Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the LORD stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand. And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. 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).
Webster’s dictionary defines the plumbline as; “a lead weight hung at the end of a line to determine whether a wall is vertical or straight, instrument used to test if something is vertical or straight; instrument used to determine if lines are true.”
When God showed this vision to Amos, He was giving him a message to deliver to Israel. The message was “I have set a standard before you to follow, and you are going to be judged by this standard.”
In his commentary, Adam Clarke had this to say about the plumbline seen by Amos; “This appears to be an emblem of strict justice and indicates God is going to now visit them according to their iniquities.”
God goes on to tell Amos that Israel is about to be destroyed because they did not adhere to the standard He had set. On another occasion God again informs Israel, “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet” (Isaiah 28:17).
Jeremiah knew that God had set a standard or “plumbed the line” before the people, and that is why his concern is so clear as he penned the following words; “Stand ye in the ways, and see and ask for the old paths, where is the good way and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16). But what was the response of the people? They said, “We will not walk therein.”
Even our Lord knew that man would not walk by the “plumbed” way. He told us there were two ways. One wide and broad that leads to destruction, the other strait and narrow that leads to life eternal. Many would go in by the broad way, but only a few would enter that strait and narrow way (Matthew 7:13,14).
In everything we do we must look for God’s “plumbline,” because it is by this measurement or standard that we will be judged. Let’s look now at what God has put His “plumbline” against to set the standard for us.
God has set His “plumbline” against our SALVATION. God and Christ want all men to be saved, they are not willing that any should perish. For this reason, God has given a standard which we must follow if we expect to be saved. We must hear the true word of God, because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). We must believe the word and in Jesus, God’s Son, because it is impossible to please God without belief (Hebrews 11:6). We must repent of our sins, because without repentance there can be no forgiveness (Luke 13:3). We must confess Christ, because if we confess Him before men, He will confess us before the Father (Matt. 10:32). And we must be baptized for the remission of our sins, because it is in baptism that we contact the cleansing blood of Christ (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15,16; Acts 22:16; Rev. 1:5).
This is God’s standard for obedience to the Gospel. Anything else, taught by anyone else, anywhere else, at any other time is not true if it does not “plumb” according to God’s Word. We must be sure that what we do for salvation must not deviate from God’s straight line or else we will be lost.
God has placed His “plumbline” against our LIFE. Once we have obeyed the Gospel and become one of His children, God expects us to walk by His rule—His standard. He does not leave His rules to guess, but has laid them out for us in a straight for-ward way.
- We are to deny ungodliness and worldly lust, and live soberly, righteously and godly (Titus 2:12).
- We are to abstain from every form of evil (I Thessalonians 5:22).
- We are to be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (I Corinthians 15:58).
- We are to avoid the works of the flesh, and seek the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:19-23).
- We are to study to show ourselves approved of God, so that we might grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord (II Timothy 2:15; I Peter 2:2).
- We are to add to our life the Christian Graces (II Peter 1:5-10).
- We are to be an example to those around us (I Timothy 4:12-16). If we live by these and other rules and standards found in God’s Word, we can look for Him to say on that day of judgment “Well done thou good and faithful servant...enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21).
God has placed His “plumbline” against our WORSHIP. God expects us, as His people, to worship Him “in spirit and in truth.” Worship must be done decently and in the order (I Corinthians 14:40) as God dictates; and, it must be for His glory. God's standard for our worship includes the following:
- Preaching and teaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified (Acts 20:7).
- Congregational singing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).
- Publicly offering up prayers (Acts 2:42).
- Remembering the Lord’s death by the partak-ing (on each first day of the week) of the Lord’s supper (I Corinthians 11:23-29; I Corinthians 16:1).
- Giving of our means as we have purposed in our hearts, with the right attitude (I Corinthians 16:2; II Corinthians 9:7).
This is God’s prescribed way to worship, and He holds His “plumbline” against what we do and call worship. Anything left out is not pleasing to Him, and any-thing added is not pleasing to Him.
God has placed His “plumbline” against FALSE TEACHERS. God wants the Gospel preached to the whole world. It is this Gospel that is the power of God unto salvation to all that believe (Romans 1:16). Those who do not follow the standard in their preaching and teaching will have to face the wrath of God. Galatians 1:6-9 says that if we preach any other gospel than that which was once and for all delivered by the Lord, we will be accursed. 2 John 9-11 informs us as a people that if any one preaches or teaches any thing other than what was delivered by Christ, we are to reject them. Then II Peter 2:1 tells us that false teachers who bring in their “damnable heresies” shall be destroyed.
God and Christ knew that men would depart from sound doctrine, and would gather to themselves men who would preach to please the ear (II Timothy 4:3-4), and for that reason the “plumbline” was set against what must be preached, and we can not deviate from it. God’s word is complete, it is perfect, it is simple, and it is universal in that it applies to all men.
God has placed His “plumbline” against our WORKS. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” A Christian must be an active working servant in the Lord’s king-dom. Just as the physical body has many working parts, so does the spiritual body. And, for the body/church of our Lord to be in “good health,” every member must be a working part of it.
When God put His “plumbline” against our works, He looks to see if we have taken every opportunity to do good (Galatians 6:10). He looks to see if we are doing those works for His glory, or are we doing them to be praised of men (Matthew 5:16). He looks to see if we are following “that which is good to all men” (I Thessalonians 5:15). We must remember that on the day of Judgment we will give an account of all that we have done on this earth whether it be good or evil. God’s standard is for us to do good to all.
God told Amos “I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people.” Brethren we must believe that He has. Everything we do must be in accordance with God's standard or else it is sin.
Now let me ask you, if God was to hold His “plumbline” up beside you right now, as a congrega-tion or as an individual, would you be straight and true or would you be “off plumb?”
Danny L. Box