The Bridegroom Tarried …
September 11th….A literal interpretation of the Parable of the Ten Virgins
© Sept 2006 Onewhoiswatching www.threewatches.blogspot.com
On August 16th 1834, Joseph Smith wrote a letter to Lyman Wight and the brethren on the High Council in Missouri telling them that the spirit had informed him that the leaders of the Church in Zion must use-
“every effort to prevail on the churches to gather to those regions and situate themselves to be in readiness to move into Jackson Co. in two years from the Eleventh of September next which is the appointed time for the redemption of Zion“.
Giving a set time when the redemption of Zion was to take place was quite a bold thing to do!
Critics of the Latter-day Saints often refer to these statements in the letter to demonstrate that Joseph Smith was a false prophet since the redemption of Zion never took place at the appointed time.
If one reads the entire letter and puts his statements in context it is clear that Joseph Smith was not prophesying that Zion would be redeemed on that date, but rather he was giving a conditional promise from the Lord based on obedience.
IF the Saints were faithful in exerting themselves, the redemption of the Saints would be accomplished on September 11 1836. On the other hand, if they failed in this attempt, they would be scourged!
In the letter he warned them that;
“if we don’t exert ourselves to the utmost in gathering up the strength of the Lords house that this thing may be accomplished behold there remaineth a scourge.”
It is interesting that church historians and gospel scholars have very little to say about Joseph Smiths declaration prior to the failure of the Saints to redeem Zion at the appointed time. Most Latter-day Saints are unfamiliar with this quote.
If we as Latter-day Saints really believe that Joseph Smith was acting under the influence of the spirit and that God really had designated the appointed time and place for the redemption of Zion it seems likely that prophets from previous dispensations would have uttered prophetic statements about it.
I would submit to you that Old Testament prophets did make reference to this event in the LDS restoration movement and in fact, Christ himself offered a parable that would profile the restored church of God in the later days.
The purpose of this paper is to submit that in fact Joseph Smith was acting prophetically when identifying the appointed time and place for the redemption of Zion during that generation in the 2nd Watch.
If indeed this hypothesis is true, his statement and the related events of LDS Church History have huge implications and they would actually identify the literal fulfillment of the parable of the Ten Virgins and explain WHY the Bridegroom tarried… providing a powerful historical witness that the Church of Christ that was restored to the earth by Joseph Smith was indeed the true Church of Christ!
Prophetic utterances in Isaiah appear to have been referring to the Kirtland Saints and the passing of the appointed time of redemption in some of his writings:
“…when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not… I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.” Isa 50:2
As we have discussed before, virtually all prophecies have at least a dual fulfillment and sometimes more than two fulfillments. Modern Revelation reiterates the words of Isaiah and informs us they refer to at least two specific and separate events in religious history that take place prior to the Second Coming. Notice the response of the Lord in the scripture above from Isaiah and compare it to the scripture below in the D&C. Does this not apply to the unfaithful Saints in all three watches?
“In that day when I came unto mine own, [LDS Restoration Movement?] no man among you received me, and you were driven out. When I called again [time of the Marvelous Work?] there was none of you to answer; yet my arm was not shortened at all that I could not redeem, neither my power to deliver….And this shall ye have of my hand—ye shall lie down in sorrow. Behold, and lo, there are none to deliver you; for ye obeyed not my voice when I called to you out of the heavens; ye believed not my servants, and when they were sent unto you ye received them not.” D&C 133:66-71
Isaiah also speaks of an unsuccessful attempt in harvesting fruit in his vineyard:
“What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?” Isa 5:4
Again, latter-day revelation provides clarification to the words of Isaiah by explaining the parable of the wheat and tares. The redemption of Zion at the time the foundation was being laid in Kirtland and Jackson needed to be delayed because wild grapes (tares) were among the natural grapes (wheat) See section 86
The date that Joseph Smith gave for the redemption of Zion coincides with the word of the Lord in section 64 which was also given on September 11th, in 1831:
“…I the Lord will to retain a strong hold in the land of Kirtland, for the space of five years in the which I will not overthrow the wicked, that thereby I may save some. And after that day, I the Lord will not hold any guilty that shall go with an open heart up to the land of Zion ; for I, the Lord require the hearts of the children of men.”
We see from section 64 that three years prior to the letter Joseph Smith wrote to the brethren in Zion, the Lord had revealed that Kirtland would no longer remain a stronghold for the members of the church after September 11th 1836 and that if any were to enter the land of Zion at that appointed time, they would not be held guilty for their actions.
