Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 29: "To Meet the Bridegroom"
Based on Matt. 25:1-13
Christ with His disciples is seated upon the Mount of
Olives. The sun has set behind the mountains, and
the heavens are curtained with the shades of evening. In
full view is a dwelling house lighted up brilliantly as if for
some festive scene. The light streams from the openings,
and an expectant company wait around, indicating that a
marriage procession is soon to appear. In many parts of
the East, wedding festivities are held in the evening. The
bridegroom goes forth to meet his bride and bring her to
his home. By torchlight the bridal party proceed from
her father's house to his own, where a feast is provided for
the invited guests. In the scene upon which Christ looks,
a company are awaiting the appearance of the bridal party,
intending to join the procession.
Lingering near the bride's house are ten young women
robed in white. Each carries a lighted lamp and a small
flagon for oil. All are anxiously watching for the appearance [p. 406] of the bridegroom. But there is a delay. Hour after
hour passes; the watchers become weary and fall asleep.
At midnight the cry is heard, "Behold, the bridegroom
cometh; go ye out to meet him." The sleepers, suddenly
awaking, spring to their feet. They see the procession
moving on, bright with torches and glad with music. They
hear the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.
The ten maidens seize their lamps and begin to trim them,
in haste to go forth. But five have neglected to fill their
flasks with oil. They did not anticipate so long a delay,
and they have not prepared for the emergency. In distress
they appeal to their wiser companions saying, "Give us of
your oil; for our lamps are going out." (Margin.) But the
waiting five, with their freshly trimmed lamps, have emptied
their flagons. They have no oil to spare, and they
answer, "Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you:
but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves."
While they went to buy, the procession moved on, and
left them behind. The five with lighted lamps joined the
throng and entered the house with the bridal train, and
the door was shut. When the foolish virgins reached the
banqueting hall, they received an unexpected denial. The
master of the feast declared, "I know you not." They
were left standing without, in the empty street, in the
blackness of the night.
As Christ sat looking upon the party that waited for
the bridegroom, He told His disciples the story of the ten
virgins, by their experience illustrating the experience of
the church that shall live just before His second coming.
The two classes of watchers represent the two classes
who profess to be waiting for their Lord. They are called
virgins because they profess a pure faith. By the lamps is
represented the word of God. The psalmist says, "Thy
word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto may path." [p. 407] Ps. 119:105. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Thus
the Spirit is represented in the prophecy of Zechariah.
"The angel that talked with me came again," he says, "and
waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, and
said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked,
and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the
top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to
the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof; and two
olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and
the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and
spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are
these, my lord? . . . Then he answered and spake unto
me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel,
saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,
saith the Lord of hosts. . . . And I answered again,
and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which [p. 408] through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out
of themselves? . . . Then said he, These are the two
anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth."
From the two olive trees the golden oil was emptied
through the golden pipes into the bowl of the candlestick,
and thence into the golden lamps that gave light to the
sanctuary. So from the holy ones that stand in God's
presence His Spirit is imparted to the human instrumentalities
who are consecrated to His service. The mission
of the two anointed ones is to communicate to God's people
that heavenly grace which alone can make His word a
lamp to the feet and a light to the path. "Not by might,
nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
In the parable, all the ten virgins went out to meet the
bridegroom. All had lamps and vessels for oil. For a
time there was seen no difference between them. So with
the church that lives just before Christ's second coming.
All have a knowledge of the Scriptures. All have heard
the message of Christ's near approach, and confidently
expect His appearing. But as in the parable, so it is now.
A time of waiting intervenes, faith is tried; and when the
cry is heard, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out
to meet Him," many are unready. They have no oil in
their vessels with their lamps. They are destitute of the
Without the Spirit of God a knowledge of His word is
of no avail. The theory of truth, unaccompanied by the
Holy Spirit, cannot quicken the soul or sanctify the heart.
One may be familiar with the commands and promises of
the Bible; but unless the Spirit of God sets the truth
home, the character will not be transformed. Without
the enlightenment of the Spirit, men will not be able to [p. 411] distinguish truth from error, and they will fall under the
masterful temptations of Satan.
