In admonishing His disciples, and through them all of His followers, our Lord stressed the necessity to be awake, to be watching and to be ready in order not to be taken by surprise in the day of His appearing. The inference of a parable He had given was that, in case He should come suddenly, His followers ought to be taking care not to be caught sleeping. (Mark 13:36)
Then He gave the exhortation: “What I say unto you I say unto all, watch.” (Mark 13:37)
If one is watchful, he will be living daily in a spirit of expectancy. It is important to point out that a genuine spirit of alertness in regard to things to come can only be engendered by a working knowledge and understanding of prophecy and its timing. Our Lord’s emphasis upon the need to maintain, in the life and conduct of His followers, this attitude of readiness, so that each one may be fully prepared for eventualities, would indicate that only a few among the hundreds of thousands of Christians will be conforming with the requirement which will classify them as watchers.
Upon a careful study and analysis of the facts presented in the New Testament, it becomes clear that, spiritual preparations are mandatory so that each Christian may be standing in the place assigned to them in the day of the Lord’s return.
First the excoriation is given: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” (Luke 21:34)
Then the position of the worldly and the heedless is described: “For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke 21:35)
Following this there is an urgent call to those who will offer themselves for a special responsibility: “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)
Through John, in the Book of Revelation, our Lord announced His unexpected approach: “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Revelation 16:15)
The Judeo-Christian clergy sat that this phrase “as a thief” denotes that this phase of coming will be with quietness and stealth. But, when one studies the history of Christ’s time, to come as a thief was to come with loud noises and shouts to scare the victim into running away and leaving his goods for stealing, so when Christ comes He could come with just such a commotion, and not sneaking). A related word is “secret” which means something not openly disclosed implied in these definitions is the Lord’s prerogative to reveal His approach only to those who are to know, while veiling the timing of His arrival from those who are not to have a part in this aspect of His coming.
But we know that this is not the way He will come because the Scriptures clearly show that He will come with the voice of the archangel: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
Watchfulness implies being faithful as well as alert: that is, motivated by a continuous spirit of attentiveness. Following our Lord’s admonition to watch is His counsel to also be ready.
Then He raises the question: “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom his master can place over his household, to give them their provision with promptitude? Happy will be that servant if his master shall find him thus engaged upon his arrival. I tell you indeed, that he will appoint him over all his possessions.” (Matthew 24:45-47; Ferrar Fenton Translation)
The fourfold definition of faithfulness is applicable here: full of faith, firm in adherence; true in allegiance; worthy of confidence.
The unfaithful say in their hearts, “My Lord delayeth his coming;” in other words, “The Lord is not really returning as soon as some try to infer.” Thereupon, they do not carry out the work assigned to them because they are occupied with eating, doing drugs, and drinking with the drunken; that is, finding companionship among those who are insensible to spiritual values. Anyone who is in this class will be caught off guard when the Lord comes on a day he does not expect Him and at an hour when he is least ready. The outcome is stated in severe terms: “And shall cut him asunder (cut him off), and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:50-51)
A hypocrite is one who pretends to be something he is not and this would apply to all those feigning watchfulness but whose pretensions to spirituality are false. A revealing description of those who are called watchmen, but who show their true colors by their speech and their conduct, is given by the Prophet Isaiah: “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping (or dreaming, or talking in their sleep), lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.” (Isaiah 56:10-11)
Thus, the ones purporting to watch are divided into two groups: the first remaining faithful and alert to the end; the second becoming careless and complacent, or worse, failing to be diligent in the task of providing the Lord’s household with “meat in due season.” (Matthew 24:45)
The Prophet Ezekiel Was told by the Lord to make plain what is expected of those who take up a stance as watchmen (see the 33rd chapter of the Book of Ezekiel). Those who prove faithless will be adjudged guilty of the blood of those who perish because they were not warned. Only the faithful, who have performed the task of warning (whether their hearers heed or not), will retain their garments of righteousness.
