Amos and the Plumb Line

A modern day plumb line, much like the illustration from Amos.
A modern day plumb line, much like the illustration from Amos.

“This is what he showed me:  behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand.  And the LORD said to me, “Amos, what do you see?”  And I said, “A plumb line.”  Then the LORD said, “Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel;  I will never again pass by them;” (Amos 7:7-8) ESV

The plumb line was the ancient equivalent of a level, so to speak.  When a builder built a wall, this line, which had a weight at the end known as a plummet (the term plumb comes from the Latin “plumbum,” meaning lead.  These tools were originally made with a lead weight), would indicate whether or not the walls of the structure were straight.  Obviously, in order for a structure to be sound, it needed straight walls.

The metaphor behind the plumb line is this:  God’s plumb line is His standard.  For the Israelites, it was His covenant law.  The wall upon which God was standing was a wall constructed true to that plumb, or one that was straight and conformed to His measurements.  He now stood on this perfect wall with His plumb line (The covenant He made with Israel) ready to measure Israel.  The importance of the plumb line is this:  if a wall was not straight (true to plumb), then that wall would be torn down, as it would not stand.  Israel would not, obviously, measure true to plumb, and God was no longer going to “pass by them”, which could best be interpreted as “looking past their iniquity.”  As history proved, God was true to His word and Israel was defeated by the Assyrians, thus fulfilling God’s promise to destroy the wall that did not measure true to plumb.

While we no longer are measured by the plumb line of the Sinai Covenant, God still has measures by which we are measured.  Those standards are too high for us to meet them alone.  We need the sacrifice of Jesus, and the acceptance of Him as our Savior.  Otherwise, we will meet with the same fate Israel faced.  We will eventually be judged for our works and our deeds, and if we do not accept the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross, we will then be judged on our own merit, which is not a good thing.

What would your plumb line look like?  If you have accepted Christ, the walls you build will be “true to plumb,” not by your own efforts, but by the effort of the one who was, who is, and is to come.

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