Often, when we contemplate Eden, we are disappointed by the behavior of Adam and Eve in the matter of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In spite of his failure, though, Adam was designed to be a “pattern of the one to come” (Romans 5:14, NIV) in the intentions of God. Moses was given a pattern to follow in the building of the tabernacle and its accoutrements, and God warned him to adhere to the pattern (Exodus 25:40, NIV). In a prophetic vision, Amos saw the Lord with a plumb-line in His hand (Amos 7:7-9, NIV). Patterns and plumb-lines – what do they mean to us? Let’s consider that question for a moment.
It was the Lord, Himself, who had the plumb-line in His hand when Amos encountered him in the vision. It wasn’t Amos. It wasn’t an angel. It wasn’t a leader of the people. It was the Lord, Himself. When God shows up in a vision, it might be an important vision; at least that’s my take on it. By implication, the plumb-line would be used to find out how accurately Israel was adhering to some standard(s) God had established. If a standard were known, then the measurement of something relative to that standard would indicate whether the standard was being met or not. That seems to be the idea in the Amos passage. God was about to “measure” whether Israel lived up to the standard(s) that God had set for them. The consequences for non-conformity were serious.
John recorded an interesting event in the life of Jesus in which Philip requested to see the Father (John 14:8-9, NIV). Jesus’ response is very revealing. To the request that Philip made Jesus answered that He had already shown the Father to the disciples. In so doing, He had been the “exact representation of his (the Father’s) being.” (Hebrews 1:3, NIV) Why was such a thing necessary? Why did men need to see the exact representation of God? It must be important that Jesus came to do just that. It seems to me it was important that Jesus came to be the exact representation so that we could really know what God is like. This is useful knowledge because, I believe, God intends that all his sons be like Him, just as The Son is like Him. We could not be like Him without knowing what He is like.
It turns out that God has given us a lot of information about who He is, what He is like, and what He designed us to be. Just as there are several dimensions and accommodations that must be taken into consideration in the construction of a building, so it is that our lives are complex phenomena. Therefore, a number of considerations come into play when we consider the proper life we are to live. With a blueprint, it is possible for the builder to know all sorts of things in order to properly construct a building. If the blueprint misses any significant detail, things can go terribly wrong when the building is constructed. As sons of God, it is necessary for us to know that there are expectations that God has for us. How are we to know those expectations? Well, if we had a kind of blueprint for our lives, we would know a lot about what they should be. If God would specify for us how we were to build our lives, then we could build lives that look like His expectations. Would it be fair for God to have a lot of expectations for us and not share with us what they are? Of course not. A just God would not require us to be a particular way if He would not share with us what that way should be. A loving God would be even less likely to expect certain results in our lives without informing us what they should be.
So He told us who He is, and He wants us to be like Him. Can we know what that is? Yes. We can know about God’s expectations. In fact, we can know quite a bit about His general expectations for us. We can do that because He revealed those design expectations to us in scripture. In a significant number of the dimensions of our lives, God has expectations for us such that our lives would reveal Him in the earth. Not only that, He even shows us fairly specific aspects of these things. He chose to set the standards for us so that we can understand what He expects and what pleases and delights Him.
I want you to indulge me for a bit. He has set a number of standards in place for us in scripture. Because they are His standards and He is the one with the plumb-line, let’s call those standards by the name “Divine Standards.” These divine standards are not wishy-washy; they are absolute. Sure, how they work out in each life varies with the life, but the standards themselves do not vary. So, the One who is to assess a life with a plumb-line is the One who set the standards that the plumb-line is to assess. And, He has set the standards forth in scripture. Hmmmm. Do you reckon we should now decide for ourselves what the standards are? Probably not.
In recent times, a number of verbal and written teachings have been coming out that speak to the standards and the importance of meeting the standards. I have begun work on uncovering some of the Divine Standards that have been hidden away in scripture or in the efforts of men to put forth a populist gospel. It seems good to me, and to those from whom I seek counsel, to handle these standards one at a time in a series of works that are to be called the “Divine Standards Series.” In that way, time can be taken to clarify the individual standards for us so that we can see plainly what the plumb-line in the hand of God is to assess. Look for these small books on the divine expectations.