I thoroughly enjoy spending time in the green pastures that our Lord has provided for us. These pastures are so green and luscious that there are times I do not want to leave because it is so comforting. While I was lying down in these green pastures I was directed to read Matthew 25:1–4:
“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.”
As a little girl, I went camping with my family quite often. In preparation for the campout we had to gather all of our clothing, food, snacks, etc. Of course I thought the best part of camping was gathering all of the food. But my mother was always concerned about having enough oil for the lanterns. She did not like being out of oil because she used it for cooking and lighting.
I remember one time we got everything packed into our station wagon and took off to the hills for camping. We arrived there in plenty of time and got all the tents set up and tables for the food. As it started to get dark, Mom got the matches out to light the lantern. She noticed there was only a little oil in the bottom of the lamp. She called for my dad and asked him to bring the oil so she could fill the lamp. He looked and looked and could not find any and then he realized he had forgotten to bring extra oil. So we tried to conserve on the little oil that we had, but soon our lamp went out. I remember Mom not being very happy with Dad because once the lamp was empty, we no longer had any light for inside of our tents.
So the scripture I read above had much meaning for me. I knew how it felt at the moment our lamp went out—it was dark. How do you suppose those virgins felt when their lamps went out? When the oil ran out?
All of the virgins, professed Christians, professed a pure faith and had their lamps with them, just like you and me. Our lamps are the Word of God, those green pastures. The oil that goes into those lamps is the Holy Spirit that makes those green pastures so luscious and meaningful.
All of these virgins, Christians, who professed a pure faith were carrying lamps (the Word of God), but only half of them had oil in their vessels—or only half of them had the Holy Spirit working in them. As I pondered this I prayed for extra oil.
For the longest time, no difference could be seen in the virgins. They all looked the same. Just amazing! All had lamps and vessels for oil. All had a knowledge of the scriptures. All had heard the message of Christ’s near approach. All had confidently expected His appearing at any time.
The wise had oil, the Holy Spirit had transformed their hearts that they bore the fruit of love, joy and peace that you can read of in Galatians 5.
Are these fruits transforming your heart while you are tarrying in the green pastures? Are others influenced by these fruits that are flowing from you? This oil is necessary for your light to shine. The wise had these fruits of the Holy Spirit. They had the character of Christ—Christ’s righteousness, the wedding garment. You see, character preparation begins while you are tarrying in the green pastures and continues with the added oil of the Holy Spirit.
If you do not have those fruits— love, joy, and peace—you need to quickly enter the green pastures and plead for the oil of the Holy Spirit to permeate your being and to flow forth to touch others that their hearts may be drawn heavenward to our God. Don’t be foolish. In the parable the foolish had no oil. They had no fruits of the Holy Spirit. In other words, they had no heavenly love, heavenly joy, heavenly peace. When they sat in the green pastures, they were not comforted. They did not think they needed any more oil. Their characters were not Christlike. The foolish thought they were okay, but it was their self-righteousness that they were reflecting. They had no wedding garment on, just their common citizen’s clothing. They had a form of godliness—but no fruits of the Holy Spirit. They were unaware of their spiritual condition.
They were foolish virgins. I do not want to be foolish. I do not believe you want to be foolish either. They evidently did not listen to the counsel of Jesus in Revelation 3, verse 18, where He says “to buy of me gold,” that faith and love, the fruits of the Holy Spirit; “buy of me white raiment,” the purity of character, the heavenly garment—Christ’s righteousness.
That is really a terrible thought to think that we may be foolish and unaware of it. Now is the time to pray for the Holy Spirit while spending time in those green pastures, and don’t quit praying until you see the fruits of the Holy Spirit working in your life.
Through the Holy Spirit, God’s Word is a light as it becomes a transforming power in the life of the receiver. The Holy Spirit implants into your hearts the principles of His Word. It develops in us the attributes of God, and then the light of His glory—His character is to shine forth in His followers.
Character is not transferable. No man can impart to another the character which is the fruit of the Spirit’s working.
