Article of the Month

March 2013

THE CLOSING OF THE DOOR

 

When Jesus gave a parable, it frequently contained many lessons, but usually there was one primary lesson. Thus it is with the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. (Matthew 25:1-13) The parable itself deals with events in the religious world during what the Bible calls “The Time of the End.”

The “Time of the End” is that period which began in 1799 as the French Revolution was concluding. A handful of prophecies actually chronicle this chronology. The term, “Time of the End,” comes from Daniel.  (See Daniel 11:35, 40; 12:4.) Its date is hidden in the numbers of Daniel 12:7 and Revelation 11:2, 3. Its nature is this: During the period from 1799 until the setting up of the Kingdom, God is gradually arranging and accomplishing the dissolution of the present social-political-economic-religious order. Once man’s systems fail, God will step in with the Kingdom for which we pray—the solution for every imaginable problem!

At the beginning of the Time of the End there was the inception of intense Bible printing, translating, distribution, and study. Most of the focus of this study was concerning the question of the details concerning Jesus’ second advent. Hence, movements and denominations sprung up around this question.

The “Second Adventists”—now just Adventists or “Seventh Day Adventists”—is one example. And, while disappointments due to misinterpretations sometimes slowed the movement (the “Miller Movement” is one example), the study of the prophecies relative to the second advent has flourished to our day. It is about this entire period (1799 to the Kingdom) that Jesus gives his parable. (Matthew 25:1-13)
 

—  VIRGINS  —

Jesus’ disciples are portrayed as virgins because they are espoused to be the “bride” of Christ. (See Revelation 21:2, 9; 22:17; 14:4 as examples.) In Jesus’ Matthew 25 parable, we see that these disciples are all enthusiastically involved in the second-advent movement which began after 1799.

The parable divides the disciples into those whose characters are so developed as to be uncompromising in their determination (the “wise”), and those who, though intense in their studies, seem to have had insufficient personal character development (the “foolish”). The first five verses lead us through the Adventist disappointments of the 1840s.  These disappointments resulted in a slow-down in the intensity of the movement. Thus, the virgins are said to have “slumbered.” Interest in second-advent prophecy waned significantly from the 1840s to the 1870s.

But in the 1870’s a renewed excitement in the subject occurred when careful study revealed that the return of Jesus was invisible and secret—“like a thief in the night.” This announcement that Jesus had, indeed, returned in the 1870s is the subject of verse 6 and of its companion prophecy in Revelation 11:15.

In Matthew 25:10, it is stated that “the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage; and the door was shut.”

It is first imperative to note that “came” in this parable does not refer to Jesus’ advent. He “came” in that sense in verse 6. “Come” is used in prophecy meaning “to take an action.” This can easily be seen and verified by a look at Revelation 2:5, 16, and 3:3. These verses cover periods during the entire Gospel Age, and Jesus’ threats “to come” in each of these verses does not mean an early second advent! It means that he would specifically take action due to a prevailing condition. So it is in Matthew 25:10. The action of this verse is the completion of his Church (the 144,000 with him on Mount Zion—Revelation 14:1), and the SHUTTING OF THE DOOR—the end of all opportunity for anyone else to be a part of the bride of Christ.

Remember, however, that the “foolish virgins” are not lost! They simple are REJECTED from being a part of what they had hoped for.  Revelation 7 makes this same division of the wise and foolish. The “wise” are the 144,000 of Revelation 7:4. The “foolish” are the “great multitude” which John sees in Revelation 7:9. They are disappointed; but God will “wipe away all tears from over their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17)
 

—  THE POINT  —

There are many historic, prophetic, and character lessons in this wonderful parable. But, if we want to focus on its main lesson, we must look at Jesus’ summary of its purpose in Matthew 25:13—

“Watch, therefore,
for ye know neither the day nor the hour
(wherein the Son of Man cometh.)”
 

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A side note: Old manuscripts omit the part of verse 13 in parentheses.  It is, indeed, BETTER without  these words because it is not the second advent date which Jesus refers to. It is the closing of the door which is his focus. Indeed chronological prophecies DO tell us when he came.  But they do not tell us when he completes his Church.

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So, the POINT of this parable is TO BE READY. Always “watch” self and one’s own character development so as not to be found among the foolish.

 

—  THE LESSON IN OUR DAY  —

Jesus has given us a parable which details the last two-hundred-fourteen years! He has done so to make us sober as the Gospel Age comes to an end. There is no privilege so great, but also so LIMITED IN TIME, as the opportunity to be a part of the “body of Christ”—or the “bride” of Christ. The offer has an end! That end, by the very constraints of this parable’s interpretation, IS NEAR AT HAND. If we have heard the call, we must not delay to answer it. If we have answered it, we must not delay to “be ready.” Never again will a human being be offered the opportunity to be changed into an immortal, divine being—a part of God’s intimate personal family in heaven.  PRESS ON!  
                 

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