Mat 25:1-10 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 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. 10 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.
So the way some pre-tribbers teach this is that because the 10 virgins are asleep that it must be a time of calm and peace. Therefore, the coming of the Lord (or rapture) cannot occur during a time of tribulation, but must happen before.
I have found that the best way to understand what the Word is really saying is to look at each word carefully. So here's the verses in particular:
Wise vs. Foolish3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
Probably form the base of G3466; dull or stupid (as if shut up), that is, heedless, (morally) blockhead, (apparently) absurd: - fool (-ish, X -ishness).
From G5424; thoughtful, that is, sagacious or discreet (implying a cautious character; while G4680 denotes practical skill or acumen; and G4908 indicates rather intelligence or mental acquirement); in a bad sense conceited (also in the comparative): - wise (-r).
So the heedless virgins didn't prepare, while the cautious and thoughtful virgins brought extra oil. Below we'll explore the importance of the extra oil.
Waiting and Waiting and Waiting is Tiring5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
From a presumed derivative of G3506; to nod, that is, (by implication) to fall asleep; figuratively to delay: - slumber.
From G2596 and εὕδω heudō (to sleep); to lie down to rest, that is, (by implication) to fall asleep (literally or figuratively): - (be a-) sleep.
They slept. Even the wise virgins rested because the Bridegroom delayed his coming.
More Than a Cry6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
So at the "cry" the girls awaken.
Now according to Strong's concordance the Greek for "cry":
From G2896; an outcry (in notification, tumult or grief): - clamour, cry (-ing).
An outcry in notification; tumult or grief. A clamouring and crying.
Now that doesn't sound very peaceful.
"Behold the bridegroom comes, go out to meet him."
So the announcement or cry is to warn everyone that the Bridegroom is coming...not that he is already there. If he was there, the instructions would NOT have gone on to say "go out to meet him."
Time to Arise7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 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.
So are the announcement that the Bridegroom was on his way, the 10 virgins arose:
Probably akin to the base of G58 (through the idea of collecting one’s faculties); to waken (transitively or intransitively), that is, rouse (literally from sleep, from sitting or lying, from disease, from death; or figuratively from obscurity, inactivity, ruins, nonexistence): - awake, lift (up), raise (again, up), rear up, (a-) rise (again, up), stand, take up.
and trimmed their lamps
So there was no rush. They had time to arouse, collect their thoughts, rouse from obscurity or inactivity, and trim the wicks on their lamps.
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9
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.
Now, I want to focus on the oil. This was olive oil and it wasn't just used for lamps. Olive oil was also for cooking, heating and used in medicine. All necessities to living. Oil also has traditionally meant the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible, as in the "anointing".
So the wise virgins had extra oil. They had stocked up. So that even if they dozed they were still prepared.
Personally, I don't think this story has anything to do with the virgins falling asleep because it was a peaceful time. In fact I don't think this has anything to do with young women at all. We know that throughout the New Testament a virgin is associated with a Bride of Christ...the church on this earth.
So I believe we are seeing a stretch of time from the time Jesus left to now. The church has been waiting for over 2000 years for the return of Jesus. In that time, the church as a whole has pretty much gone to sleep.
Even those with the oil of the Holy Spirit have slumbered. But when the announcement comes that Jesus is on His way. Time is short. The church wakes up. Unfortunately for the unwise, who have failed to stock up on the Holy Spirit and knowledge of the Word, the annointing...they have to go find it.
The wise on the other hand, did get sleepy too. However, they did have the Holy Spirit, and when the cry (tumult, grief, clamour, crying) begins, they wake up and trim their lamps. They refill their lamps with that precious oil. They are ready. Not only do they have enough to be a light, but they have enough for sustenance (food), comfort (heat), and healing (medicine).
I believe the cry has started sounding. Many in the church are waking up and trimming their lamps. Unfortunately, many others in the church are waking up to find they don't have what they need to be a light.