Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps…
…while the foolish went to buy oil, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding (the wedding feast); and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming (the 2nd coming).—Matthew 25:1-4;10-13
Let’s understand the parable by first understanding it’s context. Jesus is addressing His disciples about His second coming to the earth and what will befall upon Israel in their generation and the final generation. The background is the second coming and it is addressed to the nation of Israel. Matthew’s Gospel is written to a Jewish audience with a Jewish flavor. The previous chapter Jesus gives signs concerning his second coming to Israel. Then He admonishes with a number of parables that reveal a coming judgement between those who believe the Gospel and those who do not believe the Gospel. The parables of the fig tree, Noah’s day, two servants, 10 virgins, the talents, and finally the parable of sheep and goats. (All of which I will blog on later. It would be helpful to your understanding of these end-time parables to remember What Jesus said in John 3:16-19.)
Each parable is connected to The Lord coming to Israel a second time. Now notice more closely the parable of the ten virgins. There are two characters: the bridegroom and the 10 virgins. The bridegroom is Jesus and the virgins are Israel. Israel was looking for their messiah. John the Baptist was the voice crying out, ‘the bridegroom comes!” (John 3:19).
Now understand the Jewish Wedding and it becomes clear. There are three phases. First the betrothal—arrangements are made for the wedding, second the fetching of the bride to consummate the marriage, and third the wedding feast where friends are invited. The Parable of the 10 virgins is not about the fetching of the bride, for the bride is not mentioned. The bride is hidden from view in this parable because the mystery of the church would be disclosed later to the Apostle Paul in his letters to the churches. The bridegroom is coming to set up his kingdom beginning with a wedding feast. This becomes even clearer when you study to story of Ruth, a picture of the kinsman redeemer who takes a gentile bride and comes to restore Naomi to her Jewish homeland. (I did a teaching on this some time ago you can watch below, the teaching starts at the 39 minute mark)