Now the Parable of the Ten Virgins is obviously set in the customs and practice connected with first-century Palestinian life and culture. And while it is fascinating to investigate the cultural particularities of weddings of that time and place, the great end for which the parable was given to us would be lost if we paused to engage in what would otherwise be innocent antiquarian pursuits.
So I want us to come directly to the passage, pausing to explain certain contemporary first century Palestinian customs only so far as such explanations are absolutely necessary to make plain the meaning of the text. We plunge first of all into the parable by considering, as we must always do with any portion of the Word of God but particularly with parables, the setting or the circumstances in which this parable was given.
Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge?
Who eat up my people as they eat bread:
They have not called upon God (Psa 53.4; cf. 14.4).
Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee,
And upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name (Psa 79.6).
A clear pattern of ungodliness arises from these similar verses in the psalms, a pattern of spiritual ignorance, antipathy, and indifference. Where these traits are characteristic, a person or a people are ungodly and perishing. Whatever of them remains in Christians should humble us and become targets of purposeful mortification.