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A Smouldering Wick

Isaiah 42v3a

4th January 2019

This is the last of three studies of the beginning on Isaiah Chapter 42:

Isaiah 42v1-3
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out...

We've seen that, in verses 1 and 2, Isaiah prophesied that Jesus the Messiah would be characterised by gentleness. In verse 3, Isaiah gives us two metaphors about this. The first of these is, "A bruised reed he will not break". We looked at that last time. Now we'll consider the second metaphor: "a smouldering wick he will not snuff out".

Before the days of electric lights, we had gas lights. Before gas lights we used oil lamps. Anybody who’s seen the pantomime "Aladdin" will know what an oil lamp looks like. An oil lamp had a wick, perhaps of linen or other cloth, and you would set light to the wick, rather as you would light a candle, and it would slowly burn in the oil inside the lamp.

But sometimes the wick would get dirty or damaged, and the light would go all smoky and horrible. When that happened, you could either cut out the bad part of the wick and put the remainder back in the lamp (what is known as "trimming the wick") or you could throw the wick away and get another one. And because wicks were not expensive, it was often easier to do that.

Many of us feel like a smoking wick. Jesus told us that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5v14) and we know that we’re called to bear witness to the goodness of God, to shine for Him in the world, but many of us think “My light doesn’t glow very brightly”, “You get more smoke than light out of me”, “My witness is not up to much.” And we wonder, “Why doesn’t God snuff me out and get another one?”

But God is absolutely faithful to us. He will never stop being faithful to us. He will always tend us. He will never give up on us. He will never decide we’re just not good enough.

And, although some Christians wonder about this, God will never decide that we’re just too sinful. Jesus has paid with His own life for all our sin.

God has infinite resources. He can heal you. He can purify you, although that can be uncomfortable. He can cause you to burn brightly for Him.

He doesn’t ask you to go away and leave Him in peace. He just asks you to let Him heal you, to make you strong, pure and bright for Jesus. And because God is infinitely wise, infinitely powerful and infinitely loving, of course He can do that.

Any wick, and any person, no matter what state it's in, God can make bright and beautiful, including you. He will never snuff you out.