Isaiah 42:3 and Matt 12:20
A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
In this scripture, we see that the reed and the flax are linked together. Why is this? Remember, in the previous studies, we noticed that the reed is kaneh in Hebrew and calamos in Greek.
Kaneh is further translated 24 times as a branch or branches. It is always related to the branches of the candlestick, as highlighted in the scripture below. The flax is the wick within the branch that enables the flame to burn.
For instance, Exodus 25: 31-32
31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
32 And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
The purpose of the candlestick is to give light.
The church is a light to the world
The church is to be a light in this dark world. (Matthew 5:14-16; Eph. 5:8) In Revelation chapter 1, we are told that: the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. Thus the scriptures say, referring to the testimony and witness of the church: Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. (Revelation 2:5)
When the two witnesses arrive in Revelation 11:4, they are both referred to as candlesticks who stand before the God of the whole Earth. They are witnesses and light to the entire world.
We see in Daniel 5:5
In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
Although the writing on the wall was sent from God, it needed to be lightened by the candlestick. The message on the wall could not be understood, except by Daniel.
God’s word, Israel and the church are bound together to be a witness to the world. Today most people in the world cannot understand events which are unfolding, which specifically relate to God’s end-time purposes, but the true church can. The church is a light to a world blind and dead in trespasses and sins.
The smoking flax
So, the scriptures connect the bruised reed and the smoking flax together, and they are intimately woven in the intricate beauty of God’s word. The flax burns in each individual branch fueled by oil. Thus surely, if the candlestick refers to the church, the flax can, to some extent, refer to individuals in the church? The church is not a building, as we know, but a body of called-out individuals.
So, if we go back to the verse Isaiah 42:3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. The Hebrew for smoking is keneh and basically means a flame that has almost gone out. It is growing dark and losing its flush of colour. The root word of keneh is kahah and means to be turning faint and dim.
So, let’s dig a little further into this. In the Hebrew, flax is pishta taken from pishteh meaning: flax or linen. Thus, in its root, the pishta was fibre known as linen, that was worn as a garment material. (The root shows a deeper meaning of the word flax, since words in Hebrew usually keep some kernel of meaning from their root.)
So what does linen speak to us of in the scriptures?
The Greek word for fine linen is byssinon. This was made from a very expensive Egyptian flax. Byssinon comes from the Hebrew buwts. The root for this word means to be bleached white and is linked with alabaster, taking us back to the spikenard study! Another Hebrew word for fine linen is shesh. This linen was used for the priestly garments. All of this is a very interesting study in itself, but it is too much to go into now.
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
Here we see that the fine linen is our righteous acts; thus, the burning flax is our witness in this world. In view of this, if you are struggling in your testimony for the Lord, you will find that He is very gracious towards us. He does not snuff us out when we fail or are struggling, for He is the upright reed: we are in Him, and He is in us. He is our righteousness and our advocate before the Father, ever-living to intercede for us. Here is His promise for those who feel downcast and are failing: He restores my soul (Psalm 23:3a). In this, we do have a part to play in trusting Him, turning back to Him in repentance and seeking to fellowship with Him.
How to be restored
Therefore, pour out your heart before Him. Spend secret time with Him. He will restore your soul.
You see, in part 2 we talked about the reed that measures. Ultimately, it is the Lord that measures each one of us. We must all give an account of our lives before the Judgement seat of Christ. We see this measurement in action in the first few chapters in Revelation. Jesus says several times, I know thy works. Then He gives direction on how to walk to please the Lord. So let us walk in holiness, in obedience to Him, because the coming of the Lord is drawing near.
The Lamb is the light
Before we move onto the sweet cane, let us consider Rev 21:22-23.
And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
At this point, at the end of the last book in the Bible, the scriptures make a point of telling us that the glory of God is the light, photizo, of Heaven and Christ is the lamp, lychnos. The lychnos is the candle on a candlestick, and photizo is the light that illuminates everything in general.
Time is no longer measured by the seasons of the sun and the moon: they are no longer needed. We have then entered into eternity where our personal Saviour fellowships in sweet union with each of us, and the bliss of God’s light envelops us all.
The witness of the church to the world has come to an end – His work of righteousness is complete.
