The Ten Virgins
Copyright 1984 by Gayla Prince
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 not be enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegoom 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
The Parable of the 10 Virgins, and thus, the message of this painting, is a message for the members of the Church. It was a message sent to the elect with a warning that even the elect can be deceived. These virgins, who symbolize both men and women, represent those who profess a belief in Christ. The lamps are symbols of their outward profession of this belief. The gifts they hold are what is most precious to them and are symbols of what they offer to Christ.
The first five virgins represent those who were wise and prepared and brought extra oil. Each of these virgins represent a virtue necessary to meet the Bridegroom and obtain the Celestial Kingdom. The other five virgins represent those who were foolish and not prepared with extra oil. Each of these virgins represent a vice that would prevent one from entering the Celestial Kingdom.
1. The first virgin represents a Christ-like person. This is the person who is meek, humble, obedient, long-suffering, gracious, and just: one who has faith, is pure in heart, one who hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and is a peacemaker. This virgin prays and fasts, keeps the commandments and studies the scriptures to learn of Christ. You cannot be a Christ-like person unless you know Christ. Her gifts are palm fronds – which are symbolic of Christ entering Jerusalem for the last time when those who recognized Him as the Messiah laid palm fronds at his feet. Another gift, olive branches, are symbolic of the gathering of Israel in the last days. Her final gift is seven white lilies, which represent the seven dispensations of time.
2. The second virgin represents repentance, and forgiveness, and one who has accepted the atonement of Christ for her sins. She looks to Him with love and gratitude for being her own personal Savior. Her gifts are a stalk of wheat and a vessel of water which are representative of the sacrament. She is dressed in white linen, the material Christ was wrapped in when he was taken from the cross.
3. The third virgin represents the ordinances necessary on this earth to enter the kingdom, such as: Baptism, Confirmation, Endowments, Temple Marriage, and Temple Work which includes genealogy, etc. Her gifts are two doves, which represent the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit of Promise. She is dressed in blue, trimmed with gold – blue and gold are the colors of the priesthood.
4. The fourth virgin represents truth, light and knowledge, and discovering, developing, and using talents for building up the kingdom. Scrolls are her gift, which represent the knowledge, truth, and light she has gained The lyre is also her gift, representing all the talents she has developed, not just musical talents. She is the tallest and easiest to be seen of the five wise virgins because talents and knowledge are the most obvious and easiest to be seen of the five virtues.
5. The fifth virgin represents charity, the true love of Christ, and service. She is in the background, quietly going about her business without calling attention to herself. She has a serene smile. She represents the epitome of motherhood or fatherhood, of sweet, unseen service to her family and to others. Many who have viewed this painting have compared her to Mary, the mother of Jesus. There are few, perhaps one in ten, who will reach her level of charity and service. Her gift is a basket of fruits. It represents two things: First, `By their fruits ye shall know them", and Second: The Word of Wisdom. The tray and fruits are partly hidden which represents the hidden treasures spoken of in the Word of Wisdom.
6. The sixth virgin represents vanity and seeking after riches. She is the tallest of all the 10 virgins because it is easy to see the riches of the world. She would be the one to whom wealth and possessions are most important. Her gift is a golden vessel filled with gold and precious things. Her dress is costly. Even the scarlet color of her dress, which is decorated with jewels and gold, is a sign of wealth. It is important to remember that the love of riches is evil, not the riches.
7. The seventh virgin represents the sins and pleasures of the world. This virgin is very appealing to people. She is fun-loving and fun to be around. She doesn't realize how the immodesty of her gown makes her appear or how if affects the emotions and minds of others. Her testimony is weak and she generally goes with the crowd because she isn't strong enough to stand on her own. She would live by the philosophy of "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die." Her gift is a large vessel containing an alcoholic beverage, because drinking and sinning are alike in that they gradually dull the mind and senses until one day you wake up horrified at what you have done and become.
8. The eighth virgin represents addiction and excess. Her gifts are a swine's head which represents filthiness of body, mind, and spirit, and honeycomb which represents the addicting vices which are too sweet for us to give up. These addictions are not just what we take into our body internally, such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sugar or excess eating, etc., but also addictions of the mind and soul, such as soap operas, unrestricted T.V., listening to the wrong kind of music, R-rated or filthy movies or books. Anything that would cause the body or mind to depend upon or desire them. She has a weak will and would delight in telling or hearing dirty jokes or stories, or in repeating gossip. She seems to be inviting: "Try it,... join me.... it's fun."
9. The ninth virgin represents those who delve into dark works and idol worshiping. These are those who dleve into the mysteries of the occult, secret combinations, and perhaps other works in secret, like pornography, child abuse, and perversion. She has a band around her neck which symbolizes these sins that, first like threads and cords, become like bands and chains to drag us down to Hell. The jewel on the forehead represents the mark of the beast. The gift she gives is an idol of a goat's head and represents apostasy or anything that is put before the Lord. The goat is a symbol of Satan. She is dark and hidden. Her lamp has no glow to shine forth, it is consumed by her darkness. She consumes all light around her. Though what this virgin represents may be frightening and the power should be respected, it should be remembered that the Lord's power is greater.
