With a national presidential election drawing near, I am reminded of the unbelievably extreme RELEVANCE of some of the Biblical warnings given by the Old Testament prophets. My blog today, taken from the soon to be published book: STRENGTH FOR TODAY, is an illustration, from the pages of Amos, of just how far from God our nation (like Old Testament Israel) has departed!
“Behold, the Lord stood on a wall made with a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand. And the Lord said unto me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb line’. Then the Lord said: ‘Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore.” (Amos 7:7-8)
Carpenters today use a level to make sure walls are perfectly vertical and straight. In Bible times a plumb line (a string with a weight attached to the bottom) was used to check if a wall was straight or crooked. In construction terms, a perfectly vertical wall is called true. After all, who wants a house with crooked walls that are leaning? So God gives Amos a vision of the Lord standing on top of a wall with a plumb line in His hand, measuring whether Israel was “true” or crooked. Believe me, when God Himself measures the spiritual nature of any nation, or any individual, by the “plumb line” of His Word, which is the ultimate standard, He is always accurate in His assessment. This was true in Amos’ day for Old Testament Israel, and it was true in the Apostle John’s day, when God assessed the spirituality of the seven churches of Asia Minor. (Rev. 2-3) And I can't help but wonder what God must think of the United States when He looks down from heaven on us! Remember this. Only God can accurately measure and assess the condition of any nation, any church, or any individual. The Bible (called the “canon”—literally “measuring stick”) is the only perfect standard for assessing good and evil, truth and error!
In chapter 8, Amos sees another vision. This time “the Lord showed me: and behold, a basket of summer fruit, and He said: ‘Amos, what do you see?’ So I said, ‘A basket of summer fruit.’ Then the Lord said to me: ‘The end has come upon My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore. And the songs of the temple shall be wailing in that day says the Lord God—many dead bodies everywhere, they shall be thrown out in silence.” (Amos 8:1-3) In order to properly understand this vision, you must know that the Hebrew word for “summer” in our text could be better translated ripe, or over-ripe. Some translations say “soon to perish.” In laymen’s terms: rotten. A basket full of rotten fruit. For Amos, a “gatherer of sycamore fruit”, such a sight would be absolutely disgusting and depressing. Israel had decayed, spiritually, from within—so they were now going to be “thrown out”, or destroyed, from without by the Assyrians. What a sad picture—“dead bodies everywhere, they shall be thrown out in silence”—just like you would throw out rotten, decaying fruit.
In the plumb line vision of chapter 7, Israel was found CROOKED. In the basket of over-ripe fruit of chapter 8, Israel was found CORRUPT. And what happens to nations that become crooked and corrupt? The judgment of God. Isaiah, perhaps, says it best: “Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward.” (Isa. 1:4) Remember what David wrote in Psa. 9:17—“the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all nations that forget God.” That thought should behoove all of us to pray that our country does not follow in the footsteps of Old Testament Israel. The political corruption we are seeing is scary, because it places us one step away from the chastening hand of an angry God. No wonder Amos warned: “Prepare to meet Thy God, O Israel.” (Amos 4:12)