Before the discovery of electrical energy, lanterns were used to give light during the dark hours. The fuel that kept the fire of the lantern going was oil. The best way to put it is, the oil was the lantern’s power source. As you can imagine, like the modern day lamp, if the lantern’s power source is not available, the light goes out and the lantern becomes useless. So you might be saying sarcastically to yourself, “thanks Nicole for this bit of history, but where are you going with this?” Well, I was once reading the biblical parable of the ten virgins and it triggered a new understanding for me. To give you even more history, these young ladies went on a journey to meet the soon to come bridegroom. The idea would be for him to invite them into his wedding banquet as his brides. In telling this parable, Jesus was illustrating the importance of being ready for His return. He wants us to be found prepared for His coming. Take a look at the following passage:
‘“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, 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. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”‘, Matthew 25:1-13 (NIV 1984).
Upon reading the parable this particular time, a different light shone for me. I thought about the significance of the oil, the almost hidden role it played in this parable. Though the central theme of the parable was not the oil, it was quite evident that the lack there of caused the sticky situation. When the virgins started out, they all had oil in their lanterns but there was a delay in the bridegroom’s coming. Since their lanterns had been burning for some time, the lanterns needed to be refueled. There were five virgins who took extra oil so they had enough to keep their lanterns burning. I would imagine that the reason they took extra oil is because they understood the importance of the oil in getting them where they intended to go. For some reason, the other five did not take extra oil and had to leave to purchase more, as a result, they could not meet the bridegroom when he arrived. Jesus said that we are the light of the world, but what’s making us shine? Is it not His Spirit within us? For the believer, the Holy Spirit can be seen as the Oil that keeps the light of our lanterns shining. Just as the oil fueled the lanterns, also the Holy Spirit fuels the believer. This is the same Spirit that Jesus promised to us in John chapter fourteen and Who also causes us to cry out, “Abba Father”, Romans 8:15. I believe God is reminding us that His Spirit within is essential.
Unfortunately, many times we don’t realize the Holy Spirit’s significance; we don’t realize His role in the believer’s life. We ignore His promptings and disobey His leading. If we are to be the light of the earth and if we are to be found ready, then we had better make sure we have Oil. We need to make sure that He becomes significant in our lives. We need to make sure we are heeding His instruction because He is our fuel. So what is your fuel? What lights your fire? What causes your light to shine? Think about it and if it’s not Christ’s Spirit within then turn your attention to Him and make sure you are prepared for our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ’ arrival.