Referring to the invaluable explanatory note in Dr. Adam Clark’s commentary, our understanding is increased in regard to the reason why the garments of the watchmen are mentioned in Revelation 16:15: “Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”
Dr. Clarke calls upon information drawn from ancient sources and offers this explanation: “Here is a plan allusion to the office of him who was called the prefect, or overseer, of the mountain of the Temple. His custom was to go his rounds during the watches of the night/ and if he found any of the Levites (watchmen) sleeping on his watch, he had authority to beat him with a stick, and burn his vestments. Such a person being found on his return home naked, it was at once known that he had been found asleep at his post, and had been beaten, and his clothes burnt; thus his shame was seen; he was reproached for his infidelity and irreligion.” (Clarke’s Commentary, p. 1035)
Apparently the office of watchman was identified by the kind of raiment he wore. If he brought shame upon it, he was severely chastised and his vesture, or “uniform,” by which he was known to be a watchman, was stripped form him. A sentinel standing guard today in a time of war, and found sleeping at his post, is disgraced and often shot for neglect of duty.
Our Lord’s pronouncement of the type of punishment meted out to the unfaithful servant denotes the same degree of severity; both were beaten and banished. (Luke 12:47) Because everything depends upon the faithfulness of those who have been called to be watchmen, the punishment for failure to perform the assigned task is rigid. In the sight of the Lord, the responsibility resting upon the watchman is very great. He is given much and promised much; therefore, much is expected of him. (Luke 12:48)
Our Lord also illustrated the need for watchfulness by means of a parable well known to the Christian world but woefully misapplied and little understood in all of its implications. This is the Parable of the Ten Virgins which is recorded in the 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. (Matthew 25:1-13) The general assumption has been that only the five wise and five foolish virgins are involved in this dramatic foreshadowing of the coming of the Bridegroom and the entrance into the Marriage Supper.
In the first place, the reason the virgins went out ahead of time to meet the Bridegroom was because of their expectancy based upon their timing of His coming. A knowledge of prophecy, plus the application of time measures, had forewarned them to make this preparation.
The account states that the virgins took lamps when they went out to meet the Bridegroom. However, the five prudent ones took extra oil along in vessels with their lamps. But the
Bridegroom tarried; that is, delayed His arrival, and the virgins; all ten of them; grew drowsy and finally fell asleep.
A chronological miscalculation in connection with their understanding of prophecy had led them to go out prematurely to meet the Bridegroom. The fact that they all eventually went to sleep would indicate a failure to keep fully informed about the significance of the prophetic messages.
To our knowledge no thought has been given to those who perform the task of arousing all ten virgins from their slumber. The very wording of the parable leads to no other conclusion than that someone apart from the ten virgins sounded the alarm and awakened them from their sleep since all ten were slumbering.
It was at midnight in the story that a warning cry was raised, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him!” Someone not numbered among the virgins was maintaining a vigil during the hours of the night and was able, therefore, to warn of the approach of the Bridegroom. This, we know from what is stated elsewhere in the Scriptures, would be the watchmen. Just as the virgins went out to meet the Bridegroom the first time as the result of a knowledge of prophecy, so too they were awakened from their subsequent sleep by watchmen who, being well versed in an understanding of prophecy as the midnight hour approached, recognized the sings of the imminence of the coming of the Bridegroom.
The ten virgins awoke and began to trim their lamps. This signified that their awareness of the scope of prophecy had become dulled while they were sleeping. Because of the long wait, and the failure of the foolish virgins to bring extra oil with them to replenish their lamps, their light, instead of responding and burning more brightly as they trimmed their wicks, began to grow dim for lack of oil. Facing this dilemma, the foolish cried out to the wise to give them some of their oil, exclaiming, “Our lamps are gon (i.e., going) out!” But the wise replied: “Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.” (Matthew 25:9)
The simile of trimming their lamps denotes that the virgins were undertaking, among themselves, to secure the light prophecy could shed upon the significance of the timing of the call that had awakened them. Their endeavor was to verify the certainty of the warning issued by the watchman. During the period that they were slumbering, they had completely neglected the remarkable evidence of the accuracy of Divine timing.
