The plumb line

Thursday Reflection

22nd October 2020

'I will spare them no longer'

7 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.
8 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

Whilst watching our builders at work,
building the walls, the other day,
Amos' story of the plumb line came to mind.
One of many questions we may have
about the nature of God
is how a loving God can judge
and punish his children.

Is God loving or harsh?
Is God the forgiver or the judge?
Some Christians and some churches
emphasize God's love and forgiveness.

While other others emphasize God
as judge and how he punishes our sins.
In the Bible we see both sides
of God's character
and we learn that he is both loving and judging.

How can we reconcile these two
opposing characteristics of God
in our minds?

One good illustration
which is frequently used,
by God himself,
is that he is like a loving parent
and we are his children.
Loving parents can punish their children
because they love them.

They try to teach their children.
But children usually don't understand
the good intention of their parents
until they grow up.

When I was young,
I sometimes got punished
(loss of privileges)
by my parents because I came home late;
from school or when I had been out playing.
They did it because they loved me
and were worried about me.
Did I like that punishment? No.
Did I understand why I got punished? No!
It was only when I had children of my own
could I appreciate their concern.

Judgment or punishment is hard to understand
or accept even from a loving parent.
Do we measure up?
Are we living the life that God has called us to?
Oh, we go to church and worship;
we make sacrifices.
But are we measuring up?
Amos has some harsh words for his people -
and us. The Lord says:

"I hate, I despise your feasts,
  and I take no delight
  in your solemn assemblies.

.... Amos 5:21

God hates religious feasts
and assemblies, when the people
are not living out God's call
in their lives.
That's a pretty harsh word,


He uses another one,


You see, the people of the day
were worshipping God
and doing the things
they thought they should do
with their spiritual lives.
But they weren't letting
their worship of God
carry over to the rest of their lives.

They took advantage of the poor;
they sold people,
who owed them money, into slavery;
they took bribes from the rich
so they could do whatever they wanted.
They treated the wealthy with justice,
but justice did not extend to the poor;
and because they did not let
true justice rule them,
their worship was meaningless to God.

Imagine that God is standing in front of us,
he is holding a plumb line or level.
He checks how much our way of life,
attitude, daily language,
and thoughts are out of line
from his standard.
God may not say anything to us,
whether we are right or wrong.
We would just see it
clearly for ourselves - scary!!!.

In this vision God is the judge
but he is not angry
or furious with us.
He is just holding a plumb line for us.
He gives us a chance to see ourselves
and realize how much
or which way we have drifted away
from his way of life.

He gives us a chance to repent
and return to him.
His judgment is his mercy.
His judgment is not putting people
in eternal fire or suffering.

However, when we don't repent
and refuse to see ourselves as we are,
we bring punishment upon ourselves.

It up to us whether
we see the plumb line
that God holds among us
and do something about
it, or keep denying it.

God does not bring us eternal punishment;
his wish is that not one of us should be lost
(John 6:39).
God, loves us and wants only the best for us
and so He is standing among us holding a plumb line -
waiting to help to get us back in line.