We Need A New Plumb Line

image by Diane290 on Pixabay

We gripe the loss of “the good ol’ days,” but do we really want to go back there? And how far back do we have to go to get to these halcyon days? Let’s assume that these glorious times were pre-1970. Back in the days when kids could trick-or-treat all over the neighborhood without having to worry about being kidnapped or poisoned. Back when we drank from the garden hose and didn’t die. Back when there were only three channels on TV, and by-golly, those programs were good. Back before we worried about asbestos or global warming or a China virus. But do we really want to go back 50 years?

We may curse our computers and “Al Gore’s internet,” but our lives could scarcely function without that technology. You wouldn’t be reading this article on a website on an internet device back in the 1950’s. You couldn’t talk to someone on the opposite side of the country, much less the opposite side of the world, without spending a small fortune, even if you waited until after 5:00 p.m. when the rates went down.

You wouldn’t be sitting in an air-conditioned office or living room, and let me tell you something—this girl does not like to sweat. Remember those giant fans at the backs of classrooms that didn’t do much besides circulate Saharan air around the room? Remember when smallpox and polio were a real threat? I’d say we’ve got it pretty good nowadays when it comes to everyday luxuries—things we couldn’t have even imagined 50 years ago.

Our lives are complicated and messy and confusing, and our world is more and more secular. But other than our fancy new-fangled technological trappings, are we really very different from all of those “religious people” in the Bible? Maybe not as much as we think.

Let’s go back a few centuries before the birth of Christ. The Hebrews had a complicated and messy and confusing relationship with the God who had named them His chosen people. Time after time, they failed to honor God and they suffered the for their failures. Scores of Biblical prophets warned the Hebrews of the consequences of turning away from God. In the Old Testament book named for him, the prophet Amos writes, “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” (Amos 4:12)

In one of his visions, Amos sees the Lord standing beside a wall with a plumb-line in his hand. For those of us who have trouble with symbolism, the simplified version is that the wall is Israel and the plumb-line is God’s law. God tells Amos that Israel would be made desolate and its people would be exiled, because they did not “measure up” to the plumb-line.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened next. Hint: it wasn’t a “happily-ever-after” situation. Amos’ prophecy was fulfilled: Assyria destroyed the northern kingdom (Israel) and carried the people into captivity.

God had given Israel His laws as a plumb-line, but He realized that it was humanly impossible for them to adhere to the thousands of laws in the Torah. So God gave us a new plumb-line in John 3:16 and He simplified it: whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life. Granted, that’s my extreme translation of the theology, but are we, like Israel, failing to measure up to the new plumb-line?

What are our plumb-lines in this secular world—what do we worship? Technology? Hollywood? Politics? Food and drink? Sex? If there were prophets walking among us nowadays, would we even recognize them, much less heed their advice? I’m pretty sure that the message would be the same—turn away from the sins of the world and focus on the only One who can save us. What’s your plumb-line?

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5 thoughts on “We Need A New Plumb Line”

  1. Indeed, a plumb line is sobering ( and it’s cousin, the level).
    Mankind’s sin, although evolved by technology, is at its core unchanged.
    “…there is no new thing under the Sun” KJV Ecclesiastes 1:9

  2. Now I understand better why I am freezing, all the time. It’s my wife! I’m not complaining, just laughing over all the times I have come in from the heat and work, only to feel like I am going to freeze solid. I get over it.

    You mentioned how we could go back and find many things we would have to look at and either worship, or lament. There are many clouds we pass through, and always seem to find some roots in the past to say were plumbs. I have been doing more of that, lately. You discover where you’ve been to help plot that path you’re heading. My path appears to be on building back that foundation with the only plumb I have, which is the Bible. Hopefully a straighter path.
    I think I am finally understanding the secular world for what it is. Why it had to take all these years, I wish I knew.

    Seek and ye shall find. I finally learned that I had to seek.

  3. Great commentary, Ma’am! My religion professor at Louisiana College in Pineville, would come in every morning and write WOS-PPD on the chalkboard. After about two weeks, he finally explained what this meant. If the Israelites would Worship, Obey, and Serve, God would Protect, Provide and Deliver. I have used this formula my whole life, and continually pray that America will return to this simple rule for a people.

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