What can you learn from a plumb line and why should you care? Let’s start with change. Many changes have occurred in the past 115 years. My grandfather was born in 1906. He saw change on a scale that is almost unimaginable. Consider:

  • The horse-and-buggy gave way to automobiles
  • Mule teams were replaced by tractors
  • Changes in communications have been mind-boggling
  • The power of the atom was harnessed
  • Men walked on the moon
  • The internet and the ever-increasing pace of man’s growing knowledge

In all of this, how can an ancient tool teach us anything? The answer may surprise you!

What Is A Plumb Line? 

Bubble level used verticallyMasons have used them for centuries. Why? Because builders need their work to be level and plumb (plumb = truly vertical).  It’s a simple tool. A weight of any sort (a rock, piece of wood, a bolt, or a plumb-bob) is tied to a string. When the string is held up, the weight stretches the string and when it has become perfectly still, the string is a true vertical line.

People born in the seventies and after probably don’t know what a plumb line is. And that same group of people will be challenged by the lesson taught through this ancient tool.

Buildings can’t be built if the walls are not truly vertical. Even a slight degree of ‘leaning’ can cause disaster. Ever heard of a famous leaning tower in Italy? The walls must be straight and vertical for the structure to be sound. This simple tool provides an objective, reliable indication of ‘straight-up-and-down.’ If a wall could think, it might believe itself to be perfectly vertical. But it takes something separate from the wall, the plumbline, to provide proof. And that’s an important point.

In Amos 7:7. God mentioned this tool:

He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. The Lord said to me, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ and I said, ‘A plumb line.’ 

The Lesson

Amos 7:8 Plumb lineGod’s Word is the objective measure of the ‘rightness’ of our lives. And we may think our lives are straight, but God’s Word is the objective test of that assumption. Llike the plumbline and the wall, His Word exists outside of us. We are to line our lives up to His Word, not the other way around.

But we live in a day of subjective truth and relative truth. Liberals have taught just about everyone under 40 that something can be ‘true’ for one person but not ‘true’ for another. Huh? The folly is easy to see! But the removal of any idea of objective truth has disastrous implications and consequences. And we are living with them today!

To successfully confront the errors of that kind of thinking in the world, we have to confront it in ourselves and in our churches. There is objective, independent, outside-of-ourselves truth. It exists in the Word of God and the Person of Jesus Christ. His Word is life to us, no matter what others may say or circumstances may dictate.

God has placed a plumb line in the lives of His children. We often need to come back to some very basic, simple truths that ought to mark our lives as Christians. Examining some of these things is something I’ll be doing in the next few posts.

Soli Deo Gloria! 

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Keith Burnett | keithburnett.org