God’s Plumb Line - The Torah
Amos 7:7 - Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.
So what is a plumb line?
Here’s a pretty good definition that I found.
“A plumb line, also called a plummet, is a cord with a non-magnetic weight attached to one end. When the cord is held in such a way that the weight can dangle freely, an exact vertical can be determined. Painters and carpenters use plumb lines to keep their work straight. It is difficult, while in the middle of a project, to determine a true horizontal or vertical line without an objective measuring tool, so a plumb line is employed. A plumb line applies the law of gravity to find right angles, to indicate the most direct route from top to bottom, and to keep things plumb. A plumb line doesn’t change or move with the whims of the carpenter. It remains true, and all work must line up with it or risk being crooked.”
I’m reading the plumb line passage in Amos now. This has always intrigued me and so I decided to plumb the depths of this a little more than I had in the past.
The last two lines in the above definition caught my attention. It makes perfect sense that a plumb line can’t change or move with the whims of the carpenter. I must remain true and all else must line up with it.
Now, the interesting thing is that nobody would begin to dispute how the plumb line must function. A plumb line is … well … a plumb line. In a sense we could say it’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. It’s use doesn’t change nor does its functionality change. No carpenter can decide on his own to change or alter the plumb line’s use or functionality. If it could be changed then the plumb line wouldn’t be a plumb line.
Make sense? We agree on this?
As I looked into commentaries concerning this verse, there was consensus that the plumb line in our passage refers to God’s Law. However, with this comes one stipulation: The Law referred to is the Moral Law. That is, the part of the Law that just deals with moral stuff not the ceremonial, legal, “Jewish” stuff. The commentators don’t say it quite that way, but that’s what they mean.
Have you ever tried to drop a plumb line between what is civil, ceremonial or moral in the Old Testament? I tried it while still a pastor guy and also since coming into the Hebraic mindset. It can’t be done. The is no clear, straight cut line dividing it all. That’s because it’s an interwoven networking of God’s instructions for His peoples’ way of life. It’s indivisibly interconnected within itself. And because of that, when you try to “figure out” how the NT fits in with the OT you just get a confusing mess.
Granted it sounds nice and neat to come up with the ceremonial, civil and moral divisions of the OT. But, it just doesn’t work. Try it. The problem is that God’s people just accept this clean division without actually plumbing the depths of it to see if it’s sound. The line between all three is blurred at best.
It comes down to perspective. Let me give you mine. — God doesn’t change and therefore His plumb line doesn’t change either.
Ok then, what do we do with this perspective … if anything?
I suggest starting with the premise that God and His Law/Torah hasn’t changed or been, to any degree, abrogated/nullified/done away with. Why start here? Because:
“For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6)
“Yeshua Messiah the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8)
That being the case … now what?
We have to drop the plumb line (Law/Torah) into the time (the Dispersion) in which we live and come into line with it as much as we can.
What do I mean?
Can we do sacrifices now? No. Why? Not in the Land; No Temple; No Priesthood.
Can we stone people? No. Why? Not in the Land; No Sanhedrin/judicial court. “But,” you say, “Yeshua didn’t have that woman stoned like the Law says, did He?” Why didn’t He? To have done so would have been against the Torah — which He was the embodiment of right before them. There weren’t any witnesses present. Just hearsay. “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?”
Can a woman fulfill her role in relation to her menstrual cycle? No. Why? Not in the Land; No Temple; No Priesthood.
But, are there aspects of the Law/Torah that can be done in the Dispersion — though maybe not to their fullest extent? Or, can we do as much as we can in the Dispersion without the Temple or Priesthood? Yes.
The dietary instructions. You might not like them, but you can still do them.
Certain aspects of the Feasts and Festivals. For example, we can still participate in Passover observance without being in the Land and without a Priesthood or sacrifices.
Offering sacrifices … of praise. Hebrews 13:15 — “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”
Perhaps it comes down to the heart.
I honestly think that a person who has a heart for God will want as much of Him and His ways in their life as possible. It seems, though, we go out of our way to find reasons why not to do things in the Bible rather than try to find reasons/ways to possibly do them.
In that sense, it really does come down to the heart.
So it’s up to you as to what kind of plumb line you want. Do you want one that changes, or one that stays constant and forever the same? If your plumb line changes or moves with the whims of the carpenter, then you’re not in square with God and His Word. You are out of plumb.
Once you begin to realize that God’s Word is one unified whole (not OT & NT), than everything starts to harmonize. That is a fact. No more speculations, questions or trying to piece it together while at the same time getting rid of some of it.
So if God doesn’t change. And if His Word (may I even suggest Yeshua, the Word made flesh) doesn’t change. Who has?
That’s a question I had to answer for myself, much like you need to as well.