by Tad Lindley
A long time ago the Yup’iks used seal oil lamps. They looked like little bowls or saucers. They would pour a pool of seal oil into the saucer and then make a wick out of moss or some other fiber. The wick would soak up oil and when exposed to fire would produce light and heat. In the land of Israel, they also used oil lamps, except instead of seal oil, they used olive oil.
Lots of annoying smoke
With oil lamps, unless properly tended, the flames eventually die down and the wick begins to smolder, making lots of annoying smoke, but no light and little heat. You may have seen candles do this. When I was growing up, we liked to lick our thumb and first finger and squeeze the wick of a lit candle. This extinguished the flame and kept the wick from smoking. When you put out a wick that way, you are “quenching” it completely. Absolutely no heat remains.
Jesus referred to this phenomenon of smoldering wicks. A bruised reed he will not break, and smoking flax he will not quench; till he sends forth justice to victory (Matthew 12:20 NKJV). The smoking flax that Jesus is talking about is the wick of an oil lamp. It is a beautiful picture of Jesus’ love for us. Even if we have fallen, and the light has gone out of our lives, he will not extinguish the smoldering wick. Instead, he wants to reignite our smoking flax. (At least until the Day of Judgment comes. Then all people that are not burning bright will perish.)
Light is life
The Lord’s second creative act in scripture was to bring forth light. In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth, and the earth was without form and void. And darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light (Genesis 1:1-3). John’s gospel reveals even more. In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him and without him was nothing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men (John 1:1-4).
Take a look at what happened in the beginning
Out of the mouth of God came the words “Let there be light”. And when those words hit the emptiness and desolation of darkness, they brought forth light. When the word of God hit the earth, it brought forth the atmosphere and water, then land and seas. When the word of God hit the barren ground it brought forth plants, and then he spoke out into space and when the breath of God hit space, space began to bring forth the stars and the sun and the moon. And when the word of God hits the smoking flax, it brings forth light!
God ignites the smoking flax
If you don’t believe me, why don’t you ask the widow of Zarephath (I Kings 17:16). The word of God hit her flour bin and her oil bottle, and they never ran out.
Ask the woman caught in adultery. The word of God hit the stain of her sin, “Then neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more,” and she walked away forgiven (John 8:11).
Go ask Naaman. He submitted himself to the word of God. The seventh time he was under water, the word of God made contact with his body and he rose up healed from leprosy (II King 5)!
Go ask the woman with an issue of blood. All of her money wasted on physicians, but the word of God came right out of the mouth of Jesus and touched her body, “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole” (Luke 8:48). Immediately the flow of blood was stopped!
How about blind Bartimaeus? The people tried to quench him. They told him to quit yelling. To them he was just a smoking flax, a nuisance in their nostrils. But he cried out even louder, “Jesus, thou son of David have mercy on me.” The people wanted to quench Bartimaeus, but Jesus wanted to turn on the lights. The very word of Jesus Christ opened up the lenses, retinas, and optic nerves, and Blind Bartimaeus wasn’t blind anymore! (Mark 10:46-52)
Are you smoking flax?
If you do not have joy in your life, you are smoking flax. You may have known true joy at some time in the past, but the fire has died down and now all you have left is smoking flax, a smoldering wick. It may be that people have tried to quench you. They have written you off as hopeless. You may even have given up hope. There is one who still believes in you. When Jesus sees the smoking flax in your life, he does not want to crush you. He does not want to squeeze the life out of your wick. Jesus wants to speak to your situation. These are the words that he wants to say: “Let there be light.”
Jesus will not force you to have victory. He is waiting for your call. Blind Bartimaeus knew his situation was desperate. Out of his desperation, he cried out, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.” And Jesus said, “Let there be light.”
Jesus knows right where you are. Turn to him, and he will give you light and life.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, AK.