by C. Parker Thomas

(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the July-August 1983 issue of the Midnight Cry Messenger.)

Since the scriptures are so numerous that relate to the second coming of Christ, we find it difficult to use a single reference as a text for this article. However with so many aspects of truth that relate to Christ’s coming found in the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13), we will probably refer to this scripture more than any other.

Those who follow the article will get an insight into Christ’s coming such as they have never had before. If they are one of the few that truly believe in Christ’s coming this article will awaken them to a reality they have never experienced.

Needless to say, most of our so-called Christian world professes to believe that Christ will come again. A few far out or extreme groups may have a mystical interpretation of his coming but most of them profess to believe Christ will literally come again in some way at some time. This being true, our desire here is not to convince you that Christ is coming again but to awaken you to the reality of his coming suddenly and when least expected.

The only way this can be accomplished is to show you from the scriptures why the world will be almost totally oblivious and unprepared for this great event. This does not just apply to the unbeliever or the heathen world but most of the professing Christian world as well.

If Christ is the Son of God and his promise to come again is true then most of the world is in unbelief. Think of the millions whose religious or political persuasion does not recognize Christ as the Son of God. These, plus the heathen, plus millions who are Christian by profession only, constitute most of earth’s population. These people are not interested in or concerned about Christ coming again.

The alarming fact is that this is also true of most of our professing Christian world. With most of them, their religious profession is a mere form. They live as they please and could care less about Christ’s coming. They are far more interested in the economy, the next episode of “Dallas” or the major league pennant race.

Your do-gooders are more interested in civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, banning the bomb, abortion and the environment than the coming of Christ.

Ten Virgins
The ten virgins represent the more fundamental type of Christianity that is actually a small minority in the world. Although the ten virgins were together, and outwardly appeared to be the same in profession and doctrine, they were different. They all had lamps of profession and believed in the coming Bridegroom. They all anticipated his coming and expected to go with him when he came. When it seemed his coming was delayed they all slumbered and slept.

The ten virgins would all be considered Bible-believing Christians and could very well belong to the same church or denomination. The fact that they were all called virgins suggests they were faithful and loyal to their group. They didn’t play the field, they were not ecumenical or interdenominational. This means they all embraced the same doctrines, sat in the same pews and listened to the same preacher.

However, two things help us identify them. One group was said to be wise and the other group was called foolish. The wise virgins had oil (a type of the Holy Spirit) and the foolish virgins had no oil.

“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Rom. 8:8-9.

Although confident and alert in the beginning, the ten virgins grew weary with the seeming delay of the return of the Bridegroom. When the midnight cry went forth they were complacently slumbering and sleeping together. And it’s amazing that the foolish virgins were awakened right along with the wise virgins. Their response to the midnight cry would be proof positive to many that they were true believers.

However it was at this point that the foolish virgins realized they had no oil. Being alarmed and fearful they rushed over to the wise virgins and asked them for oil. Like Esau, they sincerely desired to get ready for the coming Bridegroom but it was too late. Heb. 12:16-17.

No doubt they had heard many Holy Ghost messages and deceived themselves into thinking they were believers and ready to meet the Lord. But at this late hour and the actual reality of his coming dawning upon them, they realized they had no oil and were not ready.

While they rushed about trying to get oil, the Bridegroom came and they that were ready (the wise virgins) went in with him and the door was shut. Although they knocked on the closed door and called him Lord, it was too late. The answer from the inside was, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not.”

Beyond doubt these foolish virgins are part of the ones Jesus had reference to when he said, “Strive to enter in at the straight gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Luke 13:24.

By far and large this midnight hour awakening will not affect most of the world. Man as a whole has always been oblivious to what God was doing. He does not have eyes to see nor ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. Matt. 5:8. Heb. 3:7-8. Rev. 2:7.

Jesus used the days of Noah and the flood as a type of the conditions that would prevail at his coming. “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matt. 24:38-39.

Although the ten virgins will all be awakened to his imminent return, it will be too late for the foolish virgins to get ready. They will have already had their opportunity. For them the harvest will be past. Jer. 8:20.

This is what happened before the flood. Man’s continued resistance reached that point of no return. Gen. 6:3. When this point is reached in man’s rebellion against God he is turned over to the depravity of his own heart. Gen. 6:5 says, “…every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Except for Noah and his family it was a reprobate world when God sent the flood upon the earth. And except for the wise virgins it will be a reprobate world at the coming of Christ. Although many, including religious man, are not aware of it most of the world is reprobate now. Rom. 1:18-28. II Cor. 13:5.

