The parables of Matthew 25 are a confusing mishmash unless they are read in the context of Matthew 24 and its fig tree parable. In Matthew 25, Christ continues painting the generational backdrop that began with the reemergence of national Israel in 1948.
THE CHURCH/ISRAEL “VIRGINS” OF THE FIG TREE GENERATION
[Mat 25:1-13 NASB] 1 "Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 "Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. 3 "For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 BUT THE PRUDENT TOOK OIL IN FLASKS ALONG WITH THEIR LAMPS. 5 "Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. 6 "But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' 7 "Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 "The foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9 "But the prudent answered, 'No, there will not be enough for us and you too; GO INSTEAD TO THE DEALERS AND BUY SOME FOR YOURSELVES.' 10 "And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. 11 "Later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.' 12 "But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' 13 "BE ON THE ALERT THEN, FOR YOU DO NOT KNOW THE DAY NOR THE HOUR.
Again, read out of its Matthew 24 context, this first parable of Matthew 25 is indecipherable. But connect it to the generation of the reemergence of national Israel and suddenly the border pieces of the puzzle are assembled.
THE OIL OF SALVATION
By bringing “oil in flasks along with their lamps” the “prudent” virgins identify themselves as the born-of-the Spirit Jew/Gentile Church of the last days. Their advice to the “foolish” virgins seeking entrance to Christ’s wedding feast to obtain spiritual oil points to Calvary. Christ’s blood-bought, Holy Spirit oil of redemption alone provides the proper “wedding clothes” for all who would gain access to “the kingdom of heaven” (Isaiah 61:10; Matthew 22:11-14). Unbelieving Jews may have the insight to be looking for the arrival of Messiah in our day but only an acceptance of their once-rejected Jesus will spiritually redeem them.
FIG TREE GENERATION APOSTASY
As predicted by Christ and the apostolic writers, both the Church and Israel will be in a spiritually somnolent state at the Rapture. Apostasy will be rampant in the last days as much of Church leadership will see themselves as “rich and in need of nothing” from the risen Christ (2 Peter 3:3-4; Revelation 3:17). In fact, that is the theme of the Parable of the Sensible versus Evil Slave, the last parable of Matthew 24 (see my last post), which segues into the Parable of the Wise versus Foolish Virgins. Apostate behavior among Church clerics will be characterized by their refusal to acknowledge the truly imminent return of the risen Christ to the fig tree generation. Of course, Israel for the most part still does not recognize Jesus Christ as her returning Savior King.
THE MYSTERIOUS TWO OIL DEALERS
Again, that the prudent virgins counseled the foolish ones to “go instead to the oil dealers” confirms their born-again status. The gracious, Spirit oil of redemption is received only by a faith response to the Holy Spirit-anointed gospel of Calvary. But just who are these “oil dealers”? Clearly, they are Moses and Elijah, the Two Witnesses of the Book of Revelation. We last saw them with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration discussing His Calvary mission of mankind’s redemption.
[Luk 9:28-36 NASB] 28 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. 30 AND BEHOLD, TWO MEN WERE TALKING WITH HIM; AND THEY WERE MOSES AND ELIJAH, 31 WHO, APPEARING IN GLORY, WERE SPEAKING OF HIS DEPARTURE WHICH HE WAS ABOUT TO ACCOMPLISH AT JERUSALEM. 32 Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. 33 And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah"--not realizing what he was saying. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!" 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen.
The Apostle Peter, seeing Moses and Elijah standing with Christ, could only conclude that no matter what Christ had been telling the disciples about His imminent death and resurrection (Luke 9:22), the King and therefore the Kingdom of Heaven was here to stay (Malachi 4:5). He would not even listen to Moses and Elijah's correction in this regard. Instead, it was time to start building millennial tabernacles. The Father was forced to get in Peter’s face, demanding that he “listen” to what His Son was saying about the Kingdom being delayed to allow for the Church Age and the gospel of Calvary.
THE OIL DEALERS’ HEAVENLY HOME
Zechariah observed a heavenly courtroom in which the priest Joshua was represented by Christ before an accusing prosecutor, Satan. Christ made the legal case that Joshua was no longer under condemnation because he was “a brand plucked from the fire” whose “filthy garments” of sin would now be replaced by Christ’s blood-bought “clean…garments” of salvation (Zechariah 3:1-5).
The view then shifts to “two olive trees” on either side of a heavenly golden lampstand (Zechariah 4). They are characterized as dispensers of the heavenly oil of redemption as they “stand beside the Lord of the whole earth” (again, vividly prefigured before the apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration). The gospel message is therefore illustrated to be inseparable from its foundation on the Law and the Prophets. Moses and Elijah are witness to the Old Testament's fulfillment in Christ and His redemptive mission.
The Book of Revelation confirms their identity and their Tribulation gospel mission:
[Rev 11:1-4 NASB] 1 Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, "Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. 2 "Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread underfoot the holy city for forty-two months. 3 "And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." 4 THESE ARE THE TWO OLIVE TREES AND THE TWO LAMPSTANDS THAT STAND BEFORE THE LORD OF THE EARTH.
At the rapture of the Church and the onset of the dark seven-year Tribulation period, Moses and Elijah will be the only gospel lights on planet earth. The "foolish" Jewish virgins will finally become "wise" when they repent at their temple mount preaching. As suggested in a previous blog post,