[NOTE TO THOSE WHO GET THE LESSON BY E-MAIL: We recently compared our
main English e-mail list with the TAGnet list. The TAGnet list is
used to mail out the weekly Bible study. TAGnet’s list had 2,300
fewer addresses than our list. Many of these 2,300 are bad addresses.
However, I am aware that TAGnet drops good e-mail addresses under
certain circumstances. This generally involves the e-mail service
being temporarily down for a good address. If you find that you are
not getting the lesson, go to www.GoBible.org and sign up again. You
will get a message that your name is already on the list. Ignore that
message. We thought we found the perfect way to send out the Bible
study by e-mail, but we find we still encounter problems. Sorry.]

Introduction: Delay. I hate it! Within the last year I saw a
nationwide traffic survey of the U.S. that revealed that the traffic
where I live is the worst of any major city. Traffic governs a great
deal of my life. I travel at certain times and avoid other times so
that I will not constantly be delayed. While I have been delayed
hours in traffic at one time, I have never been delayed 2,000 years.
That is “the delay” in Jesus’ Second Coming and the study of our
lesson this week. Who knew it would be so long? What should we do?
How should we look at this? Let’s charge into our lesson and consider
a story that will help us to better understand the delay and what we
should do about it!

  1. The Wedding Preparation

    1. Read Matthew 25:1. What kind of event is a wedding?

      1. If you are a “virgin,” do you look at a wedding
        differently? (These are individuals who have not been
        married. Not only is this wedding an adventure, but
        they hope to have their own wedding some day.)

      2. They bring lamps. What does that suggest? (That they
        believed the day would end and it would get dark
        before the bridegroom came.)

      3. What does bringing a lamp along show about these
        virgins? (They are thinking ahead. They are paying
        attention to what they are doing.)

    2. Let’s step back a minute. Jesus is beginning to tell us a
      story, a parable. When Jesus talks about meeting the
      “bridegroom,” what is He really speaking about? (Consider
      the context. Matthew chapter 24 is all about Jesus’ Second
      Coming. This story is about individuals who are getting
      ready to meet Jesus (the Bridegroom) when He returns to

      1. If I am right about this being a story about Jesus’
        Second Coming, what other information do we gather
        from verse 1 about these virgins? (That they believe
        in the Second Coming and are preparing to be ready
        for it. These are Christians who are preparing for
        the Advent.)

    3. Read Matthew 25:2-4. What separates the “wise” from the
      “foolish” virgins? (The wise virgins took “extra
      batteries” with them.)

      1. Do you take extra batteries with you when you use a
        flashlight? Do you put extra cans of gas in your car
        when you go on a trip? Why are we calling the virgins
        “foolish” who took full lamps with them – but not
        extra supplies? If I were going to a wedding, the
        last think I would want to carry with me is a bottle
        of oil. Imagine getting that on your clothes!
        (Apparently, the virgins are called “foolish” because
        they should have known there would be a delay.)

      2. Why not expect the bridegroom to be “on time?” Why
        not call the “foolish” virgins the “reasonable
        expectation” virgins?

        1. Isn’t the bridegroom the one who is “foolish” if
          he comes late to his own wedding? We have
          reasonable preparation by all the virgins. Do
          you have to do more than what is reasonable to
          be called “wise?” (Again, we need to look at the
          context. Jesus, in Matthew 24, kept stressing
          that we will not know when He will come again.
          (See, especially, Matt. 24:36.) If the
          Bridegroom explains that he does not know when
          he is coming, then just bringing your lamp
          filled with oil is not “reasonable” preparation.
          The Bridegroom is not at fault here.)

  2. The Wedding Wait

    1. Read Matthew 25:5. In terms of the Second Coming, what
      does it mean to “fall asleep?”

      1. What significance do you find in the fact that they
        all fell asleep?

      2. If you were telling the story, wouldn’t you say, “and
        the five “wise” virgins stayed awake and alert while
        the five “foolish” virgins fell asleep?” Isn’t being
        alert what really separates the wise from the foolish
        Christians? (If “falling asleep” in the context of
        the Second Coming means dying (see 1 Corinthians
        15:51-52), then obviously there is no character flaw
        in that. Even if “falling asleep” means that we fail
        to stay alert (see Mark 14:37-41) for the Second
        Coming, it seems the flaw is in failing to prepare
        for our weakness – not in the weakness itself.)

    2. Is this good theology: there is no sin in our human
      weakness, the sin is only in failing to prepare because of
      our weakness?

      1. How does human pride affect our ability to prepare
        properly for our weaknesses? (If we do not realize
        the state of our sinfulness, we will not think we
        need to prepare.)

  3. The Wedding Crisis

    1. Read Matthew 25:6-9. Were the five “wise” virgins also
      the five “selfish” virgins? Why not share? (The “wise”
      say they don’t think they will have enough if they share.
      If we are correct in thinking that the problem is a lack
      of preparation, when it comes to spiritual matters, one
      person cannot prepare for another.)
    1. We come to what is probably the most important point of
      this story: How do we, as a practical matter, have enough
      oil? How do we properly prepare, despite our human
      weakness, so that we will be ready for the Second Coming?
      What should we do to survive the delay?

      1. Our lesson (Tuesday) says the oil is the Holy Spirit,
        the lamp is the Word of God, and together they bring
        light which is the truth. The solution, the lesson
        suggests, is “more” Holy Spirit. Do you agree?

        1. How can you have “more” Holy Spirit?

  1. The Wedding Takes Place

    1. Read Matthew 25:10-13. The foolish virgins do not get in!
      I am troubled by what is said by the Bridegroom in verse
      12 and Jesus’ conclusion in verse 13. What is said here is
      key to knowing what we need to do to prepare adequately.

      1. What does verse 12 suggest is the reason the foolish
        virgins did not enter heaven? (The Bridegroom did not
        know them.)

      2. What does verse 13 suggest is the reason the foolish
        virgins did not enter heaven? (They did not keep

        1. Are these two the same? (Not on the surface of

        2. Why should Jesus say “keep watch” when the
          “wise” virgins did not “keep watch” they fell
          asleep, and they still got to enter the wedding
          feast (heaven)?

          1. Isn’t this (“keep watch”)the wrong
            conclusion to this parable?

        3. Needless to say, my study always starts out with
          the assumption that Jesus is right! So, how can
          we reconcile the two conclusions? How can the
          Bridegroom say “I don’t know you” and Jesus say
          “keep watch?” (We previously decided that the
          difference between the wise and foolish virgins
          was being prepared. Why did the wise virgins
          bring extra oil? Because they knew that the
          Bridegroom would be late. The time of his
          coming was unknown. The wise virgins knew the
          Bridegroom and therefor they knew they needed to
          be prepared with additional oil. That is how
          they “kept watch.” They might have been
          sleeping, but they were prepared for their
          weakness and they were prepared for the
          Bridegroom’s delay. If the foolish virgins had
          known the Bridegroom, they would have known that
          He would come at an unexpected time.)

    2. Read 2 Peter 3:3-4. How does the prepared Christian, the
      wise virgin, answer this question? (We don’t know when
      Jesus will come. Jesus will come at a time when you are
      asking questions like this! The conclusion is not to
      forget about Jesus’ coming, the conclusion is to be
      prepared for it whenever it comes.)

    3. Friend, Jesus is coming a second time and He is taking
      those who are prepared into the celebration with Him. Will
      you decide to take to be sure you are prepared, whatever
      the delay?

  2. Next Week: Hope and “The Delay”: Part 2