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Plumb line
Bible Passage Amos 6: 8- 7:9
This content is part of a series Bright Morning Reflections, in topic 2023 & book Amos.

Plumb line

  • Rev. Bright Mawuena Nfodzo
Date preached June 29, 2023

8 “The Lord GOD has sworn by himself,” declares the LORD, the God of the Heavenly Armies, “I utterly detest the arrogance of Jacob; I hate his fortresses; and I will deliver up the city, along with everyone in it.

9 “And if there are ten men remaining in one house, they will die.

10 One’s relative will pick up the corpse to carry them from the house for burning, saying to whomever remains inside the house, ‘Is there anyone still with you?’ And he will say, ‘No.’ He will respond, ‘Be quiet, because we do not mention the name “LORD”.’

11 For indeed, the LORD is giving the command— and he will smash the large house to rubble and the small house into bits.

12 “Horses don’t run over bare rock, do they? One doesn’t plow rock with oxen, does he? But you have turned justice to gall, and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness.

13 You rejoice in nothing worth mentioning— that is, you keep on saying, ‘We captured Karnaim by our own strength of will and by our own effort, didn’t we?’

14 “So look, house of Israel! I will raise up a nation against you,” declares the LORD, the God of the Heavenly Armies, “and they will harass you from the entrance of Hamath to the wadi of the wilderness.”

1 This is what the Lord GOD showed me: Look! He was forming locust swarms as the latter plantings were just beginning to sprout. Indeed, the king had just taken his first fruit tax.

2 And so it came about that when the swarm had finished eating the grass of the land, I was saying, “Lord GOD, forgive—please! How will Jacob stand, since he is small?”

3 So the LORD relented from this. “This will not happen,” said the LORD.

4 This is what the Lord GOD showed me: Look! The Lord GOD was calling for judgment by fire, and it was drying up the great depths of the ocean and consuming the land.

5 So I kept on saying, “Lord GOD, forgive—please! How will Jacob stand, since he is so small?”

6 So the LORD relented from this. “This will not happen, either,” said the Lord GOD.

7 This is what he showed me: Look! The Lord was standing upon a wall that stood straight and true, with a plumb line in his hand.

8 And the LORD was asking me, “What do you see, Amos?” I replied, “A plumb line.” So the Lord said, “Look, I have set a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel. I will no longer spare them.

9 Isaac’s high places will be destroyed, and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined. I will rise in opposition to the house of Jeroboam with my sword.”


Amos pictures the scene when the enemy lays siege to Samaria. The people die in thousands because of famine and plague. When a person comes to a house to take away the corpse of a relative to burn it, the lone survivor in the house warns him not to speak, and certainly not to mention the name of Yahweh. They do not want to attract God’s attention, in case He punishes them even more. They realize that God Himself is the one who has sent this catastrophe (verse 8-11).

A horse cannot run up a rocky cliff and a farmer cannot plough the sea, yet the people of Israel have done what seems equally impossible. They have turned justice into injustice, and right into wrong (verse 12).

They have also foolishly boasted of their military strength because they have overrun two small towns. God tells them that He will send an army to overrun their whole country, from north to south (verse 13-14).

Farmers paid their taxes by giving the king the first reaping of their harvest. After this a second crop grew up, which provided the main harvest for the people. It was this second crop that Amos, in his vision, saw threatened with destruction from a plague of locusts. If God judged Israel in this way, it might never recover. When Amos pleaded on Israel’s behalf for God’s mercy, God answered His prayer (verse 1-3).

God later answered a similar prayer after He had threatened to burn up the land with drought (verse 4-6).

However, when Amos saw the people as a whole persist in their sin, he knew that judgement could no longer be avoided. As a builder tests a wall with a plumb-line to see if it is straight, so God tests Israel according to His perfect standard to see if it is morally upright. He finds that it is crooked beyond repair and must be demolished. Corrupt religion and corrupt administration have been the cause of the country’s failure, and these are things upon which the judgement falls most heavily (verse 7-9).

🔷 God is very compassionate, and relents in punishing His people

🔷 God will not spare us forever for our injustice and immorality

💥 Ask God to be merciful to you and your community
💥 Ask to bless you with long life

We need to turn to our merciful God and plead for His forgiveness, but also resolve to drive evil from our midst, and God Almighty will bless us.

In series Bright Morning Reflections