What happens when we spend time in the green pastures the Lord has provided for us and we receive the oil of the Holy Spirit? Look at Isaiah 60:1: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” Now is the time to arise and shine for thy light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. That is the character of the Lord. Read the following carefully and prayerfully:
“The two classes of watchers [in the parable of the ten virgins] represent the two classes who profess to be waiting for their Lord. They are called virgins because they profess a pure faith. The lamps represent the Word of God. … The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. …
“In the parable, all the ten virgins went out to meet the bridegroom. All had lamps and vessels for oil. For a time there was seen no difference between them. So with the church that lives just before Christ’s second coming. All have a knowledge of the Scriptures. All have heard the message of Christ’s near approach, and confidently expect His appearing. But as in the parable, so it is now. A time of waiting intervenes, faith is tried; and when the cry is heard, ‘Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him,’ [Matthew 25:6.] many are unready. … They are destitute of the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit of God a knowledge of His Word is of no avail. The theory of truth, unaccompanied by the Holy Spirit, cannot quicken the soul or sanctify the heart. … Without the enlightenment of the Spirit, men will not be able to distinguish truth from error, and they will fall under the masterful temptations of Satan. …
“We cannot be ready to meet the Lord by waking when the cry is heard, ‘Behold, the Bridegroom!’ and then gathering up our empty lamps to have them replenished. … In the parable the wise virgins had oil in their vessels with their lamps. Their light burned with undimmed flame through the night of watching. … So the followers of Christ are to shed light into the darkness of the world. Through the Holy Spirit, God’s word is a light as it becomes a transforming power in the life of the receiver. By implanting in their hearts the principles of His word, the Holy Spirit develops in men the attributes of God. The light of His glory—His character—is to shine forth in His followers.
“Ask God to give you much of the oil of His grace.” God’s Amazing Grace, 214.
While you are in the green pastures, ask Him for much more oil. Jesus is coming soon and we need much, much more. Each day as you return to the green pastures, make that your most important request. Our character is the only thing we will be taking with us and we are to cultivate daily our character attributes.
“Day by day we are to seek the enlightenment of the Spirit of God, that it may do its office work upon the soul and character.” The Review and Herald, March 29, 1892.
“Many receive the truth readily, but they fail to assimilate truth, and its influence is not abiding. They are like the foolish virgins, who had no oil in their vessels with their lamps. Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, which is brought into the soul through faith in Jesus Christ. Those who earnestly search the Scriptures with much prayer, who rely upon God with firm faith, who obey his commandments, will be among those who are represented as wise virgins.” The Review and Herald, September 17, 1895.
“They [foolish virgins] had lamps,—a knowledge of the truth,—but no living connection with God. They were not vitalized by the Holy Spirit. They went out as those who were wise, but they were wise only in their own conceit; for they had no saving faith in Christ as their personal Saviour. They had not been growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” The Youth’s Instructor, January 4, 1894.
“They cannot obtain a character from the wise virgins, and they have no oil of grace to discern the clear light or to accept it. They cannot light their lamps and join the procession that goes in to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Special Testimonies for Ministers and Workers, 55.
Remember the green pastures where I started? That is where I was fed all of the above. In Jeremiah 15:16, it says: “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.” Where else are you able to find such nourishing and satisfying food? The only place I have found it is in the Lord’s green pastures where you can ask for oil and it will be given to you in abundance. Truly in His presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand there are pleasures forever more. (Psalm 16:11.) I invite you to spend time in these green pastures—the feast is fantastic and pleasant to the taste.
Our God has promised to supply all our need (Philippians 4:19) if we will come to Him. It is easy to forget that we are His sheep. We also tend to forget that the Lord is our Shepherd. Come to Him right now. Walk into that green pasture and lie down. Say with all your heart, “The Lord [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1. They that seek the Lord shall not want or lack any good thing. Tarry there, because He will lead you beside the still waters. He will restore your soul. He will lead you in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. (Verses 2, 3.) He will supply you with all of the oil that you can handle. Don’t be foolish. Don’t let your lamps go out because you did not take the time to settle into the green pastures and ask for that extra oil.
Our Shepherd is waiting for you. By the way, when you lie down in those green pastures, He will lead you beside the still waters. Did you know that sheep drink only from still waters? A turbulent movement of the water frightens them. Some of the waters in our life are not still and some of those pastures in our life are not green. We as Christians need a quiet time each day for meditation. “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15, last part. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. Are you being still? It takes a quiet time and place for our characters to grow like our Lord’s. “When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God. He bids us, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ Psalm 46:10. … He who is thus refreshed will be surrounded with an atmosphere of light and peace. He will receive a new endowment of both physical and mental strength. His life will breathe out a fragrance, and will reveal a divine power that will reach men’s hearts.” The Ministry of Healing, 58.
Do you know what the fragrance is? It is the fragrance of the Holy Spirit transforming your heart. It is the oil being poured out upon you. You and I are to be lights in this world. We must come to the green pastures to be nourished. We must yield ourselves to be led by the still waters so He can restore our souls; so He can lead us in those wonderful paths of righteousness.
Don’t be foolish. Come while the gate is open to those green pastures and still waters. Come now while the oil is still flowing. It is time that you and I “arise and shine.” (Isaiah 60:1.) It is time for the glory of the Lord, the character of the Lord to be risen upon us. Come, sit and be refreshed just now. Plead for the outpouring of His Holy Spirit—the oil that feeds the light. “Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and given them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.” Zechariah 10:1. What a feast is provided right now for you and me in those green pastures.
Judy Hallingstad has recently joined our LandMarks team. She can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.