The sweet cane
Cane is again, kaneh, in Hebrew. The sweet cane speaks to us of living a holy life.
You have bought Me no sweet cane with money, Nor have you satisfied Me with the fat of your sacrifices; But you have burdened
Me with your sins, You have wearied Me with your iniquities.
For what purpose to Me
Comes frankincense from Sheba,
And sweet cane from a far country?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable,
Nor your sacrifices sweet to Me.
In these verses we see that instead of sweet cane, God finds sin.
The sweet cane gave off incense as an offering to God. What is it that God is looking for in our lives? God seeks fruit: the sweet incense is the offering back to God from the new life of a believer – the life of Christ in us.
The fruit of resurrection life
God expects this offering to ascend to heaven from the new life in the believer. The reed – or sweet cane – should sacrifice a return of offering towards God for imparting this new life within. Christ is looking for fruit in our lives.
…walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
I would like you to notice something about the sweet cane in Exodus 30:23.
Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels,
So kaneh is the upright reed, the measuring reed, the flax and the sweet cane. This interweaving and depth of the word of God are past finding out. Each time we plunge in a little deeper, we are still only paddling in its boundless store!
The holy anointing oil
The sweet calamus, (sweet kaneh) was used in the holy anointing oil. In verse 32 of Exodus 30, the Lord tells us that this anointing oil must never be poured onto man’s flesh. Here we have again a picture of the Lord looking for the holy life to come out of the believer. The flesh has nothing to do with the holy anointing oil. It is Christ’s work. He works in and through us; we respond in obedience. This has everything to do with the Spirit coming upon the believer who then walks in the Spirit and not the flesh. (See Romans 6)
The scriptures abound with examples of the outliving of the new life that God has imparted within His people. James warns us that if there is no change in a professors life, there is a serious problem that lies there.
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:26)
Sending an odour
Our lives should send off an odour to God of sweet-smelling service.
I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. (Philippians 4:18)
This was the acting out of the life within through sacrificial giving.
If a person is born again, there has to be a change within them. The reed must give forth a smell of sweet incense to God. God’s word reiterates that it is only those who keep His commandments that truly love Him. (Matthew 7:23-27; John 14:15; John 14:21; 1 John 2:4;) Let us examine ourselves and make sure that there is a work of grace within us that brings a change. If you are in any doubt, seek Him with all your heart. He promises to be found of all that seek Him with a sincere heart.
The first use
Finally, before we leave this subject, I would like to talk about the first use of the word kaneh. It occurs in Genesis 41, where Pharoah has a dream.
Genesis 41: 22 24
And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good: And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them: And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me.
The word stalk in verse 22 is the word kaneh. This is the first mention of kaneh in God’s word. Many think that the law of the first mention is fundamental. This is because it gives the trajectory of a word through the whole of the Bible. Others don’t take this view. I must admit that I always try to look at the first use, and quite often find some fascinating points.
Nevertheless, at the moment, I don’t see much relevance of the first use in this word. I had some thoughts on the eschatological meaning since the famine lasted 7 years. We know that the 70th week of Daniel lasts for 7 years. I was intrigued by the good ears being devoured by the thin ears. The good ears mention having a stalk (this meaning the upright kaneh), while the weak ears do not say the word stalk.
Typology in the life of Joseph
There is so much typology concerning Joseph in regards to Jesus in His first and second coming. So much within the 7 famine years that relate to those last 7 years on Earth is also apparent. I thought of all that is good and holy being devoured by the Man of Sin during the tribulation time. He is darkness and deception and is not upright in any way: the personification of Satan. The bad consume the good, and yet receives no benefit.
The stalk seems to fit this theme to some extent. Nevertheless, this subject is too much to broach for this study. I would have to spend much more time in this to draw a full conclusion here.
I hope the Lord blesses you in these studies and that you find them beneficial for your walk with the Lord, as you seek to be an upright reed for Him shining as a light in this dark world. Walk circumspectly in the Spirit, knowing that that walk will be measured by Him at the Judgement Seat of Christ and that He will reward you according to your works.
Scripture quotations are taken from the KJV and NKJV translations of the Bible.
Strongs Concordance and https://www.blueletterbible.org/ have been used in the preparation of this Bible study.