I just finished studying your article titled Be ye Fruitful , in which you explain about the four types of ground where the seed of the sower fell into (Matthew 13: 3-9). I also read Brother Richard Gan’s message on the Ten Virgins. I want to ask, what “grounds” out of the four can we say the foolish virgins fall into?
It is important to understand that a parable is a story with a specific theme used to illustrate a truth. So, wherever we see a parable in Scripture we must first recognise its theme and the truth it intends to convey.
The application of a parable is always restricted to its theme. The failure to comprehend this has made some theologians stretch interpretations into exaggerations. That is the case with one well known organisation whose leaders have explained that the “wise virgins” of Matthew 25:1-13 do not to refer to the “Bride”. It is explained that in this parable the ten bridesmaids are escorting the bride and therefore can’t refer to the Bride of Christ. The Bride of Christ is said to be that small number of 144,000 of Revelation Chapter 7. It is further believed and taught that these 144,000 are the only people that will be given the priviledge to go to heaven; the rest of believers will only live on earth. Then they move to Matthew 22:1-14 to further emphasise that “the king” had invited guests to the marriage feast of his son. Here again it is assumed that the bride to the king’s son is what referred to the selected few and all other Christians are the ones invited to the feast! All such strange interpretations arise from stretching parables beyond their theme.
Parable of Ten Virgins (Mat. 25:1-13)
We must ask ourselves this: When we look at the parable of ten virgins, what is the theme of the story? What is the message that was intended to be communicated? The message or theme of the parable can easily be found in the last words of admonishment the Lord said after telling it – “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Mat.25:13). So the Lord wanted to tell us about the importance of being always ready and he decided to use an illustration of a wedding. But a wedding has so many activities and different players: there is the groom, the bride, the bridesmaids, the friend of the bridegroom, the parents presenting the bride, etcetera. The Lord had to pick characters and activities that were appropriate for the message He wanted to convey. He decided to use bridesmaids and there was a good reason for that.
In the parable bridesmaids were called virgins. Here it is important to know that Jesus was not an American or European. He lived in that oriental (middle-eastern) region of the world and so his manner of language and illustrations were of that world. In the oriental weddings bridesmaids were unmarried young women. And as Brother Richard Gan has explained in detail, in THE FINALE, “At an appointed time, these maidens were supposed to go forth and receive the bridegroom in his procession to the bride’s home… As it was usually conducted in the evening, lights were needed” (p.50). It is here where we can see that the Lord chose bridesmaids to emphasise the importance of being ready for the “appointed time”! Thus, the theme of the parable is not about the identity of the bride or the feasting during the event; those things are completely silent in the parable because the parable’s message is not about them! The parable is about readiness to meet the Bridegroom!
Parable of the Marriage Feast (Mat.22:1-14)
A simple reading of Matthew 22:1-14 shows that the parable is not about the king’s son or bride. The parable is about an invitation to a wedding feast; a wedding feast which some people despised to attend and others attended, and out of those who attended some were accepted (“chosen”) and others rejected for dressing inappropriately. The Lord concluded the narration of the parable by admonishing with these words, “For many are called, but few are chosen”.
The Parable of the Sower and the Seed (Mat.13:1-23)
The theme of the parable of the sower and the seed is about the different ways people hear the Word of God and why some people prosper in their hearing and others do not. In speaking the parable the Lord explained, “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side… But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (v.18-23). This parable applies to “any one [that] heareth the Word of the Kingdom”. That “any one” lived in the days of the Lord Jesus, in the days of the early church, or through the Church Ages. That “any one” could be a brother or sister in a local church. While it may be correct to say that the Foolish Virgins are not “he that received seed into the good ground” (v.23), to now find the specific category of the three other grounds they may belong to becomes a futile exercise because the theme of the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins is not about hearing but about readiness to meet the Bridegroom! The analogies in the two parables are simply too incongruent to be related.