Section 64 is an amazing prophecy. How could anyone have known that Kirtland would remain as a spiritual and temporal stronghold for the Saints for 5 years and that after that, apostasy would break out?
Little did the Saints realize that after that period of time, they would fail to redeem Zion, enemies of the church would prevail, the Temple would be defiled, the stronghold would be dissolved and the Saints would need to flee from Kirtland?
Needless to say, the redemption of Zion never materialized on September 11th 1836.. A feeble attempt at restoring the Saints to their lands in Jackson County had taken place in the form of “Zions Camp” in 1832 but it failed in it’s mission and the Saints ultimately failed to find their redemption at the appointed time in Jackson County, four years after the Zions Camp episode.
The hopes of the Saints were dashed. The appointed time came and went and Zion was not redeemed.
One could postulate that the scourging pronounced upon the Saints in the letter and some of the revelations, took place in the form of the persecutions they experienced as they were driven by their enemies from Kirtland, Far West, Nauvoo and eventually the trek to Utah. Others would argue that the scourging upon the Saints is yet a future event… or at least a dual fulfillment.
September 11th 1836 appears to have been the apex of the restoration movement. Just months before that appointed time, the Savior appeared to Joseph and Oliver to accept the temple. A strong case can be made for the possibility that the failure of the Saints to redeem Zion by the appointed time was one of the major things that resulted in the closing of the heavens.
The prophet Isaiah notes that the wickedness of the Latter-day Saints in closing their eyes and rejecting the words of the prophets results in the covering of the eyes of the seers:
“For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity.” (Book of Mormon version of Isaiah 29:10)
It is an amazing concept that when God’s people reject God’s prophets, God will cover the eyes of the Prophet and sometimes even use that prophet to lead the people into further delusion.
The following chart illustrates the closing of the heavens during the restoration movement after the defiling of the Kirtland Temple and the failure of the Saints to consecrate.
During the first eight years of Joseph Smiths public ministry he received over 100 revelations that were canonized.
He only received about 12 revelations after September 11th 1836, during the remaining eight years prior to the martyrdom. Of those 12 revelations, one was section 112 which announced that the whole world (including the Saints) had been overcome by gross darkness and all flesh had become corrupt.
Another was section 124 which announced that the higher priesthood had been lost and promised the Saints that they would not be moved out of Nauvoo if they were obedient.
No canonized revelations were received by him during the last three years of his life. Even his brother Hyrum who the Lord called to be a co-President of the Church and eventually his successor, did not receive any canonized revelations during those last years. Was that because God made a mistake in picking Hyrum? Was it because Hyrum was disobedient? It is much more likely because the Saints had rejected the words of Joseph and Hyrum and because the Saints had rejected Hyrum as Joseph Smith’s successor.
The revelations highlighted in yellow contained strong language concerning the importance of living the law of consecration and the consequences of not living it.
If we were to take the parable of the Ten Virgins literally, it would appear to be a prophecy about a group of believers who receive an invitation from Christ to come and be united with him.
Although the parable begins partway through the story line with the virgins going forth to the marriage, it is obvious that an invitation had previously been extended to the Saints who, in the parable are depicted as ten virgins.
A wedding invitation must have an appointed place and an appointed time in order for all of the guests to congregate together at the same time for the marriage feast and ceremony.
The parable informs us however that the Bridegroom tarried and did not show up at the appointed time.
Sometime after the appointed time, all of the virgins eventually fell asleep without realizing the blessings of the marriage reunion with Christ on this earth.
Although some might postulate that the falling asleep of the ten virgins’ represents spiritual digression or apostasy from the truth, ( Rom 11:8, Isa 29:10, Matt 13:14, 2 Ne 16:10, 15:27, 27:6,9) a stronger scriptural case can be made that sleep in this context represents death.
A strong biblical euphemism for death is sleep. In Matthew we are told that the graves were opened; (Matt 27:52) and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, Paul explains that many had died for taking the Passover unworthily:
“For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.” (1 Cor 11:30)
He uses this euphemism similarly in Acts:
“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption” (Acts 13:36)
In Corinthians he states:
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (Cor 15:20)
Latter day revelation supports the biblical reverences above:
“But before the arm of the Lord shall fall, an angel shall sound his trump and the saints that have slept shall come forth to meet me in the cloud …” (D&C 45:45-46)
” they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven.” (D&C 88:97)
“I saw Father Adam and Abraham and my father and my mother; my brother Alvin, that has long since slept;” (D&C 137:5)
It is not uncommon for prophetic scriptural words to have multiple layered meanings. There is a strong probability that both definitions of the term sleep apply in this parable. The Virgins appear to have gone into a spiritual digression and eventually died without making it to the wedding. The interpretation that seems to have the greatest relevance in the prophetic context and seems to be the primary definition is that of death.
