The Left Behind

The Christian and Worldliness

The Flesh, the World, and the Devil

The Book of Life

The Excluded Ones

Jesus The Sin Bearer


The Two Churches

The Church Papers

The Meaning of the Remnant

The Sheep and the Goats Judgment

We humans are incurable religious. It is a built-in feature in all of us. What we are devoted to, where our loyalties lie, ranges all over the map. Among the religious many today think they are Christians but in reality they are not! We are all too easily deceived.

To focus, consider a group of young Jewish girls living in ancient Israel where the entire culture was oriented around the God of Abraham, Moses, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus picked two groups of virgins to illustrate a matter of critical importance, a matter of life and death in fact.

Both groups Jesus spoke about were young unmarried girls looking forward to being married to the right man. So the term “virgins” as used by Jesus suggests none had been sleeping around, engaging in sex, drinking, partying or messing around. All were “religious.” Their religion had shaped their values.

The relevant teaching of Jesus is found in Matthew 25:1-13: The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

Ray Stedman’s classic message on these “wise and foolish virgins” is very helpful for us today in getting to the heart of what Jesus said and meant—for his own generation and for ours as well.

“The background is an eastern wedding in which the bridegroom, rather than the bride, is the center of attention. In Oriental weddings it is the bridegroom who bears all the expense of the wedding...Weddings were always held at night and it was customary for the bridegroom to go to the house of the bride and take her to the wedding. As they walked through the streets they would be joined by guests at various places along the route. Our Lord's story of the ten maidens is the story of such a group, waiting for the bridegroom.

There are five movements in this story as the Lord tells it. Let us remember that it was intended for those who live in the intervening time between our Lord's first coming and his second. It will be of value to us only as we permit it to be autobiographical, if we recognize ourselves somewhere in the story. It is clearly intended to describe an element of watching that is vital and essential. If we miss the point of it we shall be unable to watch for his coming as he desires.

A Common Expectation

The first movement of the story is one of a common expectation. Here is a body of people who are waiting for someone. Life seems to be made up of a great deal of waiting. When we are little we wait to get out on our own. When we are in college we wait to get married. When we get married we wait for children, and so it goes. One of the characteristics of life which make it worth living is this note of waiting. There must be something beyond, something worth waiting for. Otherwise life can become terribly colorless and purposeless.

These maidens were waiting for the coming of the bridegroom. In terms of the Lord's ultimate message, they were waiting for the coming of Jesus Christ. These maidens represent, therefore, those who are convinced that the end of the age will come just as Jesus describes it. They are not deluded by highly colored dreams of an earthly utopia which will be brought about by man's wisdom and skill. They believe in a golden age, but they do not believe that age will ever come by the efforts of men. They are persuaded that only the return of Jesus Christ can accomplish that end, and they are hopeful that his coming will be very soon.

Surely at this point in our study of the Olivet Discourse, most of the readers of this book will represent such a group. We have been listening to the words of God's greatest Prophet. We have heard what he predicts and understood the pattern that he says will prevail as the age draws to a close. We are convinced that history will end at the feet of this One who will come flaming in glory from the heavens to astonish a deluded world. We are, therefore, sharers with these ten maidens in a common expectation of the coming of the Bridegroom.

Wise and Foolish

But the second movement of this parable is one of division, of a divided procedure:

"Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps."

Though this group is united in its expectation it is quite divided in the way it conducts its waiting. Five maidens have brought along extra oil, and five have not. This does not represent a division between good and bad, but, as Jesus says, between the wise and the foolish. Someone has said there are only two kinds of people in this world: the righteous and the unrighteous; but the classifying is always done by the righteous! That is all too humanly true. But here there is no moral division intended. In their expectation of the coming bridegroom they are all equally sincere and devoted. The only difference is, five of them felt it would be wise to provide some extra oil.

This proves ultimately to be the most significant part of this story. Yet, to the five foolish maidens, it represented only a trivial difference which was as nothing compared with the fact that they were unitedly waiting for the bridegroom's coming. They were all agreed on the importance of oil and were all using it for its proper purpose-the giving of light. The only slight difference was that some felt more was needed than others.