The wise realized their inadequacy to render assistance to the foolish, for they had all they could do to become properly prepared themselves. Therefore, they counseled the foolish to go to those who could sell to them and buy what they needed.
Being always cognizant of the fact that this is a parable, let us analyze the significance of its components. A parable is a story the constituent parts of which are compared to something else by a vividly portrayed aspect of likeness. For instance, it goes without saying that the virgins represent, both Judeo-Christians and True Christian believers because of the definition of the word which designates them. They were righteous; they were possessed of singleness of purpose; they were all looking for the coming of the Lord. A part of them were sufficiently equipped (prepared) for the exigencies of the hour of awakening, although they needed to bestir themselves quickly to be fully ready when the Bridegroom came.
The lamps carried by the virgins represent the Word of God. The Psalmist confirms this: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
The Psalmist further points out that His Word is not only a lamp, but it is also a light. The apostle Peter enlarges upon this by making a very specific statement. He had been present with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration and he declared that, due to what occurred there, he had been an eyewitness of the majesty of the lord as King.
Then he asserted: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:19-21)
Thus, Peter makes it emphatic that it is the “more sure word of prophecy’ that is the light of the Word which is necessary in the day for which it was given. In the Book of Proverbs another variation is given: “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light.” (Proverbs 6:23)
The Christian who strives for mastery, obeying the law of the Word, is told: “When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.” (Proverbs 6:22)
The Bridegroom, of course, represents our Lord and we find in history a literal fulfillment of the premature expectancy of His second advent. This took place in the year 1844 A.D., and brought about the inception of the Second Advent Movement. William Miller, an earnest Bible student, discovered through his study of prophecy, particularly the prophecies of Daniel, that 2300 year-days for the cleansing of the sanctuary would end between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. He, with his followers, drew the conclusion that the Second Advent was due. After te date had passed, men scoffed at the Bible and derided Miller. Even today it is a commonplace among atheists, skeptics and agnostics to point to Miller’s expectancy as evidence of the failure of prophecy.
But was it? True, the event did not take place as anticipated, but Mr. Miller was absolutely correct in regard to the importance of the years 1843-1844. What he failed to understand was that the 2300 year-day terminal marked the beginning of a “process of cleansing” that would not be completed until 120 years later. However, in going forth with his followers, William Miller fulfilled the requirements of the parable of the Ten Virgins concerning a premature expectation of the coming of the Bridegroom.
With the apparent failure in the expected fulfillment of prophecy, an apathy toward all prophecy gradually developed as the tarrying period lengthened into decades. The evidence of timing in connection with prophecy began to be completely ignored. The “slumbering and sleeping” stage that followed symbolized the indifference to the significance of prophecy and the general taboo that developed in regard to any endeavor to understand the chronological time periods associated with the predictions of the prophets.
The result has been that the Christian world, during this tarrying time, has woefully neglected the statements of the prophets and has refused to devote any effort at all to trying to understand the timing of their messages in order to mark the day of their fulfillment. Furthermore, it has become the policy of Christendom to belittle, if not entirely discourage, intensive study of the subject of prophecy.
As the end of the tarrying period approached, God found it necessary to raise up a group known as watchmen whose assigned task would be to mark the passing hours of the night and announce the events of each hour in the light of an understanding both of the prophecies of the Scriptures and Biblical chronology. Because the Christian world, through its neglect of prophecy, remained asleep to its significance, the watchmen could make scant impression before the midnight hour arrived.
