Amos 7:1-9 (ESV)

This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, he was forming locusts when the latter growth was just beginning to sprout, and behold, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings. [2] When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said,

“O Lord God, please forgive!

How can Jacob stand?

He is so small!”

[3] The Lord relented concerning this;

“It shall not be,” said the Lord.

[4] This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, the Lord God was calling for a judgment by fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land. [5] Then I said,

“O Lord God, please cease!

How can Jacob stand?

He is so small!”

[6] The Lord relented concerning this;

“This also shall not be,” said the Lord God.

[7] This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. [8] 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 never again pass by them;

[9] the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,

and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,

and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”

It is very easy for people to think they are doing so well when they compare themselves to others, or set up a standard of behaviour of their own. For instance, if my goal today is to behave better than a terrorist or a murderer or even better than my neighbour, I may have a very successful day. I may be able to go to bed tonight knowing that I have achieved the goal I set.

Unfortunately, I do not get to set the goals of behaviour for my life. God sets them. And they are very high. In fact they are unreachably high. They are so high that not only do I not reach them, I cannot. To make matters worse He demands absolute perfect adherence to the standards that He shows me. This is a no win situation.

It is the situation that God and Israel were in when Amos was receiving messages from God to record as his prophetic book. God has determined to judge Israel. When Amos sees how devastating the plague of locusts is upon Israel, he prays for God to relent from it and God graciously answers his prayer. When God decides to judge Israel with a fire that was to consume the land again, Amos prayed out of concern for Israel and God heard and did as Amos prayed.

Then God showed Amos a wall and a plumb line. By itself the wall seemed to be straight and sound. Next to the plumb line however Amos could see that the wall was far from what it needed to be and was going to fall.

The plumb line is God’s standard. The wall is what Israel had erected and the two were far from the same. Amos does not pray. He now knows that Israel is not just a little bit off. They are not the least bit close to what God has called them to.

The wall is going to fall, not because God destroys it so much as that whatever we build without the guidance of the plumbline of God’s word and grace cannot stand.

There are at least two lessons here:

1) We are far more crooked than we realize. We need to compare ourselves, not with a wicked world but with the Word of God. Then and only then will we realize just how crooked we are.

2) The only One who ever walked the plumbline that God measures us with was Jesus Christ. He and He alone was perfect and fit for heaven. He died as a penalty for us because only He had no sin of his own to pay for. Only His perfect righteousness can stand the test of the scrutiny of God and if we don’t have His righteousness counted as ours we cannot measure up.

Today, look at what God says His standards are as recorded in the Scriptures. Then see how the Bible points out to us how only Christ can meet them and only through faith can we hope to be accepted by God. Jesus Christ is as straight as the plumbline of God. And that is how God will see you if you trust in His Son.