Running through Chicago’s O’Hare Airport terminal with bag in tow, I knew I had cut it close. Locating the departure gate, I ran down the ramp. The door was closed. Waving through the window, I tried to catch the pilot’s attention as he went through his final flight checks. It was no use. My flight home backed out slowly and soon was gone. How could I have allowed this to happen?
Dear Aunt Anna had always been late. I can still picture her hurriedly arriving at a family reunion with her casserole and dessert, while the clean-up crew cleared the tables. Someone always brought her some fried chicken and enough leftovers to fill her plate. What made this more laughable was that the reunions were often held fifteen minutes from her house. After she lost track of time, she hurried “like the dickens.” Though the last to arrive, our dear old aunt never missed out.
It seemed like Aunt Anna received a lot of grace. My missed Sunday flight from O’Hare many years ago taught me not to bank on grace. Sooner or later, being irresponsible brings painful consequences.
Take for example the foolish bridesmaids in Matthew 25:1. They were unprepared for the bridegroom’s delay. They needed to buy oil for their lamps. In the meantime, the bridegroom arrived and went into the banquet hall with the five wise bridesmaids. What made these bridesmaids wise? It was because they anticipated a delay. With the extra oil, their lamps remained trimmed and burning when he finally came.
What makes this parable stand out is the absence of grace. First, the five wise refused to share their oil with the five foolish bridesmaids. Seems unchristian like not to share, does it not? They refused to risk being late for the bridegroom due to someone else’s poor planning. What makes fools what they are is they are never prepared, they are always taken by surprise and always have excuses galore. Warnings are plentiful in prophecy. Fools err by convincing themselves grace will be granted despite their unbelief and ignorance of the signs of Christ’s coming.
The wise know the ways of the bridegroom. They understand they have to be ready for the common perception Christ will not return (2 Peter 3:3). He will come, but it will be at a time wicked fools do not expect him–like the middle of the night for instance (Matthew 24:44).
When the five foolish bridesmaids finally arrived at the wedding hall, they knocked because the door was shut tight. “Sir! Sir!” they said. “Open the door for us!”
They may have been wonderful young women. They may have attended synagogue every Sabbath. They may have had a sob story, but they never got to plead their case. Perhaps a sympathetic doorkeeper would rescue them. They could use their charm. They could talk their way in, but no. It was not to be.
“But he [the bridegroom] replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.'” (Matthew 25:11 NIV)
The bridegroom himself stood at the door. There was no grace, for grace is unmerited favor. If it is unmerited, how can it be owed. God’s grace is expressed in giving us His Word in prophecy, the warnings as well as the rewards (Psalm 19:11).
When God orders the door shut, it stays shut (Genesis 7:16). For He said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (Exodus 33:19)
Expect a long delay while great distress tests the saints’ endurance. Everything stated in Scripture must happen. Once all is fulfilled, Christ’s appearing will catch the wicked off guard like a thief in the night.
The wise will understand because Scripture makes them wise. Fools, however, will not understand (Daniel 12:10). The prophetic word of Christ will judge them.