My house is located on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. It is a little like the Mother Goose nursery rhyme about the Crooked Man:
There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;
He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
Decades of settling on a point of land that occasionally gets BOMBARDED by hurricane-force winds has made my house a little crooked. Doors don’t close properly and the floors slant enough to roll a marble from one side to the other.
I am quite sure that the original builder used levels, measuring tools, and plumb lines to ensure that the walls and floors were once straight. But the years have taken their toll, and we live in a little crooked house now.
A plumb line is an ancient carpentry tool that ensures a straight wall. A plumb line is made of a simple string with a weight on one end, usually with a pointed tip. When you hang the line downward, the weight pulls the string taut and creates a straight, vertical line. That provides the guide for hanging a wall straight.
In the seventh chapter of Amos, God uses a plumb line to warn Israel that disaster is about to ensue because they could not keep their lives in a straight line:
Amos 7 (Common English Bible)
7 This is what the Lord showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 The Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?”
“A plumb line,” I said.
Then the Lord said,
“See, I am setting a plumb line
in the middle of my people Israel.
I will never again forgive them.
9 The shrines of Isaac will be made desolate,
and the holy places of Israel will be laid waste,
and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”
Israel’s apostasy finally caught up with them. The people had originally hung pretty straight along the standard of God’s law and God’s covenant, but over time they began to wander away and build false idols in the holy places. Instead of following God, they elected to follow corrupt kings like Jeroboam, who did not worship God.
Where do you think God is setting a plumb line for the world today? Do we still measure up to the standards of God’s law and God’s covenant, or have we tilted too far and become crooked? Where in your personal life have you slanted away from your relationship with God? Have you reached out for ungodly things? Are you slipping away?
A plumb line is not only a measure of uprightness, but it can also be a lifeline that you grasp when you feel yourself slipping way. Have you lost your footing? Take ahold of God’s righteousness and straighten up! Disaster will be avoided if you get right with the Lord today.
Jesus is our plumb line, and he can help you correct your ways. Thank God for the cross, which brings us all into the safety of clean lines and clear hearts.