In Matt. 24:45 - 25:30 Jesus taught three parables regarding the judgment that would occur at the second advent. There are similarities in the passages, including: all reference a lengthy wait, all contrast the faithful with the unfaithful, and all involve a judgment of the individual by his works. This judgment by works rules out any of the three groups as being Christian: a Christian will experience the judgment OF his works but not a judgment BY his works. Christians are saved by the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone with nothing added and nothing taken away.
The three parables exactly fit a people who serve God but do not know him. They will be people who have not received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image, but neither will they have been born again. They will live through the destruction of the damned at the second advent, but they will find themselves in the extremely risky position of being judged by their works.
The first parable addresses works on a personal, individual level: any individual can be either a wise servant or an evil servant. His survival will depend on his actions in response to his perception that the Lord is not returning soon.
The second parable addresses a group who are called virgins, all of them have lamps and they all have oil at the beginning, but when the chips are down, five discover that they have run out of oil, and further, the five who do have extra oil refuse to share with the others. Christian behavior? Scary stuff, this. This group is representative of people who know something about the Lord Jesus but are not born again believers.
The third parable has to do with a group called servants. Jesus defined a family relationship with God. Matt 12:48-50 says, "But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." An expression of the will of the Father would be a commandment: (1 John 3:23) "And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment." Since the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, believers in him become born again, children, in the family of God.
Prior to the crucifixion, Jesus made a statement regarding a relationship just a bit short of being born into the family. In John 15:14-15 he said, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." This statement was made to Jews who were to become the first born again believers, and according to the statement, the prior relationship of these disciples to God was as servants. Isa 41:8 says, "But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend." This verse, given from God’s perspective, absolutely identifies servants of God as the Jewish people. Paul identified himself as a servant of God (Titus 1:1) as did James (James 1:1), and they certainly did serve God (as should we all), but their statements were made from the human perspective. From God’s perspective, relationally and positionally, born again people are sons, while Jewish people who have not received the Messiah, are servants.
It is interesting that Jesus said the servant does not know what his Lord is doing. This is because the servant, not being born again, does not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in him, and it is the presence of the Holy Spirit who causes the understanding of the word of God to occur. So the Jewish person who is a keeper of the law (which was given through Moses, the servant of God - I Chron. 6:39; II Chron. 24:9; Neh. 10:29; Dan. 9:11) will not understand that the law was a shadow of things to come that would be fulfilled by the Lord Jesus (Col. 2:14-17). Instead, they will remain servants, as opposed to friends or family, until they receive their Messiah, and that happens, as a group, at the second advent. Therefore, the group referenced as servants in the parables of Matt. 24 and 25 are the Jewish people who observe the law. They will face a life or death, heaven or hell judgment based on their works.
All three parables are illustrations of the individuals within the groups who will attend the sheep and goats judgment as described in Matt. 25:31-46.
The first parable contrasts the faithful and wise servant with the evil servant. Verse 25 begins with the words "who then." The word ‘then’ indicates a specific time, in this case, the second advent of Jesus. This faithful and wise servant has been made, by the Lord, the ruler of his household to give them meat in due season. In other words, he is providing his family with the word of God, at least his understanding of it, to the very best of his ability, in an effort to help them know God. He will be blessed at the judgment to come.
Apparently a servant can begin as faithful and wise, but the seven years of tribulation are going to seem like an extremely long time to persevere. Jesus said that same person can decide ‘my Lord delays his coming’ and begin to eat and drink with the drunken. In other words, he can slide away from what he does know of God and live just like those who live in complete spiritual darkness, up to and including persecution of his fellow servants who are actually serving God. He will lose what he does know of God and his word, to the point that he will stop looking for the Messiah and will actually be surprised when Messiah comes. There is no excuse for this because the prophets give detailed descriptions of the tribulation events. This servant will be included with the hypocrites and will be cast into hell. Immediately. This is a life or death, heaven or hell judgment. Because he will be considered a hypocrite he will verbally maintain that he is serving God but in actuality he won’t be serving God at all.
The second parable (Matt. 25:1-13) involves the ten virgins, people who know about Jesus, but have not received him as savior and Lord.
Matt 25:1-13 "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 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. 10 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. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."
The first thing to notice is the word ‘then,’ indicating a specific time, and further, Jesus has just introduced something new in the passage: the kingdom of heaven, which is the millennium. Not everyone who survives the initial judgment at the second advent (the removal in Matt. 24:40-41) will enter the kingdom.
The group is called virgins. A virgin is a person who has not had sexual intercourse. Sex is holy when it occurs in marriage, but outside of marriage it is sin. The Bible teaches (Eph. 5:21-33) that the marriage relationship is a picture of the relationship between the Lord and the church (all believers, not the Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, etc.). After the wedding the marriage is consummated and the two people become one new entity. In the same way, when a person is born again, he becomes one with the Lord; he becomes a part of the bride of Christ, also referenced as the body of Christ. One new entity. All believers are currently living in our time of engagement, espousal or betrothal: we are already considered the wife and we belong to the bridegroom, but the marriage will occur during the millennium (Rev. 19:7-9). We are virgins because the marriage has not yet occurred (II Cor. 11:2), but of greater significance, we are the bride.
