What is Your Plumb Line?

Karen Ehman

Day: 26 | Plan: Prone to Wander

Today's Reading: Amos 7

Amos 7:7 (ESV) "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."

When we were raising our children, they knew there were certain expectations of behavior that we had for them. We required them to address adults as ma'am or sir. We expected them to be on time for meetings and events. If we ever got a little pushback from one of our kids, questioning why they needed to behave a certain way, we always gave them the same answer: "Because you are an Ehman."

God also has expectations for His children and desires that they behave in keeping with righteousness. The prophet Amos wrote about these standards of conduct and the results of not keeping them.

The prophet paints vivid word pictures about the results of disobeying the Lord. We see these depictions in three visions in Amos 7: the vision of swarming locusts, (Amos 7:1-3) the vision of consuming fire (Amos 7:4-6) and the vision of the plumb line. (Amos 7:7-9)

In the first vision, the Lord revealed to Amos He was about to send a huge swarm of locusts to the land just as the latter growth was beginning to sprout. The first cutting of the crop went to the royal court as a tax from the people to the ruling authorities. It was also used for food and to nourish their horses. If the latter growth were to be devoured by the locusts, the people would be left destitute!

After the vision of the locusts, Amos then witnessed a vision of a great consuming fire that would fall upon the land of Israel, ushering in widespread destruction. But before it scorched the land, it would devour "the great deep." This means it would dry up the sea, an important resource for food and commerce.

Amos' response to both of these visions of devastation was the same. He implored the Lord not to do it saying, "How can Jacob stand since he is so small?" The name Jacob here refers to the nation of Israel, the descendants of the patriarch.

God heard Amos and responded. In each instance, we read, "The LORD relented concerning this." And so, we see God's declaration, "It shall not be."

Next, Amos sees a third vision, that of a plumb line. This tool involves a cord with a weight at one end that is held up to the top of a structure. As gravity pulls the weight downward, you can determine whether vertical structures are straight by comparison. Here, the image of a plumb line is used symbolically to refer to the godly standard against which the Lord would measure the behavior of His people. He had found Israel's leadership to be chronically crooked, and as a result, the nation would be judged harshly, being laid waste as the house of Jeroboam falls by the sword. (Amos 7:11)

We can glean a few concepts for our lives and behavior from this vivid account of the three visions.

God has standards. God hasn't left us to fend for ourselves, trying to figure out how to live our lives here on earth. His Word is our plumb line, and in Scripture, we find both directives for living as well as warnings for what might happen when we ignore His instructions.

Each of us has a response to His standards. We have a choice. We can choose to follow after God, obeying His commands, or we can reject His standards and make up our own rules in life. Each choice has ramifications.

Even when we choose wrongly, the Lord's mercy triumphs over His judgment . Just as with Amos, God is ready to grant mercy when we humbly ask for it. His primary motive is mercy. And His ultimate act of mercy was in sending Jesus, His only Son and the one true prophet, to offer us forgiveness and save us.

Praise God for both His plumb line, which shows us how to live, and His mercy when our behavior fails to measure up to His standards.

Prayer: Father, may my only plumb line in life be Your Word. Help me to study it, understand it and be quick to obey its commands. In Jesus' name, amen.

More Moments:

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