Category Archives: Jesus

Is Your Bible Missing Verses?

Hey hey.  Blessed Sunday everyone.  I know I haven’t posted in forever–I’ve been using my (limited) writing energy at my “work-related” site, phahpa.org (trying to catch up with regional and state history, preservation laws, doing projects, etc . . . ).  But I’ve been wanting to do this for a while.  That is, the graphic below . . . but as  I’m not graphics-program savvy, I did it in Word, printed it, then scanned it (not the highest quality I wished) in order to put it on here.   The quality actually came out pretty well, considering, and if you click on it you can view it in its large format.  I hope you like this and share it with those who might seem to need it (the title is sarcastic, yet)–even atheists who cherry pick or only actually read other atheists who cherry pick.   It’d just be nice if you cited the source and creator (this site).

Which Bible are You Reading?
By Vicki Priest

 

He is Risen Indeed (Hallelujah!), and this Terrorized World Needs His Return

Isaiah 5:20 by Vicki PriestAt the close of this year’s Easter, please enjoy this passage from Zechariah 12, prophesying Christ’s second coming.  With so many in the world calling evil good and good evil, which has allowed the growth of the murderous terrorists, we need His return.  Look for His return, and pray you are ready.

Zechariah 12:1-2, 9-11:

“A prophecy: The word of the Lord concerning Israel.  The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares: I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling . . . .  On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.  And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.  On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo’.”

As Matthew Henry commented:

“It is a mourning grounded upon a sight of Christ:  They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for him.  Here, it is foretold that Christ should be pierced, and this scripture is quoted as that which was fulfilled when Christ’s side was pierced upon the cross; see John 19:37.  He is spoken of as one whom we have pierced; it is spoken primarily of the Jews, who persecuted him to death (and we find that those who pierced him are distinguished from the other kindreds of the earth that shall wail because of him, Rev. 1:7); yet it is true of us all as sinners, we have pierced Christ, inasmuch as our sins were the cause of his death, for he was wounded for our transgressions, and they are the grief of his soul . . .”

Tragic Times of Persecution

I don’t go looking for evil acts, but my son brought to my attention a couple of attacks carried out by Muslims recently, that is, after the Brussels bombing.  So I looked into them, and found some other things, too.

Today in Pakistan, 65 Easter celebrants were killed and about 300 injured.

A Muslim shopkeeper, a Mr. Shah, was murdered for wishing Christians and his country well at Easter time.  He was apparently a very kind and humanitarian man, who sought understanding and good relations between Muslims and Christians.  He therefore was killed.  I very much disagree, however, with someone who left a note saying “Mr Shah, [a] true Muslim, thank you, from a Christian brother.”  Christians follow Jesus Christ, who was nonviolent, taught against violence, and died after having performed healing miracles and leading a sinless life (including never having had sexual relations).

Muhammad, in contrast, killed many and had his men kill many (including those who had surrendered to his army and others who simply criticized him, even a woman poet); apparently this isn’t taught in schools.  He did not perform miracles and he was polygamous.  Muhammad represents Islam and therefore it’s reasonable that adherents would look to its founder and leader as the prime example in carrying out the faith.  That’s what Christians do (or are supposed to be doing), so a good Muslim would do what Muhammad did.  (And getting back to the Christian who called Mr. Shah “brother,” I wonder how John or Paul would react to calling a person “brother” who denied the resurrection and deity of Jesus?  Perhaps Mr. Shah was in fact saved [God knows], but Muslims do not believe in Jesus; it makes for a very huge difference between the faiths.  Brothers and sisters in the New Testament are fellow believers in Jesus Christ.)

Besides not seeming to know what Muhammad was like, the Muslims who are kind and caring don’t seem to know what the Koran and its important commentaries seem to say either.  It’s like the experience of the Boston Bombers.  The mother tells her older son that he needs to stop being so worldly and get into his faith more.  When he does, he sees what the Koran says and what Muhammad did, and acts accordingly.  The mother realizes her son is right and becomes “radicalized” too.   The Judeo-Christian scriptures aren’t corrupt as Muslims think–as Muhammad made out–but promote love for all humans and faith in the creator God, so anyone who comes along later with a different message is obviously not of God.  How much more bad fruit needs to fall for people to realize this?