Perhaps the most pertinent and compelling key in discerning that the primary meaning of sleep is death, is provided in section 86, wherein keys to understanding the parable of the wheat and the tares are given by the Lord.
” …the field was the world, and the apostles were the sowers of the seed; And after they have fallen asleep the great persecutor of the church, the apostate, the whore, even Babylon, that maketh all nations to drink of her cup, in whose hearts the enemy, even Satan, sitteth to reign—behold he soweth the tares; wherefore, the tares choke the wheat and drive the church into the wilderness.”
The Cry is Made by the Davidic Servant
Sometime after falling asleep however, the parable tells us a cry was made which raised the sleeping virgins from the dead. This is consistent with Davidic Servant texts wherein Gods last Witness who holds the Keys of the kingdom returns to the vineyard to prepare the way of the Lord. He makes the loud cry and awakes the sleeping virgins from the sleep of death. ( and apostasy?)
The mysterious resurrection of the sleeping virgins that takes place just prior to the second coming is spoken of in many places in the Old and New Testament. One account is in Daniel;
“And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Perhaps one of the most vivid accounts of people awaking from death when the last watchman lifts his voice upon the mountains is contained in the 52nd chapter of Isaiah.
“Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion…Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down… loose thyself from the bands of thy neck…, O captive daughter of Zion.”
This Chapter speaks about the Davidic Servant with the marred visage and the other watchmen that publish good tidings and bring again Zion at the time that people are coming forth out of their graves.
If we were to search all of the Christian religions to see if there was a movement in religious history that fits the pattern and storyline of this parable, we would need to find a group that literally claimed revelation from Christ inviting them to the Marriage.
Their prophet would need to have publicly announced an appointed place where the great marriage would take place and an appointed time that the marriage would take place. Furthermore they, as a group would need to have gone forth to meet Christ at the appointed time and place and then failed in the attempt causing the Bridegroom to tarry!
If such a religious movement could be found to fit that description, it would need to be a matter of public record that the Bridegroom tarried and failed to come at the appointed time and the Saints of that generation lingered and eventually all passed away without realizing their dream of uniting with the Bridegroom in mortality.
He shall come in the first watch, in the second and again in the third.
In section 45 the Lord gave further clarity to the events of the last generation that are contained in Matthew 24, however he revealed that greater information pertaining to the end times would be provided once the inspired translation was completed. (Section 45:60-62) Latter-day Saints have been given critical information pertaining to the second coming of Christ that no other Christian religion has! We need to do is search the inspired version for this cryptic information.
In addition to the further clarity of Matthew 24 provided in the inspired translation, other mysteries about the coming of Christ are also revealed in other chapters as well. Let us now consider some of the secrets that the JST reveals about the end times.
In the inspired version of Matthew 21 We are informed that Christ mystically visits the world in secret, like a thief in the night three different times prior to his final coming in Glory.
Each of these gospel dispensations is referred to as a watch. We are informed that the first watch was in the meridian of time during Christ’s earthly ministry when the Jews were expecting a messianic military leader to come in power and free them from the bondage of a foreign tax collector, typological to Moses and the Children of Israel.
Only the LDS restoration movement and the ancient and modern scriptures they brought forth, clearly identifies and explains what the other two watches refer to.
Here is an excerpt from the inspired version which gives additional information about the three watches, showing that the second watch is when the gospel is restored through the gentiles and that the gentiles ultimately reject the gospel just as the Jews did. Finally, the third watch is the Marvelous Work when the Lord returns to reign in his vineyard:
“Behold, there was a certain householder, who planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a wine-press in it; and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.
And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did unto them likewise. But last of all, he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.
But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
And Jesus said unto them, When the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will destroy those miserable, wicked men, and will let out the vineyard unto other husbandmen, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
Jesus said unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner; this is the Lord’s doings, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof [The gentile church and kingdom will bring forth the same wicked fruits as the Jewish church and kingdom brought forth] . For whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. And they said among themselves, Shall this man think that he alone can spoil this great kingdom?
And they were angry with him But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they learned that the multitude took him for a prophet. And now his disciples came to him, and Jesus said unto them, Marvel ye at the words of the parable which I spake unto them?
