A dispensation is a period of time during which God deals with mankind in a certain way that meets His purposes. Let us read about the parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”

The first word of this passage, “then,” refers us back to Matthew 24 so we can learn when this parable is occurring. We read in Matthew 24:29-30, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

Currently we are living in the dispensation of God’s marvelous grace when He is calling out a bride for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. All those who repent of their sins and trust in the Lord Jesus are baptized by the Holy Spirit into Christ’s body, the Church, with Him as our head. We read in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” We read that Christ is the head of His body in Ephesians 1:22. God “hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.”

The next event on God’s calendar is the rapture of the Church to heaven. We read in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

Soon after the rapture the Tribulation will begin. Revelation 2 and 3 discuss the Church and then we read in Revelation 4:1 about the upward call of the Church. “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” The Church is in heaven in Revelation 4 and 5. In Revelation 6-18 the judgments of the Tribulation are discussed. The Tribulation is a dispensation that will last for seven years. After the Tribulation, Christ will come to the earth, as we already read in Matthew 24:30. Christ will come as “King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords” (Revelation 19:16) and will reign for “a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4). The next dispensation after the Tribulation is Christ’s millenial kingdom when He will reign for a thousand years. The end of the Tribulation and the arrival of the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, when He begins to reign, is the dispensational setting for the parable of the Ten Virgins.

Throughout the Bible and in the parable of the Ten Virgins, oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit. We read in Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”  Oil was used in anointing throughout the Scriptures. Therefore, the five virgins who had oil in their lamps were true believers since they had the Holy Spirit. We read in Ephesians 1:13, “in whom ye also have trusted, having heard the word of the truth, the glad tidings of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, ye have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (JND). The five virgins with oil in their lamps went into the Bridegroom’s marriage, but the five virgins who had to go purchase oil were excluded from the wedding. The five virgins with oil were wise since they had trusted in the Lord Jesus. However, the five virgins without oil were foolish since they had not placed their faith in the Lord Jesus.

Even today Christians are looked at by non-Christians as foolish. We read in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” We also read in 1 Corinthians 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Although the setting of the parable of the Ten Virgins is in a future day, we can apply it to today. If you have not yet repented of your sins and trusted in the Lord Jesus as your Savior, do so today. If you are saved, then share the gospel with others so that they can also have eternal life in Christ.  (426.5)  (DJ)