Commentary on Matthew 25: How to Be Wise Virgins in Receiving the Lord
The Lord Jesus said, “And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:6–8). Catastrophes are now occurring in ever-greater numbers all over the world: The Wuhan coronavirus, locusts in Africa, the wildfires in Australia, and other disasters have emerged one after another. The four blood moons have also appeared. The prophecies of the Lord’s coming have been basically fulfilled; the Lord must already have returned. A matter occupying the minds of many believers in the Lord is this: How can we become wise virgins in receiving the Lord’s return? The Lord Jesus once said, “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to 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: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps” (Matthew 25:1–4). We can see from the scriptures, that the wise virgins prepared lamp oil and reverently awaited the coming of the Lord. Ultimately, they were able to welcome Him, and to attend the feast in the kingdom of heaven. So, many brothers and sisters believe that as long as they consistently read the scriptures, attend gatherings, diligently undertake the Lord’s work, and await reverently, this means they have prepared the oil and are wise virgins, and that they will be raised up into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord comes. Yet, this has been our practice for many years, and now all manner of catastrophes have come, but we have yet to receive the Lord. This leaves us with no option but to reflect, and to ask ourselves: Is diligently carrying out the Lord’s work in this way truly being a wise virgin? Will we be able to receive the Lord and be raised up before the tribulation?
Reading the Scriptures, Praying, and Diligently Carrying Out the Lord’s Work: Does This Make a Wise Virgin?
Let’s think back to the scribes, chief priests and Pharisees. They were all well-read in the scriptures, and their families had served God for generations. They strictly obeyed the law, abided by the commandments, worked diligently, and even travelled all over the world to spread the gospel of God. It may be said that they did quite a lot of work, endured no little suffering, and reverently awaited the arrival of the Messiah. According to our notions and imaginings, they should have been the wise virgins who prepared oil; they should have been qualified more than anyone to receive the Lord and to gain His salvation and grace. But what are the facts? When the Lord Jesus became flesh and came to do work, not only did these people fail to recognize the Lord Jesus, but they even believed, on the basis of their notions and imaginings, that “anyone who is not called ‘Messiah’ is not God.” They could clearly hear that the Lord’s words had authority and power, and yet on the basis of their notions and imaginings, they condemned the Lord Jesus’ work and words as departing from the scriptures. They used this as justification to deny that the Lord was God Himself, and they also seized upon this to judge and blaspheme the Lord Jesus. They had not a shred of reverence for God in their hearts; they did not understand, nor did they seek or investigate this. They even worked with the Roman government to nail the Lord Jesus upon the cross, and ultimately they were punished by God. So, can it be said that the Pharisees were wise virgins? They concerned themselves only with laboring and carrying out work, with upholding the laws of the Old Testament, but they had not the slightest knowledge of God; they were incapable of hearing the voice of God. They could be called the most foolish of virgins. Then, what truly makes a wise virgin? Read on to find out more.
What Is a Wise Virgin?
The Lord Jesus once said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6). From the scriptures, we can see that wise virgins are able to receive the bridegroom principally because they attach great importance to listening to the voice of God. When they hear someone shouting that the bridegroom is coming, the wise virgins take the initiative to go out to receive him, and they seek and investigate. Ultimately, they hear the voice of God in God’s words, and so they receive the Lord. It is just as when, as is recorded in the scriptures, the woman of Samaria heard the Lord Jesus say, “For you have had five husbands; and he whom you now have is not your husband: in that said you truly” (John 4:18). She then realized that only God could know and speak of the things hidden in her heart. Amazed, she shouted to other people, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (John 4:29). She recognized from His words that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah whose coming had been foretold. And then there was Peter—over the course of his time with the Lord, he saw that the words spoken and the work done by the Lord Jesus were not things that a normal man is capable of saying and doing. From the Lord’s words and work, he recognized that the Lord Jesus was Christ, the Son of God. There were also Nathanael, John, Andrew, and others who all heard the voice of God in the words of the Lord Jesus. They realized with certainty that the Lord Jesus was God Himself, and they abandoned everything to follow Him. Only these people are the wise virgins.
The facts above make it evident that not all people who read the scriptures, attend gatherings, diligently undertake the Lord’s work, and reverently await are wise virgins. Above all else, wise virgins are those who heed the voice of God, and when they hear others spreading God’s gospel, they are able to lay down their own notions and imaginings and, investigate God’s work with humble, seeking hearts. Ultimately, they gain the enlightenment of God, recognize God’s voice, and receive the Lord. As for those who do not pay attention to listening to God’s voice, who do not seek even after hearing the truth being expressed, who lack discernment, who only stubbornly cling to the literal words of the scriptures, and who believe that by laboring, by expending themselves and making offerings, they will be able to greet the appearance of God—they are all foolish virgins, and ultimately they will lose the salvation and grace of God.