Verily, I say unto you, I am the stone, and those wicked ones reject me. I am the head of the corner. These Jews shall fall upon me, and shall be broken.
And the kingdom of God shall be taken from them [The Jews], and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof; (meaning the Gentiles.)
Wherefore, on whomsoever this stone shall fall, it shall grind him to powder. And when the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, he will destroy those miserable, wicked men, and will let [ during the second watch the vineyard is leased to wicked rulers- they have the legal right to preside for a time but are destroyed when the Lord returnes in the third watch] again his vineyard unto other husbandmen, even in the last days, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
And then understood they the parable which he spake unto them, that the Gentiles should be destroyed also, when the Lord should descend out of heaven to reign in his vineyard, which is the earth and the inhabitants thereof.” (Mat 21 & JST Mat 21)
Christ’s coming during the first watch in the meridian of time was not recognized by the Jewish nation because they had inaccurate expectations. They were not found watching and waiting.
A Second watch (dispensation) was to take place prior to the last watch. It was the LDS restoration movement herein the Saints failed to redeem Zion.
The Third and final Watch (dispensation) is about to be ushered in. It is referred to as the dispensation of the fulness of times. Isaiah refers to it as the Marvelous Work and a Wonder.
…Fall on them like a stone
Adding further clarity to the doctrine of three watches taught in JST Luke, the inspired version of Matthew explains that the first watch represented the preaching of the gospel to the Jewish Church and Kingdom. It informs us that within a very short time the Jewish nation rejected the light so the gospel was taken from the Jews to the Gentiles. It further explains that the Second watch represents the Gospel being preached to the Gentiles:
“Let your loins be girded about and have your lights burning; That ye yourselves may be like unto men who wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding; that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
Verily I say unto you, Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching; for he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
For, behold, he cometh in the first watch of the night, and he shall also come in the second watch, and again he shall come in the third watch.
And verily I say unto you, He hath already come, [in the meridian of time] as it is written of him; and again when he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, blessed are those servants when he cometh, that he shall find so doing; For the Lord of those servants shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
And now, verily I say these things unto you, that ye may know this, that the coming of the Lord is as a thief in the night. And it is like unto a man who is an householder, who, if he watcheth not his goods, the thief cometh in an hour of which he is not aware, and taketh his goods, and divideth them among his fellows.
And they said among themselves, If the good man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through and the loss of his goods.
And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, be ye therefore ready also; for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speaketh thou this parable unto us, or unto all? And the Lord said, I speak unto those whom the Lord shall make rulers over his household, to give his children their portion of meat in due season.
And they said, Who then is that faithful and wise servant? And the Lord said unto them, It is that servant who watcheth, to impart his portion of meat in due season. [watching for the appointed time to consecrate]
Blessed be that servant whom his Lord shall find, when he cometh, so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.
But the evil servant is he who is not found watching. And if that servant is not found watching, he will say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants, and the maidens, and to eat, and drink, and to be drunken. The Lord of that servant will come in a day he looketh not for, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him down, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
And that servant who knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not for his Lord’s coming, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not his Lord’s will, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required; and to whom the Lord has committed much, of him will men ask the more.” (See Luke 12:35 & JST Luke 12:41-57)
We are informed that the Gentiles bring forth the same evil fruits that the Jews brought forth in the first watch.
Typological to the first watch, the Gospel light is rejected by the Gentiles and goes forth to the Jews during the second watch.
Finally in the third watch, the gospel light shines upon the Gentiles again and then goes to the Jews. The third watch is referred to in other scriptures as the strange act, the marvelous work, the fullness of times, the time of refreshing and the times of restitution of all things.
Within one generation after the Jews of the first watch reject the gospel, their church and kingdom is destroyed. It appears, from latter-day revelation that in the second watch, the Lord destroys the Gentiles church and kingdom after four generations.( D&C 98:46, 103:26, 105:30, 124:50,52)
The throwing down of the gentile Church and the destruction of the gentile nations of the earth takes place at about the time that the gospel light shines forth in the third and final watch… when the marvelous work comes forth.
From these two sections in the inspired version we are informed that there would be three separate and distinct gospel dispensations leading up to the Second Coming in Glory:
The meridian dispensation
The latter-day restoration of the Church
The Dispensation and the Marvelous Work dispensation.
