A couple of years ago I was leading a Bible study through this chapter with the Youth Growth Group and I presented them with a box full of things that could be made into plumb lines. There were heavy objects, bundles of string, and things to join the two together. The concept of a physical plumb line was beyond all of them, and some of the things they ‘made’ were akin to something our youngest son Jesse could make…think bundling everything together and saying ‘done’.
Whilst the concept of making a plumb line was alien to them, the thought of having one, consistent, straight, narrow, absolute guide for building walls, or for life in general was not alien to them at all, much to my delight.
Today God speaks to Amos and tells him that He is going about the judgement of His people to a standard that is absolutely consistent, perfectly straight, impossibly narrow, and as absolute as can be,
‘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;’
Living under the law, this is what is required; God holding us up to the impossible standard of His absolute perfection. When the inevitable happens – we don’t live up to the standard – God says,
‘I will never again pass by them;
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.”’
How sad would it be if that were our lot; God sets the standard, we try to live up to it, but we never can. We would spend a lifetime trying to please Him but never even getting close.
God’s Word tells us that our own righteousness, our own natural efforts to please God, to live well, are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64.6). We try and try, but we were dead in transgressions and sin (Ephesians 2.1) and we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23), so it’s hopeless really…
But, there is One plumb line that measures up to God’s standards, and, by the grace of God alone, let’s us claim His perfect consistency and absolute straightness as our own when standing before the Father.
If we compare ourselves to others around us, we may look straight enough…but when God looks at our attempted plumb line of living it will never be straight enough…unless He looks at us through the lens of Christ, unless we confess with our mouth and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord and God raised Him from the dead, then Christ as the perfectly straight plumb line will make sure we are seen as straight in the eyes of the Father.
Charles Spurgeon said this on plumb lines, a point to ponder today as we consider Jesus as our own plumb line,
“I would like you…to use the plumb line when you begin your spiritual life- building…
Use the plumb line to see whether it is all straight and square.
Try all the doctrines that are taught, and do not embrace that which is popular, but that which is Biblical.”
(August 27, 1876).