Understanding The Bible
STUDY REFERENCE
Douglas B. MacCorkle "Prophetic Peaks, Exposition of the Olivet Discourse"
CHAPTER SEVEN - Two Prophetic Parables

Chapter Seven
Two Prophetic Parables


The reader is again reminded that the Olivet Discourse is structured in line with the questions asked (24:3). Thus far the answers have included an outline of the last seven years of an age. In this last seven years, Israel is back in the center of God's earthly program culminating in the millennial kingdom.

The return of Messiah to Israel is simultaneous with the consummation of said age. The activity of these events draws instruction for those who will live in those days. This is what prophecy always provides for life as believing men must face it.

In the last chapter, six lessons were found in Matthew 24:32- 51. Among these lessons we found instruction on vigilance and on fidelity. The two parables before us enlarge on these two subjects. They are the parables of the virgins and talents.

There is no structural reason why these parables should not be taken in sequence (then, v. 1), and also as an important part of the Olivet Discourse. Their absence from Mark and Luke will make any expositor seek Matthew's reason for recording them. He can not turn to anyone else nor must he turn to reasonable tangents.


The parable of The Ten Virgins.
Like the parable of the talents which follows, this parable digs deep into the inner life of those who will be involved in the tribulation-generation. The watching (25:13) demanded by the returning Lord, is not a matter of merely physical eyesight. Even in times of sleep they are to watch. They are to watch that they do not have a mere profession based upon inadequate motives. It cannot be a matter of flesh. It must be a matter of the Spirit they must have oil. Just to be a Jew and to do mighty works (Matt. 7:21-23) is not sufficient to gain entrance into the earthly, millennial kingdom.

The Kingdom of the Heavens (not heaven) will come to be like the situation pictured by the parable (25:1). This is a future tense in the passive voice and indicative mood indicating that there will be a change, in relationship to this kingdom, in the future.

In order to come quickly to an understanding of the facts involved we will treat (1) the identity of the major terms, and (2) the interpretation of the teaching of the parable.


Identifications

  1. The Kingdom of the Heavens. This is not the Church. As I always it is the earthly kingdom related to the covenants of Israel (cf. 2 Sam. 7:12ff).

  2. The Virgins. These represent all who will profess belief in j the Second Advent of Messiah, during the tribulation period.

    1. They are externally pure, at least.

    2. They are religiously non-idolatrous.

    3. They all hold to a Messianic hope.

    4. The wisdom mentioned, consisted in proper preparation (25:10).

    5. The lack of wisdom consisted in no personal relationship with Messiah (25:12; cf. Matt. 7:21-23).

  3. The lamps. These were the torches of testimony or profession. Both sets of virgins were laboring in Messiah's name.

  4. The hope. They had all heard the good news concerning the coming of Messiah for a second time and about the kingdom which He would set up (Matt. 24:14). They went forth together to meet the Bridegroom.

  5. The oil. Represents the Holy Spirit (cf. Zech. 4) who alone gives reality and validity to the lamp's light. He gave light to last until the climax of the age.

  6. The sleeping. This was caused by the tarrying of the Bridegroom. They first began to nod and soon were sleeping profoundly all of them. There was probably nothing wrong with this as long as they could wake prepared at the cry of the coming of the Bridegroom.

  7. The midnight cry. Typical of the near-east wedding feast. Here employed to accent the darkness of the hour in which; Messiah will come. The moral darkness is deepened by the abominations of Antichrist.

  8. The Bridegroom. The returning Messiah already married to His Church (cf. Rev. 19). Here returning to share the feast.

  9. The marriage feast. The Greek term gamos should be translated marriage feast as even the A. V. does in Revelation 19:9. This feast will last throughout the millennium.

  10. The door. Carries out the original figure of entering into the earthly kingdom (Matt. 7:23-25; 7:13-14).

  11. Watch. This exhortation centers particularly on the matter of spiritual preparedness. It does not argue against the sleeping of the wise virgins.


Interpretation

There have been many forceful attempts by many fine men to place this parable in relation to the Church period. Objections to this attempt are based upon the following five observations:

(1) the adverb then continues the chronological sequence started at 24:3 and thus could not be a reference to the Church period.
(2) Here, the Lord is returning to the earth, as a Bridegroom with a bride, for a wedding FEAST. Thus, those waiting on earth could not be the bride (Church).
(3) Oil is not exclusively a type of the Holy Spirit in the Church period. The Spirit is active in all ages and will be successfully active in conviction and regeneration during the tribulation period.
(4) The going out of the unwise virgins, to meet the Bridegroom, is certainly no picture of the rapture of the Church. (5) In
Revelation 19:7-16, the wedding is in heaven and the marriage feast follows on earth.