The first shall be last and the last shall be first
“And the time cometh that he shall manifest himself unto all nations, both unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles; and after he has manifested himself unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles, then he shall manifest himself unto the Gentiles and also unto the Jews, and the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.” (1 Nephi 13:42 See also Jacob 5:63 & Ether 13:12)
First Watch: The Gospel is first preached to the Jews then lastly to the Gentiles
Second Watch: The Gospel is first preached to the Gentiles lastly to the Jews
Third Watch: The Gospel is first preached to the Gentiles lastly to the Jews
The Jews were the first to receive the gospel in the first watch. They are the last to receive it in the last watch. The Gentiles are the last to receive it in the first watch but are the first to receive it in the last watch. The first shall be last and the last shall be first.
We know from scripture that the foundation movement (when the church was restored to the earth in the 1830s) represents the second watch mentioned in the inspired version of Mark. The Marvelous Work that precedes the Second Coming represents the third watch.
First Watch: Christ comes mystically to his vineyard during meridian of time
Second Watch: Christ comes mystically to his vineyard to lay the foundation for the third watch in the 1800″s
Third Watch: 4 Generations later, Christ comes mystically to his vineyard to bring about the Marvelous Work
Christ’s coming in secret, in the third watch will culminate in Christ’s coming in glory, not likened unto a thief in the night; a more correct analogy would be as a robber in the full light of day.
Joseph Smith clearly understood and taught that at the time that the tribulations of the last generation mentioned in Matthew 24 take place; a new dispensation of the gospel would be committed to God’s last witness. A different dispensation than the one given to Joseph Smith to restore the church:
“…I shall read the 24th. ch of Matthew and give it a litteral rendering and reading, and when it is rightly understood it will be edifying (he then read & translated it from the German) I thought the very oddity of its rendering would be edifying any how-“And it will preached be; the Gospel of the Kingdom in the whole world, to a witness over all people, and then will the end come.” 5 I will now read it in German-(which he did, and many Germans who were present said he translated it correct) the Savior said, when those tribulations should take place, it should be committed to a man, who should be a witness over the whole world, the keys of knowledge, power, and revelations, should be revealed to a witness who should hold the testimony to the world; 6 it has always been my province to dig up hidden mysteries, new things, for my hearers-just at the time when some men think that I have no right to the keys of the Priesthood 7 just at that time, I have the greatest right-the Germans are an exalted people. the old German translators are the most correct; most honest of any of the translators, and therefore I get testimony to bear me out in the revelations that I have preached for the last 14 years-the old German, Latin, Greek and Hebrew translations all say it is true, they cannot be impeached, and therefore I am in good company-all the testimony is, that the Lord in the last days would commit the keys of the Priesthood to a witness over all people-has the Gospel of the Kingdom commenced in the last days? and will God take it from the man, until he takes him, himself? 8 I have read it precisely as the words flowed from the lips of Jesus Christ-John the Revelator saw an angel flying thro’ the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, &c. 9 the Scripture is ready to be fulfilled when great wars, famines, pestilence, great distress, judgements, &c are ready to be poured out on the Inhabitants of the Earth-John saw the angel having the holy Priesthood who should preach the everlasting gospel to all nations,-God had an angel, a special messenger, ordained, & prepared for that purpose in the last days-Woe! Woe! be to that man, or set of men, who lift up their hands against God and his Witness in these last days. 10-for they shall deceive almost the very chosen ones-my apostate enemies say that I have been a true prophet-& I had rather be a fallen true prophet, than a false prophet” (12 May 1844, Thomas Bullock Report)
This explains why section 45 tells us that at the time of the very last dispensation, (third watch) the times of the gentiles needs to come in AGAIN even though the times of the gentiles had previously come in during the 2nd watch:
“and when the times of the Gentiles comes in, a light will shine forth among those who sit in darkness and it shall be the fullness of my gospel, but they receive it not for they perceive not the light and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men”
An understanding that Christ comes three different times, during three different dispensations as a thief in the night prior to his coming in glory is essential in understanding the parable of the Ten Virgins. The parable is speaking about the virgins being invited to the wedding feast during the second watch but the wedding is delayed until the third and final watch.
At the appointed time, the Bridegroom tarries and the feast is delayed and the Saints of the second watch miss out on the marriage at the appointed time and eventually die off or fall asleep.
When the cry is made in the third watch, the sleeping virgins wake up and the wise virgins go into the marriage where they find a place of refuge during a time of great distress.
We know from multiple prophecies that the call goes forth at a time when great wars are about to take place.
