Amos: God’s Holy Plumb-line

prophet_amosHave you ever reached a breaking point? A point when a bad situation had gone on too long, and there was a need for justice?

The book of Amos grimly recounts the sins of humanity and God’s promises of justice and retribution. At the time the book of Amos was written (750 BC), Israel and its neighbors were devoted to no one but themselves. In Israel’s case, their devotion to their faith had devolved into little more than figuring out ways to exploit it.

The first chapter and a half of Amos details the transgressions of the various nations, while the second half of chapter two turns the lens onto Israel itself. Lawerence Boadt’s book Reading the Old Testament has an interesting insight into the beginning of Amos on page 318:

One can almost feel the people of Bethel swelling with pride as the prophet denounces one foreign power after another. Six times Amos thunders out Yahweh’s judgment against an enemy people… then he turns on a seventh—Judah… That seemed close to home… Suddenly the prophet continues: “For three sins of Israel and for four, I will not revoke punishment against them” (Am 2:6). Such was not supposed to be. Prophets were to condemn and give judgment against others, but not to turn on one’s own.

In a shift from typical prophetic works, God—through Amos—shows that He is concerned with every nation. We read of God’s displeasure with all humanity, not just His chosen people. It seems that everyone is ignoring Him, and the Day of the Lord is upon them.

In the following chapters we read the specific details of Isreal’s transgressions. Chapters 3-6 overflow with tales of extreme injustice and the Israelites’ negligent spirituality. As Amos writes in chapter 5 verse 11:

You trample on the poor
and force him to give you grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
you will not live in them;
though you have planted lush vineyards,
you will not drink their wine.

The last few chapters contain Amos’ visions, including his pleadings with God for mercy. It’s here that we get God’s chilling promise to judiciously separate the good from the bad in chapter 7 verses 7 through 9:

This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the LORD asked me, “What do you see, Amos?”
“A plumb line,” I replied.
Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.
“The high places of Isaac will be destroyed
and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined;
with my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam.”

Amos shows us in vivid detail what kind of iniquity to avoid. It brims with stories of injustice and with God’s reactions to those injustices, and it calls all nations to serve and obey the one true God.

For more information on Amos, start with the wikipedia entry, or jump over and read it at Biblegateway.

5 Responses to “Amos: God’s Holy Plumb-line”

  • Grace says:

    Plse more claification of what plumb line is

  • paul graves says:

    The only true reading you can get from a plunb bob is when its not moving to the left or to the right amen. even a plunb bob responds to whats been pulling on it gravity just sharing my thoughts on a plunb bob

  • W Lovelady says:

    A plumb line is a perfect measuring tool for a perfect God. You can have a square that is not truly square, a ruler that is inaccurate, or weights that are not fair. A plumb line is affected by God’s creation and His set of rules (gravity). God’s people then and today must measure to His standard, not our own.

  • Kent says:

    Last night while praying after a church meeting God showed me a “plumb bob” in my minds eye. Although familiar with surveying I did not know what it was called. This morning while randomly researching outdoor deck construction God showed me this (plumb bob) in a photo of a deck project. I laughed and knew God wanted me to know the name of that thing.
    After doing a quick bible search I know what God was saying to me. He wants me and the church to get there lives in order. No other god’s before Him… programs and agendas and our own desires must summit to God first in Jesus name.
    Get in alignment with His will and desires for our lives. He is doing that now with many people I know. And I know this is a direct message for His church. Thank you for the info on this site!