Teacher Brutally Murdered by Afghan Migrant

Germany: Muslim Rape Crisis Worsens (from Gatestone Institute)

Do Muslims Worship the same God as Christians?

Abraham and Isaac. Laurent de La Hire, 1650.
Abraham and Isaac. Laurent de La Hire, 1650.

That question, “Do Muslims worship the same God as Christians?” is not a new one, but has been in the Christian news (at least) recently over the controversial suspension of a black female professor at Wheaton College.  I haven’t written specifically on this topic, though I touched upon it in Does DA: Inquisition’s Imshael have anything to do with Ishmael and Islam?  In that article I point out how Islam rejects God’s plan for humanity, as provided by God in the Old Testament through Isaac, and openly celebrates this rejection through their holiday of Eid Al-Adha.  How can it be claimed that Muslims worship the same God when they reject biblical scriptures and even God’s plan for humanity?  As any bible student knows, God’s plan is interspersed throughout all of the Old and New Testaments, so to reject it and then claim you worship the same God makes no sense.  Yet the Wheaton professor, besides showing solidarity with the repression of women (which is not biblical), claims that Muslims worship the same God as Christians.

Continue reading Do Muslims Worship the same God as Christians?

Christian Poems XIV: Kenyon, Spires, and Donne

Sunset with road.
Sunset, toward west, but road may traveled east or west. Which way to go? Source: http://newartcolorz.com/images/2014/3/country-sunset-wallpaper-5351-5667-hd-wallpapers.jpg

Let Evening Come

by Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn.  Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass.  Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sand den.
Let the wind die down.  Let the shed
go black inside.  Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come as it will, and don’t
be afraid.  God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

In The Best American Poetry 1991.  Mark Strand, editor; David Lehman, series editor (Collier Books 1991, p 119).  From Kenyon’s 1990 book of the same title (Graywolf Press 1990).

_________________

Continue reading Christian Poems XIV: Kenyon, Spires, and Donne

Jesus’ Harsh Sayings: Dogs of Israel?! (Matthew 15:21-27)

atheist-group-undo-jesus-says-kill-him-againI don’t know about you, but I’m tired of Jesus’ harsh sayings being explained away, especially in light of the Christian church falling into disrepute.  We should not be trying to placate everyone, and this is obvious by Jesus’ (and Paul’s) own words (verses are from the New International Version [NIV] unless otherwise stated):

  • Jesus was hated, so His true followers will be hated.  “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. . .  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. . . “ (John 15:18-20).
  • People will be offended by him, and therefore us.  And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me (Matthew 11:6, New King James Version; Luke 7:23).
  • What Paul said about our smell. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.  And who is equal to such a task? (2 Corinthians 2:16).

Christians are not to attack back when we’re personally offended, but we are to convey God’s word and will.  This is simply going to be offensive to some and we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty over it.   Many “Christians” just seem to roll with the cultural flow, but Jesus’ example was . . . what?  He ended up dying on the cross for the truth.

One example of Jesus’ harsh words that I’ve always found difficult is from Matthew 15:21-27 (see also Mark 7:24-30).  Can you imagine Jesus ignoring you, then calling you a dog and making you feel like you have to beg like a dog?  Here is the passage:

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!  My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”  

Jesus did not answer a word.  So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.”  And her daughter was healed at that moment.

I’ve heard sermons admonishing us to think of the “dogs” here as “puppies,”  and in Mark’s version of the conversation the woman indeed uses the term “little dogs.”  But, if we wanted to think of the word as “puppy,” there’s the issue of what puppies grow up into: dogs.  Whether a puppy or a dog, the creature is something less than its owner.  In the passage, Jesus is saying that the gentile is asking something of God that only the privileged should have, the implication being that not all humans are equal in God’s eyes.

Matthew 15:21-27
From st-takla.org.

But brushing aside the offense, the desperate mother cleverly and humbly responds.  We don’t know if Jesus’ expression and inflection betrayed a different intent than His literal words, which were said in the presence of Israelites.  In any case, I think the passage’s primary meaning can be understood in the light of Jesus’ other examples of people other than the house of Israel having true faith (and large doses of humility).  Many in Israel thought that, in God’s eyes, outsiders were less than they were, and here Jesus seems to be confirming that belief.  In another harsh passage, Jesus says not to throw your pearls to swine (Matthew 7:6).  Ouch. These passages seem to fly in the face of God’s love and concern for everyone, that Christ died for all, and that all are equal in His sight.

