Actually, lamps can be lit without oil. The lamp is lit by it's wick and is fueled by the oil. If you light a wick with no fuel, it will quickly go out.
You can look at pictures of these ancient lamps in this Google search.
Here is my take on the parable of the 10 virgins:
http://www.trackingbibleprophecy.com/olivet4.php#dayMatthew 25:8-13 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.
In this parable of the 10 virgins, oil was needed to go to the wedding with the Bridegroom. It is apparent that this isn't about how much oil the virgins had. Only the foolish virgins, who had no oil, were shut out of the wedding. We are not told how much oil the wise virgins had. Apparently, any amount of oil was enough.
Oil is widely used in Scripture as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit (Exodus 31:3, Isaiah 11:2, Daniel 5:14, 1 Corinthians 12:8). Therefore, we see that the wise virgins had the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and the foolish did not.
Unlike the second parable in Matthew 25, we are not told that the foolish virgins are condemned for eternity. Notice that the foolish virgins went to get oil, but by the time they got the oil and came back, they were already shut out of the wedding. In other words, the five foolish virgins eventually do buy the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, but they were too late for the wedding and had to go through the Tribulation.
The foolish virgins would then be people that are not saved at the time of the rapture but then find salvation during the Tribulation. The following proverb supports that the foolish virgins bought wisdom which comes from the Holy Spirit, which suggests they later gain salvation through truth and understanding:Proverbs 23:23 Buy the truth, and do not sell it, Also wisdom and instruction and understanding.
In the Jewish wedding tradition, after the wedding chamber is built and the father decides when it is time, the son would go fetch his bride. The bride and wedding party would go back to the father's house, where the bride and bridegroom would go inside the wedding chamber for a week to consummate the marriage. The wedding party would celebrate outside the wedding chamber during this week.
After the couple emerged from the chamber when the week was over, the celebration would continue with a reception and feast to honor the new couple. We see this pattern being followed in a few places in Scripture (Genesis 29:27-28, Judges 14:17, John 2:1-12).
So you can see, in light of the Jewish wedding tradition, "the day no one knows" may be talking about the rapture of the Church. The Church will be whisked away to heaven to be married to Christ where they will spend seven years in the New Jerusalem or the "Father's house" (John 14:2-3). After the seven year Tribulation is over, they will return to Earth where there will be a celebration of the marriage of Christ and the Church at the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:9) with the Tribulation Saints invited to join in (Luke 12:35-37).
Some that view "the day no one knows" as the 2nd Coming argue that Christ only has one Bride and not many as this parable would suggest. Instead, they see these virgins as "bridesmaids" and therefore the servants spoken of through the rest of the discourse. Based on their assumption that these are "bridesmaids", they point out that these servants are Jewish because John the Baptist called himself a friend of the Bridegroom (John 3:29) and Jesus called the disciples "friends of the Bridegroom" (Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19, Luke 5:34).
There are a few versions of the Bible that do render virgins as bridesmaids, but the original language has the literal meaning of "virgins". Even though Christ has one Bride, it consists of individuals that have accepted Christ and become sealed by the Holy Spirit. The following passage supports the notion that even though we are all one in the Spirit in the body of Christ, being His Bride, we are still individuals:1 Corinthians 12:12-14 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.
Paul had said that he wanted to present the Church as a chaste virgin in betrothal to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2). In other words these "chaste" virgins, having the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, being sealed by Him, would have their lamps burning at the time of the rapture. We do see in Luke 12:35 that the servants are to have their lamps burning when Christ returns, but as already suggested, these may be the foolish virgins that will buy their oil in the Tribulation.
On the other hand, if one takes the view that the "Kingdom of Heaven" messages were strictly intended for the Jews, then it might seem out of place to see the Church in view in the parable of the ten virgins. Click here to see Pastor Wayne's explanation of that view.
While I agree that Jesus came to present the "kingdom of Heaven" message only to the Jews during His first coming, I do not believe this necessarily means that Jesus never made mention of the Church in His teachings. In fact, I believe the following verse is a direct mention that Gentiles would be part of the "kingdom of Heaven", which would include Tribulation and Millennial Saints, in addition to the Church. The Church age just wasn't understood yet; it was a "mystery".Matthew 8:11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
The Church was a mystery until it was revealed to Paul later. However, a "mystery" is something that was given in the Word of God but wasn't understood.1 Corinthians 2:6-10 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
Accepting the Word of the Lord is what makes one wise.Jeremiah 8:9 The wise men are ashamed, They are dismayed and taken. Behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD; So what wisdom do they have?
As shown in 1 Corinthians 2 above it is the Holy Spirit who gives us wisdom to understand the mysteries and deep things of God that are in His Word. This is why I believe it is possible that the parable of the ten virgins may represent the Church.
There is support for both views, so it's no wonder that the issue is divided among prophecy students and teachers. However, I lean more towards the interpretation of "the day no one knows" as being the rapture. It is my opinion that the parable of the ten virgins seems to fit better with the rapture being in view here.
Being a "virgin" spiritual wise would suggest that they believe that there is only one true God rather than being a harlot after other gods, as the scriptures portray throughout the Old Testament. In other words, harlots may believe there is one "supreme being", but chase after other gods instead.
The foolish virgins would be those that believe there is only one true God, but do not have a true repentant heart; being Christian "in name only", yet they don't worship other gods. The wise virgins would be those that genuinely accepted Christ before the rapture. In other words, the wise virgins would be the true body of Christ and the foolish virgins would just be "church goers".
I also struggle with the thought that all the virgins would be sleeping and be taken unaware at the end of the Tribulation, when the Jewish remnant will be supernaturally protected and the rest of the believers will be constantly fighting to survive. Unbelievers will definitely be taken unaware at Christ's Coming, as He is coming to them as a thief (see "Christ comes as a thief to unbelievers - Matthew 24:43-44, Mark 13:33, Luke 12:37-40"). It seems more fitting that the Church would be sleeping in the time leading up to the rapture as we are told:2 Peter 3:3-4 ...scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation."
In other words, in the time approaching the rapture, people would question His return because they see everything as "business as usual" or for whatever reason they don't want to think about Him returning in their lifetime. On several occasions I have been a witness to this attitude described by Peter, and sadly it has been mostly from Christians who cite this very passage about not knowing the day or the hour as an excuse for not watching.
It is evident to me that the vast majority of the Church is not watching and doesn't seem to have any desire to. It wouldn't surprise me if the percentage of believers not watching would be enough to round up to consider them ALL asleep like in the parable. The sleeping Church has no idea how near Christ's return really is. When the rapture does happen, it will take them by surprise. The parable of the 10 virgins seems to illustrate this perfectly.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Donna Danna (23 May 2011)
"REPLY TO JOE CALLOWAY -- 5 FOOLISH VIRGINS
In reply to your 5/21 post at http://www.fivedoves.com/letters/may2011/joecall521.htm you stated that "the fact these people do not have oil is proof they never had the Holy Spirit." Please don't forget Matthew 25:8 which says, "And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out." If their lamps went out, they must have had oil (Holy Spirit) because a lamp going out is different than a lamp that never had oil to begin with, but perhaps they quenched the Holy Spirit by being in a state of sin that they didn't repent of.