Side note: most Christians believe the marriage of the Lamb and his church will occur in heaven during the seven years of tribulation on earth. Scripture just doesn’t support this. This belief is most likely based on the parable of the ten virgins, which most assume to be a picture of the rapture, and it definitely can apply regarding being ready, etc., but the Bible does not describe any wedding ceremony or wedding feast in heaven during that time. It specifically states that both of these events occur on earth during the millennium (Rev. 19:7-9). Back to topic.
In scripture, virgins are characteristically young women and they seem to exhibit strong emotion, whether joy or sorrow. In Ps. 45:14-15 they are referenced as attending royal women. Song of Solomon 6:8 references queens, concubines and virgins as opposed to the one who is beloved.
The ten virgins in Matt. 25 are not the bride, but they may be attendants of the bride. They are spiritual virgins because they have not been intimately joined with any man, including Jesus, but specifically concerning their situation, they have not received the seal, the mark of ownership, of the antichrist. They remain undecided as to who they will serve.
All ten virgins go out to meet the bridegroom, which is Jesus. By going ‘out’ they have separated in some way (mentally, spiritually or physically) from others around them; i.e. those who are actively worshiping and serving antichrist.
They all take lamps which are lit, but five take extra oil in their vessels with their lamps. The lamps are the word of God (Ps. 119:105; Prov. 6:23). There are several different types of oil mentioned in the Bible. There was oil for cooking and for medicinal purposes, which is related to the physical body. There was anointing oil which had spices added to it and was poured on kings, priests, prophets and physical objects to indicate they belong to God, and in the case of humans, are empowered by God. This anointing oil is typical of the Holy Spirit who indwells Christians and is related to the spirit of man. Finally, there was lamp oil which was beaten or processed olive oil, and is related to the soul, or mental part of man. It is this lamp oil, not the anointing oil, that is used by the ten virgins.
The ten virgins have oil in their lamps and five have extra oil in other vessels, but they are holding this oil in something separate from themselves, not within their hearts or spirits. In Matt. 5:14 Jesus told believers, "Ye are the light of the world." These ten virgins are not the light of the world, but they do carry light with them. They all know something of the word of God, but five of them had not taken steps to be able to replenish their supply, and the other five only took enough extra to help themselves and no one else. They may have Bibles, but they don’t read them consistently. We know this because ALL of the lamps went out. They all lost what light they did have.
Verse 6 says, "And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him."
Midnight. A fearsome word. It was at midnight that the firstborn in Egypt were killed (Exo. 11:4; 12:29). Samson arose at midnight and removed the gate of Hebron and set it at the top of a hill (Jud. 16:4). At midnight the woman who was accused before King Solomon replaced her dead child with the living child of her friend (I Kings 3:20). The folks who publish the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have established a doomsday clock, indicating their belief that world will end (through human means) at midnight and therefore assigning a "time", measured in minutes, as to when they believe that event will occur.
At midnight a cry will be made that the bridegroom is coming. Take note: the ten virgins do not make this cry. They are ALL sound asleep. Not watching at all. This midnight cry wakes them up. This midnight cry is not made BY Jesus, it is ABOUT Jesus. It is not a trumpet sounded by angels. It is not the antichrist and his followers - they are occupied at Armageddon. It is a midnight cry.
So, who makes this announcement? The believers who were born again during the tribulation. They are watching and they are ready for the return of the King. We see a description of them in Rev 7:9 - "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands." Notice they are holding palms, exactly as the people did in the gospels when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey just a few days before he was crucified. This time he will ride out of heaven on a white horse, he is coming as King, and he will stop the threatened destruction of the entire earth.
At the midnight cry all ten virgins wake up and prepare to re-light their lamps, but there is a problem: the foolish virgins do not have any oil, and the wise virgins do not have enough to share. The wise tell the foolish to go to those who sell and buy their own oil. Wow. The word of God is not for sale, it is to be freely given to those who seek it. To be sure, today there are those who, to their shame, are actually attempting to sell the word of God, specifically his blessings, through television and seminars, but a true and honest believer will freely give what he has received from God. It appears that the wise virgins at one time had a source for the word, but it could be that the source was not reputable (which may partially explain why they are not born again).
At any rate, the foolish virgins go out to buy, and while they are gone, the bridegroom arrives, they that are ready go in to the marriage, and the door is shut. This door is the door of salvation. In Rev. 3:20 (before the tribulation) Jesus was knocking at the door of the Laodicean church: they had shut the door on him when salvation and deliverance from the tribulation was freely available. Here in Matt. 25 it is the Lord who shuts the door.
The passage does not tell us whether or not the foolish virgins were able to obtain oil , but I tend to think they did not: at that time all of unsaved humanity will be in the same boat. They come to the closed door and say, "Lord, Lord, open to us," but Jesus will say that he does not know them. Notice they use his title twice. They weren’t saved prior to his coming when they would have been assured of entrance into the kingdom, and now they appear to be trying to make up for it, which will not work. As Jesus said regarding these same people in Matt 7:21-23, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, 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? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." The five foolish virgins will not live to enter the millennium.
