Thursday, December 12, 2013

Matt 24 watch, 233: Is a plumb line of judgment being taken to our civilization as we speak? (A few quick thoughts on Amos 7:7 - 9 . . . with Isaiah 5:20- 21 and Jeremiah 18:1 - 11)

In recent days, over at the Uncommon Descent blog, I have felt moved to raise the issue of plumb-line moral and general self-evident truths (cf. here and here). For, we have come to a sad pass of moral and general incoherence in our civilisation. 

So, I think it appropriate to pause and ponder a simple tool that can help us understand whether what we have built is true (accurately straight) and plumb (accurately vertical):

This simple tool and its amazing power to reveal the quality of what we have done, brings me to Amos 7:7 - 9:
Plumb lines and squares from the tomb of Senedjem,
an Ancient Egyptian architect (Source, fair use)
Amos 7:Thus He showed me, and behold, the Lord stood upon a wall 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 said the Lord, Behold, I am setting a plumb line as a standard in the midst of My people Israel. I will not pass by and spare them any more [the door of mercy is shut]. And the [idolatrous] high places of Isaac (Israel) shall be desolate and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise with the sword against the house of King Jeroboam [who set up the golden calf shrines].[AMP]

Israel was put to the test, and failed. 

They failed to build aright, what they built failed the test and what they had built now had to be removed, so that a better start could be made. And so also, in the context of that failure, we can already hear the rumbles of the approaching hoof-beats of the Assyrians.

Sturgeon, reflecting on the text, suggests:
You and I, dear Brothers and Sisters, may be very thankful if God should use us as he did Amos and, if He does, we must not be envying the Isaiahs and Ezekiels. If we see a plumb line, let us preach about a plumb line! And if God should ever enable us to understand the visions of Zechariah or Ezekiel, then let us preach about them. Let every preacher or teacher testify according to the measure of the Light of God and Grace that God has given him—then we shall do well. Amos can see a plumb line and he sees it well—and when he has seen it, he tells what he has seen—and leaves God to set His seal upon his testimony.

Now, on this occasion we have nothing before us but this plumb line, but there is a great deal to be learned from it.

The first thing is this—the plumb line is used in construction.

Secondly,the plumb line is used for testing what is built.

And, thirdly, it appears from the text that the plumb line is used in the work of destruction, for the casting down of that which is found not to be straight . . . 

Our situation is far worse, for we have what happened to Israel as an example for us, to avoid their mistakes. 

And yet, astonishingly, we are busily indulging in that terrible moral inversion that Isaiah warned against:
Isa 5:18 Woe to those who draw [calamity] with cords of iniquity and falsehood, who bring punishment to themselves with a cart rope of wickedness, 19 Who say, Let [the Holy One] make haste and speed His [prophesied] vengeance, that we may see it; and let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come, that we may know it!

20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and prudent and shrewd in their own sight! . . . . 

24 Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as the dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root shall be like rottenness and their blossom shall go up like fine dust—because they have rejected and cast away the law and the teaching of the Lord of hosts and have not believed but have treated scornfully and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

25 Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against His people, and He has stretched forth His hand against them and has smitten them. And the mountains trembled, and their dead bodies were like dung and sweepings in the midst of the streets. For all this, His anger is not turned away, but His hand is still stretched out [in judgment].

26 And He will lift up a signal to call together a hostile people from afar [to execute His judgment on Judea], and will hiss for them from the end of the earth [as bees are hissed from their hives], and behold, they shall come with speed, swiftly! [AMP]
We have but one hope:
Jeremiah18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord:

Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.

Then I went down to the potter’s house, and behold, he was working at the wheel. And the vessel that he was making from clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he made it over, reworking it into another vessel as it seemed good to the potter to make it.

Then the word of the Lord came to me:

O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does? says the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.

At one time I will suddenly speak concerning a nation or kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it; And if [the people of] that nation concerning which I have spoken turn from their evil, I will relent and reverse My decision concerning the evil that I thought to do to them.

At another time I will suddenly speak concerning a nation or kingdom, that I will build up and plant it; 10 And if they do evil in My sight, obeying not My voice, then I will regret and reverse My decision concerning the good with which I said I would benefit them.

11 Now therefore say to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Return now each one from his evil way; reform your [accustomed] ways and make your [individual] actions good and right . . .  [AMP]
So, now, let us ponder, and let us tremble before The Carpenter from Nazareth, who bears the humble but so telling plumb-line in His Awesome, nail-pierced Hand. END