Reprobation has always been the lot of men who persisted in their rebellion against God. It is not something new. However it will universally affect more men at the coming of Christ because of several factors. First of all, earth’s population will be its greatest. The propagation of religion and knowledge in general, through modern technology, also makes man more responsible than ever before. With the loosing of Satan, the minds of men will be taken over by the power of darkness like never before. This will be the zenith of man’s rebellion against God.

Actually Cain was the first reprobate we have a record of in the Bible. After resisting great light and finally killing his brother in his wrath, Cain went out from the presence of the Lord.

He chose darkness rather than light and his destiny was sealed as he became a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth.

At the time of earth’s greatest spiritual darkness the light will shine the greatest for the elect remnant. Isa. 60:1-2. The path of the just will shine more and more until the dawning of the perfect day. Pro. 4:18.

Book Opened
No longer will Daniel be told to shut up the words and seal the book till the time of the end. Dan. 12:4. This will be the time of the end. It is my conviction that we are now in the time of the end. For those who have ears to hear and eyes to see the book is being opened now.

The sealing of the book in Daniel’s time is in complete contrast to what the angel (prophet) told John on the isle of Patmos. “And he saith unto me, Seal not the saying of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Rev. 22:10-12.

It will be noted from verse ten that the sayings of the prophecy of the book could no longer be sealed because the time was at hand. This is Daniel’s time of the end. Complete revelation awaits this day. This will usher in the perfect day when we shall know even as we are known. I Cor. 12:13. Prior to this day the light has been neither clear nor dark but a mixture. Zech. 14:6.

Notice also that man must remain as he is in this late hour. Rev. 22:11 says, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”

The day of salvation will be over. The awakening light will be present and although the foolish virgins react to it, they cannot get ready for the coming Bridegroom. Only the wise virgins with oil in their vessels will be able to prepare and go in with the Bridegroom.

Door Is Shut
And as far as the future is concerned there will be no more opportunity. The door of salvation will be closed forever. This is one aspect of truth that will help to awaken the sleeping virgins.

The world will have no more opportunity for salvation after Jesus comes than the world did when the flood came. Only those in the ark were saved.

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark. And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matt. 24:37-39.

The salvation of Lot and the destruction of Sodom is used by Jesus as another type of what will happen when Jesus comes. Luke 17:29-30 says, “But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”

Any doctrine that leads people to believe there will be more time after Jesus comes acts as a spiritual opiate to blind man to spiritual reality.

Slumbering and Sleeping
There is a reason the ten virgins were slumbering and sleeping. It is a great mistake to dismiss their slumbering and sleeping as a simple case of spiritual lethargy. We need to know why they were slumbering and sleeping. When you sleep you are resting. This can only be done when you relax.

Two primary things enable a person to relax and go to sleep. His mind must be at rest and his body needs to be tired. Rest is for those whose mind and body needs it. I believe the ten virgins were tired and weary. The general unrest and stress of the world will be at its greatest in the last days preceding Christ’s coming.

Secondly, the ten virgins will be able to relax because they are not really concerned about Christ’s coming. This will be the result of deception or wrong believing concerning his return. They won’t have any reason to be awake and alert.

On the one hand preachers have exploited people through sensational messages on the second coming of Christ. Vividly describing what will happen when the rapture takes place, revivalists have literally scared people to death — into thinking that Christ might come even while they are preaching. Not being by revelation, many people have grown weary of this type message saying, “I’ve heard this all my life.”

Although they vividly describe Christ’s sudden coming and what will take place, they go into all kinds of theological explanations about the two phases of his coming, the conversion of the Jews, the tribulation and the glorious millennium. Jesus said he had finished the work the Father gave him to do (John 17), but some have him sitting on David’s throne in Jerusalem and reigning for a thousand years.

Much of this is a deceptive conspiracy to deceive man and lead him to believe there will be more time after Jesus comes. Why be upset? Why be in a hurry? If we don’t get in before Jesus comes we can still make it when the Jews become missionaries to all the world during the thousand years of glorious peace and prosperity in the earth.

Of course the loosing of Satan for a little season after the millennium is the thing we need to be concerned about. This traditional concept which is not by the Spirit of revelation puts the virgins to sleep. If this is all true why be in a hurry? Let’s all take a nap and let the Jews do it when they are converted.

Another error of traditional doctrine that helps tranquilize the ten virgins is the teaching that the devil will be bound during the thousand years. This of course is during the millennium that supposedly follows the return of Christ. The sum total of such teaching causes man to think Christ’s coming will not be the end. Since there will be seven years, plus a thousand years, plus a little season, why be in a hurry? Much of this teaching is the result of the natural religious man’s interpretation of the Bible. And it has become a traditional concept that is handed down from generation to generation.

