Enlightenment for “the Conclusion of the System of Things”
1. For this “conclusion of the system of things,” what notable marriage did the “Prince of Peace” foretell, and in what parable?
CONCERNING “the conclusion of the system of things,” the “Prince of Peace” said at Matthew 24:38 that there would be “men marrying and women being given in marriage.” But during the same period, there begins in heaven the greatest marriage of all. It is the marriage referred to in Jesus’ illustration of ten lamp bearers, ten virgins.—Matthew 24:3; 25:1-12.
2. (a) At what time of day does this parabolic marriage take place? (b) What follows the wedding, and how is illumination provided?
2 The scene of this marriage is in the Middle East. It takes place late at night, verging onto midnight. The wedding of the bride and her bridegroom is held first and is followed by a procession to the house of feasting. The way is not lighted up by street lamps. Illumination is provided by those sharing in the gala procession, and bystanders can watch the procession go by, wishing the newlyweds happiness.
3, 4. (a) Who interest themselves in the procession that follows, and with what preparations? (b) Fulfillment of this parable adds proof of what fact? (c) We can be happy if we do what?
3 True to their feminine inclination, virgins are interested in the wedding. So, along the line of march, ten virgins wait until the wedding procession reaches their location. They desire to brighten the occasion, and for this reason all of them bring along lighted hand lamps, but only five of them have an emergency supply of lighting oil. These five are discreet virgins. The fulfillment of this parable should interest us today, for according to Jesus Christ, it further confirms that we are in the conclusion of this old system.—Matthew 25:13.
4 We can be happy if we are discreet and discern the realization of this marriage of all marriages and its attendant features! Who today are the ones favored with admittance to the feast? Are any of us? Let us see!
5. What made a distinction among those composing the ten virgins, and what happened during the bridegroom’s delay?
5 The illustration that Jesus gave of the ten virgins has to do with “the kingdom of the heavens,” the world government for the blessing of all mankind. So Jesus Christ went on to say: “The kingdom of the heavens will become like ten virgins that took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were discreet. For the foolish took their lamps but took no oil with them, whereas the discreet took oil in their receptacles with their lamps. While the bridegroom was delaying, they all nodded and went to sleep.”—Matthew 25:1-5.
6. (a) Whom did the ten virgins picture? (b) Why is a bride not mentioned in the parable?
6 Now whom did those ten virgins illustrate? They illustrated the prospective members of the bride of the spiritual Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Doubtless for this reason a bride is not mentioned in Jesus’ illustration; merely the bridegroom appears. Thus, there is no confusion regarding the explanation, as if the virgins pictured still another class.
7. During what period did it seem that the Bridegroom had delayed his coming for the bride, and why?
7 The uniting of the prospective members of the bride class to their heavenly Bridegroom in marriage did not take place, as had been expected, at the close of “the appointed times of the nations” in 1914. (Luke 21:24) Logically, to them it appeared as if the Bridegroom had delayed his coming, although his presence in his heavenly Kingdom did take place in 1914. Those mournful years of World War I proved to be like a pitch-black night in the experience of the virgins class.
8. (a) How was it that, figuratively speaking, a nodding and going to sleep on the part of the virgins occurred? (b) For what purpose had the Bridegroom come to the temple, and why did this concern the bride class?
8 Figuratively speaking, a nodding and going to sleep on the part of the virgins occurred. The public preaching of the good news of Christ’s coming reign of a thousand years for the blessing of all mankind practically ceased. From the final year of World War I, a crucial period of judgment set in for those figurative virgins. This was because the reigning King Jesus Christ had come to the spiritual temple. On his arrival there, he started judgment proceedings in order to clean up those appointed to render temple service to Jehovah God. (Malachi 3:1-3) This was the time for his manifestation when, as the heavenly Bridegroom, he was due to receive to himself in heaven the approved members of the bride class who were then already dead.
9. When did it become the time for the virgins class to be awakened from inactivity, and why?
9 In 1919, following the release of eight prominent members of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society from unjust imprisonment, it was the due time for the virgins class still alive on earth to be aroused from their sleep of inactivity. The work of worldwide enlightenment lay ahead. It was time for them, with lighted lamps, to meet the Bridegroom, who had come to the spiritual temple. This was so that people out of all nations might stream to “the house of Jehovah” that had been exalted above the tops of the mountains, as it were.—Isaiah 2:1-4.
Putting Their Lamps in Order
10. What did the oil that was drawn from the receptacles of the discreet virgins picture?
10 The discreet ones of the virgins class had brought along an emergency supply of lighting fuel in their receptacles. They underwent no delay in refilling their lamps. The liquid fuel for enlightenment pictured Jehovah’s enlightening Word and his holy spirit. So, what did the oil that was drawn from the receptacles of the discreet virgins picture? The reserve amount of Jehovah’s spirit that throws light on his written Word and which the anointed remnant of spirit-begotten disciples of the Bridegroom had in themselves when the postwar work of worldwide enlightenment regarding “the kingdom of the heavens” was destined to start.
