Archive for May, 2011

The Coming Oil Shortage

Monday, May 16th, 2011

As predicted by Jesus

 “Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”

Matthew 25:3-4

In Matthew 24 Jesus instructed His disciples about the “sign of (His) coming, and of the end of the age.”  He gave us clues to look for, indicators of what would be taking place in the season before He returns.  An honest reading of those signs makes it plain that Believers today should be living with anticipation, joy, and zeal, for His return is drawing near.

Then immediately afterward, Jesus tells a parable that should sober us, and spur us to devotion and action.  In Matthew 25:1-13 Jesus tells a parable about ten women, all described as “virgins” – thus, a picture of the Church, those who name the name of Christ.  It’s not “five virgins and five prostitutes,” but “ten virgins” He describes.  And all ten are shown as waiting for the return of the bridegroom, thus believing in the promises of Scripture. 

And yet, Jesus describes half of these virgins as “foolish,” and half as “wise.”  The difference? The wise virgins prepared for the long night season before the bridegroom’s return, while the foolish ones did not.  They had a light (Matthew 5:14), but did not obtain the sustenance necessary to keep their lamps burning. 

So what is the oil these wise virgins possessed and the foolish lacked?  Oil in Scripture is the common symbol for the presence of God’s Spirit. The wise virgins are a picture of those who have cultivated the Spirit’s presence in their lives through investing time in God’s Word, prayer, worship, listening to His voice – in essence, building their friendship with Him.  And even though they face the same long, dark night as others (see Matthew 25:5), they are ready for His return and able to enter the wedding. 

The foolish, however, faced a self-imposed oil shortage – they failed to obtain oil for the night.  And when the return was imminent, they thought they could coast into the wedding feast by borrowing from the oil of those who had prepared.  I believe this is a picture of those Christians who are content to allow others to make the spiritual sacrifices, while they merely attend church and live for themselves.  But in spiritual things, you cannot borrow someone else’s oil, nor steal their light.  We will each answer for ourselves before the Throne, and we will own our decisions to seek God or to live for ourselves. 

The moral of the story is timely, powerful, and clear: get oil for your lamp.  The man whom the storm takes by surprise is considered unfortunate; the man who knows a storm is coming but neglects to prepare is called a fool.  I grieve to say that the bulk of the contemporary Church in the West is not taking the weather reports seriously – the storm is bearing down, but we are still largely in “church as usual” mode.  We are not storing up oil for our lamps. 

Nominal American Christianity will not survive the coming storm.  Those who have failed to get oil for their lamps – who have chosen not to cultivate a friendship with God, not to feed on His promises and strengthen themselves by His Word, not to ask for the leading and empowering of His Spirit – they will be caught unprepared for the long and dark night that is going to strike the earth. 

But there is GOOD news about this historic and prophetic hour which we are entering: for those whose hearts are set after Jesus, it will be a time of unprecedented fruit, outpouring, and glory

About just such an hour Daniel was told that “the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits” (Daniel 11:32).  When describing the devastation wrought before “that great and dreadful day of the Lord,” Malachi yet heard God give the promise to His own that to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings” (Malachi 4:2).  And in the midst of terrible destruction in the land of Israel, God still commanded Isaiah to comfort a righteous remnant with these words: “Say to the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their doings” (Isaiah 3:10). 

You who seek the Lord, let your hearts be glad.  He will be for us a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You” (Psalm 9:9-10).  God has never forsaken His own; He will give us all the comfort and joy, grace and strength, peace and power needed to be more than conquerors through all that is coming upon the earth.  But be warned: there is no promise in Scripture of such resources for those who choose not to seek Him.  The American Church must wake from our slumber and start to seek Him while there is still time.  By comparison, all else is a trivial pursuit.  “It is time to seek the Lord” (Hosea 10:12).  My friends, let us heed the warning of God’s Word: get oil for your lamp. 

Much love and blessing to you in Jesus,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries 2011