Robert Doecke

I will read one of Jesus' parables from Matthew 25, "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them... Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." This is a parable of lamps without oil, and as we go through the scripture you will find other pictures of wells without water, clouds without. Rain, trees without fruit, and houses without foundations, and salt without savour, and service without love. That is the essences of profession without possession.

 

What you notice here is that there was so much in common. All were virgins, and they all had a standard and had a desire to meet the bridegroom, and they all took steps in the right direction, and they all had lamps, but the foolish didn't have the oil, the thing that gave light and life. God wants us to have the real thing that gives us light and life and power. We could think of 10 boys that had cars, and they kept them so well, but what if they weren't prepared to pay the price for the petrol? How far would they get? What use would it be? There's a little poem that says, "It is not so much the things we are doing, but the things we leave undone, that will be to our sorrow at the setting of life's sun."

 

With the 10 virgins, there was a lot of positive things done there, but it was the thing that was undone that mattered most. The rich man that came to Jesus and said, "What must I do to be saved?" When Jesus questioned him, He said, "One thing thou lackest, go sell all thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven and come and follow Me." He wasn't willing to attend to the one thing that made the difference between right and wrong, and going to heaven or hell. Wouldn't it seem so paltry one day?

 

In Revelation, we read of the positive points of the Ephesians church. The Lord could spell them out, but He said, "You have left your first love. You attend to that, or you won't be there." God is trying to get us serious about being ready. The purpose and passion about Jesus life - Jesus died to give us the possibility of being ready. He is going to, come one day - ready or not. Like the game we used to play where you count and give the others time to hide, then you call out - "Coming, ready or not." You read the names in the death's list in the newspaper - people for whom the Lord came, ready or not. There were people that were able to stand on the judgment day because in their life they had been willing to fall and bow. We sing in that hymn, "You may barter your hope of eternity's mourn, for a moment of joy at the most, for the glitter of sin and the things it will win. Have you counted the cost?" Most people count the cost of serving God. Have you ever thought of the cost of not serving God? That will cost you for all eternity. If you don't pay the price, you will pay the penalty, and it goes on forever and ever. Jesus died for us and paid the price so that we might not count the cost in the wrong way.

 

Jesus said to His disciples, "My time is not yet, but your time is always ready." If your time is always ready, we have to get ready too, because He is coming, ready or not. We read of the man that pulled down his barns to build greater, and he asked himself, "What shall I do?" You ask yourself a question, and you get a selfish answer. He didn't know that God was going to require his soul that night. God was coming, ready or not. Belshazzar had taken vessels of gold and silver out of the house of God, and was having a great party and using the vessels in a pleasure way, when those vessels should have been used in the house of God. All of a sudden, a finger started writing on the wall and he began to shake and shiver. Daniel was brought in, and he told Belshazzar, "You know how God dealt with your father, and you have not humbled your heart." He had seen it all and heard it all, and he was going to miss it all. "Your kingdom is going to be taken away from you" was the first part of the story, and "You are weighed in the balance and found wanting" was the second part of the story, and your kingdom is going to be carved up.

 

Five virgins were wise and five were foolish. The wise took oil, and the foolish didn't take any oil, and while the bridegroom tarried, they slumbered and slept. They didn't have the attitude that David had. Five of them couldn't afford to put their head on the pillow that night, because they weren't ready. David said in Psalm 132, "Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed. I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob." "I will deny myself the most natural necessary sides of life until I find out a place for the Lord." He realised he would have no place with the Lord for all eternity, if he didn't find a place for the Lord here and now. He said, "I will not." A lot of people use their "will nots" in a positive way. "Will nots" end up real knots. They get their lives tangled up.

 

While the bridegroom tarried. What was he tarrying for? I noticed that verse, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness... knowing this that in the last days shall come scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming?'..." The Lord is not slack toward His promises, but long suffering. Isaiah 30, "Therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore, will He be exalted." Luke 12, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household.... But if that servant say in his heart, 'My Lord delayeth His coming,' and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken, the Lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for Him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers." The tarrying and the waiting was not to do their own thing, but that you might be ready. The bridegroom tarried, the bridegroom cometh, and the bridegroom came. At midnight the cry went out, "Behold the bridegroom cometh." Two sides to midnight. The most unexpected time, and the hour you think not. It is the end of one day and the beginning of another day. What is it for us? The end of life's little day and the beginning of a new day.

 

They all arose and trimmed their lamps. They wanted to be ready. There isn't one person who doesn't want to be ready in this tent tonight. "All those virgins arose and the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out.' 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.'" I used to think of the wise once and think that they were selfish, but I realize that there are some things we can only do for ourselves and no one else can do for us. Those foolish were encouraging the wise to lower their standard of readiness. The wise were pretty wise and said, "Not so lest there be not enough for us and you. We could all miss out. Go and buy for yourselves," 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. While they went to buy. Can you appreciate the way they would have moved? The bridegroom was coming, ready or not, and they would have felt, "I have been sleeping away from God-given opportunities." They didn't think about the price, because it didn't matter.

 

Peter said to Jesus, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus said, "If I wash not your feet, you will miss out forever." You might have a bit of a gripe about what Jesus asks when He speaks to you, but when it comes to the threshold of eternity, I don't doubt that everyone will be ready for all He asks. Life offers choices, death seals choices, eternity reveals choices.

 

"Afterwards the other virgins came saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us.' But He answered and said, 'Verily, I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.'" How would you like that when the door is, shut? Where will you go? One time, a friend and I were in a park and a swarm of bees flew into a bush. My friend said that he would like those bees. He took a box, opened the lid and put it near the bush, broke a branch off the bush with bees on it, and put it in the box. Bees started coming into the box because they heard the call of the queen bee. We had other things to do, so left the box with the bees, and went away for some time. When we returned, there were still bees on the ground and buzzing around, then the friend said, "We can't wait any more," and the lid was shut and he took the bees away. I asked about those still outside, and he said, "They will just die." They lost their lives because they weren't ready. The door was shut. Those invited to the wedding feast, some were not ready to come, and some were willing to change.