Great Deception
It is significant that Jesus and the Apostle Paul prefaced their remarks about Christ’s return with warnings to not be deceived. Jesus said, “…take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Matt. 24:4-5.

This warning by Jesus is simply saying that many supposedly representing him would be responsible for deceiving many. This many is in sharp contrast to the few that actually enter the strait gate that leads to life. Matt. 7:13-14. Luke 13:24.

Generally regarded as the author of fourteen books in the New Testament, the apostle Paul probably had more revelation concerning the church age and the return of Christ than any other writer. In dealing with the subject of Christ’s return and our gathering together unto him Paul said, “Let no man deceive you by any means….” II Thess. 2:3.

Even though we are specifically warned about deception, it is obvious from many scriptures that Christ’s coming will take the world by surprise. This is why the scriptures tell us four times that Jesus will come as a thief in the night.

The supposed prophetic teachers with their charts portraying the history of man beginning in the garden and ending with the destruction of the earth by fire has a tranquilizing effect upon professing Christians. They do not question their professors of theology because they seem so knowledgeable and confident as they present their traditional concept of prophecy.

They seemingly have all the answers as they so adeptly explain the course of events beginning with the rapture. However this type of teaching leads people to believe they will have over a thousand years to get ready after the rapture. Actually it gives people a false sense of security in thinking they have plenty of time.

Is it any wonder the ten virgins slumbered and slept while waiting for the coming Bridegroom? No doubt, in the beginning they were naive enough to believe their preachers knew what they were talking about. But after a while the message lost its effectiveness. When you hear the same thing over and over again it becomes dull and uninteresting. This is especially true when the message is not an expression of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit wakes people up and alerts them to spiritual reality. The letter of the word or error ministers death and puts people to sleep. This, no doubt, is what Peter was talking about when he said, “…there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” II Peter 3:3-4.

It is evident that these people will know about the promise of Christ’s return. However it is also obvious that they will lose the vision and no longer expect his return. This is why they scoffed and said, “...where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”

False concept that results from tradition is very hard to overcome. This is because more than we realize we are influenced by what others believe and say. A vocal majority is very impressive and pulls the gullible and naive into its vortex.

Upon examination of this scripture it is evident that these people will not be able to discern the signs of the times. Although the day of the Lord and the coming of Christ will be upon them, they will see nothing different or unusual. They will be blind to spiritual reality and choose rather to believe that things will continue as they are.

From the context in II Peter 3, it seems this unbelief is characteristic of religious professors in general. It is also obvious that they resisted the effort to awaken them to the reality of Christ’s return. This simply means the ten virgins who are awakened by the midnight cry are not a part of this larger group. The ten virgins are a very small minority compared to this larger group. The larger group has been exposed to Christianity and professes some form of faith while the ten virgins not only profess to be Christians but are considered fundamental believers.

This does not bring into focus the millions of Buddhists, Mohammedans, Communists and heathen that do not believe in Christ. The Bible primarily occupies itself with those who believe in Jehovah in the Old Testament and those who believe in Jesus Christ of the New Testament. Although there will be a remnant from all nations redeemed by the grace of God, earth’s great multitudes were not aware of Christ’s first advent into the world nor will they be concerned about his second coming.

The sleep and slumber of the ten virgins is caused by spiritual inertia and false doctrine concerning Christ’s coming. The main factor that puts them to sleep is the inability to see what is actually taking place. And the reason Christendom is blind to what is taking place is that they accept the traditional concept of their theologians. This means they do not have Holy Spirit revelation as to what is taking place.

The lack of revelation concerning Christ’s return will not be because of the lack of signs on every hand. Man will simply be unable to recognize or discern the signs of the times. However, this is typical of the natural man who has never been able to discern the signs of the times. Matt. 16:2-3.

Contrary to being able to see that Christ’s coming is near man will actually think just the opposite. This is why Jesus said, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matt. 24:44.

Except for a little remnant of believers Christ’s coming will be the world’s most unexpected and earth-shattering event. Paul states this in these words, “But of the times and the seasons, brethren ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

“For when they shall say, Peace and safety: then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” I Thess. 5:1-3.

From this scripture it seems that mankind will be more concerned about world peace than they are the coming of the Prince of peace.

The world in Noah’s day had no idea they were about to be destroyed by the flood. Matt. 24:37-39.

Nor did the people of Sodom know God was about to rain fire and brimstone upon them. Luke 17:28-30.

Jesus Christ will come upon the world as unexpectedly as those two events came upon the world in those days.

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