The Plumb Line

The Plumb Line

Horrible injustices thrived in Jeroboam’s northern kingdom. God would wink no more. Judgment was coming: “Thus He showed me: Behold, the Lord stood on a wall made with a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand. 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 7:7-8).

The plumb line is a foolproof standard to which load bearing members of a structure must be compared. When the conscientious builder sets a vertical structural member, he must ask, “Is it plumb?” An off-plumb support can mean disaster for the structure. The question is not, “Does it look plumb?” Nor does it suffice that one vertical post is parallel with another. For his own satisfaction as well as the durability of the structure, he must determine, “Is it actually plumb?”

Relativism has no place in construction or in morals. Do I think its moral? Does it look moral? Will the world see it as moral? Is it as moral as what everyone else is doing? If the questioner stops here, he or she is doomed to failure. The real question is identical to that which the builder must ask. “Is it actually moral?” This question demands a standard of right and wrong. The standard of right and wrong is to morals what the plumb line is to the builder. It is a foolproof measure by which all deeds of mankind are adjudged.

Modern culture denies the existence of any plumb line. Truth is subjective. The only thing wrong is thinking that something is wrong! Jesus explained why such thinking exists:

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:19-21).

There is a plumb line! God holds it in His hand and it will not be wrested away. It is secure from every external force. Its ability to illuminate the dark recesses and show up moral corruption and sins will exist as long as time exists.

A theme park warned that people with certain health problems should not enter an attraction. Entering the room, everything seemed to be off-kilter. None of the angles were quite right. The floor wasn’t level and the walls met in non-standard ways. As I moved through the attraction I found myself feeling like I was about to fall on my face even though all my visual references told me that I was standing perfectly erect. My eyes were arguing with my legs as they asked, “Which way is up?” Regardless of how I felt in the anti-gravity display, up was still up. Up didn’t change merely because someone cleverly changed my visual reference points. A plumb line inside the display would have been perfectly parallel with one outside the display. Up was still up! God’s promise to judge Israel by His plumb line of truth (Amos 7:7-8), is similar in many ways. Just as the anti-gravity display altered visual reference points to create desired illusions, our culture intentionally or otherwise creates moral illusions. So have previous cultures: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!” (Isa 5:20). The changing of the moral compass is not restricted to the 21st century. We once knew right from wrong and good from evil. We once knew that disrespect for authority was wrong. We once knew that truth existed. We once knew that the taking of the innocent lives of unborn babies was wrong. We once knew that those who lead us, whether in government or otherwise, should be people of character. We once knew, but the plumb line has been discarded or disregarded.

There is a plumb line and it is still right. It isn’t wrong; those who contradict it are wrong. God’s Word is that plumb line. It exists and it is right. Men may protest, the crowds may cry for tolerance and experts may testify to the contrary, but up is still up. Evil is not good and good is not evil: “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Ps 119:89). Or, as Paul put it, “let God be true but every man a liar” (Rom 3:4). There is a plumb line and it is still right. Anything to the contrary is just a clever illusion! Received via ” A Little Lift” e-mail, Jim Bullington


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