Welcome to Translate To Meet the Bridegroom chapter of Christ’s Object Lessons.
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TO MEET THE BRIDEGROOM
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 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
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.”
Psalm 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 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.” Zechariah 4:1-14.
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 Holy
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
distinguish truth from error, and they will fall under the masterful temptations of
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 by 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.” Ezekiel 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 Timothy
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
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.” Revelation 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.” Ezekiel 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
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, 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; Matthew
7:22; Luke 13:27. 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.” 1 Corinthians
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 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 Lamb.
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
Thessalonians 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 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 Corinthians 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.” Genesis 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.” Isaiah 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.” Isaiah 60:2.
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.” Isaiah 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 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 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.” Matthew 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.” Isaiah 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
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.
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
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 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 to others.
The Sun of Righteousness has “healing in His wings.” Malachi 4:2. So from
every true disciple is to be diffused an influence for life, courage, helpfulness, and
The religion of Christ means more than the forgiveness 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
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.” Isaiah 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 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 their hearts.
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.” Isaiah 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.” Revelation 19:6-9; 17:14.