“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Building Inspector!, by Randall D. Kittle

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While visiting a church to hear a guest speaker a few months ago something interesting happened. I got to my seat just as worship was beginning. During the first song a young man went over and talked to the man overseeing the service. He then came to the microphone and read Amos 7:7–9: “He showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb-line, with a plumb-line in his hand. And the Lord said to 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 never again pass by them; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.” The worship leader, wanting to respond to this Biblical exhortation, said, “Lord, we know that you are not coming to bring judgment. You do not want us to focus on the plumb-line, but upon the One who is holding the plumb-line.”

Everyone looked relieved just knowing that God wasn’t trying to tell us that judgment was at hand. Unfortunately, that is exactly what God was saying! The verse this young man felt so compelled to share, and the man overseeing the service was led to have read, didn’t just say “behold the Lord,” it said
“behold, the Lord … with a plumb-line.” These verses have the word “plumb-line” in them four times!

The worship leader’s sidestep doesn’t surprise me, this is our normal reaction anytime the word of the Lord makes us feel uncertain and uncomfortable. After all, what does it mean if God is coming to stand in the midst of His people with a plumb-line?

The Purpose Of A Plumb-Line
A plumb-line is a small, heavy weight on the end of a long cord used to make sure a wall is standing vertically. To hold a plumb-line to a building may represent the act of construction, desiring to build the wall straight; or it may be applied to a building to judge whether it needs to be repaired or should be destroyed.

As such, the plumb-line symbolizes the searching investigation of God, which would be followed by a precise and exact judgment. God brings judgment according to the specific rule; according to the measure of a fixed standard.

So, if God is coming with a plumb-line in His hand does that necessarily mean judgment? Let’s look at some other Scripture passages that deal with plumb-lines and see.

• Isaiah 28:17 – “Also I will make justice the measuring line, and righteousness the plumb-line, the hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters will overflow the hiding place.”

• 2 Kings 21:13 –
“And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plumb-line of the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down.”

• Isaiah 34:11 –
“God will stretch over it the line of desolation. And the plumb-line of emptiness.”
“Sweep away … wiping … turning it upside down … desolation … emptiness,” this should leave little doubt we are talking about judgment.

In the seventh chapter of Amos, God stands upon the wall to consider what He should do with it. He stands upon it with a plumb‑line in His hand, to evaluate it, and see where it is bowing or bulging. The plumb‑line will discover where it is crooked to determine how much of the wall must be pulled down, for when God punishes, it is with exactness.

God is coming as the righteous Judge with a plumb-line in His hand! And God is coming first to inspect His House and judge everything that’s out of order in it.
“The time has come for judgment to begin, and God’s own people are the first to be judged” (1 Peter 4:17).

Building Inspector
God is coming to the Church like a building inspector; to see if the things we have built will measure up to His “building code.” Just as with a house, it doesn’t matter if the way things are constructed seem to work adequately — even if both the builder and the occupant think they are acceptable — it must be “up to code.” When a building inspector determines that a house is not up to code, that it fails inspection, everything stops! Nothing else is done until it is brought up to code.

Perhaps you are realizing that much of the House of God has been built upon other foundations than Jesus’ prescribed way. Yes, a little remodeling does seem to be in order. However, we must also see that these wrong things cannot be spruced up and made acceptable—they must be torn down and removed.

There is an old Cary Grant movie called
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. In this movie he buys an old house that is in need of some major repairs. He has a building contractor come out to give him an estimate for remodeling. To his surprise, the contractor hangs a rock from a string and looks at the house (makes a plumb-line) then matter-of-factly says “Tear it down.” The shocked look on the owner’s face causes the builder to explain. “We can’t repair it, the foundation is crooked. It’s leaning. You’ve got to tear it down and start over.”

Everyone knows that if you put up a building on a crooked foundation, your building is in imminent danger of falling. The higher you build the more certain will be the collapse. Is the Holy Spirit trying to tell us that our spiritual house is faulty? It will not last if the foundation is out of plumb — not in alignment with God’s true and undeniable measure!

God is not looking for us to merely realize we have made mistakes in building His House according to our plans and not according to His requirements, but to make correction — to remove everything that is “out-of-plumb.” Amos 7:8 says
“I will never again pass by them.” In the previous visions God had given to Amos, the Lord listened to the plea of the prophet and relented. But now God warns the prophet that He will not listen to His intercession. The just punishment had to come. Everything built that was not of Him was going to come down.

Passing Inspection
Building things up to code can be a little more costly, but there is almost always a good reason behind the building code—even if we don’t know what it is. Doing it the right way may seem more difficult or expensive until you have to tear things down and redo them. Only after the building inspectors have approved each department — structural, plumbing, electrical, masonry, heating and air-conditioning — can you get a certificate of occupancy.

Similarly, God has been giving the Church great seasons of visitation, but He is not going to dwell with us until we are “up to code.” Each and every area of church-life must be in alignment with God’s design. Once we have removed everything that is not of God from His house, He will be able to take up occupancy and dwell with us there. And that is His desire far more than it is ours — to dwell with us in His House!


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