The Midnight Cry

How suddenly this cry will sound: “The groom is coming!” Then we will not be able to change anything. How blessed we will be if we can then meet Him with filled lamps. The matter is serious. Let us be ready!

In the gospel according to Matthew, we read about people preparing for a wedding. The preparations were extensive. The time that the bridegroom would be coming was shrouded in secrecy, yet all were waiting for his arrival. Surely the signs of our time today tell us that His coming is near.

Who is the bridegroom, and who is the bride? Jesus gives us the answer. His disciples asked Him: “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) Jesus answered: “Take heed that no one deceive you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5).

Then He likens the Kingdom of God “to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom” (Matthew 25:1). We can assume from this that all of the virgins had made preparations for the wedding. It is clearly stated that half of these virgins were wise and half of them were foolish – foolish for not taking extra oil along to fill their lamps, although wise to have lamps. “But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps” (Matthew 25:4). But since the bridegroom delayed his arrival, all of them fell asleep.

No doubt these virgins were all confessing Christians, all working for their Lord out of love. Maybe they used their time and means to help the poor, and maybe they tried to lead their acquaintances to the Lord. No doubt they belonged to a Christian congregation, went to church, prayed, and witnessed. But God cannot be fooled; He sees the heart. You can fool people but not the Lord!

Jesus tells us they were all virgins, but half of them were foolish. In which way were they foolish?

It may be that you yourself were deeply moved upon hearing a sermon about sanctification, a second work of grace. Maybe you continued searching and found a deep need to experience this. You consecrated yourself fully to the Lord, and before getting up from your knees at the altar of prayer, you felt that satisfying deep love of God in your heart. It was a love as you had never known it before. Your only wish was to win as many people as possible for Jesus. Oh, how the oil of the love of God filled your heart! In word and deed, you were a shining lamp. You didn’t care what others thought about you, as long as you were pleasing to the Lord. Your only desire was to serve Him better. You were sanctified, and you knew it.

When was it that you became negligent and started to pray less and read your Bible less? When did fatigue slowly come over your soul and you let the oil seep out, so that the work you once loved and did in the name of the Lord was put aside? It was as if you no longer had a hunger to attend prayer meetings and church services. Although on the outside no one saw any real difference, you still knew that the oil in your soul was lacking. And you made no effort to fill your soul again until you heard the cry: “The bridegroom is coming!”

You would give anything to delay that call: “The bridegroom is coming.” Look over there at the virgins who have enough oil and are filling their lamps with it. They are awake, eager, and happy, whereas you are overcome with fear. You had the same opportunity as they had, but by your own negligence, you let the oil slowly diminish and disappear. Maybe they can spare some of their oil for you. In the anguish of your soul, you plead: “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out” (Matthew 25:8). But they cannot give you any.

As you seek to be filled with that love again that once filled your heart continually, you shudder to think that it may be too late. Even if you are successful in getting oil, you know that when the door is shut, it will remain shut and never be opened again, no matter how many tears you shed and with how much effort you plead!

Tragically, it is your own fault that you missed out on exactly that for which your soul once so eagerly desired. And that terrible introspection haunts you as you cry out in despair: “Lord, Lord, open to us!” (Matthew 25:11) But the door you desperately seek to have opened remains closed. From inside, you hear those dreadful words: “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you” (Matthew 25:12).

Jesus ends this parable with the words: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13). He wants to etch these words into every one of our hearts. How good it is for us to heed His warning, now when there is still enough time.

The Lord did not say: “I never knew you,” but “I do not know you.” Let us consider the marvelous fact that this Lord, who chose us as His bride, was willing to become poor, homeless, despised, thirsty, hungry, and desolate and finally give His life for our priceless souls, so that we could inherit those wonderful treasures that He and His Father had in store for us before the foundation of the world. He wants to share these with us. Why should we not be willing to sacrifice all?

I want to love the master more and serve Him with more zeal, faithfulness, and holy fervor than ever before. It is my resolve to watch and pray so that when He calls me, I have no reason to be fearful, but to be able greet Him, the Bridegroom of my soul, with overwhelming joy, having a bright burning lamp. That is also my wish for you.

F.R.

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