By The Rev. Thomas Nibbe
“…I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in a sinful palace…” (Psalm 84:10b – Eugene Peterson’s translation – The Message)
“…I will spare them no longer…” (Amos 7:7-15)
we could perhaps say that God has His limits when it comesto “drawing the line” in allowing His people to act out…
[“the plumb line” means that God is getting ready to judge, Jeremiah 31:38-39; Isaiah 28:17; Zechariah 2:1-2…In the Bible when God begins to measure length or weight, the reader can be sure that the people haven’t measured up to God’srequirements…He won’t be visiting the people with His prophet any longer.]
“…righteousness goes before Him and preparesthe way for His steps…” (Psalm 85:13)
“…and He made known to us the mystery of His willaccording to His good pleasure which He purposedin Christ to be put into effect when the times will havereached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heavenand on earth together under one head, even Christ…”(Ephesians 1:9)
a thought or two“…man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity in which he is engulfed…” (Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662)
“…big ideas are so hard to recognize, so fragile, so easy to kill…don’t forgetthat, all of you who don’t have them…”(John Elliot, Jr.)
Would you pray with me today?
“Teach us your way, O Lord, and we will walk in your truth.Give us an undivided heart that we may revere your name.Allow us to blossom as a flower in Spring. Grant that we may experience the transformation of our souls…and enjoy true profound inner peace and transcendent joy.Then we’ll praise you, O Lord our God, with all our heart.
We glorify your name forever…great is your love…you have delivered us from the depths of the grave……the arrogant may attack us, O God; a band of ruthless people may seekour lives—people without respect for you and your Word…but you, O Lord, are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. We commendourselves into your care this day. In Jesus’ name.
(…based upon Psalm 86…)
Grace and peace in transitional times! I want to thank youfor your patience in connecting up with the message fortoday. Priscilla and I have been dealing with a remodelingof our kitchen, (we’re living in our dining room while drinkingout of water bottles)…and in addition, yesterday was my 78thbirthday…time ran short for completing the message that normally comes out to you.
However, the insight I received in the Lord in terms of theseScriptural passages is worthy of comment.
I have given the message title as “the plumb line”. In the past I had considered the functional use of the plumb linein construction as a measuring device, and finally, cameto the conclusion that “the measuring line” in the Bible —at least — in Isaiah 28:17, Jeremiah 31:38-39, Amos 7:7-9and also Zechariah 2:1-2 — indicated that Yahweh) was atthe end of His rope in terms of putting up with the waywardtendencies of His people and was about to judge them…and judge them harshly. I also came to the conclusion thatGod did so, not so much to harshly punish them, as muchas free them from themselves.
In the process of thinking these things over I was remindedof the passage from Lamentations 3:22-24, which reads:
“…because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumedfor His compassions never fail…they are new every morning;great is your faithfulness…I say to myself, ‘The Lord is myportion, therefore I will wait for Him…'”This quote, of course, isn’t expressed in a time and placea person might think. The “affirmative sense” of the passageseems out of place. Jerusalem is being rudely and completelydestroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar. It is the most horribleevent in the history of Israel, with the exception the death ofJesus on the cross. The assumed author is Jeremiahhimself. In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, theprophet is able to “vision” beyond the obvious total destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC to a more profound sense of what it isto be the People of God…the “plumb line” scenario has literallymoved from proclamation to become a stark reality.
This notion gives us the idea that God will hold us responsiblefor what we do, how we act…perhaps in anger (which scaressome of us)…but with great compassion to allow us the privilege of envisioning a broader, higher, and more profound vision and of what it means to take faith, live in a real world, and experience Spiritual awareness we wouldn’t have without the prophetic “plumb line”. Sitting here in the present, theidea of God getting ready to bring about judgment, and all thatmay do to impact my life and those around me, makes me situp and take notice. At the same time, the affirmation of theprophet Jeremiah in Lamentations gives us great hope thatno matter what happens, we can trust that God knows what Heis doing and we will prosper, and spiritually so, not matter whatmay befall us in terms of what happens all around.
With that thought in mind, I would like to turn to what I considerto be the most profound passage in all of Scripture. As I do thatI want to put forth John 3:16 and Deuteronomy 6:4-5 as manifestlyessential Scriptural points of focus in our faith lives.
The Scriptural passage I am referring to is:
In this passage Saint Paul wants to present to us the mysteryof God’s will, and in addition, the Lord’s good pleasure for the present position and the future of His Holy Church, the world and it’s people, and the universe. The verse goes as follows:
“…and He made known to us the mystery of His will accordingto His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be putinto effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under onehead, even Christ.”There is a direct connection between “the plumb line” in theOld Testament passages, and the profound nature of Godto get our attention, a means to allow us freedom, but notto the extent that we fall into life-styles and means of livingthat are not in line with the mystery of God’s will to bring allthings together in heaven and on earthunder one head.That “one head” would be the ultimate, eternal kingship ofthe Lord Jesus Christ.
How that will be brought about, we are not quite sure, but we have the assurance that we are part of that great plan ofconvergence, and that, the Lord will not abandon us in theprocess…once again…in the midst of our human failings…we need always to place our trust in Him…
“…the Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him…to theone who seeks Him…it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord…” (Lamentations 3:25-26)
Just hang in there with Jesus…