October 30, 2021
“He showed me this: The Lord was standing there by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. The Lord asked me, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ I replied, ‘A plumb line.’ ”
“He showed me this: The Lord was standing there by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. The Lord asked me, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ I replied, ‘A plumb line.’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am setting a plumb line among My people Israel; I will no longer spare them: Isaac’s high places will be deserted, and Israel’s sanctuaries will be in ruins; I will rise up against the house of Jeroboam with a sword.’” Amos 7:7-9
The last section of the book of Amos contains a series of five visions, symbolically setting-forth divine judgment and drawing chapters 7 and 9 into one complete thought. Chapter seven begins with three of these visions. The first vision is of a plague of devouring locusts, and the second is of a consuming fire. In both instances, Amos interceded for the people, pleading for the Lord to stop His revealed plans of destruction. The reason Amos pleaded with the Lord was that it was evident that if God were to follow through, “Jacob” (the whole community of Israel) would have been completely destroyed. Everyone who prays should be encouraged because the Lord stopped His plans on both occasions.
Why would God cease His plans simply because of the prayer of one of His creatures? Many reasons have been put forth: One suggests that God remembered that the humanity of Jesus, Savior of the World, was to be passed down through the physical line of David. Another reason suggests that God remembered His everlasting covenant with Israel. But I don’t like either of those reasons because they put forth that God was forgetful and had to be reminded, not a very “omniscient” posture for an all-knowing God.
I believe that God never intended to go through with either judgment. Rather, He incited Amos to pray. I have learned the best way to get my children to repent is to tell them the list of punishments I am considering!! I may have to go through several scenarios, but eventually, I always land on one close to their hearts (or at least their backsides!). God does not delight in punishing us when we turn from our sin. He delights to hear the fervent prayers of his repentant children, and He was pleased with Amos’ petition. Amos was not solely concerned with his personal survival; he had the entire nation on his prayer list! Do you pray for others to the extent that you pray for yourself?
Furthermore, by sharing the first two scenarios, God was showing His capabilities. It’s the reason countries televise their military parades and missile test launches. Even after the Assyrians had sacked Israel and deported her people, the children of Israel would remember Amos’ first two visions and look to God as gracious. While the destruction was massive, the survivors knew it could have been much worse!
The Lord chose a plumb line. It seems a little weak after the images of fire and locusts, but it was infinitely more effective because it was personal. The first two judgments were against the entire community of Israel. But God had determined to judge each person, using the gravity of His Word as a building inspector uses a plumb line. Long before Jesus died on the cross, God had implemented the idea of personal judgment. Jew and Gentile alike, are judged according to the same standard: God’s Word.