Copyright 1994 - 2019 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
June 24, 2013
Last Updated :
June 24, 2013
NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.
Jesus Knows Who Belongs To Him And Who His Real Sheep Are, The Five Wise Virgins Carried Their Lamps And Spare Oil In A Second Vessel, Description Of Ancient Jewish Oil Lamps, Jewish Oil Lamps Were Fueled By Olive Oil, Construction Of The Menorah, Jesus Purposely Concealed Spiritual Truths In His Parables, Oil And The Light Represent Presence Of God's Spirit, King David Became A Light For Israel, Jesus Is The Light Of The World In Whom The Gentiles Trust, Oil Lamps Represent Our Earthen Vessels Of Flesh In Which Holy Spirit Dwells, We Are God's Spiritual Temples, There Is No Light Without The Power Of The Oil Of The Spirit, Earnest Of The Spirit Is A Down Payment Of Greater Spiritual Realities To Come, Why It Is The Spirit Of Promise, Our Responsibility To Let Our Spiritual Lights Shine Before The Whole World, Five Foolish Virgins Procrastinated And Had No Oil When The Bridegroom Returned, Satan's Ruse: You Have A Lot Of Time
To reiterate one of the key points of this series, "the Lord knoweth them that are his", as the Apostle Paul writes in his Epistle. Jesus recognizes His true sheep. Jesus knows who is really saved. He knows who His Father has drawn to Him. If a person is not saved, if Jesus does not know them or recognize them as His sheep, then there is simply no place for them in His Father's Kingdom, as the five foolish virgins found out, and as the man without the proper wedding garment also found out.
While I could probably end this series right now and some of you would be satisfied, the fact of the matter is that we are not quite done yet with our Scriptural journey. While we have now seen that Jesus knows and recognizes His true sheep, we have yet to discuss exactly how He recognizes those who truly belong to Him. It is at this point in our discussion that we return to the Parable of the Ten Virgins; because the answer to this last question can actually be found in the oil lamps themselves. The first thing that we learn upon examination of this Parable, is that the Five Wise Virgins actually carried two vessels with them -- that is, the lamp itself, as well as a second vessel which contained spare oil -- while the Five Foolish Virgins only took the lamp itself, but neglected to carry extra oil with them. This becomes evident by the verses which follow:
"They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps."
Matthew 25:3-4, KJV
The Jewish lamps which were carried by the Ten Virgins were rather simple in nature. Usually constructed of clay, they had a large round hole on the top through which the oil was poured into the small handheld lamp. On one end of the lamp there was sometimes a knob or a ring which was used to hold the lamp in one's hand, although not always. On the other end there was a hole -- which was sometimes located at the end of a nozzle -- from which the wick would protrude. In other words, the wick would be pushed through the hole on the end, and fed through the small channel in the nozzle, so that it would suck up the oil which was located in the main reservoir of the lamp. The wick would be trimmed -- as we see the Virgins doing in this Parable -- so that the flame would burn just right.
As had been the custom since the times of the Old Testament period, these lamps were filled with olive oil, due to the fact that olive trees were plenteous in the land of Israel. In fact, in studying the Old Testament, we discover that the six-branched menorah which stood in the Tabernacle, and then later in the Temple itself, was likewise fueled by olive oil as well. While the menorah had six branches, it actually had seven lamps in all due to the central shaft. Following is a description of the menorah, as well as Scriptural proof that olive oil was used to produce its light:
"And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side: Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick. And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers. And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick. Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold. And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it. And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold. Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels. And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount."
Exodus 25:31-40, KJV
"And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always."
Exodus 27:20, KJV
"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually. Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations. He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually."
Leviticus 24:1-4, KJV
So how does the menorah and the Jewish oil lamps relate to our current discussion? As you may know, Jesus often used Parables to explain deeper spiritual truths regarding the Kingdom of Heaven. In fact, as the Lord told His followers, He would often conceal these truths in His Parables so that His enemies would not understand them. Consider these verses which we find in the Gospel of Matthew:
"And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear."