Other contributory observations should be noted:

(1) There are other passages in which Messiah-King is seen in His role as the Bridegroom (Luke 12:35-41; 14:16-24; Matthew 22:1-14).
(2) The foolish virgins put no thought into their position or preparation. They had never been to the proper place for oil. Their cry of "Lord, Lord" was not in the Spirit (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3). They are most strikingly described in a parallel prophetic passage in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:19-23):

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore by their fruits shall ye know them. Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day. Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

(3) This parable of the virgins emphasizes the inner life of reality. The parable of the talents emphasizes the outward life of real service.
(4) It needs to be kept in mind that, the purpose of all Jesus' Kingdom of Heaven parables is to speak to Israel's regenerate ones clearly, while blinding Israel's unregenerate ones judicially (Matt.
13:10-17).
(5) Weeping and gnashing of teeth, occurs seven times in the Gospels and always looks to the conclusion of the age (Matt. 8:12, 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; Luke 13:28 and Matt. 25:30).
(6) This is a parable of the Kingdom of Heaven, not of the Church.
(7) The entire parable points out the fact that the coming of the Lord, alone, can ultimately distinguish reality and genuineness from mere profession and sham.
(8) The wise virgins did not have to cry "Lord, Lord."
(9) Notice the fever-like zeal of the unwise, when it is too late.
(10) Other helpful Scripture on the subject: Psalm 45:8-15; Isa. 63:1-6; Psalm 50:1-7; Rev. 14:1-5; Rom. 11:29.

We place this parable's objective at the close of the tribulation period and relate it to Israel in particular because of the immediate and remote contexts of Matthew's Gospel. It is certainly tied to the second advent of Messiah to earth. The wise virgins were also vigilant virgins in their preparation for His imminent coming. An imminent coming carries with it a suddenness of finality that can either be joyful (to the wise virgins) or jarring (to the unwise virgins).


The parable of the talents.
The "for" indicates that this parable also deals with the Kingdom of Heaven (25:14).

The traveling man is the departing Messiah (25:14) who left His goods not merely money with His servants. As usual, in the current view of the kingdom, there are regenerate and unregenerate individuals within the kingdom picture. This is visible in the two kinds of virgins, in the two kinds of fish (Matt. 13), in the two kinds of wheat (Matt. 13), etc. In this parable, there are two kinds of servants.

The portions of five and two talents were given according to individual abilities (25:15). The five talent servant was more showy than the two talent servant but no greater in proportionate return and no greater in faithfulness. Faithfulness is the important measurement of this service. This shows up in their recognition (25:20, 22) of the donor of the original talents.

The one-talent servant did no service at all because he did not trust the Lord at all and did not know the Lord at all. Otherwise he could not have said of the Lord "I knew thee that thou art a hard man "

In this parable the major emphasis appears to be on the distinction between servants. This brings about the elimination of the professional servant and the entrance of the faithful servants into the joy of their Lord. The have nots are those who bury their Master's possessions. Their exposure awaits the return of Messiah. Unbelieving servants can do nothing with the Lord's talents.

Messiah, about to make His exodus (cf. John 13:1-2) into another country (Matt. 25:14), implies an apparent delay that makes His imminent return more impressive (Matt. 25:19). It also provides servants with a greater time to realize on their service-investments.


Summary.
These are two prophetic parables. They depict how inner and outer aspects of spiritual things will be judged at the coming of Messiah which will coincide with the consummation of the age-ending tribulation (Matt. 24:3). These can only be understood against the wide background of Israel's mixed national history so pointedly assessed by Messiah at His first advent (Matt. 23:1-39).

These parables focus upon Israel only, and deal with individuals therein as individuals. The Gentiles are treated in the passage which follows (25:31-46).


  [1] The Writings of Douglas B. MacCorkle (also see brief Biography)

Prophetic Peaks, Exposition of the Olivet Discourse. Copyright 1968 by Douglas B. MacCorkle. Third Printing 1972. Printed by Careers With Christ Press, Philadelphia College of Bible, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Printed in the United States of America. Published by the not for profit MacCorkle Bible Ministries, Inc. Books. P.O. 320909, Cocoa Beach, Fl 32932-0909. Used by permission through the generosity of Judith and Ray Naugle.

God's Own VIPS, Copyright 1987 by Douglas B. MacCorkle. MacCorkle Bible Ministries, Inc., Printed in the United States of America. Published by the not for profit MacCorkle Bible Ministries, Inc. Books. P.O. 320909, Cocoa Beach, Fl 32932-0909. Used by permission through the generosity of Judith and Ray Naugle.

Dr. MacCorkle's Books and Study materials on this website are made available here free, through the generosity of Judith and Ray Naugle, and may be copied for use in Bible study groups, in limited numbers, providing that no charge is made for them.  No further distribution or use of these materials is allowable under U.S. or International Copyright Law without express permission.

Additional copies of Dr. MacCorkle's books are available from Judy Naugle, 2201 Harmony Hill Dr, Lancaster PA  17601.

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