But there are common misconceptions based on these ideas which indeed are found in scripture.  Misunderstandings seem to come from thinking that certain verses refer to universal salvation.  God’s saving grace may be universal, but it requires individual acceptance (it’s a gift that one accepts, or leaves unopened), and God knows that not everyone is going to accept it.  He also knows (and has passed this knowledge on to us) that He has active enemies, not just people who don’t really want to accept Him.  We don’t know who all these enemies are, but God does.

Therefore, neither “human” or “person” are synonyms for “child of God.”  People can become children of God through faith, and individual Israelites were not necessarily God’s children.  Once Israel rejected Jesus as Christ, all who did (and do) accept Him as such were (and are) adopted into God’s family.  The Canaanite mother seems to be an example of this forthcoming church age.

While many Israelites did take Jesus’ messages to heart and come to faith, the nation as a whole did not.  What were the problems?  Following man-made traditions like many in Israel were doing was actually leading people away from God, and as alluded to above, many also had the attitude that being born an Israelite (a child of Abraham) automatically saved you (see John chapter 8, for example).

Again and again, Jesus dispelled these notions.  In Matthew 15 here,  a gentile Canaanite woman has saving faith.  She believed that what Jesus was doing was real (of God) and sought Him out, while the religious leaders amongst God’s “own people” did not.  Other examples are the centurion who knew that Jesus could heal even from a distance (Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10); the (parable of the) good Samaritan who helped a man left to die when Israelite holy men would not (Luke 10:30-37); the Samaritan woman who became His witness to other Samaritans (John 4:1-30); and, the thankful Samaritan leper who was healed along with nine other Israelite lepers, who did not glorify God like the Samaritan did (Luke 17:11-19).

Jesus also brought up other related examples from the past, like Jonah the Israelite not wanting to give God’s warning to the Ninevites, God having the prophet Elijah stay with a non-Israelite lady during a severe, long term drought, and God healing a Syrian–but not any Israelites–of leprosy during Elisha’s time (Luke 4:24-27).  Of course, He also reminded the Israelites here and there about God’s prophets they had killed in times past. These examples, of course, angered many.  Those unwilling to accept His messages sought His life, just as they sought the past prophets’ lives he reminded them of.

We can see, perhaps shockingly, that the Canaanite woman was not really offended; apparently, she understood something that was more important than the apparent offense.  Her faith led to the healing of her daughter and a compliment from the Son of God.   In another example that many of His own disciples found offensive, Jesus taught that He was the bread of life, and that His blood was for salvation.  He said that a person needed to eat his flesh and blood.  Of course, he was speaking in spiritual terms of the coming Last Supper and future sacrament of communion.  He wasn’t all-of-a-sudden advocating cannibalism.   But many disciples failed to trust His words, were offended, and left Him (John 6:47- 71).  But those who believed in Him stayed even though they didn’t fully understand His words at the time.  Faith is trust, and blessed are those not offended by Christ.

Who Will Enter God’s Kingdom?

bad trees don't produce good fruit
Bad fruit — it can look good on the outside while it’s rotting on the inside. With God’s help in discernment, we should be able to recognize bad fruit. “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” (Jesus, in Matthew 7:18).

I was reading Matthew today and came across the below group of verses.  It made me think about my own salvation and if I’m on the right track.  I have these times where I wonder if God expects more of me, if I’m letting Him down, and if He’s really paying attention to me anymore.  I think all believers go through times with thoughts like that.  I do believe I’m saved, as Paul wrote: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16).   But I also think Paul wrote his passages about persevering  for a reason, that people can indeed fall away from the faith (become apostate).  One example from Hebrews (12:1-3):

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

The following passages from the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, consisting of three paragraphs and concepts, is a good reminder to consider:  where we’re at in our faith; if our faith is matched by our actions; and, if our righteous-looking actions are hiding unrighteous motives.  It is that last bit that is the scariest.  Those persons who do NOT enter God’s Kingdom, even though they seemed like they were powerfully working for God, seem to be surprised.  Perhaps it is yet just another deception they are trying to pull off, or, they are so deluded they can’t even tell the difference.

Continue reading Who Will Enter God’s Kingdom?

Did Jesus Christ and his followers drink wine or grape juice?