What the oil represents we shall see in a moment, but it is certainly evident that the wise and the foolish are still with us. Despite our agreement in desiring the bridegroom to come, and our conviction that history will end as Jesus describes it, nevertheless, there are doubtless some reading this who will prove in the end to be wise, and others will be revealed to be foolish, lacking the essential for waiting till the Lord returns. If this parable has any message at all for us, it is that we determine what that essential is.

Seemingly all would have gone well for the whole ten if the bridegroom had come when expected. But the third movement of the story introduces an element of delay:

"As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.'"

No explanation is given for what delayed the bridegroom. This seems to be another hint from the Lord that his absence would be long extended, as has certainly proved to be the case. It was this protracted delay of the bridegroom which constituted an unexpected demand on the part of the ten maidens for more oil. At any rate, the story describes how all ten grew weary of waiting and fell fast asleep.

There are many interpreters who view this as suggesting negligence on the part of the maidens. But there is no hint of rebuke or disapproval suggested by the Lord for this sleeping. And the wise slept as well as the foolish! It was, therefore, a perfectly natural and right thing to do, under the circumstances. It was night and therefore it was impossible to do any work. It was also a festive occasion, and their only purpose for being there was to wait for the bridegroom. So when his coming was delayed they grew drowsy and it was only natural that they would drop off to sleep .

But this is highly suggestive, for it indicates the awareness of Jesus that watching does not mean unceasing, conscious anticipation of his return. We are not to be continually peering up into the heavens like an air-raid sentry on duty. Nor are we to be forever meeting and singing, "Is It The Crowning Day?" or discussing the Lord's return. Such meetings are helpful and needed, because of the human tendency to forget, but what our Lord is indicating is that watching also allows time for normal activities. Money must be earned, investments looked into, food must be cooked, babies washed, school lessons studied, weddings held and funerals attended-all the usual activities of life must go on.

While these wise and foolish maidens were sleeping, their thoughts were diverted, for the time being from the coming of the bridegroom. Thus, while we are engaged in the normal activities of life, there is no need to feel guilty because we have not been thinking of the Lord's return. There is nothing at all wrong about this, it is as it should be. We have not failed to watch because we have been busy doing natural and necessary things. These maidens were waiting for the bridegroom's coming, even while they slept. There was a sense of imminence when they went out, yet a perfectly proper activity took their attention for a time.

Here Comes the Bridegroom

But suddenly there is a cry of warning, "Behold! the bridegroom! Come out to meet him." It may well be that the ten had even posted a sentry to warn them when the bridegroom came, or it may be that the bridegroom was proceeded by someone sent for that purpose. At any rate the cry is sounded and all ten of the maidens are awakened. Again it is clearly evident that the problem which would soon confront them did not arise out of the fact that they had fallen asleep. They are awake in plenty of time to meet the bridegroom.

Many times we are, like these, called back to an awareness of the Lord's imminent return by events of the day, or some realization that time is short. We are often made aware that the grind and routine of life was never intended to go on that way forever. And certainly one day the awakening will come not through events but the actual cry, it may be, of the returning Lord himself. Paul tells us that when he comes for the church it will be with a shout, and that shout may be these electrifying words, "Behold, the Bridegroom!"

Inadequate Resources

The fourth movement of the story brings a crisis. In it is revealed the wisdom of the wise and the foolishness of the foolish:

"Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise replied, 'Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.'"

To the consternation of the foolish, they find their lamps are flickering, guttering, about to go out. The long delay has used up the oil and they have no more. They make their appeal to the wise: "Give us some of your oil." The reply of the wise indicates that oil is not something that can be borrowed or loaned. Whatever it may represent, it is an individual matter. We have all felt something of this in some crisis hour when we have found our resources unequal to the demand. We see someone else who is going through the same thing, and he appears unmoved and calm, well able to take the pressure. We may long to borrow some of his strength, but it is impossible. In such an hour each has what he has and nothing more.

