Eugene Peterson’s book “Eat this Book” teaches us to chew on a passage of scripture, digest it, and then put it to use in practical ways. This passage from Amos 7 contains the vivid image of a plumb line to help us determine if we are following the way of Jesus.
“God showed me this vision: My Master was standing beside a wall. In his hand he held a plumb line.
God said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” I said, “A plumb line.”
Then my Master said, “Look what I’ve done. I’ve hung a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel. I’ve spared them for the last time. This is it!
“Isaac’s sex-and-religion shrines will be smashed,
Israel’s unholy shrines will be knocked to pieces.
I’m raising my sword against the royal family of Jeroboam.”
I recently watched an episode on HGTV which showed a huge new island with a “waterfall” granite counter top being installed. As the remodelers proudly stood back and surveyed their work, they noticed that the whole island stood more than one inch off kilter. It destroyed the whole look of the new kitchen. There was panic! A carpenter pulled out a plumb line and several workers proceeded to push the island in place
In this passage Amos uses the metaphor of a plumb line as a spiritual measurement. A plumb line is a weight on the end of a string; builders use it to make certain that their walls stand straight. Like the counter top, a wall (or a life) may look right, but if it doesn’t match the plumb line it is out of kilter. Amos envisions God standing by a wall and judging Israel moral correctness by his plumb line – and finding it “out of kilter,” a failure” in God’s eyes.
What is the plumb line God uses to measure your life? The 10 Commandments? Psalm 23? The Beatitudes? The parables of Jesus? Choose one of these plumb lines. Daily for a week (or longer) measure your actions and attitudes against it. How off kilter are you?
What do you have to change to get in line with what God wants for your life emotionally, financially, physically, spiritually? Pray for the Holy Spirit’s help you make your crooked life straight. Pick one area and list the adjustments you need to make to line up with God’s vision for your life.
God tells Amos that the society he lives in is far off the plumb line and vows to raise his sword against the royal family that is leading it to destruction. How does America measure up to God’s plumb line. Make a list of the ways America is ignoring the will of God. What can you do to influence others to straighten up and be measured against God’s plumb line?
MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“Amos promises apocalyptic destruction for these kind of oppressive worlds: The high places shall be made desolate and the sanctuaries will be made desolate and the sanctuaries laid waste (Amos 7:9) This leveling is a consequence of a stratified society built on the foundation of an unjust economy. “They sell the righteous for silver,” Amos attests earlier, “and the needy for a pair of sandals. (Amos 2:6). For a people who benefit from a system that produces such dehumanizing disparities, salvation will mean desolation. . . . To hope for redemption is to open our lives to judgment, to wonder if we are on God’s side” (Isaac S. Villegas).