Ripening grapes on old, beautifully set grape vines (danjaeger at Freeimages.com).
Ripening grapes on old, beautifully set grape vines (danjaeger at Freeimages.com).

If bible translations are to be believed, then yes, Christ and his followers drank wine and not grape juice. Yet some Christians want to believe otherwise and insist that all Christians should never drink any amount of alcohol. Is there any merit to their reasoning?

Not according to Walter C. Kaiser Jr.: “All who have read the Bible carefully are quite aware that it makes the case for [drinking in] moderation, not total abstinence. . . . for those who are able to be moderate in their alcoholic intake: wine can make the heart happy (Psalm 104:15) . . .” (p 291). Indeed, biblically speaking, wine is not only often associated with joy, but also with salvation.

Practically speaking, ancient Israel did not have refrigeration and thus could not store grape juice unfermented. And in context, there are numerous passages that speak of wine and/or drunkenness that cannot be rationally thought of as referring to a nonalcoholic juice. Let’s look at some.

Passages that Advocate Wine or relate it to Israel

Deuteronomy 14:22-26 – In instructing the Israelites about tithing, God told them that when they needed to travel far with a tithe and it was overly large or heavy, they could sell it. Then, “use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or . . . . Then you . . . shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.”

Isaiah 5:1-7 – “The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress” (verse 7). In Mark 12:1-11, Jesus speaks of the history and the future of God’s vineyard.

Isaiah 55:1 – “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”

Luke 5:39 – “And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better’.”

Timothy 5:23 – “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”

Passages referring to drunkenness

Genesis 9:20-21 – “Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard.  When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.” Unfortunately, this is the first recorded incident after the ark landed and God gave humanity a new covenant, and it led to the cursing of Canaan. See also the sad and distressing incidents between Lot and his daughters in Genesis 19:30-38. Grape juice was not the cause of Noah’s and Lot’s troubles.

Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”

Isaiah 5:22 – “Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks . . .”

Passages relating wine with Melchizedek, Jesus

In Abraham’s time, he–then called Abram–met a High Priest of God called Melchizedek; he was also King of Salem (meaning “Peace”). Melchizedek in fact wasn’t human, having no mother, father, or beginning or ending of days (Hebrews 7:1-3), and this Melchizedek gave Abram bread, wine, and a blessing. Abram, significantly, then gave Melchizedek a tenth of all he had just gained in a large-scale rescue mission (Genesis 14:18-20).

John 2:9-10 – ” . . . the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now’.” Here, Jesus turned water into wine, and He made it the best wine at the wedding. Knowing that Jesus is the church’s bridegroom, we look forward to the best that is still to come.

The wedding passage in John also refers to people getting tipsy or even drunk (“too much to drink”), indicating that grape juice was not what people were drinking. It might be worth considering that, despite the guests’ state, Jesus still made more wine for them.

Lastly, Jesus and his disciples drank wine at the Last Supper, which was a Passover meal (Mark 14:23-25 and others). Wine, and quite a bit of it, was an important part of the Passover meal. In Palestine grapes were harvested in late summer to early fall. At this springtime meal, then, Jesus and his disciples would have been drinking fermented grape juice–wine–from a previous year’s harvest. At this Passover, just before His crucifixion, Jesus prophesied: “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Since Jesus had been drinking wine, he was referring to the same in that unique biblical passage.  Author Michael Card (pp 103-104) happily surmises:

Parties are almost as important as prayer for a Christian because, if you think about it, the climax of the history of this world takes place at a party. It’s called the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” and . . . it will quite literally be the party of all time. As far back as Isaiah (25:6) the prophets were catching glimpses of it.”

Isaiah (25:6) tells us:

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine–the best of meats and the finest of wines.

___

Sources:

Did Jesus Drink Wine?

Hard Sayings of the Bible – Walter C. Kaiser Jr., et al. (1996)

Holy Bible, New International Version (2011)

Immanuel: Reflections on the Life of Christ – Michael Card (1990)

What Does the Bible Say About Drinking Wine/Alcohol?

Recommended:

What Does the Bible Really Say about Alcohol?

