Go Forth To Meet The Bridegroom by Elspeth Young

Go Forth To Meet The Bridegroom

{ A Wise Virgin }
Pre-mounted Giclées on canvas (gatorboard)
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12" x 16"$140.0014" x 18"$175.0016" x 20"$215.0018" x 24"$280.00
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12" x 24.25"$149.0016" x 32.25"$243.0018" x 36.25"$300.0024" x 36"$388.00
14" x 28.25"$193.0020" x 28"$261.0024" x 30"$328.0022" x 44.25"$434.00
20" x 24"$228.0020" x 30"$278.0020" x 40.25"$363.0024" x 48.25"$510.00
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18" x 24"$93.0020" x 30"$122.0024" x 36"$168.00
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Original oil painting$14,270.00 Sold
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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.

While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

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.

Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Matthew 25:1-13

The story behind Go Forth To Meet The Bridegroom

This painting depicts one of the "wise virgins" from the Savior's parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25, Luke 12).  With faith and determination, this young woman holds in her glowing hands the brilliant lamp of faith, hope, and charity.  Its light—the light of Christ—is the only illumination in the darkness that surrounds her.

Symbolism in Go Forth To Meet The Bridegroom

The lamplight casts a warm glow on the gilded pilaster and wooden paneling of an entry, symbolic of the threshold those who are spiritually prepared for the wedding feast (the Savior's Second Coming) will be invited to pass.  Just as the flickering flame glints in her gaze, so the "light, and the life, and the truth of the world" (Ether 4:12) provides "the light which shineth in darkness" (D&C 6:21) to all who seek Him.

Given during the last week of His mortal ministry, the parable this virgin represents is intended specifically for the time in which we now live—the last days "before the Son of Man comes" when "the kingdom of heaven [shall] be likened unto ten virgins" (see Matthew 25:1 in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible).  It teaches all mankind to "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" (D&C 33:17).

Within the parable, the Savior teaches the difference between spiritual wisdom and foolishness: "They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps" (Matthew 25:3-4).  It is taking thought for the oil within the lamps that distinguishes those who use their knowledge wisely.  Within the context of the parable, oil is the key to spiritual preparation for the Savior's Second Coming.  What, then, might that oil represent?  The following thoughts are a list of possibilities:

Oil is mentioned throughout the Old Testament, and has always been part of the ordinances performed within the Temple.  The very meaning of the Greek word "Christ" is "the Anointed" (see also Isaiah 61:1-3, Acts 4:27 and 10:38).  Thus, the oil suggests that the virgin is a covenant-keeping individual.  As such, sacrifice and devotion to keeping the commandments must be a necessary attribute of those seeking to keep oil in their own spiritual lamp.

Oil is also a vital element in the miraculous account of the widow of Zarephath.  Her story illustrates that personal application of prophetic guidance keeps oil replenished.  Just as the widow and her son survived a severe physical famine because of their faith in a prophet's invitation, so those who hearken to the counsel of living prophets will have the spiritual sustenance they need—a spiritual "cruse of oil" that will not "fail, according to the word of the Lord" (see 1 Kings 17:16).

Perhaps, no less significant to an interpretation of the parable is the context in which the Savior provided it.  The story of the virgins is immediately followed by the parable of the talents, and then the story of the sheep and the goats.  Within these parables the Savior teaches the need for the development and consecration of talents for the purpose of building the Lord's kingdom, and of utilizing our gifts and means for the blessing of others, no matter how small and simple such acts may seem at the time.  In this context, "oil" might symbolize day-to-day offerings of selfless service and devoted discipleship.  Indeed, as illustrated by the parable of the virgin, such noble deeds cannot be accrued in the brief moments prior to the Bridegroom's appearance, any more than the foolish five were able to obtain oil for their empty lamps.

The prophet Samuel the Lamanite taught that "if your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late" (Helaman 13:38).  The great missionary Amulek likewise encouraged:  "Now is the time and the day of your salvation...For behold this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors."  He also warned:  "Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end" (Alma 34:31-32).  Only in the little thoughts and words and actions of daily devotion is it possible to accrue the oil needed in one's own lamp.

President Henry B. Eyring declares:  "However much faith to obey God we now have, we will need to strengthen it continually and keep it refreshed constantly. We can do that by deciding now to be more quick to obey and more determined to endure. Learning to start early and to be steady are the keys to spiritual preparation. Procrastination and inconsistency are its mortal enemies" (Eyring, Henry B.  Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady, October 2005 General Conference Address).

The herodian-style lamp cradled in the virgin's hands is a style of lamp known in Savior's day, and reminds the viewer of Biblical symbols:  "For thou art my lamp, O Lord, and the Lord will lighten my darkness" (2 Samuel 22:29); "For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light" (see Proverbs 6:23); and "The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out" (Proverbs 13:9).  Therefore, the lamp depicted here symbolizes the safety of commandments and covenants.  Just as a lamp also enables the oil it contains to produce light, so also do the covenants, laws, and ordinances available through the Gospel of Jesus Christ provide the means by which our daily drops of oil give enduring meaning, validity, and efficacy to our time here on earth.  Without the lamp, the oil cannot burn:  Without the power of salvation inherent in the ordinances of the Priesthood of God, we cannot re-enter the Father's presence (see D&C 132:4-6 and 131:1-4).

The darkness surrounding the figure reminds us that darkness, or opposition, is part of mortality (see 2 Nephi 2:10-11).  Without the Light of Christ, the ordinances of salvation, and the endurance of faith on His name to end, we see nothing clearly in this world.  We do not even see ourselves, nor can we discern whence we came or where we are going.  It is this "kindly light" that guides us, often but "one step" at a time toward that heavenly home whence we came (see Hymns, 97).  Indeed, as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland reminds us, "the light of the kingdom of God will never go out" ("Charity Never Faileth: A Discussion on Relief Society," Ensign Mar. 2011, 40).

In the words of Elder M. Russell Ballard:  "Truly the Lord encourages us to walk in faith to the edge of the light and beyond—into the unknown.  After the trial of our faith, He once again shines the light ahead of us, and our journey of faith in every footstep continues" (Ballard, M. Russell.  Faith In Every Footstep, October 1996 General Conference Address).

Finally, just as the parable was symbolic, so the setting in which the figure appears is not necessarily intended to portray the architectural styles at the time of the Savior's presentation of the parable.  After all, "of that day, and hour" of the Messiah's Second Coming "no one knoweth; no, not the angels of God in heaven, but [the] Father only" (see Matthew 1:40, JST).
© By Elspeth Young, All Rights Reserved. You may not print, copy, or reproduce this artwork or make derivative works from it without the prior written consent of the copyright holder. For permissions, please review our FAQ page.

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Illustration: Go Forth To Meet The Bridegroom

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