Introduction: When I was a kid I remember going to a little tourist
place where the rules of gravity did not seem to apply. Balls rolled
uphill. Floors looked level but did not feel level. The walls seemed
straight, but were not. After studying the matter, I determined it
was all an optical illusion – nothing was as it seemed. Are we
living in an “optical illusion?” Has Satan so twisted our vision that
we have trouble seeing matters in their proper light? Our lesson
this week is about testing with God’s standard. Let’s dive in!
    1. The Plumb Line


      1. Read Amos 7:7-8. What is “plumb?” Is this a fruit that
        grows on a tree? Is it a short name for people who work
        on water and drainage systems? (Being “plumb” is a
        construction term that refers to being straight up and
        down. A “plumb line” is a string with a weight on the end.
        When you hold the string at the top, the weight makes the
        line hang down straight. Today we use a “level” instead of
        a plumb line to be sure that when we construct a building
        the walls are level.)


        1. In Amos’ vision, God is standing with a plumb line by
          a wall that is level. Why? (God wants to show that
          the plumb line is accurate and that it has been used
          to construct a proper wall.)


        1. God then says He is setting a plumb line in Israel.
          How would that apply to people instead of walls? What
          does this mean? (It means that God is going to
          measure His people against absolute truth. No longer
          is it a question of what seems right to the person.
          God is going use a true standard and no longer spare
          the people.)


        1. Amos protested when he saw the visions of destruction
          by locusts and fire. God now says He will “not spare”
          Israel and Amos does not protest this time. Why not?
          (God is testing, measuring, His people. How can you
          expect to be spared from that? While we found Amos
          protesting the visions of total destruction, he does
          not protest this test because he had been warning the
          people about false godliness. (See Amos 5:18, 21-22)
          God is now going to apply His divine measure to the
          people to test whether the are what they claim to be.
          He will find out whether they are real or an “optical


      1. Read Amos 7:9. What are the “high places” that are going
        to be destroyed? (Idols were set up in the “high places.”
        God is going to destroy the idol worship. The test will
        reveal whether they trust other gods.)


    1. The Reaction to Being Measured


      1. Read Amos 7:10-11. Does the High Priest agree with Amos’
        vision from God? (No.)


        1. How does the High Priest describe Amos’ words? (He
          describes them as an attack on the King. They are a
          conspiracy, they are treason.)


        1. How would you compare the loyalty of the High Priest
          to the King and opposed to the High Priest’s loyalty
          to God?


        1. Why would the High Priest describe as treason God’s
          words about the destruction of idols? (This is an
          example of twisted thinking. Instead of discussing
          whether or not Amos is theologically correct, the
          High Priest just calls it treason. He badly needed a
          “plumb line” for his thinking.)


      1. We have previously discussed the potential parallels
        between the book of Amos and the recent attacks on the
        United States. I have asked in past lessons whether God
        allowed these recent events as a “wake up” call for us to
        turn to Him. The response of our citizens has been to come
        together in patriotism. On one hand, I love the way we
        came together, on the other hand, I wonder if all reasoned
        consideration of “our condition” is being lost in a chorus
        of “God Bless America.” What do you think? Are we in
        danger of being like this High Priest? We turn God’s
        warnings into an issue of patriotism?


        1. Some who say the recent attacks are a “wake up” call,
          point to the sins in our society. Who was God
          measuring with His plumb line? (Verse 8 tells us the
          plumb line was set “among my people.” It is those
          who claim to be God’s followers that are subject to
          the test. If this is a wake up call, it is not for
          “them,” but for “us.”)


      1. Our lesson (Wednesday) draws a most peculiar conclusion
        from the High Priest’s complaint to the King that Amos is
        committing treason. It says this shows “the danger of
        politics and religion being too intricately mixed.” What
        would you say about mixing religion and politics if the
        High Priest called on the King to repent – and the King


        1. What is the real evil here? (The real evil is that
          “God’s man,” the High Priest, does not look at this
          issue in theological terms, he looks at it in
          political terms.)