In order to avoid becoming foolish virgins and being abandoned and eliminated by God amid catastrophes, at this crucial moment when the coming of the Lord is to be received, we should become wise virgins and focus ourselves upon seeking to hear the voice of God. It is written in the Book of Revelation: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7). “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). These prophecies show that when the Lord returns in the end times, He is to utter words. So, how can we discern the voice of God? Next, let’s fellowship on a few more principles.
1) The Utterances Expressed by God Possess Authority and Power, and They Are an Expression of God’s Disposition
As we all know, it was utterances that God used in the beginning to create the world. God’s utterances possess authority and power; as soon as an utterance of God is spoken forth, it is achieved in reality. It is just as God said in the Book of Genesis: “Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3, 9). “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together to one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so” (Genesis 1:9). Jehovah spoke to Moses, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, You shall be holy: for I Jehovah your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). There are also the words of the Lord Jesus which exposed the Pharisees: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13).
Once we have heard God’s words, we become aware that not ordinary human could speak them. The words of God can command all things; they are formed and made complete by His words. All those who resist and disobey God can also be damned by His words. Hearing them is awe-inspiring for us and we can feel that God’s disposition does not brook offense from any human, that God’s words fully represent His status and authority, and that in the last days we must recognize whether or not what we hear is the voice of the returned Lord. This is how we can gain discernment.
2) God’s Words Reveal Mysteries, and Expose Mankind’s Corruption and Secrets
As we all know, the Lord Jesus incarnate revealed many mysteries during the time when He came to work. There was “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17) as well as “Not every one that said to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). It is only because the Lord revealed the mysteries surrounding entry into the kingdom of heaven that we know that only those who truly repent and become people who do the will of the heavenly Father are able to enter the kingdom of heaven. This is something we never would have known if the Lord Jesus had not revealed this mystery to us.
Moreover, God is a God who scrutinizes the depths of people’s hearts. God has a thorough understanding of us; only God can reveal our corruption and what resides in our hearts. For example, the Lord Jesus spoke of the matter of Nathanael under the fig tree, allowing Nathanael to recognize that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah whose coming had been foretold. There was also Matthew the tax collector, who recognized that the Lord Jesus was God because Jesus spoke of the content of his prayers. Here we can see that the words of God not only reveal mysteries, but also expose mankind’s corruption and secrets; this too is one way we can discern whether something is God’s voice.
3) God’s Utterances Can Provide Life Sustenance and Provide a Path for People
The Lord Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). God Himself is the truth; God is able to express the truth for mankind’s sustenance in accordance with their needs, at any time and in any place. During the Age of Law, mankind did not know how to live or how to worship God, so God promulgated the law through Moses to lead people in their lives. Just as it’s said in the Ten Commandments: “I am Jehovah your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. You shall have none other gods before Me” (Deuteronomy 5:6–7). “You shall not kill. Neither shall you commit adultery. … Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor. Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s wife …” (Deuteronomy 5:17–21). After hearing the words of God, the people of the time then knew how they should live and how they should worship God. Then, when the Lord Jesus came to work and spread the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, He began teaching people that they must confess their sins and repent, that they must be tolerant and patient, that they must love others as themselves, that they must be the salt and the light of the earth, and more. Just as when Peter asked this question of the Lord Jesus, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” (Matthew 18:21), Jesus told Peter directly, “I say not to you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). After hearing these words from the Lord, Peter understood that forgiveness is something we should abide by; this is not conditional or limited to a certain number of times. Peter then had a path of practice.
Thus, if someone now gives us the good news that the Lord has returned and bears witness to us that the Holy Spirit is speaking to the churches, we can listen and assess whether this way can provide us with sustenance for our current needs. We are all now living in a state of committing sins and then confessing them, from which we cannot extricate ourselves. If the words that they share can point out a path to free ourselves from sin and gain purity, this means that the Lord Jesus has returned. We can discern the voice of God based on this single principle.
Does this fellowship provide you with a path for becoming a wise virgin and receiving the Lord? I hope that you will share this with others if it’s been helpful for you. My wish is that all of us may become wise virgins, pouring our hearts into seeking and listening attentively for the voice of the Lord. May we soon greet the return of the Lord and attend the feast with Him!