Latter day revelation makes it clear that the Latter Day Saints represent the ten virgins in the parable:
“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—” (33:17)
Latter-day Saint leaders have also stated that the parable of the ten virgins makes exclusive reference to the Latter-day Saints:
“I believe that the Ten Virgins represent the people of the Church of Jesus Christ and not the rank and file of the world. All of the virgins, wise and foolish, had accepted the invitation to the wedding supper; they had knowledge of the program and had been warned of the important day to come.” Spencer W. Kimball. “In the last days, before the Son of Man comes, his church is likened unto ten virgins, all of whom have accepted the gospel invitation to attend the marriage feast of the Lamb. But the bridegroom delays his coming.” Bruce R. McConkie
Realizing that the parable of the Ten Virgins begins with the virgins of the Second Watch missing their appointment with the bridegroom and going to sleep until they arise to enter into the wedding feast at the time of the third watch, let us now analyze the major points of the parable to see if the Latter-day Saints can really provide a religious historical movement that could meet the requirements to fulfill this parable.
1- Then shall the Kingdom of Heaven be likened to…
What exactly is the Kingdom of Heaven being likened to in this parable? Many people assume that the answer is given in the first verse and therefore they assume that the kingdom of Heaven is being likened to Ten Virgins; however this cannot be the case. Certainly the foolish virgins cannot represent what the kingdom of heaven is like. The answer is clarified later in the parable.
The scriptures teach that God refers to his kingdom on earth as the Kingdom of God and to his kingdom in Heaven as the Kingdom of Heaven. We also know that we are to pray for his kingdom to come on earth preparatory to his second coming in glory. The Lords prayer in the New Testament includes the phrase, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
The same prayer that Christ taught the Nephites excludes the phrase Thy kingdom come and simply petitions thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The reason that verse was not included in the Lords prayer in the Book of Mormon appears to be because he was in the act of setting up his kingdom on earth among the Nephites and it was therefore no longer necessary to pray for it to come.
Christ set up the law of Consecration among the Nephite Nation which is also known as Celestial Law and the Law of Zion. This is why they were not required to pray for the return of Christ’s kingdom as the New Testament disciples were. Because of the Book of Mormon and modern revelation, Latter-day Saints have an understanding of the obscure New Testament scriptures that inform us that the New Testament Church held all things in common after the crucifixion.
While Christians pass these verses off as intriguing but not significant to the gospel, Latter-days Saints understand that consecration is a required aspect of the gospel for the organized church of Christ. We shall see as we progress in the parable that the polarization that takes place at the end of time between the forces of good and evil include the choosing between two very different economies.
Modern revelation informs us that at the Second Coming, the Zion from earth below is caught up to be united with Christ and the city of Zion from above. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the fathers cannot be saved without the children neither the children without the fathers. In other words, the Old Testament patriarchal fathers suspended in Enoch’s Zion cannot ultimately progress in their exaltation and receive their final salvation until they are reunited with the children of Zion from the meridian dispensation and the last dispensation which includes the dispensation of the fullness of times. This would include the righteous Saints in the meridian of time, the righteous Nephites, the righteous Saints at the time the church was restored through Joseph Smith and all of the righteous up to our time. Verse 1 & verse 10 of the Parable of the Ten Virgins teach that the kingdom of heaven is likened to the marriage of Christ to the wise virgins that awake and arise from the dust. Additional information in the scriptures informs us that Christ has the city of Enoch with him when he comes to the marriage. The marriage is the reuniting of Zion from above with Zion from beneath at Christ’s coming.
2- Which went forth to meet the Bridegroom…
Again, it is apparent the parable begins part way through the storyline. We know that you must first receive an invitation before you may go forth to a marriage feast. The fact that the virgins were going forth to meet the Bridegroom at the marriage feast indicates that they had received an invitation. An invitation to a wedding feast has an appointed time as previously demonstrated, and an appointed place (51:7).
Any church claiming to be the true church mentioned in this parable would need to be able to demonstrate through their history and from their revelations that they had indeed been invited to the marriage feast, that he had given them an appointed time and an appointed place. They would also need to demonstrate as we will see later on in the parable that the Bridegroom tarried at the appointed time and that the marriage feast was postponed to a later time!
3- And five of them were wise and five of them were foolish…
We have been informed by leaders of the Church that the ten virgins refer to the portion of Latter-day Saints that have a testimony of Jesus Christ and were going forth to the marriage. This indicates that only half of the believing portion of the Virgins will make it to the marriage feast.
4- The Wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps
Of those that believe in Christ and have intentions of being included in the marriage, half of them are wise and have taken oil in their lamps. We are informed in modern revelation that having oil in your lamp refers to taking the Holy Spirit as your guide, receiving the truth and not being deceived.
