When things are not going right, we hit pause, we reflect, then re-launch or make a new start. When we pause and take stock, we are in judgment mode; we are examining or comparing what we are passing through with our original plans. In this situation, judgment results in cleaning out the toxic to make room for a new beginning.
In Amos, we see that living conditions in Israel had become toxic; greed, corruption, adultery, cruelty to the poor, had become the way of life. Israel had turned its back on her God, who insist on righteousness and fairness in our relationships with one another. Israel was instead worshiping other gods who did not care how they behaved to one another. God’s plan for them, which they accepted in the book of Deuteronomy, was not working – they had to be judged.
Thus Amos 7:7-8 (Easy-to-Read Version Bible) says: “This is what the Lord showed me: He stood by a wall with a plumb line… “Amos, what do you see?” I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said to me, “See, I will put a plumb line among my people Israel. I will not let their ‘crooked ways’ pass inspection anymore…”
A plumb line measures whether a wall is straight from top to bottom. The plumb line helps the builder judge whether the wall is standing according to the plan, or whether the wall should be broken down and rebuilt. God judged Israel according to the masterplan in Deuteronomy, and decided to pull down and start over.
Amos 9:11-15 (Easy-to-Read Version Bible) (shortened) says: “David’s tent has fallen, but at that time I will set it up again. I will fix its holes and repair its ruined parts… I will bring my people, Israel, back from captivity. They will rebuild the ruined cities, and they will live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink the wine… I will plant my people on their land, and never again will they be pulled up out of the land that I gave them.” This is what the Lord your God said.
God wants a world that is righteous and fair. When the powerful make righteousness and fairness impossible, the poor and the weak need help – judgment follows. Judgment comes in many forms, but the result is to root out toxic systems, and a chance for human society to have new beginnings to live decent peaceful lives.
Lord, bring out the plumb line, and renew our nations, Amen!