When reading this chapter, we must acknowledge that our Saviour’s words divided the End Time into two segments. While the early verses (24:4–8) reveal the beginning of the End Time, the latter verses (24:9–14) speak of the end of the End Time. The Last Days began with the first coming of Christ; the End Time of these Last Days is identified with the second coming of Christ.
The End-Time Cry
If we were to speculate a general time period in history for the beginning of the End Time (as it is linked with the public burden of the second coming of Christ), we would place it perhaps somewhere between 1840 and 1860. It was during these years that additional insights into the truth of the Second Coming opened from the Word of God. The books of Daniel and Revelation unfolded with understanding to God’s men, and more sermons were preached then about this Second Coming than previously noted in history. Perhaps this season was the “midnight” (Matt. 25:6) when “there was a cry made.”
With this “cry” came a time of awakening, of trimming the lamps, and of checking the oil supply. There was a process of preparation given before the Bridegroom actually came, although the cry was given earlier. This is where we have been in the last 160 years. The “last days” began with the first coming of Christ, and the End Time will be identified with the Second Coming in both the secret rapture and the open coming of the Lord of Revelation 19.
In Matthew 24, the Lord Jesus made it very clear that the beginning of the End Time will reveal changes in religion, in weather, and in politics or government. But at the end of the End Time, the Gospel will have been proclaimed literally to the ends of the earth. From one perspective we read in Acts 1:8 that Christ would make His apostles witnesses: first in Jerusalem, then through the province of Judea, then Samaria, and ultimately to the uttermost parts of the earth. This passage was fulfilled by the end of Acts 28 when Paul was found in Rome. Thus, the Gospel had gone to the ends of the oikoumene (“the inhabited earth”), at least the oikoumene then known. But since that season in history, our understanding of the inhabited earth has overwhelmingly expanded and now literally covers every piece of geography on the planet, from the North Pole to the South Pole and all the continents in between. Matthew 24:14 reveals that the Gospel will be preached in all the oikoumene, “and then shall the end come.” Dear people, we believe we are at this time.
If the revelation of the Second Coming, at least in its fullness and details, began unfolding from the Scriptures between 1840 and 1860, then we need to be carefully viewing those prophecies that are identified with the End Time, or the end of the End Time. The Bible predicts that there will be a revival in the End Time, but it will not be a revival of the public, visible institutional church. What the public institutional church today calls an awakening, the Bible calls an apostasy. This global Christian apostasy will be the time when Christ is found outside of the Laodicean Church. He has been sickened by its lukewarmness to the point of vomiting this last church age out of his mouth (Rev. 3:15–20). Yet there will be a revival among the true remnant of the Lord. For the Bible predicts that the End-time remnant, at least in identification, will be mixed. This remnant is not in the context of wheat and tares; it is in the context of wise virgins and foolish virgins (Matthew 25).
This parable of the virgins is not so much dedicated to the Bride of Christ as it is to those who will be the attendants of the Bride at the Rapture (the five wise virgins). Thank God for this parable that includes within the Rapture not simply the Bride but also the attendants to that Bride. The five foolish virgins imply to us that there will be those closely identified with the remnant who are not part of the remnant ready for that rapture. They may attend a remnant church, but they are not of the remnant in heart. Their life gives no indication of that remnant-living.
That voice “Behold, the bridegroom . . . ; go ye out to meet him” seems to be the “beginning of the end.” As previously expressed, all the prophecies in the Bible concerning the second coming of the Lord came forth with great detail to God’s men in the mid-1800s.
One of the truths revealed in this parable is that there is a revival, or perhaps another term, an awakening that takes place. There is an awakening of the wise virgins, and there is an awakening of the foolish. The foolish are identified with the wise; they are found with the wise; they worship with the wise; they will awake with the wise; and they will trim their lamps with the wise. The tow or the wick within the lamp is the material that the oil travels up through. The trimming of this wick suggests the detailed workings of grace in one’s life to make the flame of Christ burn accurately and fully. Yes, there came a point that the foolish virgins realized their lamps (in the English) “are gone out” (25:8). But the Received Text (Greek) places the verb in the present tense, “our lamps are going out.” And they declared to the wise, “Give us of your oil.”
Sometimes people believe that as long as they are close to the true remnant, what the remnant has will automatically bleed over into their own lives. Children in a true Christian home (if it is a remnant Christian home) may believe that God will take them in the Rapture simply because their parents are walking with God and have the oil, or because they are in their parents’ home, go to church with them, bow their head and pray over the meals.
