Not long ago, my wife and I were in a cowboy town where the stop signs read, “whoa” instead of “stop.” I thought it was a fun way to show the uniqueness of their little town. I got a chuckle every time I had to stop at a “whoa” sign.
The word “woe” is used in scripture too. It has a different spelling but basically the same meaning. Woe means to stop because danger is at the door. It means a turnaround is required before danger causes disaster.
Jesus gave seven woes to the religious leaders in Matthew’s gospel. Why so many? It was passion week and Jesus knew his time was limited. He was concerned about the self-promoting attitudes of these men who were leading people astray. Jesus knew dangerous days were ahead for his church. He said there would be strong religious deception, international strife, wars and natural disasters. Sound familiar? Jesus knew hearts would become weary and wayward if not aware of what was happening. He gives three parables in Matthew 25 to help us live successfully. The first parable begins this way:
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom,” Matthew 25:1.
“At that time” refers to the rapture when Jesus takes his followers to heaven. Jesus is the bridegroom. The 10 virgins are believers who begin wanting to please the bridegroom — Jesus. And the lamps refer to the Holy Spirit’s light in our life.
Jesus shares the secret to pleasing the bridegroom is to live in God’s light and to share it well. He then shared three ways to do that.
“Five of these were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps,” Matthew 25:2-4.
Fools live without seeing all the factors involved and often make choices that bring poor consequences down the road. But the wise person takes into account not just today but tomorrow, too, and prepares well for it. We can be happy in a season that lasts forever if we prioritize what matters eternally.
“The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep,” Matthew 25:5-9.
The bridegroom didn’t come right away. And the reason is made clear in Peter’s gospel. God is waiting for more people to turn from sin and trust him. He wants all to be with him forever in eternity. And that’s a good reason for all of us to allow the Holy Spirit to shine through us. In the end, God wants us happy not only about Jesus’ coming but about all who will go to heaven with us.
“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut,” Matthew 25:10-1).
Prudence means to live cautiously and to do what is right because it is right to do. Let’s make that our practice and be happy people eternally.