I have no doubt that one important reason why we are “compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) about the Second Coming of Christ is to help us prepare for it. Today is a day of preparation, a day to watch for the time when the fig tree “putteth forth [its] leaves” (see Matthew 24:32–33).
Jesus exhorted us to watch for the day of His coming because we won’t know exactly when it will happen:
He goes on to describe a “faithful and wise servant” (see Matthew 24:45–47; compare Matthew 25:14–30) who is steadfast while his master is absent, and then an evil servant who rationalizes and says to himself, “My lord delayeth his coming.”
And [he] shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:48–51.)
The wholly unprepared servant smites his fellowservants, eats and drinks with the drunken, and is in time appointed a portion with the hypocrites when the master returns on “a day when he looketh not for him.”
We don’t often associate the two, but the parables in the Matthew 25—the ten virgins, the talents, and the sheep and the goats—seem to be a continuation of the sermon in the previous chapter. Chapter 25 begins with the famous parable of the ten virgins.
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. (Matthew 25:1–13.)
When I was a new convert, I used to wonder why the wise virgins couldn’t give the unwise oil for their lamps? As I grew older I discovered that it was because there are certain things we absolutely cannot do for others and that others cannot do for us. Others may pray for us, but they can’t do our praying for us. Others may try to teach us, but they can’t study the scriptures for us. Each of us must become a disciple on our own terms. In order for our discipleship to be meaningful and lasting, we have to do those things for ourselves, for the right reasons.
Revelry and violence evince that we have been distracted from our divine cause and our very natures. Distraction is direct evidence we are clinging to the wrong hope and motivated by a subversive spirit. The “foolish virgins [will be] among the wise” until the very hour comes:
These things are the things that ye must look for; and, speaking after the manner of the Lord, they are now nigh at hand, and in a time to come, even in the day of the coming of the Son of Man. And until that hour there will be foolish virgins among the wise; and at that hour cometh an entire separation of the righteous and the wicked; and in that day will I send mine angels to pluck out the wicked and cast them into unquenchable fire. (D&C 63:53–54.)
But if we are wise, we’ll accept the truth and take the Holy Spirit as our guide.
And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins. For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day. (D&C 45:56–57.)
The wise will not be distracted and deceived and hewn down, and those who treasure up the words of Christ will not be deceived when the Son of Man comes again:
And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived. (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37.)
Photo courtesy LDS Media Library.