The class represented by the foolish virgins are not
hypocrites. They have a regard for the truth, they have
advocated the truth, they are attracted to those who believe
the truth; but they have not yielded themselves to the Holy
Spirit's working. They have not fallen upon the Rock,
Christ Jesus, and permitted their old nature to be broken
up. This class are represented also by the stony-ground
hearers. They receive the word with readiness, but they
fail of assimilating its principles. Its influence is not
abiding. The Spirit works upon man's heart, according to his
desire and consent implanting in him a new nature; but the
class represented the foolish virgins have been content
with a superficial work. They do not know God. They
have not studied His character; they have not held
communion with Him; therefore they do not know how to trust,
how to look and live. Their service to God degenerates
into a form. "They come unto thee as the people cometh,
and they sit before thee as My people, and they hear thy
words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they
show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness."
Eze. 33:31. The apostle Paul points out that this
will be the special characteristic of those who live just
before Christ's second coming. He says, "In the last days
perilous times shall come: for men shall be lovers of their
own selves; . . . lovers of pleasures more than lovers of
God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power
thereof." 2 Tim. 3:1-5.
This is the class that in time of peril are found crying,
Peace and safety. They lull their hearts into security, and
dream not of danger. When startled from their lethargy,
they discern their destitution, and entreat others to supply
their lack; but in spiritual things no man can make up [p. 412] another's deficiency. The grace of God has been freely
offered to every soul. The message of the gospel has been
heralded, "Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever
will, let him take the water of life freely." Rev. 22:17.
But character is not transferable. No man can believe for
another. No man can receive the Spirit for another. No
man can impart to another the character which is the fruit
of the Spirit's working. "Though Noah, Daniel, and Job
were in it [the land], as I live, saith the Lord God, they
shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver
their own souls by their righteousness." Eze. 14:20.
It is in a crisis that character is revealed. When the
earnest voice proclaimed at midnight, "Behold, the bridegroom
cometh; go ye out to meet him," and the sleeping
virgins were roused from their slumbers, it was seen who
had made preparation for the event. Both parties
were taken unawares; but one was prepared for the emergency,
and the other was found without preparation. So now, a
sudden and unlooked-for calamity, something that brings
the soul face to face with death, will show whether there is
any real faith in the promises of God. It will show whether
the soul is sustained by grace. The great final test comes
at the close of human probation, when it will be too late
for the soul's need to be supplied.
The ten virgins are watching in the evening of this
earth's history. All claim to be Christians. All have a
call, a name, a lamp, and all profess to be doing God's
service. All apparently wait for Christ's appearing. But
five are unready. Five will be found surprised, dismayed,
outside the banquet hall.
At the final day, many will claim admission to Christ's
kingdom, saying, "We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence,
and Thou hast taught in our streets." "Lord, Lord, [p. 413] have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name
have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful
works?" But the answer is, "I tell you, I know you not
whence ye are; depart from Me." Luke 13:26, 27; Matt.
7:22. In this life they have not entered into fellowship
with Christ; therefore they know not the language of
heaven, they are strangers to its joy. "What man knoweth
the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?
even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit
of God." I Cor. 2:11.
Saddest of all words that ever fell on mortal ear are
those words of doom, "I know you not." The fellowship
of the Spirit, which you have slighted, could alone make
you one with the joyous throng at the marriage feast. In
that scene you cannot participate. Its light would fall on
blinded eyes, its melody upon deaf ears. Its love and joy
could awake no chord of gladness in the world-benumbed
heart. You are shut out from heaven by your own unfitness
for its companionship.
We cannot be ready to meet the Lord by waking when [p. 414] the cry is heard, "Behold, the Bridegroom!" and then
gathering up our empty lamps to have them replenished.
We cannot keep Christ apart from our lives here, and yet
be fitted for His companionship in heaven.
In the parable the wise virgins had oil in their vessels
with their lamps. Their light burned with undimmed flame
through the night of watching. It helped to swell the
illumination for the bridegroom's honor. Shining out in
the darkness, it helped to illuminate the way to the home
of the bridegroom, to the marriage feast.
So the followers of Christ are to shed light into the
darkness of the world. Through the Holy Spirit, God's
word is a light as it becomes a transforming power in the
life of the receiver. By implanting in their hearts the
principles of His word, the Holy Spirit develops in men
the attributes of God. The light of His glory—His
character—is to shine forth in His followers. Thus they are
to glorify God, to lighten the path to the Bridegroom's
home, to the city of God, to the marriage supper of the
The coming of the bridegroom was at midnight—the
darkest hour. So the coming of Christ will take place in
the darkest period of this earth's history. The days of
Noah and Lot pictured the condition of the world just
before the coming of the Son of man. The Scriptures
pointing forward to this time declare that Satan will work
with all power and "with all deceivableness of unrighteousness."