So it is with these five foolish maidens. Their oil is gone and to their dismay they discover their need and there is a panicky rush to get more. But our Lord moves right on into the story, and the final movement is one of denial:

"And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us.' But he replied, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

When the foolish finally arrived, the door was shut. Are we not surprised at that? Many will probably feel that these five were unjustly treated. Why should they not be allowed into the wedding, even if they were a few moments late? But there is no vindictiveness in this shut door. We must be careful that we do not impose our faulty judgments into this matter. What the Lord did was right, and we must be careful to look diligently for those clues that will help us learn why he takes such action as this. There is even a note of sorrow in these words, "I do not know you." Our Lord's words are a faithful, honest revelation of something that had been true all along. Weddings are no place for strangers. Only the friends of the family are permitted to come. So to these five foolish maidens the door is shut for the Lord says, "Truly, I say to you, I do not know you."

The Meaning of Oil

With these revealing words from the Lord we can now discover what the oil signifies. Obviously, it was the lack of an adequate supply of oil which caused these foolish maidens to be met with the words, "I do not know you." They did, of course, have some oil when they began but it was not enough. Oil, in the Old Testament, is frequently used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Kings and priests were anointed with oil as a sign of their consecrated (and, supposedly, Spirit-filled) lives. Zechariah, the prophet, was shown a vision of a great golden lampstand with two olive trees standing beside it. The trees dripped oil into the bowls of the lampstand, and Zechariah was told: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6). The oil symbolized the Spirit of God by which the light of testimony could be maintained in the hour of darkness.

Some ministry of the Spirit is then in view. The supreme ministry of the Spirit is to impart to men the knowledge of Jesus Christ. In John 16:13,14, Jesus said of him: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his authority, but will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you."

The Spirit's task then is to take the Word of God, and through it reveal Jesus Christ. But there are levels of such revelation. There is even a Spirit-born ministry of the word to those who are not true Christians. Jesus revealed this too. "When he comes, he will convince the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment" (John 16:8). Here is a ministry of the Holy Spirit available to anyone who will seek in the Scriptures to know the truth. But it is designed to take them deeper, into a fuller and permanent relationship that will involve the imparting of divine life.

Halfway is Not Enough

The great danger is that in exposure to the truth of Scripture, in the knowledge of its teaching, we should become satisfied with an intellectual portrait of Christ instead of a living Lord. It is possible to know much doctrine but never to know the Lord. This is the problem with the foolish maidens, who represent those who gladly take enough of the oil of the Spirit to give them immediate help in their problems, or some release from fear or guilt, but who never go on to a surrender of the will to the authority of Jesus Christ.

The foolish, then, are those who reckon no deeper than a superficial knowledge of scriptural truth. They look for moral enlightenment or for comfort in some hour of uncertainty and doubt. They read to gain reassurance when life seems to be a senseless tangle of threads without apparent purpose. They believe in the Bible but not in the Lord of the Bible. But faith must go deeper than doctrine. Orthodox knowledge is worthless unless it leads to the surrender of self. God freely lights a lamp of knowledge for all who want to know the truth of revelation, but what Jesus indicates here is that there is a deeper level of commitment to the Spirit which is essential to meet the unexpected demands life will thrust at us.

The wise have found that deeper level. They have an extra reservoir of oil which continually feeds the flame of life, never letting it falter or gutter out in darkness, undergirding them in every hour of stress, of pressure or disaster, keeping them firm and steady in the midst of the buffeting pressures of life. They have found a friend who sticks closer than a brother. They have a hidden supply of the mystic oil that lights the flame of life despite the circumstances, and the greater the pressure the brighter the light shines.

