This Bible Study is part of the "The Gospel of Matthew" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish."... The five wise virgins had oil in their lamps. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
Greetings, friends around the world!
This is Roderick C. Meredith, bringing you this commentary on the book of Matthew. We have been going through the entire book of Matthew—almost verse by verse, opening your mind, I hope, to many technical points and spiritual points you may not have fully understood before. Let's open our Bibles—and I hope you will follow along with me in your Bible, as you will get a lot more out of it if you do. Open your Bible to Matthew 25, and see what this Book says—this Gospel of the Kingdom of God, this Gospel about the teaching of Christ.
"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish."
The five wise virgins had oil in their lamps. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. They had the Holy Spirit; they were serving God, obeying God and walking with God. Christianity was reality—it was the major thing in their lives. But five virgins were foolish. They were perhaps even in the true Church of God, and they were not part of the world. They were not spiritual "harlots" or spiritual "fornicators" as the Bible might use that term. They were spiritual virgins, but they did not have God's spirit, or at least they had very little of it. The oil had gone out in their lives. They were just going through the motions, but they were not zealous for God.
"But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept."
They all went to sleep for a while, and they did not fully understand what was about to happen. But some had been praying and studying and were close to God.
` Matt. 25:6-10
"And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!' Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut."
It shows that there will come a time when you can't just suddenly have a last-minute repentance and think that's OK. You are going to have to grow in grace and in knowledge. In spite of the Protestant ideas that you can have a "death-bed repentance" and just say, "I accept Christ," the Bible does not bear that out at all. You can't do that. You have to have Christ living His life in you and grow—you must let God fashion you and mold you and work with you over at least a number of months or years or decades of suffering, growing and overcoming—having God test you and work with you and fashion you and mold you. So while they went to buy, the bridegroom came—and these virgins were not ready.
"…and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!'' [They had not been prepared. They had not been walking with God before.] But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.' [in the sense of them being His servants at that time because they had not been filled with God's spirit. They had not been really knowing Him and walking with Him all along. Then all of a sudden they were shaken up, and wanted to, but it was too late.] Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming."
Christ may "come for you" tonight or yet today or whenever. Anyone of us can die at any time. I could leave this studio and walk across the street and be killed. Any of us could have something like that happen. We have got to try to walk with God every day of our lives.
"For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one [Now, in this parable He gives different amounts of talents to each one. In another parable, He gave them all the same, but in this one He gives different ones.], to each according to his own ability…"
God does often give different degrees of responsibility according to your innate ability. God knows different people have different ability, and you are judged according to what you do with what you have to do with. As it says back in Luke 12:48, "unto whom much is given, of him much will be required." Think about that. If you have been given a lot, you are held responsible for that. He gave different degrees of responsibility here.
"…and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. [He overcame himself, the world and the Devil, as we say. He grew, he served and he accomplished in the service of God.] And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. [He doubled his, too.] But he who had received one…"
Often the person who does not have too much ability feels sorry for himself. "Woe is me, no one loves me, I will just go out and eat worms" they may say. That is not right. Even though a person has little ability, he can use that ability—and God can multiply that ability through the power of His spirit. We all need to realize that, and be positive and do the best we can with what we have.
"…went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money."
He did not accept the challenge to go out and face the problems of life and overcome and try to give and to help and serve others and prepare for the Kingdom of God. He thought, "I have not been given very much, so I am just going to sit here and do nothing." That is not God's way. God wants us to get into the arena of life and grow and change and overcome and serve others to the full capacity that we have. With the help of His spirit, we can all serve a lot.
"So he who had received five talents came [when the master had come to settle accounts] and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them'… [He doubled. The one who had two did the same thing, he doubled. Of course, Christ said to each one…] 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over [We are going to be kings and priests in God's Kingdom.] many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' [They were both given that same accolade because they had both overcome proportionately according to what they had to do with. They doubled what Christ gave them and He honored that very much. Then the one came along who only had one talent and he said] 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.' ["I just buried it and here it is." He probably said this with a negative attitude in his voice, "Well, here it is. You didn't give me much, so I will just give you back this."] But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.'" ["At least you could have done that."]
Using a measure of money here as a yardstick—as just an example, a parable—it is interesting that the parable shows that it is not wrong to use a bank. Some people say that is bad. But it is not wrong to get interest from a bank. You are not supposed to get interest if you loan your money to a brother in need who has a problem—you should not ask for interest at all. But it is not wrong to give it to a bank and to use your money wisely to earn more money. There is nothing wrong with that. But he said, "At least you should have done that." That is the least the man could have done. He would not have doubled it, but he would have done something extra.
"'Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.'"
We in our democratic system may say, "Well, that is not fair; you ought to give it to the man that has two and make everyone equal." No. God does not work like that. The man who has a greater capacity is often given more—even proportionately—and especially if he has shown he is going to use it rightly. God does that. He gives to those who can handle the bigger job, even though it is not exactly equal. God is not an egalitarian in that sense. Everyone has the equal opportunity to be in God's Kingdom—men and women, smart and less smart, tall and short, fat and thin and so on. They can all be in God's family forever—and that is wonderful. Every one of us has the opportunity for eternal life in the family of God. But some who have greater capacity—and use that capacity in a great way—can have a much greater reward. That is God's way, and we can't judge God. We have to remember that He is the judge. We are not the judge.
