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The Plumbline  

by Ricky Kurth

“And, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in His hand....Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of My people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more” (Amos 7:7,8).

As we compare the two verses of this vision, God identifies the “wall” as “My people Israel.” But what did “the plumbline” represent?

A plumbline is a tool that is used even today by masons who wish to erect walls that are perfectly straight. A simple weight at the end of a string is suspended alongside the wall as it is being constructed, to ensure that it is being built straight, and at a perfect right angle to the gravitational pull of the earth. Construction workers know that bowed or leaning walls are easily toppled (Psa. 62:3).

Since our text tells us that this “wall” that represents Israel was “made by a plumbline,” we believe the plumbline to be the Law of Mose s. It was the Law that defined Israel as a nation, and its perfect code of righteousness ensured that Israel was built in accord with the perfectly upright standard of the very righteousness of God. Here in Amos 7, God is re-applying the plumbline standard of the Law to Israel to show Amos how far his nation had shifted away from the perfect standard with which she had been constructed, and why He could no longer “pass by them any more” in mercy, but must rather bring the judgment that their sin demanded.

Today in the dispensation of Grace, of course, God is not dealing with Israel or any other nation, but rather with individual members of the Body of Christ. In the epistles of Paul we read of how in Christ we too have been formed in accord with the perfect standard of the Law (II Cor. 5:21), and that the righteousness of the Law is given to us as a free gift of God’s grace through faith (Rom. 3:21-26; 10:4; I Cor. 1:30). Thus when believers today wish to apply a standard to our lives to check to see if we have drifted from who God made us in Christ, we look not to the Law, but to the epistles of the Apostle Paul.

We close with a very practical admonition. Every builder knows that when a wall falls, it always falls in the direction in which it is leaning. If the reader has ever wondered about the harm in an occasional drink of an alcoholic beverage, or the danger of seemingly “harmless” flirtations with immorality, it should be remembered that Christians are like walls—they too always fall in the direction in which they are leaning! Let us thank God for the "plumbline" of His grace, and may we determine as never before to walk worthy of Him.

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