God’s Plumb Line – Chapter 1

God’s Plumb Line: Aligning Our Hearts with the Heart of God

Chapter 1
AMOS 7:7-9

This is what he showed me: 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, “See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass them by; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.

This vision of the prophet Amos is about alignment—alignment with the ways of God.
    The prophet Amos was the earliest of the Hebrew writing prophets. Although he lived in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, his messages were spoken to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He proclaimed his messages at the royal sanctuary at Bethel during the latter years of the reign of Jeroboam II.
    Under the long reign of Jeroboam II, the nation of Israel enjoyed international stability and a strong economy. The resulting prosperity fostered a sense of security within the nation. This prosperity and sense of security were the backdrop for Amos’s preaching. Amos proclaimed a disturbing message: the nation was out of alignment with the ways of God and, consequently, would experience the LORD’s judgment. The nation was standing on the brink of destruction.
    Amos’ message about the plumb line was one of his prophecies about the impending destruction. The passage falls into two parts: the vision of the plumb line followed by a proclamation of judgment using the image of the plumb line.
    The vision was of the LORD standing beside a wall with a plumb line in his hand. The wall had been built with the aid of a plumb line.
    A plumb line was a simple tool an ancient builder used in constructing a stone wall to a house or around a city. It consisted of a small stone or metal weight (called a plumb bob) hanging on a cord from a tripod. Gravity pulling on the stone insured the cord hung straight and taunt, perpendicular to the earth’s center. As long as the wall was built “in plumb,” that is, parallel to the string, it would be stable and strong. A wall that was out of plumb would lean, making it weak. Such a wall would be vulnerable, easy to topple and destroy. This simple tool was especially important in the hill country of Israel. The plumb line was a builder’s guide for constructing a wall that was straight and strong.
     Having been built with the aid of a plumb line, the wall the Lord was inspecting would have been strong because it was built in plumb.  The Lord was now using the plumb line to inspect the current condition of the wall.
    The vision gave way to a message. In the same way the Lord used a plumb line to inspect the wall, so the Lord would use a plumb line to inspect the nation. The plumb line set in their midst would show how they were or were not aligned with the ways of God. A lack of alignment left them vulnerable to destruction just as a leaning wall is vulnerable to being pulled down and destroyed.
    The Lord’s inspection revealed the nation was out of alignment. This inspection of the nation was not the Lord’s first nor was it the first time the nation had been out of alignment. In the past, the Lord had passed by their lack of alignment. This part of the image suggests the Lord’s patience with the nation. But the Lord’s response to this inspection was different. He would not simply observe and pass by, doing nothing. This time, the leaning wall would be pulled down. The collapse of the nation was at hand.
    Amos’ metaphor of the plumb line was about alignment. His message, applied to today, is about aligning the way we live with the ways of God. The seven markers presented in this book are components of God’s plumb line. They help us align our hearts with the heart of God, our minds with the mind of Christ, and our lives with the ways of God.
    After all, isn’t that what we are attempting to do whenever we proclaim “the Bible says!”