"'For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. [You see, if he has not produced anything along the way.] And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"
All kinds of folks today, in our nicey-nice society, are "more loving than God." They say, "God is going to save everybody, regardless." But these scriptures I have just been reading you in the last few programs show otherwise. Jesus Christ so loved us that He came down and gave His life for us—allowed Himself to go through this terrible suffering on the stake (the cross) when He was hanging there. It was a terrible and ignominious death—a slow, agonizing death. He knew that was the kind of death He was going to go through. He prophesied that ahead of time, but He was willing to do that to pay for our sins. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. God the Father and Jesus Christ, who is Immanuel—God with us—They both had that love.
Let's not try to "outdo" God. His love has wisdom connected with it. He is not going to force eternal life on anybody. Eternal life and the family of God—the Kingdom of God—is based on obedience and yieldedness and respect and worship of God. He is not going to give eternal life to people who say, "Well, I will just do things my way. If I don't get my way, if I don't get a whole lot, I am just going to go off and pout" like this man who was just given one talent. No, "there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth," Jesus Christ said. We had better believe that, and we had better act upon it. If we want eternal life, let's go out for it. Let's go all out for it with our whole being and put our being into serving God, and loving God with all our heart and all our strength and all our mind as Jesus said. Let's honor Him and worship Him and serve Him with every fiber of our being, the very best we can.
"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him [He is going to have a glorified coming, returning to this earth with glory, power and majesty with an angel army escort.], then He will sit on the throne of His glory."
It will be a magnificent Kingdom, a magnificent palace, a magnificent situation in Jerusalem, when people will come up to the King of kings in Jerusalem as He is ruling this entire earth. We had better think about that, look forward to that, want it and pray for it so that we can almost taste it. The Kingdom of God is coming.
"All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world"
From the very beginning, God has intended that people be made His full sons. The Royal Family would be increased. We would be part of the very Kingdom, the family of God grown great. That has been God's purpose from the beginning.
Matt. 25:35-37, 40
"'For I was hungry and you gave Me food; [You were kind to others and had outflowing concern.] I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer, ["When did we do that?"]… 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'"
Yes, when you serve others, you serve Christ. Christ wants us to have an outflowing concern. We need to serve others in need, and we ought to do that in every way we can. Especially in the United States, Canada, Britain, and Australia, physical things are all around us, but we especially need to serve one another in a spiritual way and help those who are spiritually starving. We need to get this Work out to people while we have life and breath, so they can know their purpose in life and be helped and be in the first resurrection—the "better resurrection."
"Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'"
This fire does not need to be everlasting for human beings, because they are going to be burned—it is everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. But humans will be thrown into the Lake of Fire if they will not surrender to God—if they go right on unrepentant and rebellious even after they understand.
"'…for I was hungry and you gave Me no food…'"
You did not feed me, you did not take me in, you did not clothe me and you did not visit me when I was sick. You had no outflowing concern. You were just concerned with self, and you were not laying down your life for your brethren and laying down your life for humanity—having Christ living His life within you.
"Then they [these selfish people] also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'"
In that sense, every human being represents Christ. Every human being is made in the image of God. So if you do it to any being, you do it to a potential child of God. They may not be begotten of God's spirit, but they are made in the image of God. Tall or short, fat or thin, black, yellow, red or white does not make any difference—you are to respect and love and care for every person. They are made in the image of God, and you need to have that outflowing concern. As Jesus said in Matthew 22:35-40, "the great commandment is to love the Eternal your God with all your heart and strength and mind and the second is like unto it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself." You must learn to have that outflowing concern. "If you do not love your neighbor whom you have seen, how can you love God whom you have not seen?" John tells us, under inspiration, in 1 John. We need to understand that very important principle. You can talk about God, but if you don't have kindness and mercy and forgiveness and service, you don't know God—and God does not know you.
"And these [those who were wicked] will go away into everlasting punishment [Not everlasting punishing; they are not going to be jumping and screaming in hellfire forever, but punishment. As it says in Romans 6;23, "the wages of sin is death"—not eternal life in hellfire—"but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."], but the righteous into eternal life."
Very few people really understand this Book. They don't understand these things. You can be given understanding by reading and studying the wonderful Bible Study Course that we in this Work have prepared for you. You need this course. We give you four lessons followed by a test for you to return. You can go deeper and deeper into a real understanding of the Bible-most of you for the first time. We are not talking about sentimental stuff through this course; we are talking about really understanding the Bible, just as I have been explaining it to you here. So click the "Order FREE" button on our Web site, and ask for the Bible Study Course. We will send it to you absolutely free. Follow through and do the lessons and you can understand. It will change your life.
This is Roderick Meredith, for the Living Church of God. We will see you next time.