Looking at first century Jewish history this is what we know of the major elements of a Jewish marriage at the time of Christ. First the father of the bridegroom makes arrangements for the marriage and pays the brides price which establishes the marriage covenant. Then the son returns to his Father’s house and prepares the bridal chamber. At a time determined by the father the bridegroom goes to fetch his bride to bring her back to his Father’s house. The bride is expecting him but doesn’t know the time of his coming. Upon the bridegroom’s arrival there is a shout which warned the bride of his coming. Prior to the wedding ceremony the bride undergoes a ritual cleansing. Next is the wedding ceremony which is private and only a few people were invited. Lastly the marriage feast would follow and many people were invited and could last up to seven days.
When we look at Matthew 25:1-13 we see the parable of the 10 virgins.
“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.’ “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. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. ‘
Looking at the parable it gives a picture of the coming of the Lord. In the parable we have 10 virgins, 5 that are foolish and 5 that are wise. While the 10 virgins are waiting for the return of the bridegroom, the 5 foolish are running out of oil for their lamps and ask the 5 wise to give them some of their oil. The 5 wise tell them they don’t have enough for both of them and to go purchase some more from the sellers. While they are away trying to get more oil they miss the coming of the bridegroom. My understanding is the oil represents God in our life. It could be taken as the presence of the Holy Spirit. In the parable the oil needed to be purchased. This means there is a price to obtain it. Having a continual presence of God in our life means we are willing to pay a price by living like Christ. This continual relationship with God in our life will keep the fire burning. The person who has that fire burning within him at the time of the bridegrooms return will go with him. There is a lot of debate over what certain parts of the parable mean but the one part that is perfectly clear is ‘Are You Ready’ for the return of the bridegroom?
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