In his classic book Waiting on God, Andrew Murray explained the bottom line of godly waiting: “The giver is more than the gift; God is more than the blessing; and our being kept waiting on Him is the only way for our learning to find our life and joy in Himself. Oh, if God’s children only knew what a glorious God they have, and what a privilege it is to be linked in fellowship with Himself, then they would rejoice in Him, even when He keeps them waiting.”
Jesus taught in today’s parable the importance of waiting in this spirit or with this attitude. One might say the whole purpose of the Christian life is to be ready for Christ’s return! In the story, the “virgins” were the bride’s friends, or as we might say, bridesmaids (v. 1). The “lamps” were torches and burned olive oil. According to the NIV Study Bible, the oil would have had to be replenished every 15 minutes, suggesting that bringing along enough oil was a rather challenging responsibility.
The parable’s first lesson is vigilance or watchfulness (v. 13). The Bridegroom could come at any time! The second lesson is wisdom through readiness. We’re ready for Christ’s return if we’ve trusted Him for salvation. The third lesson is consequences. Having or not having enough olive oil sounds small, but symbolically it means being in or out of the kingdom of heaven (vv. 10–12).
This parable captures several themes from our month’s study, as the wedding metaphor is a rich one: Something good and joyful will happen, guaranteed. Our waiting centers on the coming of the Bridegroom (see John 3:29). The event itself is largely about promises made and kept, and the theme of consummation is involved. Finally, our waiting is not passive, but requires active watchfulness and preparation.
Spend time reviewing your study this month, perhaps making notes about what God has taught you through these devotionals. What have you learned about God? What might change in your relationship with Him as a result? “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope” (Ps. 130:5).