2 Thess. 2:9, 10. His working is plainly revealed by
the rapidly increasing darkness, the multitudinous errors,
heresies, and delusions of these last days. Not only is Satan
leading the world captive, but his deceptions are leavening
the professed churches of our Lord Jesus Christ. The
great apostasy will develop into darkness deep as midnight,
impenetrable as sackcloth of hair. To God's people it will [p. 415] be a night of trial, a night of weeping, a night of
persecution for the truth's sake. But out of that night of
darkness God's light will shine.
He causes "the light to shine out of darkness." 2 Cor.
4:6. When "the earth was without form, and void, and
darkness was upon the face of the deep," "the Spirit of God
moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let
there be light; and there was light." Gen. 1:2,3. So in the
night of spiritual darkness, God's word goes forth, "Let
there be light." To His people He says, "Arise, shine; for
thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon
thee." Isa. 60:1.
"Behold," says the Scripture, "the darkness shall cover
the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall
arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee."
It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is
enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge
of His character. It has been misunderstood and
misinterpreted. At this time a message from God is to be
proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and
saving in its power. His character is to be made known.
Into the darkness of the world is to be shed the light of
His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy, and truth.
This is the work outlined by the prophet Isaiah in the
words, "O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up
thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto
the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord
God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule
for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work
before Him." Isa. 40:9,10.
Those who wait for the Bridegroom's coming are to
say to the people, "Behold your God." The last rays of
merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the
world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children [p. 416] of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life
and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has
done for them.
The light of the Sun of Righteousness is to shine forth
in good works—in words of truth and deeds of holiness.
Christ, the outshining of the Father's glory, came to the
world as its light. He came to represent God to men, and [p. 417] of Him it is written that He was anointed "with the Holy
Ghost and with power," and "went about doing good."
Acts 10:38. In the synagogue at Nazareth He said, "The
Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed
Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to
heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives,
and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty
them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the
Lord." Luke 4:18, 19. This was the work He commissioned
His disciples to do. "Ye are the light of the world,"
He said. "Let your light so shine before men, that they
may see your good works, and glorify your Father which
is in heaven." Matt. 5:14, 16.
This is the work which the prophet Isaiah describes
when he says, "Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry,
and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy
house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him;
and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then
shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health
shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go
before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward."
Isa. 58:7, 8.
Thus in the night of spiritual darkness God's glory is
to shine forth through His church in lifting up the bowed
down and comforting those that mourn.
All around us are heard the wails of a world's sorrow.
On every hand are the needy and distressed. It is ours to
aid in relieving and softening life's hardships and misery.
Practical work will have far more effect than mere
sermonizing. We are to give food to the hungry, clothing
to the naked, and shelter to the homeless. And we are
called to do more than this. The wants of the soul, only
the love of Christ can satisfy. If Christ is abiding in us,
our hearts will be full of divine sympathy. The sealed
fountains of earnest, Christlike love will be unsealed. [p. 418]
God calls not only for our gifts for the needy, but for
our cheerful countenance, our hopeful words, our kindly
handclasp. When Christ healed the sick, He laid His
hands upon them. So should we come in close touch
with those whom we seek to benefit.
There are many from whom hope has departed. Bring
back the sunshine to them. Many have lost their courage.
Speak to them words of cheer. Pray for them. There are
those who need the bread of life. Read to them from the
word of God. Upon many is a soul sickness which no
earthly balm can reach nor physician heal. Pray for these
souls, bring them to Jesus. Tell them that there is a balm
in Gilead and a Physician there.
Light is a blessing, a universal blessing, pouring forth
its treasures on a world unthankful, unholy, demoralized.
So it is with the light of the Sun of Righteousness. The
whole earth, wrapped as it is in the darkness of sin, and
sorrow, and pain, is to be lighted with the knowledge of
God's love. From no sect, rank, or class of people is the
light shining from heaven's throne to be excluded.
The message of hope and mercy is to be carried to the
ends of the earth. Whosoever will, may reach forth and
take hold of God's strength and make peace with Him,
and he shall make peace. No longer are the heathen to
be wrapped in midnight darkness. The gloom is to disappear
before the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness.
The power of hell has been overcome.
