Amos – The plumb line of God
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;
I will not pass by them anymore. Amos 7:8
God called Amos to be one of His spokesmen while Amos was a rancher in a little town south of Jerusalem during the mid-seven hundred's, BC, when the Kingdom was divided between the north and south.
Amos was a regular guy, he had sheep and sycamore trees that he worked for a living. He came from neither priestly nor royal blood. He was a lot like most of us, just a regular guy, minding his own business, who loved God. And God spoke to him.
At this time in history, especially in the northern Kingdom, wealth abounded. Because of the control of key trade routes, they prospered almost in spite of bad leadership. And God called them to repentance through Amos. Israel was called to repent for specific sins, including; oppressing the poor (2:6), sexual immorality (2:7), never being satisfied and always wanting more (3:15), and the selfish excess of drunkenness and gluttony (4:1). Their wealth-driven excesses hit pretty close to home. God sent a farmer to them to warn them – and us.
So offended were even the priests by Amos, tradition tells us they were the very ones who ultimately killed him – with clubs!
One of the reasons Amos' words were offensive was because they were black and white. Things are either straight or not straight, there isn't a third option, there is no grey. God illustrated this with a plumb line. God stood on a wall and lowered a plumb line, a weighted line pulled true, or plumb, by gravity. A plumb line provided the standard for every wall, every structure.
God's standard for his people is like a plumb line lowered in their midst, how do they measure up when stood against it. The standard isn't bent for some, it is the same for everyone – perfection, holiness. The Lord said, "Be holy, for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16 referencing multiple verses in Leviticus)
Ultimately, God revealed the human standard to which all people would be measured, the human 'plumb line', Jesus Christ, God incarnate. The Apostle Paul wrote:
"… Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4:13
This is God's plumb line, Jesus Christ. We aren't measured against other people or against good works, or even against back-breaking obedience to the Law, we are measured against Jesus. Standing next to Jesus will show whether we are straight and true or not.
Well, I'm out, how about you? And that's the problem with a plumb line, you can't change it, the standard can't be lowered even for the well-intentioned folks like us.
So while God loves me, He is not content with me remaining as I am, He wants me to be like Jesus. To think and act and talk like our Savior.
There is a curious verse in the little New Testament book of Jude that sheds some light on the subject. Jude writes:
"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy." (1:24)
God is able to present us faultless, straight and true, without lowering His standards. He does this by clothing us in the righteousness of Christ. Our righteousness won't meet the standard, but Jesus is righteous and true, through Him we are covered.
And now, through the course of our lives, we are slowly, gradually, consistently, transformed into His image.
"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18
And one morning I will wake up in heaven, a place this mortal body cannot go, and what's left of my corruptible flesh will be changed to something incorruptible and immortal and I will be like Him, for I shall see Him like He is.
"Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." 1 John 3:2
Wayne Watson put it simply in an old song. He wrote:
One day Jesus will call my name.
As days go by I hope I don't stay the same.
I want to get so close to Him
That it's no big change
On that day when Jesus
Calls my name.