“This is what he showed me: 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,
“See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass them by;
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.” (Amos 7:7-9)
A plumb line; a measure to make sure that something is upright, straight and true. Against that the people of Israel shall be judged, and woe to them if they do not “measure up”!
“Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said,
‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.’”
And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”
(Verses 10 -13)
True prophets of God do not shy away or avoid inconvenient truths. Messages from God to earthly leaders are not softened or edited, in case they offend. Truth is spoken because it is God’s truth. And if it is not God’s truth, a prophet of God will not say it.
The implication is that critiquess of the king will not be tolerated. The king can do not wrong, because he is the king. The king (or at least those advise and report to the king) refused and rejected the message that Amos had from God. The assumption was made that Amos was a “professional” seer who imitated skills of prophesy in order to earn a livelihood.
“Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’
“Now therefore hear the word of the Lord.
You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.’
Therefore thus says the Lord:
‘Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be parceled out by line; you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.’” (Verses 14 – 17)
I suppose you could compare false prophets of that time to political pundits who give forth opinions according to their own agenda and purposes rather than making clear and plan what is going on and what should be done. That sounds rather critical and harsh, I imagine and opens me to the same charge – giving forth for my own reasons and agenda. But I am like Amos, and even more so since I do not claim to have any message directly from God. I recognize what is good and true, and measure all things against the “plumb line” of the Divine.
But I don’t want this to be about me. Perhaps it is about you, beloved reader. Perhaps it is about a time someone spoke God’s truth to you, and you had to make a decision as to whether to heed it or ignore it. Whether you, or I, are a king or a commoner we need to heed the voice of God and those who prophesy honestly and authentically what they have heard from God. May we all do so! Selah!