Pastor Jim Mann
“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out….” (Isaiah 42:3, NIV)
Isaiah 42 is a pivotal chapter in the Bible. At the time, Israel was in Babylonian captivity. They’d been soundly defeated and many of them carried away. They were forced to leave their property, their homeland, their friends and families. They had no hope for the future. And then God, through his prophet Isaiah, begins to speak comfort to his people, (see 40:1).
He promises a Messiah, filled with the Spirit, delivering his people with power and bringing justice to an unjust world. And there, in the midst of these prophecies, we find these rather strange descriptions of bruised reeds and smoldering wicks. What does the Lord mean by them?
In the ancient world a reed might be used to make a pen to write striking poetry, witty prose, or create beautiful art. Or a reed could be fashioned into a flute for beautiful music. A bruised reed, literally one that has been bent, is good for nothing but the trash bin or to be burned.
In the ancient world homes were often dark and windowless. To light their homes families used lamps filled with olive oil. It was important to keep the wick trimmed though. If the wick was left unattended, the lamp might fill the house with smoke. If the lamp got to this point the only choice was to snuff it out.
In this passage the Lord is describing Jesus. But he’s also talking about us. We are those bruised reeds. We were created for beauty: poetry, prose, artwork. But someone didn’t care for us. We got stepped on and dropped in life. We were bruised and bent (by the way, one of the New Testament words for sin is “crooked”). We bruised reeds are good for nothing, perhaps, but the trash bin…except for Jesus. We may be bent, but he will not break us. He accepts us as is.
Likewise in our sinfulness we’ve created a mess. We’ve filled our homes with smoke and ash and soot. It might be better for someone to take us outside and leave us…except for Jesus. We may be a mess, but he won’t snuff us out. He accepts us as is.
And as great as that news of God’s acceptance is, there’s even better news than that. He accepts us, yes, but he also redeems and heals us. He loves us too much to leave us bruised and smoldering. I hope you sense that love today. Join us in church and let me introduce you.
Jim Mann, Ph.D. pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. Visit New Life’s website: www. NewLifeDenton.org for more information.