Matthew 13:10-16, KJV
Because the Scribes and the Pharisees and other elders of Israel did not truly possess God's Spirit, they were often left in confusion regarding what Jesus meant. As the Apostle Paul would later write:
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV
The Parable of the Ten Virgins is no different. It likewise contains some deeper truths, in addition to its warning to the Jews to be prepared for Christ's Return by accepting Him as their Savior. Upon reading about the construction of the menorah in the Old Testament, and also about how the Prophet Samuel was sent to anoint young David to be the next king of Israel, we come to understand that olive oil represents the Presence of God's Spirit. Stated another way, as long as the Israelites knew that the menorah was burning in the outer portion of the Tabernacle -- and later in the Temple -- they were comforted and realized that God's Spirit was with them. The power wasn't actually in the light itself. The light was simply the result of the olive oil which was burning. The oil was the real source of power, just as God's Spirit is also the real Source of Power in our lives today, which results in our burning brightly for His glory. Consider what happened to David after Samuel anointed him with oil:
"Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah."
1 Samuel 16:13, KJV
So as I said, the oil represents the Presence of God's Spirit in our lives, which causes us to burn brightly for the Lord. This is a topic which I also discuss in such articles as "Are You a Burning Ember for the Lord", "This Little Light, Glory of the Lord and Our Bright Future", and a few others which I will list at the end of this series. In King David's case, we are in fact told that he became a light for Israel, just as his son and heir -- King Solomon -- did after him. Consider the following verses:
"But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel."
2 Samuel 21:17, KJV
"Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his [Solomon's] hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant's sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes: But I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes. And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there."
1 Kings 11:34-36, KJV
"Nevertheless for David's sake did the LORD his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem:"
1 Kings 15:4, KJV
"Yet the LORD would not destroy Judah for David his servant's sake, as he promised him to give him alway a light, and to his children."
2 Kings 8:19, KJV
"Howbeit the LORD would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and as he promised to give a light to him and to his sons for ever."
2 Chronicles 21:7, KJV
"There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed."
Psalm 132:17, KJV
Of course, what God did through King David was merely a faint reflection of what He would do later, when Jesus would become not only the Light for Israel, but the Light of Salvation for all of the Gentiles, and for the entire world as well, as we see by the following verses:
"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."
Isaiah 9:2, KJV
"And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day; And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standardbearer fainteth. And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them."
Isaiah 10:17-19, KJV
"Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house."
Isaiah 42:5-7, KJV
"And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth."
Isaiah 49:6, KJV
"For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth."
Isaiah 62:1, KJV
"For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness."
2 Samuel 22:29, KJV
"And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."
Luke 2:25-32, KJV
"In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
John 1:4-9, KJV
"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
John 8:12, KJV
"As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
John 9:5, KJV
"Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth . . . I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."
John 12:35, 46, KJV
"Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth."
Acts 13:46-47, KJV
"Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles."
Acts 26:22-23, KJV
"And in his name shall the Gentiles trust."
Matthew 12:21, KJV
"The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended."
Isaiah 60:19-20, KJV
"And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there."
Revelation 21:23-25, KJV
"I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star."
Revelation 22:16, KJV
While we have discussed the spiritual significance of the olive oil and the light which it produced in regards to the lamps which were carried by the Virgins in Jesus' Parable, we have yet to discuss the vessels themselves. As it turns out, and as I amply explain in the article "A Treasure in Earthen Vessels: Promise of the Spirit", these oil lamps, which were made of clay -- or earth -- in fact represent our very own bodies of flesh, within which resides the Spirit of God when we accept Jesus Christ.
In the following verses, the Apostle Paul clearly describes our bodies as being "earthen vessels", just as the Jewish oil lamps were also made of earth. Paul likewise informs us that this "treasure" which we possess in our "earthen vessels" is nothing less than God's Spirit which was promised to us, and which now resides in each one of us. In addition to "earthen vessels", when Paul uses the phrases "outward man", "earthly house", "tabernacle", "house" and "building", he is likewise referring to our body of flesh which houses God's Spirit:
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us . . . For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:"
2 Corinthians 4:7, 5:1-6, KJV
Paul discusses this very same issue regarding our "earthen vessels" of human flesh serving as spiritual temples which house the Spirit of the Living God when we accept Christ in the following verses as well:
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."
