“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. Afterwards 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).
Simon Dewey’s painting captures one of the wise virgins, from Christ’s parable of the Ten Virgins, as she calmly awaits the arrival of the Master with her lamp ignited and her oil reserve ready. She has accrued the fuel required to illuminate the darkness as well as to replenish her lamp’s supply – one drop at a time – through her own spiritual preparedness and devout efforts. The essential oil attained is such that it cannot be shared or gifted to another. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles commented about the warning to be heeded: “The arithmetic of this parable is chilling. The ten virgins obviously represent members of Christ’s Church, for all were invited to the wedding feast and all knew what was required to be admitted when the bridegroom came. But only half were ready…” (footnote: “Preparation for the Second Coming,” General Conference, Apr. 2004.) “Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom” (D&C 33:17).
Additional reading: “The Parable of the Ten Virgins”