The plumb line of the Lord

Week Forty-Seven: Amos; Obadiah

A plumb line or plummet is a simple tool used to make sure that whatever a builder is constructing lies in a perfectly straight line. The plumb line is comprised of a weight hanging at the end of a cord. Gravity ensures that the weight hangs straight. This line is held as a standard for the builder to use and measure against his work.

The Lord used the symbol of the plumb line to illustrate how Israel has not been following the straight and narrow path necessary for keeping His commandments. Because Israel is not staying true to the plumb line, God’s judgement is inevitable. The Lord explained to Amos what the plumbline meant:

“ And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumb line,. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them anymore: And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste….” (Amos7:8-9).

There are other scriptures that mention the plummet or plumb line and each one refers to errant Israel that does not toe the line or conform to God’s rules or standards.

In the King James Version of the Bible, the translators used the word “plummet.” But in the NIV translation of 2 Kings, we read: “I will stretch out over Jerusalem a measuring line used against Samaria and the plumb line used against the house of Ahab.”[i]

In the NIV translation of Isaiah, we read: “I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place.”[ii] “God will stretch out over Edom the measuring line of chaos and the plumb line of desolation.”[iii]

The plumb line is the holy standard that Israel failed to follow. Due to Israel’s failure to live “true to plumb,” the necessary consequences of Israel’s sinful behavior followed. 

How do we stay straight and true to God’s standards when the world holds in front of us a very different standard?

Elder Snow talked about this dilemma: “Too many of the people of the world have come to resemble the Babylon of old by walking in their own ways, and following a god ‘whose image is in the likeness of the world.’ One of the greatest challenges we will face is to be able to live in that world but somehow not be of that world. We have to create Zion in the midst of Babylon.”[iv]

In Amos Chapter 6, the prophet Amos explained how Israel was not living the Lord’s standards. They were at ease in Zion, without any concerns for the future consequences of their behavior.

“Woe to them that are at ease in Zion… That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; That change to the sound of the viol and invest to themselves instruments of musick. Like David; That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments.”[v]

Those who are at ease in Zion, lying on their sofas, listening to music and drinking wine, are not seeking to establish Zion. “They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world.”[vi]

Last year, in our study of the Doctrine and Covenants, we read a lot about how the early saints worked hard to establish Zion. That work is still very much a part of what we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should be doing today.

The Lord has said of Zion: “Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom.”[vii] “For this is Zion—the pure in heart.”[viii]

Developing a pure heart and Christlike attributes is the key to living a straight life, a life that follows the Lord’s plumb line and a life that will help establish Zion.

Elder Snow gave us these words of hope: “We can live as a Zion people, if we wish to. Will it be hard? Of course it will, for the waves of Babylonian culture crash incessantly against our shores. Will it take courage? Of course it will. … We seek Zion because it is the habitation of our Lord, who is Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. In Zion and from Zion, His luminous and incandescent light will shine forth, and He will rule forever.”[ix]

May we find joy in the Lord this week as we strive to establish Zion in preparation for the Second Coming of the Lord.

[i] NIV 2 Kings 21:13

[ii] NIV Isaiah 28:17

[iii] NIV Isaha 34:11

[iv] David R. Stone, Zion in the Midst of Babylon, CR April 2006.

[v] Amos 6:1, 4-6

[vi] D&C 1:16

[vii] D&C 105:5

[viii] D&C 97:21

[ix] David R. Stone, Zion in the Midst of Babylon, CR April 2006.

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