Matthew 25: The Parable About the Bridesmaids

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

My younger daughter attends a Christian school, and she was given an assignment to journal for a week answering five questions. Her first assignment was over Matthew 25. For extra credit, she could do the journaling with someone else. Of course, I said I’d be happy to do it with her and it turned out to be a useful exercise, so I thought I would share it here.

Question 1: What was the passage about?

Matthew 25 is a long chapter – 46 verses – and covers two different parables and Jesus’s words about Final Judgment. The parables in this section and at the end of chapter 24 deal with wise and foolish servants awaiting the Master’s return. The section I focused on is in Matthew 25:1-13 because I wanted to deconstruct it so I could really understand what Jesus was telling us.

At Jewish weddings in Jesus’s time, after a long period of engagement, the groom and his friends would go the the bride’s house where the marriage would be performed. Then, the bridge and groom would be accompanied back to his house to consummate the marriage and start a week-long feast/celebration. Weddings took place at night, hence the need for lamps.

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

In the parable, the ten “virgins” (read: unwed friends of the bride or “bridesmaids”) were waiting at the groom’s house to welcome the bridal party. Because they were delayed, the girls fell asleep and their lamps ran out of oil. Half of them had prepared for this eventuality by bringing additional oil, but half had not. The ones with additional oil didn’t have enough to share with the others, so five of the bridesmaids had to scurry around trying to procure oil in the middle of the night. Because of their unpreparedness, they missed the groom and were left out of the feast.

Question 2: Which verse stood out to you?

So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.

Matthew 25:13 (NLT)

Question 3: How did this verse make you feel?

Determined.

The verse serves as a reminder to me that Jesus could return at any time, and we need to be prepared. Each day, we draw one day closer to seeing Him.

Question 4: how are you going to apply it?

The difference between the wise bridesmaids and the foolish ones was in preparation. They knew the groom (bridal party) would be coming, but only some of them had prepared appropriately.

…Readiness, in whatever form it takes, is not something that can be achieved by last-minute adjustment. It depends on long-term provision, and if that has been made, the wise disciple can sleep secure in the knowledge that everything is ready.

As quoted in Constable’s Notes on Matthew

This parable got me thinking. What does it mean to be prepared for Jesus’s return? Or, more specifically, how would I live differently today if I knew Jesus was returning tomorrow?

  • I’d spend today in prayer.
  • I would make sure my family was ready for His return.
  • I would want everyone I know to be ready.

But if you can’t prepare last minute, what do I need to do now?

I tend to get overwhelmed when I see the expanse of things that need to be done. I want to pull an ostrich-maneuver until life sorts itself out. But God reminds us if we focus on Him all things will fall into place. So that’s what I need to do: focus on Jesus. Then do what he puts before me. But I need to be prepared for whatever that is, so that means I need to pray and I need to stay in His Word. And, more than that, I need to wait with the expectation that He will put opportunities in front of me to share about Him. I don’t want to miss them because I was distracted or not listening/looking hard enough.

Questions 5: Who did you tell about what you learned?

You, dear reader. So how do you answer these 5 questions based on whatever you read in your Bible today? And if you haven’t read, perhaps you’d like to take a gander at Matthew 25.

Thoughts Hosea 6 & COVID-19

Hello, friends. It’s been about 4 years since I’ve posted to this blog. Now, with COVID-19 basically shutting down the world, I find my days re-ordered.

I’m enjoying the break from the frenetic pace of life. With two teenagers, I find myself a Mom-taxi most of the time, so being forced to stay at home with family has a lot of bonuses. Family game nights. More free time. MUCH less driving. Not that we don’t have our share of stir-craziness.

Today, I was reading in the book of Hosea. Hosea was one of the prophets God sent to the nation of Israel to let them know that he was about to radically change their world as a judgment for their continued sin against him.

(Hosea was also the prophet that God told to marry a prostitute. If that comes as a surprise to you, you should probably read the chapter.)

These verses caught my attention because they remind me of the pandemic spreading around us:

“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we night know the LORD! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.

Hosea 6:1-3 (NLT)

I can’t help but wonder if this pandemic is God’s way of trying to get the world’s attention. One of the ways God speaks to us is through our circumstances, and this virus is touching everyone on the planet either directly or indirectly.

If the coronavirus is a wake-up call from God, then the question arises: what does God want from us? This questions is answered within the same chapter of Hosea:

“I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.”

Hosea 6:6 (NLT)

Back at that time, Israel and Judah, under Mosaic Law, would bring sacrifices to the Temple for sin offerings, peace offerings, etc. It was their way of worshipping God, much like going to church and singing praise songs is our way of worshipping God today. Here, God is telling His people that they had it wrong. He didn’t want rule followers; He wanted a relationship with His people. And that’s what He still wants from us today.

RELATIONSHIP > rules

I hope you are safe and healthy. That you have plenty of toilet paper. That you’re able to get groceries, and that the economic impact of the virus is bearable. But mostly I pray for all of us. That we would take this opportunity to draw closer to God, not because of what He can do for us, but because of who He is. That we would focus on our relationship to Him while also showing love to those around us.

Focus on Jesus, and let everything else fall into place.

The Problem with Proverbs

A bribe is a lucky charm; whoever gives one will prosper! ~Proverbs 17:8

So, the key to success is bribery! The Bible says so, right?

Uh, no.

The problem with proverbs is when people view them as promises or godly commands when they are not. Most Proverbs aren’t promises. Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings that describe reality. In the case of 17:8, reality is that money talks.

fortune-cookies-936584_640I like to think of Proverbs as biblical fortune cookies. You (hopefully) don’t believe that fortune cookies are promises for the future. They are general, and sometimes funny, sayings that describe life. We must be careful not to take them for biblical commands unless they are reiterated elsewhere in the Bible. There is no place in Scripture that condones bribery.

This verse provides a perfect example of the danger of fly by theology (i.e. taking a verse out of context). If we keep reading in chapter 17, we come to this verse:

The wicked take secret bribes to pervert the course of justice. ~Proverbs 17:23

And one that is a promise because it mentions God specifically and agrees with the rest of Scripture:

Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – both are detestable to the LORD. ~Proverbs 17:15

An important distinction, and hopefully a helpful one as well.


I hope you are enjoying your summer, my friends. I’ve transitioned from blog posting to prayer journaling. I’ll still post here occasionally as I feel compelled. In the meantime, let me know how I can pray for you. <Hugs>

Also, if you enjoy Kung Fu Panda and fortune cookies this site is fun. Don’t go there if you believe fortune telling is unbiblical, of course. 🙂

I’m back

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It’s been about 3 weeks since I’ve posted. (Don’t judge). Some good things have happened–I got a new Bible! But after 3 weeks of not being in the Word, things began to degrade in my spirit.

A feeling of unrightness.

A progressively bad attitude.

Depression.

Uncharitable thoughts which led me to a crisis of faith, not in God, but in leadership.

Fortunately, we met with some of our small group members yesterday afternoon, and I got clarity on the root of my issues. For me, it comes down to whether I can accept the limitations of others. The answer is that I can, once I realize what they are. Since I had no clue what was bothering me, I couldn’t make a conscious decision to let it go and redefine my boundaries. All vague, I know, but there you have it.

The biggest key, however, is refocusing on Jesus and getting back in God’s Word. A feeling of rightness restored. Peace in my spirit. An improved attitude. Hope. Charitable thoughts towards others.

Blessings on your day, my friends.

 

1 Kings 11: Jeroboam, rhymes with Rehoboam

Things that make you go hmmm…

Rereading 1 Kings 11 this morning, I realized that like David, God sent a prophet to Jeroboam to tell him he would become king of ten of the tribes of Israel (the northern ones). In fact, God made the same promise to him that he made to David and Solomon:

If you listen to what I tell you and follow my ways and do whatever I consider to be right, and if you obey my decrees and commands, as my servant David did, then I will always be with you. I will establish an enduring dynasty for you as I did for David, and I will give Israel to you.” v38

I always thought it was interesting that Jeroboam (king of the northern tribes) rhymed with Rehoboam, Solomon’s son and king of Judah. If for no other reason that it makes it easy to memorize. Who were kings when the nation of Israel split? Jeroboam and Rehoboam. Nice pneumonic there.

Unfortunately, neither -boam does a good job obeying God and so begins the end of the monarchy of Israel. It will take a long time to fall, but Solomon’s refusal to follow God with his whole heart was the beginning of the end.

What can we learn from Solomon, Rehoboam, and Jeroboam? For me, this morning, I think it’s to not squander the opportunities God gives us. Don’t spurn the blessings of obedience. What is God asking you to do today? Will you do it?

 

1 Kings 10: The Queen of Sheba

One thing I never realized until reading Tosca Lee’s book The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen, was that historians believe Queen Balkir’s son was sired by Solomon. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, since he clearly had numerous wives and concubines, what was one more? And the romance…a dashing King, a legendary Queen…

But seriously. It is notable that she came over 1,200 miles to visit him for the purposes of making an alliance (between countries). Apparently, testing his wisdom was a way to determine whether a foreign monarch could be trusted to remain loyal and to make the correct moral and tactical considerations.

What is notable is that by visiting with Solomon, Balkir correctly recognized that it was God who provided wisdom to Solomon. As Dr. Thomas L. Constable observes, “In her visit we see Israel fulfilling its God-given purpose of bringing the Gentiles to Yahweh.” God set apart Israel as His holy people. It was by their example others were supposed to recognize that God was GOD and worship Him. Just like people are supposed to know God because of our words and actions.

Someone – I can’t remember if it was a pastor or a Christian radio DJ – put the question to his listeners, if someone were to hang around you for a day, how long would it take them to figure out you were a Christian without you telling them?

Be blessed, friends, and let God’s light shine through you in every word and deed as you go about your way today.

2 Chronicles 8: Foreshadowing

Solomon, the wisest king ever, was still a fool.

Solomon moved his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, from the City of David to the new palace he had built for her. He said, “My wife must not live in King David’s palace, for the Ark of the LORD has been there, and it is holy ground.” v11

Solomon knew God’s prohibition against marrying foreign wives, yet he did it anyway. And not just once. Solomon had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3).

Solomon’s downfall is chronicled in 1 Kings 11. In his old age, he worshiped Ashtoreth (goddess) and Molech (fond of child sacrifice). And, predictably, God became very angry with Solomon.

So now the LORD said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son. And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.” ~1 Kings 11:9-13

This is a powerful warning, is it not? Even the wisest of us can fall into sin. He tiptoed in with his first wife, then went all-in with 999 more. He built them places to worship their gods, before eventually worshipping them himself, just as God predicted would happen in Deuteronomy 7:3-4.

David wasn’t sinless. He was an adulterer and murderer. The difference between David and Solomon was their hearts. David was a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) and he was quick to repent when he realized he was wrong. There is no indication that Solomon ever repented. Foolish king.

But we are all foolish. I wonder where I am tiptoeing into sin? Or whether I’m all-in somewhere and don’t realize it? My prayer is that the LORD show me these areas and help me repent. I don’t want to follow the path of Solomon. I want to be like David and have a heart for God.

Blessings on your day.