No crushed reed will he break, and no smoldering wick will he extinguish.
The apostle Matthew applied those words of Isaiah to Jesus. Jesus’ tender heart moved him to speak tenderly to others, especially to the downtrodden. He spoke in a way that lifted the spirits of those who were figuratively like a bruised reed or the wick of an oil lamp about to go out. He preached a message of hope “to bind up the brokenhearted.” He invited those who were “toiling and loaded down” to come to him, reassuring them that they would “find refreshment” for themselves. Jesus assured his followers that God had tender concern for each of His worshippers, including the “little ones”—those who may seem unimportant from the standpoint of the world. How can we imitate Jesus in showing tenderness? Such emotions may not come naturally to us, but the Bible urges us to work at cultivating them. Then, tenderness will move us to want to make a difference in the lives of others, especially those who may be like a bruised reed or a smoldering wick.
Many of Jehovah’s Witnesses today are toiling and burdened down. They do not find the weekly congregation meetings refreshing any more. Some become brokenhearted when they discover the extent of Bethel’s hypocritical dealings, such as their secret 10 year partnership with the United Nations or the atrocious way in which victims of JW child abuse are dealt with. Some of Jehovah’s Witnesses are like smoldering wicks —their faith dimmed and about to flicker out. And the burgeoning numbers of ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses testifies to the fact that many are abandoning the organization altogether —convinced that Jehovah could never have anything to do with it.
Instead of addressing the issues and humbly apologizing for the pain, confusion and stumbling that have effected so many, for which the leadership of the organization itself is responsible for inflicting upon the flock under their charge, the Watchtower has doubled-down, as the expression goes, guilting Jehovah’s Witnesses for not being loyal to Jehovah —as if they were guilt free, as if loyalty to Jehovah solely means pledging loyalty to the organization.
Jehovah, of course, is undoubtedly aware of what is going on. He has kept silent, though. In fact, the very chapter of Isaiah that speaks of the Messiah not extinguishing the smoldering wick quotes God as saying: “I have kept quiet for a long time. I remained silent and restrained myself. Like a woman giving birth, I will groan, pant, and gasp all at once.”
God’s inaction is not due to unconcern. He allows things to develop. He permits abuses to occur. He allows wickedness to prevail. Then BOOM! That’s it! The hammer falls. That is why the preceding verse states: “Jehovah will go out like a mighty man. He will awaken his zeal like a warrior. He will shout, yes, he will let out a war cry; He will show himself mightier than his enemies.”
In the ancient setting Jehovah proved himself mightier than the Babylonian Empire, that held his people captive. But obviously there is a modern antitype connected to the Messiah. What is it? The Watchtower claims that Jehovah liberated the Bible Students from spiritual captivity to Babylon the Great in 1919. But if that were true, in what way did Jehovah awaken zeal and go out like a mighty warrior to crush his enemies? Obviously he didn’t.
The fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses are oblivious to this blatant contradiction is why the 42nd chapter of Isaiah is addressed to the blind and deaf servants of Jehovah. That is why verse 16 begins: “I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know and cause them to tread on unfamiliar paths. I will turn the darkness before them into light and turn the rugged terrain into level land. This is what I will do for them, and I will not abandon them. They will be turned back and will be utterly put to shame, those who trust in carved images, those who say to metal statues: ‘You are our gods.’ Listen, you who are deaf; look and see, you who are blind. Who is blind except my servant, so deaf as the messenger I send? Who is so blind as the one rewarded, so blind as the servant of Jehovah?”
That the prophecy refers to the future coming of Christ and not to the Watchtower’s 1914 Kingdom came hoax is evident in the verse of the day, which reads in context: “No crushed reed will he break, and no smoldering wick will he extinguish. In faithfulness he will bring justice. He will not grow dim or be crushed until he establishes justice in the earth…”
QUESTION: Has Jesus established justice on the earth? No, absolutely not. So, it is at a point in the future when Christ will lead the blind in a way they have not known, something outside the realm of the Watchtower. As it stands now Jehovah’s Witnesses believe God directs them by means of the Watchtower, and indeed he does. But that will not always be the case. That is the point. It is then, after the Watchtower, that Jesus will demonstrate his superlative kindness and merciful dealing to those who are described further on in the 42nd chapter as “a people plundered and pillaged; all of them are trapped in the holes and hidden in the prisons. They have been plundered with no one to rescue them, and pillaged with no one to say: ‘Bring them back!’”
Good reason then to keep the wick glowing!