The parable concludes with: "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." Again, the coming of the Lord specifically referenced in this verse is at the second advent which will occur on the day of Armageddon, somewhat short of the full twelve hundred sixty days prophesied in Rev. 12:6. Watch therefore: good advice.
The third parable also involves the kingdom of heaven. It begins (Matt 25:14-18), "For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money."
The man traveling into a far country is Jesus, and ‘his own servants’ are the Jewish people. He gives them ‘talents’ - one gets five, another gets two, and another gets one. The talents are the word of God. We know this because later the servant who received one talent accuses Jesus of reaping where he has not sowed. In Matt. 13:3-23 Jesus taught the parable of the sower and the seed, and in the interpretation he stated the seed was the word of God. So we see that the servants are supposed to be sowing the word of God, which in this instance means the Old Testament since that is all they have received. That is not all that has been given and made available to them, it is all they have received. The Jewish people need to have a foundation in the word of God as opposed to the writings of the rabbi’s and other extra-Biblical traditions and beliefs. When they do this, they will be able to recognize Jesus because there are prophecies, types and shadows about him all over the Old Testament.
The man traveling delivers his goods to his servants, each according to his ability, and then he leaves on his journey. This could be seen as the ascension of Jesus after his resurrection, but this would tend to indicate that the Jewish people throughout the last two thousand years will be present on earth at the second advent. This is not a good fit with the prophecies. People who die without having been born again by looking forward to or back to the sacrifice of the cross will not be given a second chance. Period.
Revelation 12:1-6 describes a set of wonders or signs in heaven, one of which is a pregnant woman who is about to give birth, and when she does, her child is caught up to heaven. There are 'signs' out on the expressway indicating that there is a MacDonalds at the next exit. You could pull off the road, walk up to the sign and order a Big Mac, but you would wait forever to receive your order because the sign is not MacDonalds, it points the way to MacDonalds. In the same way, the signs in Rev. 12 are indicators of actual events occurring elsewhere. The woman who is pregnant is not Mary, she is Israel as in Joseph's dream (Gen. 37:9-10), and she is giving birth to her Messiah spiritually, not Jesus physically. Rev 12:5 says, "And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne." It is my opinion that this is the beginning of the Jewish recognition of Jesus the Messiah at mid-tribulation, and when it occurs, he will not be physically on earth, but they will begin to understand who he is, and will feel that he has been caught away from them. The woman in Rev. 12 follows the instructions of Jesus in Matt. 24 - she leaves town, and she is beginning to search the scriptures regarding the identity of her Messiah.
Each servant is given as many talents as he can manage, and they understand that they are to use these goods to gain an increase: the one who received five talents went and traded with them and gained five additional talents; the one who received two talents did the same. They shared the word of God with those around them and in the process, they gained both more understanding of the word for themselves and helped other people gain understanding of the word. At the second advent, even though they did not become born again Christians, they will be blessed by the Lord and given positions of rulership during the millennium.
The servant who only received one talent had a different attitude. In the first place, each received what he was able to manage. This person only received one talent, so while there was hope for him as expressed by the giving of the one talent, the traveler did not expect too much of him. Sure enough, this fellow dug a hole and buried the talent in the earth, hiding his Lord’s money. He did not discuss the word of God with others, he did not try to convince anyone that the Messiah would come. He just went ahead and lived as a secular Jew. He may have thought about God from time to time, but he took absolutely no action.
When it was time to give his report to the Lord, he said (vs. 24-25), "Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine." In other words, he lied outrageously. He did not know the Lord. If he did, he also would have known that Jesus is not a hard man taking what does not belong to him, as he is here accused. Jesus is God the Son and as such is the owner of everything that exists. Scripture makes reference to him coming ‘as’ a thief, but he is not a thief, he is the landlord. Further, it is the desire of his heart that all men would be saved, which is why he submitted to the sacrifice of the cross, because he loves all men. If he is hard, it is to those who refuse his gracious offer of eternal life in his presence, for which he personally endured a horror on our behalf. The scripture makes great promises to the family of God, but at the same time, it paints an awful picture of what will happen to those who reject and refuse this great gift.
The unprofitable servant then goes on to state that he was afraid. This is further proof that he does not know God because those who do will love him. Yes, there should be an awesome respect and reverence for God, which is the fear of the Lord, but this does not mean fear in the usual sense of the word. This guy is confessing the wrong kind of fear, and in the doing of it, he is admitting that he does not know God, even though he lied and said he did know him.
Then he delivers the ultimate insult: he returns the traveler’s talent to him. He makes no attempt of any kind to make amends of any kind even this late in the discussion. Doesn’t even try.
The traveler, who is the Lord Jesus, responds by calling him a wicked and slothful servant and repeats his own words back to him. He said, ‘you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not strawed.’ Yep, this is sarcasm from Jesus himself. OUCH!! He then tells the man that he should have invested the money so it would be returned with interest at the second advent, but because he didn’t even do this, his one talent will be given to the servant who had ten talents because everyone that increases shall be given more, and everyone that does not increase shall lose what little he does have. The unprofitable servant is cast into hell. Immediately.