Perhaps a personal experience will illustrate this. I called on man in the hospital once, a Christian of many years' standing. I found him unable to talk, sitting up in bed, his body wasted away to a skeleton. He was unable to move a muscle, even to lift his arms or turn his head. The best he could do in the way of talking was to utter a few guttural sounds. I asked him if he would like me to read the Scripture to him and he nodded his head. As I read, I watched his eyes. As the marvelous words from passages in Isaiah began to sink into his ears, there came a flame into his eyes, a light such as never shone on land or sea. Before we finished, I could see in that emaciated body the glory of a flame burning, unquenchable, inexhaustible, fed by the oil of the Spirit, a flame that could never be put out.

Perhaps you are saying, "I'll get along as long as I have my friends and my church." But what if they are taken away? What if you are shipped out to some remote post somewhere, surrounded by 20th century pagans who have committed themselves to seek nothing but the satisfaction of their immediate lusts? What will happen to you then? What if you are transferred to another city and you cannot find a church that ministers to your needs? What if you are confined to bed with a long-term illness, and you must lie there day after unyielding day with little opportunity to speak with others about the things of faith? Or, what is even more likely, what if imperceptibly, despite the eagerness you show now and the earnestness with which you read Scripture or go to church, you begin to drift and gradually are drawn back into the great cold indifference of the deluded masses?

If something like that happens it will do no good to say to another, "Give me of your oil." That cannot be done. Every impartation of the Spirit's power to an individual is marked "Nontransferable." He cannot share it with anyone else. It has been said that there are only two ways to take a thing seriously: either to renounce it or to risk everything upon it. Is this not what Jesus meant when he said, "Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 16:25)?

There are some who want a third choice, who are continually seeking to make a partial commitment, who try to find a compromise arrangement with God in which they may subscribe to the truth of Scripture but refuse to let it change their activities or their attitudes.

That third alternative simply does not exist. That is what Jesus is saying here. That is why he says plainly to the foolish maidens, "Truly, I say to you, I do not know you." The end shows them for what they are. The door is shut, both to the unbeliever who never tried to get in and to the foolish person who never took God seriously. (The Wise and the Foolish).

Religion is Not Enough!

Jesus is teaching here, clearly, is that religion is never enough to save! This is a shocking statement for our very religious generation! His insights reveal that Jesus spoke from the deepest knowledge base possible. He had come from God and would return to God after completing his current assignment among us down here. (But Jesus is not one of the “ascended masters” of Hinduism. He is the eternal God made man).

We do think too highly of ourselves. “I am basically a good person and my god would never send me to hell.” “I know I am not perfect but I tithe at my church, donate my free time to the Red Cross, pay my taxes and am a law-abiding citizen.” “I work hard to be a better person and talk to my shrink every week on how I can improve myself.” “I work two jobs in order to pay the bills, and to put food on the table.” “My mom and dad were very religious and they kept the Ten Commandments. I am following in their footsteps.”

But the God Jesus spoke of is holy—“the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity.”

“He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power.” (1 Timothy 6:15-16)

We are hopeless flawed and fallen—all of us—we were born this way. That’s why we get sick, fail, grow old and die. We dare not take God for granted nor assume we can approach Him without a mediator.

“...God our Savior...desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,” (1 Timothy 2:3-6)

The Narrow Way

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

“Come near to Me, hear this:
I have not spoken in secret from the beginning;
From the time that it was, I was there.
And now the Lord God and His Spirit
Have sent Me.”

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
The Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
Who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you by the way you should go.

Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
Your descendants also would have been like the sand,
And the offspring of your body like the grains of sand;
His name would not have been cut off
Nor destroyed from before Me.”
(Isaiah 48:16-19)

Therefore place your trust in Jesus Christ now—He is alive and waiting to hear from you no matter your plight and circumstances and present manner of life. Why be “merely religious” when reality calls?

A Final Admonition: Don’t be Left Behind

“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him...” (Hebrews 2:1-3)

“Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

So many people (having heard about Jesus for years) postpone a real commitment to Jesus and finally arrive at their final illness “unsaved.”

Family and friends beg us to reconsider Jesus—and some of us do!

Need Encouragement?

