Bruised Reeds and Smoking Flax
Matt 12:20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
Heard a teaching one time, that made me think. It was at a leadership conference, and it was talking about the ‘staff or rod’ of leadership.
Ex 4:2 And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.
Ex 4:4 And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:
Ex 4:17 And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.
Nu 17:5 And it shall come to pass, that the man’s rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you.
Ps 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Pr 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
Isa 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
Eze 20:37 And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant:
Mic 6:9 The LORD’S voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.
1Co 4:21 What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?
In these verses we see the rod, as being the symbol of God’s authority in the earth. Moses led with a staff, but in his hands, it became the rod of God, exercising God’s authority, power, and judgments in the earth.
For us who love God, the rod, or the reign and authority of God present in our lives, become a comfort to us, keeping us on the right path, in peace. The rod is His Word, the Holy Scripture, and the voice of Holy Spirit in the earth. These are to be obeyed, not debated.
With our children, the rod of our authority, will give them wisdom, and we see Jesus, the rod come forth from Jesse, line of Judah, linage of king David.
In Ezekiel, we see God acting, reestablishing His authority in His people, ‘bringing them under the rod’.
In Mic, we hear the prophet crying out, by the voice of the Holy Spirit, ‘Hear ye the rod!’
Beautiful Old Testament examples depicting the loving, yet powerful authority of God, at work in the life of his people.
Again, we see the same spirit of love in the apostle Paul, as expressed in the shepherd psalm, ‘Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love?’
Yet, the man of God who brought this teaching for leaders being raised up (or held in place), by the hand of God, told this story:
In the middle east, is is a common sight for an elder, or a shepherd, to carry a staff. The staff was used in sometimes rough terrain, after a rain perhaps, the ground would be muddy, the footing unsure, so a seasoned leader would use his or her staff, to poke the ground in front of his path, to ensure good footing before walking and leading God’s people there. These rods were often cut from papyrus, or bamboo, and in both cases, the time of the cutting of the staff was important.
When the rod was the correct thickness and straightness, it could be cut, and carefully dried, to become a strong staff, but here is an interesting fact. The bamboo, or wood selected as a staff, could not be bent over or broken at any point in its length, for this would cause a bruise in it, that when dried, became a permanent weakness in the staff. If one leaned upon it, or put any weight upon it, it would break.
2Ki 18:21 Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him.
No, a bruised reed, could be splinted, and propped up while it was still green and supple, and as it grew, the bruised areas, would heal themselves through growth, and would actually become stronger, in the areas of weakness, after they were healed.
Placing weight upon a staff, is symbolic of the responsibility of leadership. People place pressure on leaders, and if they were cut and dried while still bruised, they break under pressure.
God does not promote prematurely, there is an anointing for leadership, then there is an appointing for leadership.
Moses was called and discovered his calling at age 40. He was commissioned in his calling at age 80.
Joseph had his time in prison, Paul out in the desert, and if you are called, surely you are being training and developed at the feet of Jesus, probably in another man’s ministry, as God is gently exposing, revealing, and healing your deepest pains and weaknesses, while you are still green, so that while still growing, you can become strong in your weak areas, before you are cut, put aside, carefully dried, and prepared to accept the weight of responsibility your calling must carry.
To be honest, I have seen this process in my own life. As I have thought I was a lot more ready for leadership, than I actually was, I have often stepped out prematurely, to discover that there were yet bruised areas of my life, areas that would not yet bear weight. In my earlier years, I put painful splinters in my pastors’ hands, as they have carried me through some of the wonderful messes I made! Ugh! Never my intention to ever hurt God’s servants, nor to add to their problems, rather always, to take weight and problems from them…
So it is with leaders.
A smoking flax:
I read this quote by the famous Charles Spurgeon:
‘Sometimes a candle smokes, not because it is newly lit, but because it is almost extinguished. I know that I speak to some Christians who have been alight with the fire of Grace for many years and yet they feel as if they were near the dark hour of extinction. But you shall not go out. The Lord will not quench you, Himself, nor will He permit the devil to quench you. He will keep you alight with Grace.’
Well, for those of us still green and growing in our gift and calling, let us grow strong in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
‘Father, help me to grow! May I continually press towards the mark of the high calling of God in You Christ Jesus. Help me to honestly face the bruised areas of my life, that need to be splinted, before being pressed into service for the King! May I never seek promotion, only responsibility and service…in Your name I pray Lord Jesus, Amen!’