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  • Writer's pictureTrace Pirtle

What Are The Lessons of The Biblical Plumb Line?

Have you read the Old Testament book of Amos? Imagine living his life. You are going along, minding your own business as a shepherd, when suddenly God calls you to be a prophet. A prophet with bad news for the people of Israel.

God was not happy with Israel or its neighbors. Because of their sin and rebellion, their selfish living, and their refusal to help the poor, Amos delivered the message of God's judgment.

Interestingly, although Amos was a messenger, he intervened and asked God to reconsider His judgments. Contrast this with Jonah and the Ninevites! So, first, Amos's prayer averts God's wrath in the Plague of Locusts. Next, Amos prayed that God would spare "little Jacob" from the devouring fire, to which God relented. But then...

The Plumb Line is Upheld

But the plumb line was different. There was no more negotiation, no more relenting because of prayer. So let's look at what Amos says about God's plumb line:

"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.'" Amos 7:7-8

We sometimes also use the figure of speech; "he drew a line in the sand," making it clear that a limit was reached. Beyond that line, you are on your own.

God is showing Amos, and us, a similar symbol to make His point. So here are a few lessons we can learn from the plumb line in the Bible.

The Plumb Line Lessons

  1. God Provided an Original Standard of "True to Plum." God's original standard of perfection came to us through the Law. But, unfortunately, because humanity was so far from the Law, so incapable of remaining true to plumb, God had to wipe out His creation (except Noah, his family, and the animals.) People had crossed the line in the sand.

  2. Jesus as the New "True to Plumb" Standard. God knew humans could not follow the Law, so He sent His only Son, Jesus, to become our exemplar to follow. In fact, all we need to do is believe in Jesus to secure a place in Heaven. But people have a short attention span and poor long-term memory, especially when the world wants to erase God from the sand. We needed another "living" reflection of Jesus that humanity could refer to daily.

  3. The Bible and the Holy Spirit Reflect God's "True to Plumb" Standard. The Bible is our connection to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The Bible doesn't just represent God's Plumb Line; it is our literal lifeline to Heaven. Whether we cut ties with scripture or God cuts us loose Himself, the result is the same. We lose our salvation.

  4. God Doesn't Hold Us to a Perfect Plumb Line Standard. God appears to be very lenient with His "margin of error." He certainly has been with me. There have been times in my life when I was so far out of true plumb that I'm surprised I'm still alive. But God is merciful, to a point. I believe He may be getting ready to cut loose America as He did with Israel. Obviously, I am NOT a prophet and have no idea what God has in store for America. However, America is quickly turning its back on God. That position has never led to positive outcomes for any society in history.

  5. Is God Setting a Plumb Line in America? How long will God have mercy on America when the shepherds of His sheep turn into wolves? How far outside God's margin of error are pastors who become "drag queens" for Sunday service, all in the name of inclusion? How much tolerance do we expect from God when He sees His creation terminated in the womb or chemically altered to reflect gender, not of His design? How much "free will" can God tolerate before He draws a line in the sand with America? How far out of plumb can we be and still expect God to relent because a few still pray for our country?

Concluding Thoughts

Until God says, "It is finished," we still have time to repent of sin. We still have time to say "Yes" to the validity and reliability of the Bible. We still have time to pick up our cross, follow Jesus, and encourage others to walk with us. We still have time to let God know His sacrifice wasn't lost on us. We believe. We strive to align our body, heart, and mind with the Holy Spirit that lives within us.

But I feel God is about to run out of patience with our oppositional and defiant world. So, how far out of alignment are you with God's plumb line? Jesus doesn't want to lose a single one of us. All we need to do is call out to Him, reach out, and we are caught up in the arms of our Lord and Savior.

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About Me

Image of Dr. Trace Pirtle sitting on park bench identified as Jesus.

Greetings, I'm Trace!
I'm a retired counselor education professor who spent 35 years in the "helping professions." I'm an "all-in" believer working full-time for our Lord Jesus Christ. I've included my personal testimony if you are interested. 
May God bless you beyond your wildest dreams!

In His Service,

Trace Pirtle

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