Margaret McLeish - Matthew 15:1-13, Oil - Pukekohe I, New Zealand Convention - 2002

Margaret told us a little about the customs of Morocco that would help us to understand a little better Matthew 25:1-13. In Eastern countries, olive oil is used both for cooking and for light. It is a stable product which is very important and very, very precious. It is not uncommon to go out at midnight to buy oil because people are so poor that they actually live from hand to mouth. Often they go with the frying pan and buy enough oil just for that meal. The merchant doesn't think it is a strange thing for people to come again and again at any hour to buy oil.

There is no schedule in Eastern countries. If the bus is supposed to come at 10am, it may come at 2 or 4 or 6pm. At marriages, it is very common for the bridegroom to tarry. No one knows the hour the bridegroom will come, but they know he is coming, so they need oil for the whole day. The oil is the all important thing in the parable.

In Morocco and other countries, there is a small lamp called a Pilot Lamp. It is so simple you can hardly believe it is a lamp. You can buy a small metal cap and 24 wicks in a small box (like a pill box) for 7 cents and it will last for 24 days. The wick fits in a tiny hole in the centre of the cap, and then they take a tiny vessel, chipped or pretty old or new and fill it two thirds full of water. Then put a small amount of oil on the water, and the cap and wick on it and light it. It is a good light and gives enough light for a mother to care for her children, etc.

The five wise could not share with others, for they only had estimated for enough for the night. The others were willing to go and buy, for it was not that they did not have the price, or did not know the way. It was more pure neglect that they had no oil on that day of all days and that night of all nights. They had gone so often to the merchant that they could find their way after the lamp had gone out, but to go forth to meet the bridegroom, they needed light. These little lamps don't give much light. It is just enough for one step ahead and only one person can walk in the light of the lamp.

The oil of the Holy Spirit is what we need that we might have the light of life in our lives. They way of life is just a day at a time and we need to look to the Creator today to get that oil to light the way before us so that we might go in with the Bridegroom when He comes.