But the wise virgins made it clear: “We cannot give you of our oil, lest we will not have enough.” This indicates that although the voice had come, the echo of it continued. The Greek rendering reveals to us that when this loud voice came, it continued to reverberate. If the call came between 1840 and 1860, simultaneously with the birth of the Fundamentalist movement, we are still in the reverberation, but it is growing dimmer. We do not know how long it will be between the call and the actual coming. “We can’t give you any of our oil; you need to go to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.” So they did. And it seems that either they did not get to those who sold, or they did buy and were on their way back. We are then told in this parable that they who were ready (the five wise virgins) went in with him: “they that were ready.” The door was opened, and those wise virgins were where they should be. Being ready they went in with Him.
Readiness with Oil
There has been much debate over what is the oil in this parable. Sometimes one’s theological background affects his view of the oil. Those who do not believe in the deeper life of a Christian give all kinds of commentary for the oil. But the oil in the Bible is a very strong symbol of the Holy Spirit. It is the oil for the light, for the lamps; it is for the anointing of individuals and for the anointing of things separated unto the Lord. Yes, it is for anointing. With the clarity of this shadow and type, then what is the oil in this particular parable? To keep true to the hermeneutical principle, the oil is a deepening of the relationship with the Holy Spirit. It is very clear in the parable that they all had oil in their lamps, but the wise virgins—and this is why they were called wise virgins—had additional oil in another vessel that they took with them. So while the oil was diminishing in the lamp, they were able to continue filling their lamp; the foolish virgins whose lamps were going out had no additional oil with which to replenish theirs. Their lamps were beginning to flicker due to the absence of oil coming through the tow/wick; therefore, these five virgins requested oil from the wise.
Again, when does the Lord come? No man knoweth the day or the hour, and we must all be ready with lights burning. We must not place these five foolish virgins of Matthew 25 in the same context as those of Matthew 7, who cry out,“Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? . . . and in thy name done many wonderful works?” To whom the Lord stated, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (vv. 22, 23). The response in Matthew 25 is not that harsh. It is a response calling for a present-tense relationship. He does not call them workers of iniquity; they are not even given to bragging of what they have accomplished. The Bridegroom says simply, in the present tense, “I know you not.” Whether there is a past tense when He knew them, or even a future tense when He would know them, we tend to lean to the belief that those five foolish virgins may represent the five orders of saints that appear in the Tribulation Period, who after their martyrdom are caught up to heaven (Rev. 6:9–11; 7:9–17; 14:1–5, 13; 18:4). But that is in the Tribulation Period. God forbid that we would say in our hearts, “I don’t need this truth in my life. I don’t understand it, and therefore, since I don’t understand it, I don’t need it.” But to whom much is given, much will be required.
However one views the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25, four things are most clear: I must be pure (virgin); I must have oil (the fullness of the Spirit); I must be trimming my wick (the preparation of the heart and life for Christ); and I must be ready for His coming at any moment.
In the light of the End Time, we must have a greater consciousness that the apostasy has become global throughout every compartment in humanity. We must see that the Devil is increasing his forces of deception and aggression against the child of God, for he knows the time is drawing near when he will be able to bring forth his Man of Sin. The world is standing in readiness for such a man. But he also knows that the rapture of God’s saints is prophetically soon to take place. He will do everything in his power to try to thwart this blessed event, even to the point of seeking to confront the event in his domain as the saints “meet the Lord in the air,” for he is the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). In our contemporary more individuals seem to be falling away from the truth than coming to the truth. The Devil is at his most mature season of existence; he has experimented with humanity for over six thousand years. His greatest weapons from his diabolical arsenal of history are now being brought forth in the End Time to cause as many of God’s professing people to leave the Lord and to enter the life of lukewarmness and worldliness. The powers of apostasy are ever raging, and the only antidote is an ever-fresh faith in the Lord.
This issue of Straightway takes us into the kingdom of darkness and how it works against God’s saints with accusations day and night, both before the Throne of God and within the minds and hearts of His people. If the Devil cannot keep an individual from coming to Christ, he will do all he can to keep that “Christian life” at a minimum and without victory.
May the Lord help us in these days to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints, and to ever keep ourselves in the love of God as we look to Him to keep us from falling in this falling away of the Laodicean Church Age.