11. What were the symbolic receptacles in which the oil was contained?
11 The receptacles pictured the figurative discreet virgins themselves as possessors of the symbolic oil of enlightenment. This does not mean that the virgins class was first then anointed with Jehovah’s spirit. No, the virgins do not anoint themselves with his spirit. He does it!—Isaiah 61:1, 2; Luke 4:16-21.
12. (a) What prophecy of Joel was due to be fulfilled upon the discreet virgins? (b) When did the time arrive for them to let enlightenment shine by means of their lamps?
12 In support of their being assigned to the vast work of world enlightenment regarding “the kingdom of the heavens,” the discreet virgins were favored with the fulfillment of Joel 2:28, 29 upon them. This is the way the apostle Peter quotes those verses: “‘And in the last days,’ God says, ‘I shall pour out some of my spirit upon every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy and your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams.’” (Acts 2:17) So from 1919 onward the discreet ones of the figurative virgins class were to take up their means of illumination, their symbolic lamps—themselves. This they did in order to impart enlightenment to all those who were yet in spiritual darkness. Because of the kind of lives that they live under the influence of God’s Word and spirit, they become “illuminators in the world.” (Philippians 2:15) Thus they took up following in the footsteps of the Bridegroom as he prepared to take all the members of the bride class to himself in the heavenly Kingdom after their death on earth.—Matthew 5:14-16.
Consequences of Spiritual Foolishness
13. How did the discreet virgins respond to the request of the foolish virgins?
13 What, now, about the foolish ones of the virgins class? Jesus goes on to say: “The foolish said to the discreet, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are about to go out.’ The discreet answered with the words, ‘Perhaps there may not be quite enough for us and you. Be on your way, instead, to those who sell it and buy for yourselves.’”—Matthew 25:8, 9.
14. Why were the virgins who refused to share their oil discreet rather than selfish?
14 Those refusing to share with the foolish ones were not selfish, just discreet. They were sticking to the carrying out of their original, well-wishing purpose of brightening up the dark surroundings in behalf of the Bridegroom. They were in no way obliged to compromise, to reduce their own amount of Jehovah’s holy spirit in order to accommodate those who were spiritually foolish. Such foolish ones had not prepared themselves to enter promptly into the privilege of service opening up to them in 1919.
15. (a) When the peace period opened up, who among the virgins class began to display tendencies toward spiritual foolishness? (b) Why were the discreet virgins unable to help the spiritually foolish virgins?
15 As the peace period opened up, some of those who were professedly dedicated, baptized associates began to show spiritual foolishness. After the death of the Watch Tower Society’s first president, Charles Taze Russell, they did not fully enter into the spirit of developments with the visible instrument of Jehovah God under its new president, J. F. Rutherford. Their hearts were not really in line with the way things were being done. They showed a lack of appreciation for the way Jehovah was dealing with his people. Thus, those who were like discreet virgins could not infuse the real spirit of heartfelt cooperation into these foolish ones who were alienating themselves more and more.
16. How was spiritual foolishness made to surface on the part of the foolish virgins?
16 Spiritual foolishness was thus made to surface. How? Through a failure to have the symbolic oil at the momentous time when there was a dire need for spiritual enlightenment as new developments moved forward, showing that the Bridegroom was present. So it was the time to go out to meet him with one’s lamp all lighted up brilliantly, figuratively speaking. But instead, those resembling the foolish virgins, whose lamps were going out, parted company with the discreet ones.
17. What irreparable loss do those pictured by the foolish virgins suffer, as indicated at Matthew 25:10?
17 What an irreparable loss is incurred when one who professes to be counted among the virgins class misses out on the unrepeatable privilege and opportunity of welcoming the spiritual Bridegroom, Jesus Christ! Such a loss the foolish ones among the modern-day virgins suffer, as is indicated in the further words of Jesus’ illustration: “While they were going off to buy, the bridegroom arrived, and the virgins that were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut.”—Matthew 25:10.
18. (a) With what privilege do the foolish virgins of this century fail to be associated? (b) Why do the foolish ones prove to be too late for taking part in the marriage procession and for entering into the feast?
18 What a tragic experience the modern-day foolish virgins undergo! In this blackest period of all human history, they fail to share in the work of enlightening those who sit in spiritual darkness and in the shadow of death at “the war of the great day of God the Almighty”! (Revelation 16:14) With no oil in their figurative lamps to brighten their path, they left and had to make their way through midnight darkness. For this reason they are not on time to follow in the footsteps of the Bridegroom in the joyous procession through the door and into the brilliantly lighted marriage feast. They have lost their identification as his followers who are in line for being wedded to him in the heavenly Kingdom. They are not found “ready” at the designated time. What a warning example they furnish!
19. What experience awaits us for pursuing this matter to its conclusion?
19 This painful fact is vividly portrayed in the final part of the illustration given by Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, particularly for us living in “the conclusion of the system of things.” So let us now pursue the matter further! Joy-inspiring enlightenment awaits us for doing so, as we shall see in the next chapter.
[Picture on page 45]
Those resembling the foolish virgins will not get into the wedding feast