5- While the Bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept
The bride groom tarried! He delayed his arrival and did not show up at the appointed time! Very few Mormons are very familiar with their own church history and the significance of many of the events of the restoration movement. In 1831, AFTER the restoration of the church and the restoration of the priesthood & the saving ordinances of the gospel, the Lord gave a revelation commanding the church to go to the Ohio where he would give them the LAW!
It seems odd that there was still a law that needed to be revealed and lived AFTER the church had been restored and the ordinances of salvation had already been given. It seems stranger yet that the law needed to be received at a designated geographical place. After the Church moved to Kirtland Ohio and received the LAW of the Celestial Kingdom, they were informed that Jackson County Missouri was also a holy place, even the appointed place where Zion was to be established and where the Saints needed to go to meet the Savior.
Zion to be Redeemed on September 11th
Specific geographical areas were identified as holy places and constituted important parts of LDS church doctrine in the revelations God gave to the Saints. In a revelation given on September 11 1831, the Lord revealed that Kirtland was to be a stronghold for the Saints for five years. According to this revelation the stronghold in Kirtland would come to an end on September 11, 1836. On August 16th 1834 Joseph Smith publicly stated to the Saints that the Saints needed to be ready to move to Jackson County Missouri by September 11 1836 because it is the appointed time for the redemption of Zion.
When September 11th 1836 arrived, the Saints had failed to establish Zion in Jackson County Missouri and they were forced to flee from Kirtland, as it was no longer a safe stronghold and refuge from enemies of the church.
Although anti-Mormon literature criticizes Joseph Smith as being a false prophet since Zion was not redeemed in 1836 at the appointed time, it should be remembered that Joseph Smith never prophesied that Zion would be established on that date, he simply stated that September 11 1836 was the appointed time, predicated on the Saints faithfulness in establishing Zion based on the principles of the law of consecration.
Despite the spin that is put on the historical events by critics and historical revisionists, the failure of the Church to establish Zion at the appointed place and at the appointed time is an astonishing fulfillment of the parable of the Ten Virgins. Not only does it fulfill that part of the parable where the Bridegroom tarries, it even explains why he tarries! Indeed the Bridegroom postpones the wedding feast because the invited guests are not faithful in living the higher law and gathering to Jackson County. The Bridegroom doesn’t come because the Bride fails to show up!
It is ironic that critics ridicule the church for this failed event when in fact it provides one of the most amazing biblical proofs of the validity of the Latter-day Saint foundation movement!
The bridegroom delayed the marriage because the work was hindered
“Verily verily I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and HINDER them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings. And the iniquity and transgression of my HOLY LAWS and COMMANDMENTS I will visit upon the heads of those who HINDERED my work, unto the THIRD and FOURTH GENERATION, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord God. Therefore, for this cause have I accepted the offerings of those whom I commanded to build up a city and a house unto my name, in Jackson County, Missouri, and were HINDERED by their enemies, saith the Lord your God. And I will answer JUDGMENT, WRATH, and INDIGNATION, WAILING and ANGUISH, and GNASHING of TEETH upon their heads, unto the THIRD and FOURTH GENERATION, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord your God.” (See section 124)
According to the 1828 Websters Dictionary Hindered means Stopped; impeded; obstructed; retarded.
In addition to enemies of the church hindering the work, the Lord revealed that Zion was not redeemed because of transgressions of his people:
“Behold, I say unto you, were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now. But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil and do not impart of their substance; as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them and are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom and Zion cannot be build up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself” (105:2-5)
Clearly the work was stopped for a time because of the unfaithfulness of the church and the enemies of the church both from within and outside of the Church.
The Work is “Cut Short in Righteousness”
It may seem strange that right after the glorious manifestations at the Kirtland Temple and the righteousness surrounding the related events that the work of the Lord was cut short but it was prophesied-
“For thus saith the Lord, I will cut my work short in righteousness, for the days come that I will send forth judgment unto victory.” (52:11)
Websters Definition of “to cut short”: To hinder from proceeding by sudden interruption.
LDS history makes it clear why the Bridegroom tarried. The work was suddenly hindered and cut short…. but what exactly does the parable mean when it says that ALL of the virgins slept after the Bridegroom failed to meet them at the appointed time?
According to latter-day revelation and the parable of the wheat and the tares in section 64, the primary meaning of the prophetic term sleep means, death. (86:3) It is a historical fact that all of the Saints of that generation died off between the appointed time when the Bridegroom tarried and the actual wedding feast that is yet to take place at a future time… in the 3rd Watch.