1 Corinthians 3:16-17, KJV
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, KJV
"And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."
2 Corinthians 6:16, KJV
To reiterate our primary point, this "treasure in earthen vessels", this "earnest of the Spirit" of which Paul writes, is nothing less than God's Spirit which comes and dwells in every born-again child of God. Our bodies of flesh become just like the clay oil lamps which the Ten Virgins carried in Jesus' Parable. Please notice that in the previous set of verses, the Apostle Paul also writes "that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us". As I pointed out to you earlier, the power is not found in the light itself. The real source of power which even makes the light possible is actually the oil. In similar fashion, we simply cannot shine for the Lord without the Power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Without the Oil of the Spirit, there is no light. Thus, as Jesus said to His own Apostles prior to His return to Heaven:
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
Acts 1:8, KJV
The Lord gave a similar message to the Prophet Zecharia, which he was deliver to Zerubbabel, who had been chosen by God to lead the movement to rebuild Solomon's Temple, along with the assistance of Ezra, Nehemiah and other leaders of the returning Jews. Consider this verse:
"Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts."
Zechariah 4:6, KJV
So once again we see that this power is not born of ourselves by any means. The true Source of Power is in reality the Holy Spirit, which is symbolized by the oil in the lamp.
On a side note, in that phrase "earnest of the Spirit", the word "earnest" is derived from the Greek word "arrhabon". Thayer's Greek English Lexicon notes that this word refers to money which, in purchases, is given as a pledge or a down payment, signifying that the full amount will subsequently be paid. This is exactly what the Holy Spirit is. It is just a foretaste of Heaven, and a sample of what is to come, for those of us who believe. Paul speaks of this same "earnest" -- or down payment -- in the following verses which we find in his Epistle to the Ephesians:
"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."
Ephesians 1:13-14, KJV
As you can see, in this case, Paul refers to the Holy Spirit as "the earnest of our inheritance"; once again signifying that it is just a small foretaste -- or down payment -- of the Heavenly Realities which are yet to be revealed, once we graduate out of this present life and body of flesh. Please also notice that Paul refers to it as "that holy Spirit of promise". He uses the same kind of terminology in this verse as well, as does the writer Luke in the Book of Acts, as we see here:
"That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
Galatians 3:14, KJV
"Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear."
Acts 2:33, KJV
Why do Paul and Luke refer to the Holy Spirit as a promise"? Once again the Scriptures provide us with a clear answer. It is because this is what Jesus promised to the Apostles, and to us by extension, as we see by the following verses:
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
John 14:26, KJV
"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:"
John 15:26, KJV
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."
John 16:13, KJV
"And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high."
Luke 24:49, KJV
"And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence."
Acts 1:4-5, KJV
As any Christian who is familiar with the Book of Acts will know, this is precisely what occurred as well on the Day of Pentecost; and God's children have each received this most precious Gift, according to the measure determined by God, ever since. Because we have each been filled with the Oil of the Holy Spirit which fuels our spiritual flame, God's Word informs us that it is our God-given responsibility to allow this light within our earthen vessels to shine before the world as a witness of our faith. Consider these verses:
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16, KJV
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately."
Luke 12:35-36, KJV
"That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;"
Philippians 2:15, KJV
As you can see, the Lord clearly stresses how important it is to having our "lights burning". This was precisely the tragic failure of the Five Foolish Virgins. While the Five Wise Virgins were diligent and had oil in their lamps, and were thus ready and waiting for the arrival of the beloved Bridegroom, the other foolish ones had made the horrible mistake of procrastinating. Thus, to their own shock, they found themselves without oil when the Bridegroom returned. How typical of Satan to rely upon a ruse such as this. Has he also told you that you have all the time in the world to accept Jesus Christ? If so, please carefully consider the following verses and be warned:
"The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away."
Psalm 90:10, KJV
"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever."
Isaiah 40:7-8, KJV
"But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?"
Luke 12:20, KJV
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"
Hebrews 9:27, KJV
"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."
James 4:14, KJV
Please go to part four for the conclusion of this series.
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