It’s not necessary to invite Jesus to be your Lord more than once. He has heard you and is now healing you and making you whole. Yes, you and I need to cooperate daily with Jesus lest with long term lest we stay baby Christians who never grow up to adult sonship. A message from the Apostle Peter may be helpful, (The Eightfold Way of Knowing God)


Ted Wise was a great friend of mine. His cartoons are hilarious.  His collected works are on my web site.  Ted is a saint of God from the Hippie Era. His teaching is penetrating and attention getting. Read about our month together in India for an exciting adventure.

Worship is a response to God or a response to events believed to be His responsibility. Not every act by which mankind attempts to please his gods or God is, for lack of a better word, satisfying to Him. In the ancient world, satisfyingly the gods or God was of paramount importance. I believe that the account of Jesus' dialog with the woman at the well reveals an important way to worship and satisfy our God. I have always been curious about the various locations Jesus chose to teach in and what the significance of each might be. For instance, I think His choice of Jacob's well is intended to draw our attention to the subject of worship.

Very early worship:

"So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell."

"Then the LORD said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 'If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."

"And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him." (Genesis. 4:3-8)

Note that God had "regard" for the man first then the offering. Therefore the key to worship from the beginning, was the attitude of the man's heart. Cain's anger reveals an expectation that his offering ought to have been acceptable to God. Farmers still think that they work harder than sheep herders. This is always true of worship; we hope that God in his mercy will accept our offering and that makes it acceptable in His sight and satisfying to Him.

So it goes, down through the ages and on through to The Gospel of John, chapter four. There, as an outcast woman's question reveals, the mystery of acceptable worship still remained hidden from the gentiles. She asked, "How should we worship God? Your Fathers say that we should worship God in Jerusalem, but our Fathers say on this mountain. What say you, Prophet?"

Jesus answered the woman-at-the-well, "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers." (John 4:23) 

All of Jesus' life must be seen as perfect worship; He is the embodiment of truth and spirit.

In truth: Meaning in reality. "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." (Romans 12:1) 

In spirit: By His indwelling presence and our complete and total dependence on Him, as He exampled in Jesus' public ministry. This is acceptable to The Father as worship: "Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." (2 Corinthians 6:16)

God welcomes almost any gift at all, from a pure heart. We must not be found in the seat of those who would put themselves between anyone and God. In as much as we Christians worship the one true God, would it not be arrogant to judge the acceptability of another believer's worship? I keep thinking of that old grade school craft project where each of the kids, with the aid of a paper plate as a mold, made a plaster cast of their very own hand print. The teacher helped them embed a wire in the back so that the parents could hang it on the wall. What kind of a parent would reject that kind of offering? Maybe all of our worship looks like that to God. 

Sadly for some, even though no one can really confess that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit, worship without bending the knee to the fact of Jesus' Lordship is vain and working against the inevitable. Worship without honoring Christ is at best ignorant because of what Paul wrote to the Philippians, "Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)

Jacob's well, dream and word: 

Even though no reference to Jacob's well is found in the OT there are stories of Jacob's worship that Jesus' disciples would have known.

Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. And he had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. (Genesis 28:10-29:1) 

And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Israel; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants shall also be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And behold, I am with you, and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

Jacob's Worship:

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it." And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on its top. And he called the name of that place Bethel; however, previously the name of the city had been Luz. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father's house in safety, then the LORD will be my God. And this stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God's house; and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You."

Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the sons of the east.

Holy places, names and times:

Before Jacob's dream, the place had only been a stopping place. but when he awoke it had become to him a "holy place." Jacob, in error, believed that the place had become holy and responded with promises he never kept. Even so, his response was acceptable to God as worship because it came from a pure heart. It was Jacob's plaster hand print present for his heavenly Father. Worship can take many forms. It can be intensely emotional, deeply personal, in the form of prayer, private or public. It can be silence, a confession, or a meditative experience. In Jacob's case, worship can even be promises that he made in ignorance. Places have meaning in the Bible yet when Jesus left the disciples behind and prayed alone in Gethsemane it did not become a "holy place". Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus was blindingly dramatic but he did not consider the road a "holy place".