The secondary meaning of sleep as used in the parable appears to be apostasy.
And after they have fallen asleep the great persecutor of the church, the apostate, the whore, even Babylon, that maketh all nations to drink of her cup, in whose hearts the enemy, even Satan, sitteth to reign—behold he soweth the tares; wherefore, the tares choke the wheat and drive the church into the wilderness. (86:3)
Modern revelation refers to the church as coming out of the wilderness when it comes out of the darkness of apostasy. Notice how modern revelation identifies the church beginning to come out of the wilderness in 1830 just before the church is restored. Then in 1830, it has come out of the wilderness. Finally in 1836 the Lord reveals that the church will come out of the wilderness again at a future time!
1829– In this the beginning of the rising up and the coming forth of my church out of the wilderness 5:15)
1830- this church have I established and called forth out of the wilderness. (33:5)
1836- That thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners; (109:73
Latter-day revelation makes specific mention of the fact that the Lords work had been delayed for two reasons. First because of the transgressions of the Saints when they first went to Jackson County and secondly because of enemies of the church who hindered the work by persecuting the Saints and forcing them to leave Jackson. (5:15)
5- At midnight there was a cry made, Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him
In an article on the internet by a fringe Catholic group, they refer to the parable of the ten virgins and very astutely identify the apocalyptic messenger flying through the heavens in the Book of Revelation as the one who makes the midnight cry, warning the virgins to wake up and prepare for the Bridegroom. Other protestant websites make the same profound observation. Unfortunately, protestants and Catholics have no way of knowing who the apocalyptic messenger flying in the midst of heaven is, only those believing in the Latter-day restoration movement have the key of knowledge to know who the messenger of the Lord is that holds the key of David.
6 Go ye rather to them that buy and sell…
We have already identified that much of this parable has to do with Gods Celestial Economy and the establishment of Zion based on the law of consecration. At the time that the forces of good and evil are warring with each other on the earth during the 3rd and final watch, preparatory to the Second Coming in Glory, the fall of Babylon the great is immanent and the second beast kingdom is coming into power.
This is a time of great division and testing. People must choose between Babylon’s capitalism, greed and class distinction vs Zion’s consecration and equality. Those that have not taken the Holy Ghost as their guide are not able to overcome the beast and his kingdom and are not allowed into the wedding feast but rather are instructed to go to those who buy and sell. This is a direct reference to those who take upon themselves the mark of the beast so that they can continue relying on the arm of flesh and participating in Satan’s economy/slavery.
The Book of Mormon refers to this period time in which people will either choose to labor for MONEY or for ZION. Those that labor for money will perish.
7- 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.
Remarkably, latter-day revelation tells us that the Latter-day Saints restoration movement was instrumental in laying the foundation preparatory to the feast of fat things of the supper of the Lord that takes place at the marriage of the Lamb!
Behold, verily I say unto you, for this cause I have sent you—that you might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come; And also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand; And also that a feast of fat things might be prepared for the poor; yea, a feast of fat things, of wine on the well refined, that the earth may know that the mouths of the prophets shall not fail; Yea, a supper of the house of the Lord, well prepared, unto which all nations shall be invited. First, the rich and the learned, the wise and the noble And after that cometh the day of my power; then shall the, the lame, and the blind, and the deaf, come in unto the marriage of the Lamb, and partake of the of the supper of the Lord, prepared for the great day to come.
The above scripture has a cryptic meaning embedded within it. Will you be numbered among the rich and learned?
The remarkable thing about Joseph Smiths conditional promise about the appointed time of September 11th 1836 for the redemption of Zion is that it legitimizes the restored Church.
It actually provides one of the most compelling prophetic arguments for identifying the Church of Christ that the Lord restored to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith as the people of God that were depicted in the parable of the Ten Virgins!
(Numbers and dates are integral in how and when God communicates to us. Dates have significant meanings. You can actually study gospel topics in the D&C according to dates that events and revelations took place. There are certain dates upon which religious events repeatedly take place. April 6th is such a date. September 21-22 in another. It is no coincidence that section section 64 was given on September 11 1831. It is no coincidence that the appointed time for the redemption of Zion was September 11 1836. It is interesting to note that Sept 11th has become a day associated with murder, destruction and Gods wrath. There are probably over 20 major events in history including the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the Fall of the Twin Towers that fall on this ominous date. Is this just a coincidence? Will there be future prophetic events on this date?)