Matthew 25:1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
I never have liked this story... but I forget, they didn't have electric lights back then.
If the lanterns were for light, then why shut the door on a half-lit room?
The virgins with the lights...what significance did the "young virgin" part of their names have?
I think the reason the description of a virgin is important.... is that virgins are anticipatory. They are waiting. They have every reason to be excited over the wedding ceremony. Virgins were just young ladies back then. Most were "betrothed" by the time they were twelve years old. Remember, this is not a society that favored women. This was a male dominated society based on the power of procreation of male workers.
According to the commentaries I've read, the bridegroom would sneak in during the night and bring his bride to his own house. That's when the girls with the lights would start their mission.... they would light the path. Then when they got to the bridegroom's house, they would supply the light for the wedding ceremony.
If only half of the girls were in their spots when the bridegroom came through, he sure wasn't going to stop the wedding procession so everyone could go look for Sallyann, the poor planning dullard virgin. His thoughts would be on the bride and the wedding, not on Sallyann, the poor planning dullard virgin. Of course, he's going to tell those who couldn't [or wouldn't] plan for this special event to "go away".
Now to the source of light part of the party.
I'm pretty sure the wedding invitation would not have said something about "bring your lanterns and extra oil". If someone wanted me to go out at night and join a procession, I would have to take my flashlight or my cell phone. If I couldn't be bothered to charge the batteries, what does that say about my genuine eagerness to join and enjoy the wedding?
So, what does this have to do with going to Heaven? So, what does this have to do with making sure Jesus knows we have our invitations?
We have to light our lanterns. We have to accept Jesus as our Messiah.
We have to make sure our lanterns have plenty of oil. We have to stay in the Word.
We have to be ready for when we will fire up our lanterns. We have to be patient and vigilant... it's easy to get swayed by a fake gospel.
So, I don't like this story any better now, but at least I've made it a little bit more understandable.
Don't let your batteries go down.