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This painting to the left is called: The Ten Virgins I.
Hope involves waiting, and waiting is always active. With some people their hope and therefore their faith perish because the wait is too long as in the parable of the ten virgins found in Matthew 25. Here is the parable:
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any [additional] oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ “ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ “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. “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour". (From Matthew 25:1-13, Note: Adding the word “additional” is contextually justified in this parable, because each virgin had an initial supply of oil. If you don’t believe me, look where the foolish virgins say, “our lamps are going out”. The lamps can’t go out unless they had some oil to begin with).The word “virgin” is symbolic of purity in this parable. And so all ten virgins initially belong to God. As the virgins wait they all foolishly fall asleep and in the process waste the precious oil in their lamps. They are then rudely awakened at midnight – a time of darkness and trial. The promise then goes out that the bridegroom is on His way. The foolish virgins initially had the commitment to overcome their earlier trials and temptations since they had an initial supply of oil in their lamps. But as they progress it becomes evident that their hearts did not have the critical amount of commitment required to hold onto the promise and persevere through the darkness. The promise was that Jesus the Bridegroom is on His way. The foolish virgins had neglected to sell all of their earthly treasures in order to purchase more of the precious oil required to light their lamps that would have helped them await the bridegroom on into the night. The wise virgins had extra oil, and so could await the bridegroom on into the night. The oil in the parable represents the virgins’ commitment to God. Without it they could not have braved the darkness. This oil of commitment in the clay lamps (think us) burns together with the breath of life (think Holy Spirit) to make the light of the Gospel. The light of the Gospel is love.
|The foolish virgins gave up their commitments to God and so could no longer supernaturally-love or bear light during the darkest time of their lives. They couldn’t summon the faith to believe that the bridegroom was on His way during the darkest times of their lives. This is realized when the call goes out at midnight that the bridegroom is on his way. Inside each one of the foolish virgins there was a part of them that wanted to continue waiting for the bridegroom since they ask the wise virgins for more oil. But a still larger part inside each of them did not want to pay the price, and so they went into the city abandoning the wait for Jesus’ arrival. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The foolish virgins had divided hearts and so could not patiently await the bridegroom. It takes wisdom to know how to wait. Jesus knew how to wait for His crucifixion. He did not waste a moment. He was creative, for love is always creative and restorative. In response to me living out the parable of the ten virgins, I painted these pictures. The painting to the right is called: “The Ten Virgins II:|
Note: We have all failed in many commitments. We all have been disloyal to those we claim to love at one time or another. I can't throw the first stone as I am not without sin. I won't harden my heart to those who have seemingly lost faith...there is always hope...none of us have known anothers full story. I can't judge because I am guilty of many sins and I don't know all the facts. When we are able to be merciful...we can recieve mercy not because we earn it, but because we understand it (thanks Chris). When we find ourselves in a dark place the way out is through faith in a merciful Savior. As long as we remain deceived about the nature of the merciful Jesus...then no matter how much we cry out to Jesus we will project our merciless attitudes on Him and this prevents Him from being able to save us. Jesus' heart is to save us, to save all people. Jesus will not reject anyone who comes to Him in truth or calls on His name in faith no matter where they are.
I have not always seen hell the same way. I went through a sort of evolution in the way I saw it. At first I saw it as a place where the demons punished those there. I rejected this when my dark night began and so for a long time did not know what to think about it. But then, while at a bible study I met a lady that had an intriguing conception of hell. She saw it as redemptive in naure but that those there suffer because they resist the purging fires. This satisfied me for a long time...but when I came to see God's love as non-coercive in nature this did not appeal to me like it did before. But now I have a model that I think is more representative of the natures of both God and mankind.
I now see the burning experienced by those in hell as a burning thirst for God that is not satisfied out of pride. I see the fear experienced in hell as a result of never having received the forgiveness of God for one's sins. Both the burning and the fear cause horrendous pain and suffering. The wrongly directed thirsts of those there are directed to idols that never satisfied and are nolonger available. When we do not receive forgiveness from God and land up in hell, then we don't know what to expect and so have tormenting fears and nagging wormy, riddled guilt and shame that Satan planned and seeded within us while on earth; this guilt and shame will torment those in hell. It is through the forgiveness of our sins that salvation is realized. Ultimately pride keeps us from letting go of our attatchments to our idols (even when they are taken away from us) and from not being able to say we are wrong and make things right. When we attempt to satisfy our thirsts with idols, those thirsts are really thirsts for God that get redirected by lies to unworthy lesser things. Pride kills us, and fear torments us. God knows the proud by afar, but God grants grace to the humble: His empowering presence
Apart from the pride and unforgiveness that cause unbearable suffering, there is one other kind of suffering that I believe happens in Hell. In the New Testament it says that an axe is layed at the root of every tree that refuses to bear good fruit. The trees talked about here are people. Have you ever been cut by a knife or a piece of paper; or scrapped your knees on concrete? It causes a horrible buring sensation. This kind of buring I believe is caused by an axe striking the roots sustaining the life of the people who reject God and land up in Hell. The axe is not retributive justice in nature, but only the simple justice put into these words: "I gave these people everything needed and more to bear good fruit, but it is an injustice to waste these resources on these lifeless trees or people, so the injustice must be stopped." This withdrawing of resources causes them torment. But it must be said that no matter where a person is, if they call on the name of Jesus in truth, He will by no means reject them. But those in Hell are too proud to approach God so they keep their distance in Hell not because God wills it meanly, relishlingly, in revenge, and with malice, but because that is what sin does to people, it pushes God away. SIn is caused by believing lies about God, people and oneself. Lies are like chains, like drought, like burning heat or ice cold, and like blackness that all cause hardness of hearts, that dry up the hearts and keeps them from forgiving others, from being merciful, patient, kind, and gentle. But God can push through these lies, nudges them out of the way, exposes them for what they are: deceptions meant to rob, kill, steal, and destroy life. God takes no pleasure in the death of anyone.
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