1. A PARABLE FOR OUR DAY
a. With whom does the Lord compare the kingdom of heaven? Matthew 25:1, 2.
“Christ with His disciples is seated upon the Mount of Olives. The sun has set behind the mountains, and the heavens are curtained with the shades of evening. In full view is a dwelling house lighted up brilliantly as if for some festive scene. The light streams from the openings, and an expectant company wait around, indicating that a marriage procession is soon to appear. . . .
“As Christ sat looking upon the party that waited for the bridegroom, He told His disciples the story of the ten virgins, by their experience illustrating the experience of the church that shall live just before His second coming.
“The two classes of watchers represent the two classes who profess to be waiting for their Lord. They are called virgins because they profess a pure faith.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 405, 406.
b. What was the difference between the wise and the foolish virgins? Matthew 25:3, 4.
2. DO NOT SLEEP AS DO OTHERS
a. What aroused the sleeping virgins? Matthew 25:5, 6. How was their experience repeated by God’s people in 1844?
“By the tarrying of the bridegroom is represented the passing of the time when the Lord was expected, the disappointment, and the seeming delay. In this time of uncertainty, the interest of the superficial and halfhearted soon began to waver, and their efforts to relax; but those whose faith was based on a personal knowledge of the Bible had a rock beneath their feet, which the waves of disappointment could not wash away.”—The Great Controversy, p. 394.
b. What warning does God give us concerning the times in which we live? Luke 21:36; 1 Peter 4:7.
“All we have to do with is this one day. Today we must be faithful to our trust. Today we must love God with all the heart and our neighbor as ourselves. Today we must resist the temptations of the enemy, and through the grace of Christ gain the victory. Thus we shall watch and wait for Christ’s coming. Each day we should live as if we knew that this would be our last day on this earth. If we knew that Christ would come tomorrow, would we not crowd into today all the kind words, all the unselfish deeds, that we could?”—In Heavenly Places, p. 355.
c. What can we do to arouse from our sleeping condition? Romans 13:11–14.
“We must be much in prayer if we would make progress in the divine life. When the message of truth was first proclaimed, how much we prayed. How often was the voice of intercession heard in the chamber, in the barn, in the orchard, or the grove. Frequently we spent hours in earnest prayer, two or three together claiming the promise; often the sound of weeping was heard and then the voice of thanksgiving and the song of praise. Now the day of God is nearer than when we first believed, and we should be more earnest, more zealous, and fervent than in those early days. Our perils are greater now than then. Souls are more hardened. We need now to be imbued with the spirit of Christ, and we should not rest until we receive it.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 161, 162.
3. THE NEED FOR OIL
a. What happened when the virgins awoke and went to trim their lamps? Matthew 25:7–9.
“In the parable, all the ten virgins went out to meet the bridegroom. All had lamps and vessels for oil. For a time there was seen no difference between them. So with the church that lives just before Christ’s second coming. All have a knowledge of the Scriptures. All have heard the message of Christ’s near approach and confidently expect His appearing. But as in the parable, so it is now. A time of waiting intervenes, faith is tried; and when the cry is heard, ‘Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him,’ many are unready. They have no oil in their vessels with their lamps. They are destitute of the Holy Spirit.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 408.
b. What is represented by the lamps and the oil in the parable? Psalm 119:105; Zechariah 4:1–6. What does it mean to be destitute of the Holy Spirit?
“Without the Spirit of God a knowledge of His word is of no avail. The theory of truth, unaccompanied by the Holy Spirit, cannot quicken the soul or sanctify the heart. One may be familiar with the commands and promises of the Bible; but unless the Spirit of God sets the truth home, the character will not be transformed.”—Ibid.
c. How would you describe the foolish virgins today? 2 Timothy 3:5; Revelation 3:17.
“The class represented by the foolish virgins are not hypocrites. They have a regard for the truth, they have advocated the truth, they are attracted to those who believe the truth; but they have not yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit’s working. They have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, and permitted their old nature to be broken up.
. . . They do not know God. They have not studied His character; they have not held communion with Him; therefore they do not know how to trust, how to look and live. Their service to God degenerates into a form.”—Ibid., p.411.
4. MAKING EXCUSES FOR OUR DEFICIENCIES
a. What happened while the foolish virgins were separated from the wise virgins to buy oil for their lamps? Matthew 25:10.
“The ten virgins are watching in the evening of this earth’s history. All claim to be Christians. All have a call, a name, a lamp, and all profess to be doing God’s service. All apparently wait for Christ’s appearing. But five are unready. Five will be found surprised, dismayed, outside the banquet hall.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 412.
“We cannot be ready to meet the Lord by waking when the cry is heard, ‘Behold, the Bridegroom!’ and then gathering up our empty lamps to have them replenished. We cannot keep Christ apart from our lives here, and yet be fitted for His companionship in heaven.”—Ibid., pp.413, 414.
b. What did the foolish virgins petition the Lord of the marriage feast to do? Matthew 25:11, 12.
c. How do we often react when we fail God, instead of acknowledging our sins and mistakes? What did Saul do, and what was Samuel’s response? 1 Samuel 15:18–22.
“There is no time to make excuses and blame others for our backslidings; no time now to flatter the soul [that] if circumstances had only been more favorable, how much better, how much easier [it would be] for us to work the works of God. We must tell even those who profess to believe in Christ, that they must cease to offend God by sinful excuses.
“Jesus has provided for every emergency. If they will walk where He leads the way, He will make rough places plain. He, with His experience, will create an atmosphere for the soul. He closes the door and brings the soul into seclusion with God, and the needy soul is to forget everyone and everything, but God. Satan will talk with him, but speak aloud to God and He will drive back the hellish shadow of Satan. With humble, subdued, thankful hearts they will come forth saying, ‘Thy gentleness hath made me great.’”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, p. 336.
5. THE CALL FOR TODAY
a. What call does God have for us today? What promise does He make along with the call? Malachi 3:7 (last part); Isaiah 44:22; 55:7.
“Oh, the love, the wondrous love of God! After all our lukewarmness and sins He says, Return unto Me, and I will return unto thee, and will heal all thy backslidings.”—Our High Calling, p. 352.
“Those who will now seek the Lord earnestly, humbling their hearts before Him, and forsaking their sins, will, through the sanctification of the truth, be fitted to unite with the members of the royal family, and will see the King in His beauty.”—This Day With God, p. 248.
b. As we heed the call, what message does He give us to proclaim to the world? Isaiah 40:9.
“The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them.
“The light of the Sun of Righteousness is to shine forth in good works—in words of truth and deeds of holiness.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 415, 416.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Who is represented by the two classes of virgins, and why are they called virgins?
2. What can we do in this waiting and watching time to prepare for Jesus’ soon coming?
3. What work does the Holy Spirit do in the life of those who are like the wise virgins?
4. Instead of blaming circumstances for our defects of character, what can we do instead?
5. How can God use us to give His last message of mercy to the world?