The watchmen, awake and alert during the night, mark the passing of the hours preparatory to the issuance of the midnight cry which is to arouse the Christian world, particularly the sleeping virgins. As the hour of that awakening draws near, here and there a stirring is seen as the watchmen succeed in causing the sleepers to at least turn over and groan a little before lapsing into slumber again.
Through the Prophet Ezekiel the Lord declares: “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” (Ezekiel 33:7)
Then, as the night deepens, and the critical hour approaches, an urgent message is addressed to the watchmen: “Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.” (Isaiah 21:11-12)
The watchmen themselves are unable to give detailed information about developments beyond the hour of their announcements. They must “make their rounds” and report hour by hour. All the watchmen are able to do is to admonish the few who may be listening to return again, for, when the hour strikes, further enlightenment will be forthcoming. According to the parable, they meet with little or no response until, in the middle of the night, they are enjoined to issue the special warning that the Bridegroom is coming, wit the result that the virgins are at last awakened from their sleep.
The Lord addressed a message to the Prophet Ezekiel, directed to the attention of the watchmen, indicating the impossibility of arousing the sleepers until major developments confirm beyond question the accuracy of prophecy fulfilled, together with its marvelous timing, Ezekiel was told it will not be until it comes to pass that the virgins will awaken. In the meantime they listen but do not believe; they come but will not accept the testimony of the watchmen.
The Lord stated: “As for you, O mortal man, your fellow-countrymen who talk of you by the walls and at the doors of the houses say to one another, ‘Come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord!’ They come to you, as my people used to come; and they sit before you, as if they were still my people: they listen to your words, but they will not obey them; for with their mouths they make a show of love, but their minds are set upon their own selfish gain. You are to them like a singer of love songs for (or lullabies), with a beautiful voice, and able to play well on the instrument; they listen to your words, but they will not obey them. Only when the hour comes; and it is coming, they shall know that a prophet has been in the midst of them.” (Ezekiel 35:30-3, Smith & Goodspeed Translation)
The Septuagint Translation renders the last part of this quotation as follows: “They will hear thy words but will not do them; but when they come to pass they will say, Lo! They are come! And they will know that there was a prophet among them.”
The communication, through Ezekiel to the watchmen, discloses the reason why their task is a thankless one. They are informed, among other things, that recognition of the fulfillment of prophecy and its timing will not come until the hour strikes, announcing His approach, in the case of the ten virgins; the midnight hour!
When, finally, the sudden and spectacular fulfillment of prophecy does awaken the virgins to the undeniable worth of the predictions of the prophets, followed by their recognition of the imminence of the Lord’s appearing, lamp-trimming time will have arrived. Very likely it will be the marked prophetic importance of transpiring events; and their timing, confirming the signs to which the watchmen have pointed, that will result in fully arousing the virgins from their long period of slumber.
The analogous meaning of the chore of lamp-trimming (that is, trimming the wick to remove the encrusted carbon) is to produce an increased comprehension of the Word of God. Thereafter, the unencumbered action of the oil will cause the lamp to burn more brightly.
This brings up the question concerning what is signified by the oil which the fooish lack. That it is something that may be purchased is clear from the instructions the wise gave to the foolish in counseling them to go to those who sell and buy for themselves.
It has been generally believed that the oil the foolish did not have was “the oil of the Holy Spirit,” but the Holy Spirit cannot be bought! This was clearly demonstrated when Simon saw that, by the laying on of the apostle’s hands, the Holy Spirit was given. He offered Peter money for this power: “But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.” (Acts 8:20)
Nevertheless, we are told: “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.” (Proverbs 23:23)
The greatest body of truth to be found in these climactic days is an understanding of prophecy, coupled with the chronological time cycles correlating prophetic fulfillment. Volumes of information have been compiled to this end and it is this that may be purchased. In order to have an understanding mind, Paul’s advice to Timothy must be followed: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
To study the Word means to “search the Scriptures” (John 5:39) and analyze their meaning by earnest effort and careful research. For we are told in Proverbs 25:2: “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.”
