Having presented the common or orthodox view of this parable we should here like to present another possible interpretation, note none of the essential lessons which we gleamed from the first have been changed it is simply the time for the application of this parable that is being reconsidered now. Upon further study the class had deemed that certain points in the parable merited reconsideration.
One point is that ten virgins went forth and the Bridegroom did tarry. After the tarrying, all of the virgins slumbered. Next came the midnight cry followed by all of the virgins arising and trimming their lamps and the admission by the foolish virgins that they did not have a sufficiency of oil. Then came a separation between the wise and the foolish virgin classes— the foolish went to the marketplace, the wise into the wedding. When the wise went into the wedding, the door was shut. The foolish virgins returned and found that the door had been shut in their absence; they remonstrated and tried to get in.
Since the first study, a question was brought up as to whether this parable could be advanced forward somewhat in time from the usual interpretation. The suggestion was made that the wise and foolish virgin classes are contemporaneous throughout the parable—that the same virgins are involved in this parable from beginning to end. In approaching the parable from that standpoint, Bro. Frank did not see such an application.
In the Parable of the Penny (likewise known as The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard), the time periods are succinctly mentioned, and all of the laborers have to be contemporaneous because all receive the reward at the same time at the end.
However one problem with advancing the parable is that the year 1914 occurred more than 106 years ago and, therefore, cannot be considered a contemporaneous picture with all of the participants still being on hand.
However, the question did provoke a lot of thinking during this past week. There was a reserve with regard to changing anything in this parable because of what seemed to be a strong application, but some points have to be considered more carefully.
The following was one reason for the reserve.
In the Old Testament Elijah (picturing a class) slept twice under the broom tree. (The Elisha class is not pictured there.) After the second sleep, the angel said, “Arise and eat because in the strength of this meal, you will go 40 days to Mount Sinai” (1 Kings 19:7, 8 paraphrase). The 40-day (year) time period seemed to fit in with the sleep of the wise and foolish virgins. (The parable mentions only one sleep, whereas the Elijah picture tells of two slumbers, and it was the second sleep of Elijah that had been equated with the one sleep of the wise and foolish virgins.)
The reserve for changing the parable was also based on the fact that a newspaper called The Midnight Cry appeared shortly after October 1874. This newspaper was equated with the parable, which tells that at midnight there was a cry, “Behold, the bridegroom!” Also, on the covers of the monthly *Watch Tower magazines, underneath the name Zion’s Watch Tower, was the phrase “Herald of Christ’s Presence.”
For 40 years the Watch Tower magazine was published that way. Thus it was like saying the cry pertained to Christ’s presence. This thought beautifully dovetailed with Rev 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” This application of the cry “Behold, the bridegroom” fit in so powerfully with other pictures that it seemed it just could not be changed.
Another point: If the Parable of the Ten Virgins were pushed forward, there would be, in effect, a third slumber. This fact, with all of the aforementioned reasons, served as a brake in not changing the parable.
*Watch Tower magazines: We speak here of the original Zion’s Watch Tower publications those which were written between July 1879 to June 1919.
These older publications ARE NOT to be confused with the later publications under a similar title published by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. There were no Jehovah’s Witnesses at the time; the Organization did not even exist until 1931, nor did they incorporate any of these earlier writings into their publications.
Continued with next post.
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