The God of the plumbline
Published 9:30 am Friday, June 24, 2022
BY TONY HOSS
In Amos 7:7-9, we find the third of five visions Amos saw concerning the judgment of God against Israel. In this vision, Amos sees the Lord standing on a wall holding a plumbline in His hand. As any builder will know, a plumbline, with a plumb bob on the end of it, is used to determine the vertical 90-degree precision of a wall. Knowing that the pull of gravity will stretch the string straight down, it is considered to be a perfect vertical standard.
Amos helps us to understand that God expected Israel to exhibit this same type of perfection in their lives and worship to God. In fact, Israel had been formed by God’s plumbline; it was the plumbline of His Law. In building, the plumbline is used to determine the correctness of a wall and with the principles of righteousness, God expected the nation to be built to His exact specifications.
Figuratively, God, with the plumb line in His hand is determined to show just how far out of plumb, that is out of line, the nation of Israel had become. It was God’s desire to show Israel how far it was from being upright, and how completely crooked and unbalanced they had become.
Jesus, in the parable of the “Wise and Foolish Man” in Matthew 7:24-27, is determined to show the importance of straight and solid surfaces as they relate to spirituality, to living a Christian life and to worshipping God properly. In the parable, Jesus sets forth the idea that a building’s foundation must be built on firm and stable ground. The premise is, if the foundation sags so too will the structure built upon it. Jesus makes it very clear that the firm foundation needed only comes as a result of our hearing and doing the commands of God.
The Apostle Paul agrees with the teachings of Jesus when he said, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). The point is that any other foundation than the foundation of Jesus will allow sagging and thus imperfection that will eventually result in the devastation of the structure built upon it. Paul in Ephesians 2:20 and Peter in 1 Peter 2:6-7, both declare that Jesus is the cornerstone by which we must build every aspect of our Christian lives. A spiritual life built upon any other foundation will not withstand the test of time and the onslaught of Satan and his minions. In fact, a spiritual life built upon any other foundation is built out of plumb and square. Jesus is indeed that perfect plumbline, the “Chief Cornerstone” by which we must do all things.
As we now consider Amos again, we are reminded that God is “The God of the Plumb line.” As such He demands that we build upon Him. We must know that in every decision and action in our lives we are building a wall of character. We cannot properly build this most important wall in life if we build it upon the pleasures of life, or by popular opinion of the world.
Noah is an example of one who followed the commands of God when it came to building the (Ark) and obeying God in all aspects of his life. He could have given in to the temptations of family and friends or a host of others but he remained faithful building every aspect of his life based upon the Words of God. God said, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment” (Exodus 23:2 KJV). According to Paul in 2 Timothy 2:15 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17, that Christians had been given the Word of God as our guide. Peter shows in 2 Peter 1:3 that we are given all things that pertain to life and godliness. Christians have been given all they need to build a straight and true wall. They have been given God’s standard which has been delivered unto us (Jude 1:3).
In conclusion, a straight and true wall of character occurs when we use God’s rule, His standard. When a carpenter or a mason discovers that their structure is built out of plumb or that the foundation is bad they do not disregard the plumbline; they do not ignore the weak foundation. But they consider again the foundation and rebuild upon one that is solid, or they remove a crooked wall and rebuild according to the plumbline.
Religiously speaking many have disregarded the plumbline of God. Many have disallowed the firm foundation of Christ and opted for other foundations which will surely fail on the day of judgment. James reminds us, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:22-25 KJV). My plea for all men is that they build according to the Word of God. Examine your life and your worship. Is it according to the standard of God? If not, why not make it so today.
(Tony Hoss is minister of the Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton)