Summary: A sermon emphasising the righteousness of God.
The Power of the plumb Line
Amos saw the Lord "standing on a wall." The wall is not identified, but it can be only one wall -- the wall of Israel's capital city, Samaria. The wall at Samaria symbolized Israel as a nation. Amos tells us that this wall "had been made with a plumb line," or had been built true to plumb.
Pastor Mike McGuire says one of his first jobs after college required him to walk a few blocks downtown to get to the office building. He passed a certain shop every day that had a tripod in the window. A weight hung from it and a sign read "Caution: This point is directly over the Center of the Earth." Well obviously.
A plumb line is "a cord from which a metal weight is suspended pointing directly to the earth's center of gravity; used to determine the vertical from a given point" Literally a plumb line is used to help determine whether a wall is completely straight or not. If a wall is not built "True to plumb," disaster can result.
Spiritually speaking it is used to determine whether a persons character, behavior or doctrine is correct. If character, doctrine or behavior is not true to plumb, it can not only be dangerous, it can be disastrous! The wall God had built represents the nation of Israel. These scriptures state that what God had built was sturdy, straight and strong. It also states that He was going to measure Israel by His standards which would be an objective standard not man's which would be subjective.
A little boy came up to his mother one day and said to her, "Mother, guess what! I'm eight feet, four inches tall!" His mother, greatly surprised, inquired into the matter and found he was using a six-inch ruler to measure a "foot." The boy was actually only a few inches over four feet. This is exactly what we do. We measure ourselves by one another, an imperfect prototype, rather than by the standard of the Word of God.
God had given Israel a perfect standard, the Law, which they had perverted, and now He intended to measure them by that same perfect standard. He would measure them in three areas:
1. The Law was the standard of measurement for their character
2. The Law was the standard of measurement for their creed
3. The Law was the standard of measurement for their conduct
I. WHY THE STANDARD?? (vv. 7-8 )
A. Meaningless worship
1. The people have turned their worship into meaningless exercise (4:4-5)
2. Here Amos invites the people to come and sin at these two worship centers/ sites. This is a sarcastic remark, for he is really acknowledging that they had already come to these places to sin.
3. The reasons: a. they were worshipping in improper locations, b. they worshipped in an improper manner, via illegitimate priests, idols, etc.; c. they substituted worship for righteous behavior!
B. Meaningless existence
1. The people had replaced compassion with cruelty and greed in their dealings with one another (2:6-7b; 4:1)
2. There is no justice, even those who do right are mistreated.
3. No one is caring for the needy in their midst, the poor are oppressed, the needy are crushed.
4. For the sake of self, others are sacrificed. The ladder must be climbed, people do not matter.
II. THE RESULT OF A STANDARD NOT MET (v. 9)
A. God will no longer respond to His people (5:18-27)
1. He will utterly abandon his people; there will be no safety
2. He will not honor their worship; it is repulsive to Him
3. He will send his people into exile
B. God will destroy the Sanctuaries and the Royal line
1. Curse language: desolation of sanctuaries Lev. 26:30-31: I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you. I will turn your cities into ruins and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will take no delight in the pleasing aroma of your offerings.
2. Curse language continued: destruction of the royalty. Lev. 26:25: And I will bring the sword upon you to avenge the breaking of the covenant. When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you, and you will be given into enemy hands.
C. The Bottom Line Theory here is God will not spare anyone who has sinned.
1. God gets to the root of the matter (verse 9).
2. God shows no partiality, whether you are the king, or just a common person, God expects all to LIVE UP TO THE STANDARD.
III. THE RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY'S RESPONSE TO THE STANDARD (vv. 10-13)
A. Amaziah goes to the "highest authority" to complain, he writes the King.