But no man can impart that which he himself has not
received. In the work of God, humanity can originate
nothing. No man can by his own effort make himself a
light bearer for God. It was the golden oil emptied by the
heavenly messengers into the golden tubes, to be conducted
from the golden bowl into the lamps of the sanctuary, that [p. 419] produced a continuous bright and shining light. It is the
love of God continually transferred to man that enables him
to impart light. Into the hearts of all who are united to
God by faith the golden oil of love flows freely, to shine
out again in good works, in real, heartfelt service for God.
In the great and measureless gift of the Holy Spirit are
contained all of heaven's resources. It is not because of any
restriction on the part of God that the riches of His grace
do not flow earthward to men. If all were willing to
receive, all would become filled with His Spirit.
It is the privilege of every soul to be a living channel
through which God can communicate to the world the
treasures of His grace, the unsearchable riches of Christ.
There is nothing that Christ desires so much as agents who
will represent to the world His Spirit and character. There
is nothing that the world needs so much as the manifestation
through humanity of the Saviour's love. All heaven
is waiting for channels through which can be poured the
holy oil to be a joy and blessing to human hearts.
Christ has made every provision that His church shall
be a transformed body, illumined with the Light of the
world, possessing the glory of Emmanuel. It is His purpose
that every Christian shall be surrounded with a spiritual
atmosphere of light and peace. He desires that we shall
reveal His own joy in our lives.
The indwelling of the Spirit will be shown by the
outflowing of heavenly love. The divine fullness will flow
through the consecrated human agent, to be given forth
The Sun of Righteousness has "healing in His wings."
Mal. 4:2. So from every true disciple is to be diffused
an influence for life, courage, helpfulness, and true healing.
The religion of Christ means more than the forgiveness [p. 420] of sin; it means taking away our sins, and filling the
vacuum with the graces of the Holy Spirit. It means divine
illumination, rejoicing in God. It means a heart emptied
of self, and blessed with the abiding presence of Christ.
When Christ reigns in the soul, there is purity, freedom
from sin. The glory, the fullness, the completeness of the
gospel plan is fulfilled in the life. The acceptance of the
Saviour brings a glow of perfect peace, perfect love, perfect
assurance. The beauty and fragrance of the character of
Christ revealed in the life testifies that God has indeed sent
His Son into the world to be its Saviour.
Christ does not bid His followers strive to shine. He
says, Let your light shine. If you have received the grace
of God, the light is in you. Remove the obstructions, and
the Lord's glory will be revealed. The light will shine
forth to penetrate and dispel the darkness. You cannot
help shining within the range of your influence.
The revelation of His own glory in the form of humanity
will bring heaven so near to men that the beauty
adorning the inner temple will be seen in every soul in
whom the Saviour dwells. Men will be captivated by the
glory of an abiding Christ. And in currents of praise and
thanksgiving from the many souls thus won to God, glory
will flow back to the great Giver.
"Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the
Lord is risen upon thee." Isa. 60:1. To those who go out
to meet the Bridegroom is this message given. Christ
is coming with power and great glory. He is coming with
His own glory and with the glory of the Father. He is
coming with all the holy angels with Him. While all the
world is plunged in darkness, there will be light in every
dwelling of the saints. They will catch the first light of
His second appearing. The unsullied light will shine from [p. 421] His splendor, and Christ the Redeemer will be admired by
all who have served Him. While the wicked flee from
His presence, Christ's followers will rejoice. The patriarch
Job, looking down to the time of Christ's second advent,
said, "Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall
behold, and not a stranger." Job 19:27, margin. To His
faithful followers Christ has been a daily companion and
familiar friend. They have lived in close contact, in
constant communion with God. Upon them the glory of the
Lord has risen. In them the light of the knowledge of the
glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ has been reflected.
Now they rejoice in the undimmed rays of the brightness
and glory of the King in His majesty. They are prepared
for the communion of heaven; for they have heaven in
With uplifted heads, with the bright beams of the Sun
of Righteousness shining upon them, with rejoicing that
their redemption draweth nigh, they go forth to meet the
Bridegroom, saying, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited
for Him, and He will save us." Isa. 25:9.
"And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude,
and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty
thunderings, saying, Alleluia; for the Lord God omnipotent
reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to
Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife
hath made herself ready. . . . And he saith unto me,
Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage
supper of the Lamb." "He is Lord of lords, and King of
kings; and they that are with Him are called, and chosen,
and faithful." Rev. 19:6-9; 17:14.