No part of the Word may be neglected and, from season to season, special emphasis is laid upon those portion of His Truth which give precise instruction for the day. For instance, it is the utterances of the prophets of the Lord which give light for these days in which we now live.
Surely one who engages in the regular practice of studying the Word of God will be anointed with the “oil of gladness (rejoicing),” (Psalm 45:7) for the Holy Spirit is present and guiding when a knowledge of the truth is sought for. In fact, our lord told His followers that He is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17) and defined the word of His office as the Holy Ghost: “But the which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you tings to come.” (John 16:13)
It is impossible to “rightly divide the word of truth” without the direct assistance of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul spoke of ‘the things that are freely given to us of God.” (1 Chronicles 2:12) Then he went on to say: “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.” (1 Chronicles 2:13)
Therefore, we can clearly see, it is the Holy Ghost that guides our thinking and our speaking. Paul pointed out “that no man can say that Jesus is the lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Corinthians 12:3)As we have already seen, Peter maintained: “No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)
Paul gave his hearers to understand that discernment of the truth comes only through the Holy Spirit and, even though there is a diversity of gifts, it is the same Holy Spirit: “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:8)
This was Paul’s prayer in behalf of believers: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened.” (Ephesians 1:17-18)
From the Scriptural statements quoted, and many more which could be adduced in substantiation it is found that it is more correct to say it was the “oil of understanding” with which the foolish virgins were not adequately equipped by failing to have oil in their vessels with their lamps. In conversation we have the colloquial expression, “burning the midnight oil,” when referring to concerted effort to obtain more understanding of (“throw more light on”) a subject.
Wisdom and understanding are related terms, although not synonymous in meaning. In the Book of Proverbs she who is called Wisdom counsels: “Forsake the foolish (i.e., the arrogant and self-sufficient), and live; and go in the way of understanding.” (Proverbs 9:6)
To augment diligent individual application, qualified instructors are also raised up, whom Daniel designates as ‘the wise who understand,” or, as Ferrar Fenton translates Daniel 12:10, “the teachers.” Another statement of special interest in this connection appears in the ninth chapter of Proverbs: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy (holey ones or saints) is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)
Dr. Clarke points out in his Commentary that the words “the holy” may be interpreted to have reference to “the counsel of the holy persons.” (Clarke’s Commentary, p. 728)
The application of the symbology of the vessels containing the oil is somewhat more obscure. However, knowing that the Holy Spirit conjoins with the wise to bring about the action of the oil, Paul’s pertinent questions alluding to the habits and conduct of those striving to overcome must be considered: “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1Corinthians 6:19)
After giving counsel to Timothy to “study” and “rightly divide,” Paul went on to exhort: “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from ini2uity.” (2 Timothy 2:19)
He pointed out that “in a great house there are not only vessels of god and of silver, but also of wood and of earth.” (2 Timothy 2:20) Nevertheless, the primary concern of the wise ones should be to engage in the necessary personal “purging” in order that “he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21) On another occasion Paul offered praise to “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness” and “hath shined in our hearts” to give us light, and he concluded: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)
It as been assumed that, while the foolish were buying oil, all five wise virgins went in to the Marriage Supper. However, it does not necessarily follow that all five wise virgins were ready. The account does not specify who it was who went in, merely stating that “they that were ready” entered, in the company of the Bridegroom, and the door was shut.
What of the watchmen, those who were alert and keeping vigil, who sounded the alar that awoke the sleeping virgins? The statement that those who were also ready from the invitation to enter.
There is no mention of the watchmen by name in the Parable. It is only stated: “And at midnight there was a cry made.” The watchmen, therefore, are only a voice. When the Lord addressed the Prophet Ezekiel as a watchman, it is interesting to note that the statement made to him ends on a note that clearly indicates the watchmen are no longer present when the full awareness of the importance of the messages they have been giving dawns upon those who have listened to their testimony: “Yet when the hour comes; and it is coming, they (those to whom the watchmen had been speaking) shall realize that there was a prophet among them!” (Ezekiel 33:33, Moffatt Translation)
The phrase, “there was a prophet among them,” is in the past tense. Thus, when the hour strikes that the full import of the watchmen’s message is brought home to their listeners, the realization will come that there had been a prophet among them.