10. The tenth virgin represents unrighteous power and ego. This is the one who is puffed up because she feels her calling is greater than someone else's. This is also the one who manipulates or rationalizes and would have one set of standards on Sunday and another in the business world. She wears a crown and carries a scepter which are symbols of her power. She is jealous and envious of others, even her dress is green with envy. She has a partially hidden sword which represents gossip or cutting people down behind their back. The sword also represents the many people who get hurt when someone tries to use unrighteous power. She is the first of the procession as if she feels she belongs at the front and has the right to lead. Her gift is the crown and scepter she wears, but will she give up her symbols of power even to the one to whom they belong?
The five wise virgins would have been the kind to share if they could, so there must have been a reason why they didn't. It is possible to share food, cloths, or shelter, but you can't share your own personal preparation. You can bear your testomony of Christ; you can repent for your own sins; you can do ordinances for yourself or others if they are dead; you can obtain truth, knowledge, and talents through your own labors; and you can work to develope charity and service in your own heart; but you cannot give or force these onto another. Drop by drop, each virgin, each person must prepare themselves and work out their own salvation. You can't borrow someone's else's preparation, soneone else's oil.
Every person who views this painting will find their own meaning according to the experiences of their own life. To most people it will bring mixed feelings as they see parts f themselves in all of he virgins. The waywill be clear - prepare yourself, give up the vies, and strengthen the virtues.
All the 10 virgins could be compared each with the other, but this is part of the wonder of each individual heart to make your own comparisons and find meaning for yourself. However, the value and placements of the first virgin needs to be considered. Why is she last in the procession? Why are the five wise virgins on the left rather than on the right? The first virgin knows Christ, she has become a Christ-like person. She is last in the procession, but she shall be first. "And the first shall be last and the last shall be first." We view her and the other wise virgins as if they were on the left. But as we become part of the procession, as we become one of the five wise virgins, as we join them in the painting, we are on the right.
It is significant that the first virgin is first because that is where we should first look. As we contemplate the challenges of repentance and preparation, we sometimes feel a hopelessness. How to rid ourselves of these foolish things and gain more of the wise qualities? It seems impossible. The answer lies with the first virgin – look to the light. Look to Christ. In order to become Christ-like, you must know Him. When you know Him, you love Him and all else comes. As you know and love Christ, you have no more desire to sin. You willingly give all your sins away. As you know and love Christ you willingly repent; you willingly take upon yourself the ordinances and receive the strength and blessings of His holy power; you willingly develop talents and thirst for knowledge; you willingly and lovingly perform services in His name. Christ is the key, the source of the light. To know Him is to love Him. To love Him is to become like Him."
A parable the Savior told to His disciples long ago
Of wise and also foolish ways, of signs and saints in latter-days.
The things He saw, we too can see, when next He comes to you and me.
Ten virgins bearing lamps alight awaited the bridegroom through the night.
Invited, honored guests they came, some wise - some foolish, not the same.
Those who have eyes will surely see, they're much the same as you and me.
The first bears palms for homage true, an olive branch, a lily, too.
Her voice speaks peace; she's humble, meek; She often turns the other cheek.
So pure in heart, oh could it be - that this first virgin could be me?
The second, gowned in burial white, seems searching for a heavenly sight.
The sacrament - her gift of love; The wheat and water decreed above.
Her repentant heart we all can see, perhaps this virgin could be me.
The third is Priesthood blue and gold concerns herself with young and old;
Ordinances for the living and the dead, two doves she brings the Prince who weds -
The Holy Ghost and sealings' key, this lovely virgin must be me.
Tall and fair with scrolls and lyre, the fourth seeks truth and knowledge power.
She sets her goals on talents bright, keeping eternity in sight.
She'll reach her goals and grow to be The kind of virgin I would be.
But wait, more wise than many others, the fifth gives charity to her brothers.
Quietly, gently, her fruits are shared with all who need her loving care.
Even the foolishes' needs she sees; oh, that this virgin might be me.
The sixth in proud and rich array lacks for naught along life's way.
The treasures of the earth she brings; 'tis more to earth than heav'n she clings.
In her I see a part of me, is this the virgin I will be?
The seventh is surely pleasure's child, in dress and pose, not meek or mild.
It's time for eat and drink and fun; there's ample time ere the bridegroom comes.
Her foolishness she cannot see, do others see that part of me?
The eighth has much to overcome - addictions and excess have quite undone
That temple holy her soul once was, now all eroded for sins' own cause.
If I'm not careful as can be, this foolish virgin will be me.
The virgin nine who loves the dark, in secret seeks to leave her mark,
Drawing others from the light, she sees all things with Satan's sight.
Her foolishness is sad to see; don't let her be a part of me.
Should I become a virgin ten, with power over the acts of men,
A troubled conscience I might know, as through the busy world I go;
All ego and dishonesty is what the world expects of me.
Am I more foolish or more wise? Am I living in disguise?
Do I gather oil ever brigh, to keep my gospel flame alight?
When the bridegroom comes, I pray He'll see one wise virgin will be me
Copyright 1985 -- Barbara G. Dykstra