Palm Sunday: Devotion and Denial

Christ's Entry into Jerusalem, by Hippolyte Flandrin
Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, by Hippolyte Flandrin

Biola Lent Project has a Lent devotional calendar posted.  The daily entries are multi-sensory, with a written devotional, an image, and music.  Here is the link to the Palm Sunday entry:  April 13, 2014.  In it, the author speaks of the attitudes shown by the faces in the crowd in Flandrin’s painting, and how they reflect us today, too, even though we know something that those people did not yet know about–Jesus’ resurrection.  It ends with this simple prayer (of St. Benedict):

O gracious and holy Father,
give us wisdom to perceive you,
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
eyes to behold you,
a heart to meditate on you,
and a life to proclaim you;
through the power of the Spirit
of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

For further meditation, please read this older entry on Palm Sunday from RBC’s Our Daily Bread that I came across (Joanie Yoder, February 28, 2001).

Lent is a period of 40 days prior to Easter (excluding Sundays). For many people it commemorates Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness. They “give up something” for Lent every year, like sweets or TV. This can yield spiritual benefits, but denying yourself things and denying yourself aren’t the same. In Luke 9:23, Jesus taught the latter.

This verse can be broken down into three parts. In the statement “If anyone desires to come after Me,” the word desires indicates that this is for sincere disciples only. In the phrase “let him deny himself,” the words let and denyhimself imply a willingness to renounce one’s selfish will and ways. And in the statement “take up his cross daily,” the word daily emphasizes a continual dying to self-will.

It’s easier to give things than to give ourselves. Yet Jesus gave Himself, and so must we. To those who deny themselves in obedient service, He has promised, “Whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (v.24). And to His question, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed?” we are called to answer, “There is no profit!” We show that we believe this when we deny ourselves and follow Christ.

To follow Christ we must let go
Of all that we hold dear;
And as we do deny ourselves,
Our gains become more clear. —Sper

By living for ourselves we die; by dying to ourselves we live.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Three Tenses of Salvation, by Andy Woods

As believers, we use the word “salvation” so frequently, yet what does this word actually mean? Most think that salvation simply relates to how someone becomes a Christian. We probably think this way since we are living in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. The reformers spent most of their energy defending and explaining what one must do in order to become a Christian. However, the biblical and Pauline use of the term “salvation” is much broader. Salvation actually has at least three phases.

To read the remainder of Dr. Andy Woods’ article on three phases of salvation, please click BibleProphecyBlog.com.

[A sharing of one post at Bible Prophecy Blog is not an endorsement of all blog posts.]

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Parable of the 10 Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13): Confusion and Understanding

Light your lamp (http://www.sxc.hu/photo/848608).
Light your lamp (http://www.sxc.hu/photo/848608).

Prior to my pastor’s recent sermon on having faith that you’re saved even when you feel inadequate and have doubts, I was wondering about the meaning of what Jesus said in the “Parable of the 10 Virgins” in Matthew (25:1-13).  Whenever this parable was brought to my attention, it bothered me, and it was on my mind prior to that sermon.  Maybe God was trying to tell me that my concerns about the parable were not applicable to me, and followers of Christ like me, and that there was another meaning to it that I simply wasn’t grasping.  In my 19 years of having been a Christian, I had not come to terms with this parable, which seems kind-of pathetic and embarrassing.  I want to dig deeper into this parable—car to come along?  Here is the parable (NIV):

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.  The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.  “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’  “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’  “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’  10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet.   And the door was shut.  11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’  12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’  13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

The concluding verse exhorts us to keep watch always.  And that is good and necessary, and is repeated elsewhere:  “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Luke 12:40; see also Matt 24:42, 44; Mark 13:35).  The problem is, the young ladies weren’t keeping watch in an ordinary New Testament sense.  The five that got into heaven fell asleep just like the five that didn’t get into heaven.  The difference was in the oil–in their preparedness–not in their actual watchfulness (being awake, having one’s eyes open, looking toward Christ, etc.).

And the problem with this, the oil issue, is at least twofold.  One, oil is commonly known to be symbolic of the Holy Spirit, which we receive from God (we don’t take it or buy it).  Related to this is, (2) how much of our own work do we need to do to be saved?  First, one must read and understand the parable correctly.  Depending on the version I had read in the past, it wasn’t always clear to me that the five foolish virgins didn’t have any oil at all.  This needs to be clear:  five of the virgins brought lamps with them that were . . . empty!  Who does that!?  These were the foolish virgins, we’re told, but it still took a lot of time for my mind to register that someone would bother to bring lamps that didn’t have any oil.  (Truly, what is the point?  It’s like pushing your gasless car somewhere, expecting to drive it off later without filling it up.)   For a long time I thought that the virgins in question had oil in their lamps when they left their homes, and that they didn’t bother bringing extra and thus ran out (this is the take on it that Kaiser et al present, too).  But that’s not what the parable says.  In any case, let’s look at the oil issues I mentioned.