Following the closing of the door barring entrance to the Marriage Supper, the virgins who subsequently became spiritually ready returned with their light burning and demanded that the door be opened to them. But from the Bridegroom came the message: “Verily, I say unto you, I know you not.” (Matthew 25:12)
The response, “I know you not,” did not mean a total rejection of these virgins whose spiritual credentials were eventually in order. But being unready, the proper time for their admittance to the Marriage supper in response to the original invitation had passed by.
A message of hope was addressed to them elsewhere in the Scriptures. They were admonished to have their loins girded about and their lights burning: “And y yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.” (Luke 12:36)
It is to those of the Laodicean Church period who will listen that a gracious invitation is extended and it is of special interest to notice that the word “knock” also appears here: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
The lack of oil on the part of the foolish virgins places them in the group of those of the Laodicean Church period who are given these directions: “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou maysest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve (the oil of understanding), that thou mayest see.” (Revelation 3:18)
The fact than in our lord’s instructions through Luke, the foolish were told to have their loins girded about, clearly indicates that they were to prepare for a time of trouble (Yet the false Judeo-Christian clergy teaches that Christians will be raptured out and will see no trouble; whereas the Scriptures such as this show them up to be the liars they are) as they waited for the Lord to return from the Marriage Super. This same thought is carried out in relation to the Laodicean Church where the expression “buy of me gold tried in the fire” would infer that those to whom this is stated are to pass through a period of tribulation before they acquire the garments of righteousness.
Closing the Parable with the rejected foolish virgins’ clamor for entrance into the Marriage Supper, our Lord emphasized the need for watchfulness when He said: “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 25:13)
It cannot be overemphasized that it is impossible to keep awake, and remain watchful and ready to the extent required, without a knowledge of prophecy and an understanding of its timing by continuous application to the subject. Along with this is the necessity to strive for the higher calling of the overcomers, for they alone will be in attendance at the Marriage Supper. John tells us what was told to him by the Angel: ‘And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, these are the true sayings of God.” (Revelation 19:9)
It is not a digression from the theme of this chapter to refer again to Peter’s statement that “prophecy is a light that shineth in a dark place” and ask: What is the “dark place?” Surely this phrase in its setting presages a coming time when a thorough knowledge of prophecy will be imperative in order to dispel the darkness of unbelief in the day of the great apostasy (Which it appears we are in at the present time). Without exception the prophets refer to the culminative aspects of the Day of the Lord as a time of gross darkness: “Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? Even very dark, and no brightness in it?” *(Amos 5:20)
The overshadowing darkness of the foretold Day has already settled down upon an indifferent and unbelieving world. The great apostasy has overspread all Christendom, marking these as the perilous days to which Paul referred when men will be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God: “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof...ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:5, 7)
The Prophet Isaiah was speaking of all this when he prophesied that “darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people.” (Isaiah 60:2)
It is at this time that the prophet calls upon God’s people to “Arise, shine,” or, as rendered in the margin(Isaiah 60:1, King James Version): “Be enlightened; for thy light cometh.” It is time to heed the words of His prophets: “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” (2 Chronicles 20:20)
Belief in His prophets will produce the light of understanding that will grow brighter and brighter until, as Peter declared, “the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” The marvelous result will be: “When he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hop in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3)
All those who earnestly desire His coming, and are meanwhile instructed by the more sure word of Prophecy, are in possession of the light that dispels the darkness of disbelief. Hey know “the grace of God that bringeth salvation” and, for the reason given in Titus 2:12-13, they are striving to “live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”