        1. Let’s stroll a minute down the path that the lesson
          suggests we take. If the conclusion to be drawn from
          Amos is that we must make decisions based on God’s
          Word and not civil law, how would you judge the
          strident demands for “church-state separation?” Is
          this a Biblical principle or a principle based on
          civil law (the First Amendment to the U.S.
          Constitution)? (The argument against accepting aid
          from the government has no Biblical foundation. God
          approved of the state providing money to rebuild His
          temple! 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Nehemiah 2:1-9. On the
          other hand, Jesus tells the Church it has no proper
          goal to try to control the government. John 18:36;
          see Matthew 22:21.)


      1. Read Amos 7:12-13. How would you put the High Priest’s
        directions to Amos in today’s terms? (“Go away, you’re
        bothering us.”)


        1. Who did the High Priest say was in charge? (This is
          another part of the twisted way the High Priest
          understood his job. He tells Amos to go away and not
          reveal the messages from God because the King of
          Israel is in charge here. How important it is to
          understand that our direction in life comes from
          God’s word and not from the words of man. If the
          High Priest did not understand this, little wonder
          the people did not understand it.)


        1. Read Amos 7:16-17. What is the “downside” to ignoring
          God in favor of listening to the King of Israel?


    1. Our Reaction to Being Measured


      1. If Amos were speaking to you, how should you react to his
        message? (You would hopefully want to “measure up” to the
        plumb line.)


      1. When you were in school, if the teacher had a test
        standard, you wanted to know what it was, right? “How long
        does our paper have to be?” “How many pages do we have to
        read?” What is God’s standard here? What is this “plumb
        line?” (Read Leviticus 19:2. God tells us to be holy as He
        is holy. The following verses in Leviticus 19 then go on
        to describe what God expects. These seem very much like
        the Ten Commandments.)


        1. Read Galatians 4:24-25. Doesn’t Paul tell us that the
          “covenant” from Mount Sinai (the Ten Commandments
          were given from Sinai) bears children who are slaves?
          Does the plumb line standard of God’s Ten
          Commandments no longer apply? Need we no longer worry
          about being “holy?”


      1. Read Exodus 20:1-5. How does God begin His statement of
        the Ten Commandments? (He begins by drawing their
        attention to His redemptive activity. God says because I
        redeemed you, this is what I have in mind for your life.
        God then goes on to say “no other gods.” He asks us to
        trust Him alone.)


      1. Let’s go back to Galatians for a minute. Read Galatians
        5:1,16-18. Jesus died in our place, thus fulfilling the
        righteous requirements of the law. This is how Jesus set
        us free from the law. He “took us out of Egypt,” he took
        us out of the inescapable pit of sin and death. But, just
        as Paul tells us in Galatians not to gratify our sinful
        desires, so today we have a responsibility to acknowledge
        what God has already done for us (redemption) by making an
        effort to live a pure and upright life.)


        1. Is this effort to live a pure and upright life a
          matter of being careful about how we behave? (Paul
          makes this critically important point in Galatians
          5:18. We need an attitude change. If we seek for a
          heart change through the power of the Holy Spirit,
          then our “Godly attitude” will govern our life and
          not our concentration on keeping the law. That is our
          goal – to have the Spirit so change our sinful hearts
          that we want to do what is right. If we have no
          interest in living according to God’s law, then it is
          doubtful that we ever accepted God’s offer of
          salvation. That is why God starts the Ten
          Commandments by saying, “Consider what I did for
          you.” He wants us to want to do His will.)


      1. Friend, God deeply cares about the behavior of His people.
        He has a measure, and He applies it to those who claim to
        be His. Don’t be satisfied living an “optical illusion.”
        If you see that your life is not “plumb,” will you repent
        and invite the Holy Spirit to come into your heart today
        to change your attitude?


  1. Next Week: Vision Four – Summer Fruit