If oil represents the Holy Spirit in this parable, as it does elsewhere in the Bible, then the foolish virgins didn’t have the Holy Spirit.  They wanted into heaven, but they didn’t really accept God (God’s spirit); they weren’t true believers.  If you are sincere in wanting to be with God, God will give you His Holy Spirit; if you just want the goodies of heaven without acknowledging God’s will, your heart is in the wrong place.  So, the only work necessary is to actually believe in God and His son’s work:  “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent (John 6:29).  And according to the parable, if you have God and His Holy Spirit you will be saved even if you get drowsy waiting.  This is quite comforting, and the opposite meaning of what I had originally thought regarding this parable.

One reason why I had a bit of a hard time with this parable is that it didn’t seem logically cohesive.  What I mean by that is, we believers are the church, which is referred to as Christ’s bride in the New Testament.  So, why would the ten virgins (and thus the message) refer to believers, who are already behind the door in the parable (as the bride)?  The virgins are attendants, not the bride; the Syriac and Vulgate versions of the New Testament make this clearer by adding in verse 10 that Christ came with his bride.

We know that the context of the parable is eschatological, that is, regarding the end times.  Only two of the commentaries I have here address the actual relevance of this issue, and they appear to disagree:  Enns 2008, which mentions the theological stance that the wedding takes place in heaven, while the banquet takes place on earth after Christ’s second coming, and MacDonald 1995, which seems to place the wedding and the banquet together (in heaven).  The time is during the tribulation, so the virgins represent true believers and those who aren’t true.  But, why use the term virgin, instead of just person?  Since Christ’s bride – the church – is already in heaven (behind the door), then why are the people in the parable referred to as virgins?  It makes me think Jesus is talking about the Jews during the tribulation period.  Certainly his audience at the time was made up of Jews, and MacDonald (1297) refers to them as those with messianic hope.

Israel is specifically called out in Revelation 7, where during the time of the opening of the Sixth Seal a certain number of Jews will be marked as saved; that is, sealed.  In the New Testament, God seals us with, and gives us, the Holy Spirit (2 Cor.s 1:22; Eph.s 1:13, 4:30).  But whether or not the “virgins” refer to Jews alone, or the wedding feast takes place in heaven or on earth (or even if that has any relevance), people will indeed be saved during the tribulation and the mark of this is the seal of the Holy Spirit, just as it is prior to the tribulation.  The admonition to always be ready and waiting for the Lord’s return is true at all times prior to the actual wedding banquet, announced in Revelation 19, which happens after all the seals are opened, all the bowls of judgment are emptied, and all the trumpets sounded, but before the final battle and binding of Satan (this order is according to the literal reading of Revelation).

The message to walk away with is, don’t be foolish but wise and receive the Holy Spirit, and after that keep vigilant in waiting for the king’s return.  However, we can take comfort that Jesus “knew” the five virgins who did in fact drift off to sleep, but who had held on to God’s seal.

_____

Sources

Dunn, James, and Rogerson, John. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub Co, 2003. Print.

Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008. Print.

Kaiser, Jr., Walter C., et al. Hard Sayings of the Bible. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996. Print.

MacDonald, William. Believer’s Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub.s, 1995. Print.

Plummer, Robert L. 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2010. Print.

 

Christian Things and Things Seen Through Christian Eyes

Wrestling with Truth

Philosophy. Ethics. Theology. Culture.

wastestream

Unflinching Investigation of Sustainability Realities

The Condon House

family history and restoration photos!

O' Canada

Reflections on Canadian Culture From Below the Border

Heart's Table

Love feeds & nurtures. Love is Life. Love the Lord.

Curriculum of the Spiritual Life

Poems, Prayers, & Proverbs that speak to what it means to be a "living curriculum" of the Christian Life.

Havoc and Consequence

(overcome your fears)

En*DANE*gered

It's a Rare Thing

Mr Oliver.

Gaming, Music & Movies

Finding Purpose

Insights on thriving in the modern world

Time Tells

Vince Michael on history, preservation, planning and more

%d bloggers like this: