Jump to Prayer FocusBible Passage for Meditation: Matthew 25:1-13
Key Verse: “But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” Matthew 25:4
I’m a Seventh-day Adventist pastor. I pray and study my Bible every day. I know and wholeheartedly believe the biblical truths we hold dear. But it just hit me recently that all of this only gives me a 50 percent chance of being ready for Jesus’ soon return. Where do I get this statistic? From Jesus Himself.
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the parable of the ten virgins. All have a pure faith (they are virgins; see Revelation 14:4). All have Bible truth (lamps; see Psalm 119:105). Yet five are wise, and five are foolish. Five get to be with Jesus, and five hear the dreadful words from Jesus, “I do not know you.” It means everything to have the assurance that we know Jesus—that we are among the wise virgins. What is the one thing that distinguishes the wise from the foolish virgins? The wise virgins have enough oil.
What does the oil in the parable represent? In Zechariah 4 we find an incredible vision about a lampstand that has oil continually flowing from two trees into each lamp. The crucial point of this vision is in verse 6: “‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,’ saith the Lord of hosts.” The only thing that will see us through the end is the gift of the Holy Spirit. We need to know the Bible for ourselves, we need to be following His commands, but if we don’t know Jesus intimately—through being filled with the Holy Spirit—then we are only foolish virgins with nothing but a form of godliness.
“The class represented by the foolish virgins are not hypocrites. They have a regard for the truth, they have advocated the truth, they are attracted to those who believe the truth; but they have not yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit’s working. They have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, and permitted their old nature to be broken up” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 411). We must allow the Spirit to do a deep, transformational work. We must know Jesus as a Savior from sin today, or we have no hope for eternity tomorrow.
“The Spirit works upon man’s heart, according to his desire and consent implanting in him a new nature; but the class represented by the foolish virgins have been content with a superficial work. They do not know God. They have not studied His character; they have not held communion with Him; therefore they do not know how to trust, how to look and live. Their service to God degenerates into a form” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 411).
As Seventh-day Adventists living on the very cusp of eternity, we must make sure that we know God on a deep, practical, and transformational level. We don’t have time to be distracted by any other focus in life.
What does this look like practically? One of the best examples is the story of those who were earnestly looking for Jesus’ return in 1844. Ellen White, who was a part of this movement, describes the constant, watchful attitude of those early believers: “Carefully and solemnly those who received the message came up to the time when they hoped to meet their Lord. Every morning they felt that it was their first duty to secure the evidence of their acceptance with God. . . . The assurance of the Saviour’s approval was more necessary to them than their daily food, and if a cloud darkened their minds, they did not rest until it was swept away” (The Story of Redemption, p. 371).
What an example! I’m learning that I, too, cannot leave that time with Jesus each morning until I know that there is nothing separating me from His loving presence. Without this refreshing (Acts 3:19), I can’t go about my day. There is too much at stake. I must know that I have oil in my lamp—I must be filled with the Spirit!
Heart Prayer Challenge:
Father, we want to allow You to prepare us for Your soon return. Forgive us for being content with a superficial heart work, with only a form of godliness. Please fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Help us to know You and Your character. Give us a determination not to leave our time alone with You each morning until we know our sins are covered by Your blood and we are accepted in Your sight. Thank You for longing to fill us with Your Spirit. Please give us oil in our lamps!