In addition, Jacob took the stone he had used for a pillow and to set it up as a pillar, declaring that it would become a house of God, apparently meaning that a temple would be built there. It never happened and the test of a prophet is whether or not what he says comes to pass. Jacob is not speaking the Word of God. Neither was Peter, years later, when he wanted to build commemoratively at Jesus' transfiguration. About the only thing Jacob got right was the idea of tithing. Not merely giving God a tenth but the best, off the top, the cream of the crop or as we would say, "Our utmost for His highest".

Jacob's Name:

JACOB: A personal name from the Hebrew noun for "heel" meaning, "he grasps the heel" or "he cheats, supplants" (Genesis. 25:26; 27:36). Jacob is the original ancestor of the nation of Israel and the father of the twelve ancestors of the twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis. 25:1--Ex. 1:5). He was the son of Isaac and Rebekah, younger twin brother of Esau, and husband to Leah and Rachel (Genesis. 25:21-26; 29:21-30). Later, God changed his name to Israel (Genesis. 32:28; 49:2).

Jesus at the well:

So why is Jesus, on His return to Galilee, in a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph? After His last visit to the temple, it is likely that He is avoiding a premature conflict with His enemies: "And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables;" (John 2:14-15 ) 

Jesus gathered many followers in Jerusalem. He taught them of their need to be born of the spirit of God. The timing and the place make Jacob's well a great location to teach about worship and after trashing the temple court yard, about "holy places" too. Surely Jesus' born again teaching and His actions in the temple must have left his disciples with a lot of questions.

SYCHAR (see' kahr) The place name is intended to note "falsehood," though perhaps originally derived from "Shechem." The village in Samaria where Jacob's well is located. Jacob bought the parcel of land from "the children of Hamor, Shechem's father" (Genesis. 33:19). The site has been identified variously with Shechem and a village just north of there called 'Askar'. Archaeological excavations have revealed that Sychar and Shechem are part of the same ancient settlement.

When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee And He had to pass through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. (John 4:1-6) 

The woman's quandary, "What do you say to a young gift giving God who wants a drink?"

"There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. (John 4:7-15)

The Samaritan woman therefore said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." 

She said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? "You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?" 

Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."

The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw."

Everybody wants something and this is how it adds up so far: Take one husband (not at the well) plus a little conviction of sin and it equals. "You are a looser". Add liberating truth and it equals, "This is your day, your hour, your moment, your time."

"He said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here."

The woman answered and said, "I have no husband."

Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly." 

The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship."

Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. "You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews. "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

She asked the big, "Are you?" question that everyone wants to know and of all the people who have asked and ever will ask, Jesus chose to answer her: (John 4:16-24)

"The woman said to Him, 'I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us."

Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He." (John 4:25-26) 

And who are you guys? Notice the contrast in between Jesus' attitude toward the woman and that of His disciples. 

"And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He had been speaking with a woman; yet no one said, "What do You seek?" or, "Why do You speak with her?"

So the woman left her water pot, and went into the city, and said to the men, "Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?" They went out of the city, and were coming to Him. (John 4:27-30)

True worship results in a satisfied God! 

"In the meanwhile the disciples were requesting Him, saying, 'Rabbi, eat.'"

But He said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about."

The disciples therefore were saying to one another, "No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?"

Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work. "Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. "Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. "For in this case the saying is true, 'One sows, and another reaps.' "I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."(John 4:31-38)


Evangelism is a true form of worship because it satisfied our Lord Jesus. He spoke of what had just happened as though He had eaten a large meal. Satisfying God is what worship is all about.

"And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, 'He told me all the things that I have done.' So when the Samaritans came to Him, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, 'It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.' And after the two days He went forth from there into Galatians." (John 4:39-43)

"Two days"? I wondered allowed about what He might have been doing. My wife Elizabeth said, "What ever it was, I'm sure it's finished."

Amen! er something. 

Ted Wise

For The Left Behind at the Rapture

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