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Plumb and Level, Understanding Christ as the cornerstone

Ephesians 2:19-22 "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."

Jesus is The Cornerstone

The Word tells us that Christ is our cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20), but what is a cornerstone? Before homes were built on concrete they used to be built on large stones. These stones were massive and were cut to specific and precise measurements. But these stones weren't laid down sporadically, if so nothing would line up and the lack of unity between the stones would cause gaps in foundation, and overtime this lack of unity would cause the building to shift and tilt. Give it enough time and the whole structure will collapse.

leaning house

To prevent this issue, builders would lay the first stone known as the corner stone. The cornerstone established the first corner, and the whole orientation of the building was directed based off this first cornerstone. If you've ever worked with wood or done construction work, you'll quickly learn that errors have a compounding effect.

If someone laid the cornerstone 5 degrees off it's intended direction, the rest of the entire foundation would be off by several feet. So you can see the importance of an accurately placed cornerstone. In the similar way, Christ is our cornerstone. Christ is the author and finisher of our race because He was perfect. He was the perfectly laid cornerstone the rest of the Church must snugly align to through the Holy Spirit. Jesus' reliance on the Spirit and complete submission to the desires of God the Father sent in place the direction of the whole body of Christ. And as much as I'd love to break this down even further, the main focus of this teaching is to break down the attributes of a cornerstone and it's larger implications. There is a lot of meat on the bone!

Jesus is the cornerstone
source (adobe stock) link:

Plumb and Level

For a cornerstone to be a cornerstone, it needs to be square, but what is square? Square is referring to two intersecting surfaces that form a 90 degree angle. This cornerstone needs eight 90 degree corners for each proceeding stone to join in "square" with. But what are the two intersecting surfaces that make up square?

two intersecting lines

These two intersecting surfaces are are plumb and level. Plumb is what's called "truly vertical", upright, perfectly perpendicular to the horizon. In other words, it's a perfectly straight line that goes up and down. If you've ever seen a tree lean to the side, you would say it's "out of plumb".

leaning trees

Level is a perfectly flat horizontal line that has no deviation. Think of table tops and floors, both of these should be perfectly flat. It's really obvious when things aren't flat, you can feel weird standing on an uneven floor, and you can see a pencil roll off a table that isn't perfectly flat.

I want to focus a bit on plumb, how do we find plumb? To find this perfectly vertical line, you need to use a plumb bob! No it's not a person's name, it's a device! It's often a brass or lead weight that is hung from a string. The line from the top of the string to the bottom is a perfectly vertical line, and this has been the preferred method of measuring plumbness for thousands of years. To see if a vertical structure is plumb, you suspend the top of the string of the plumb bob above and beside the structure, then let the plumb bob hand down until it reaches the bottom of the vertical structure.

how to use a plumb
source: wonkeedonkeetools

You next measure the distance from the top of the plumb bob string to the vertical structure, then measure the same distance at the bottom of the vertical structure. If the measurements are the same, then you have a perfectly straight vertical structure, and if not then you can see the exact amount the structure is off.

plumb measurement

The Symbolism in God's Word

But why am I going into so much detail in something that is only relevant to tradesmen and serious DIYers? Because Isaiah 28:17 requires you to understand these concepts to comprehend what God is saying.

Isaiah 28:17 "Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place."

God is saying a lot in this verse, let's break it down part by part.

God's Plummet & Measuring Line

"Judgment also will I lay to the line"

The Hebrew word in scripture for "line" is "kav":

  • Strongs H6957 "kav" | Def: a cord (as connecting), especially for measuring

The word line is specifically referring to a measuring line. A measuring line is a rope who's length (or markings) is at a specific length. The easiest way to understand this is a measuring tape or sewing tape measure. And there is a reason God puts his judgment up to a measuring line.

sewing tape
source: etsy

A measurement is the knowledge of what is true, one inch is once inch and all people using this measurement standard will know what you're referring to when you use it. It's how lengths and dimensions are clearly communicated. When it comes to the measurement of an inch, the governing body that defines the length of an inch is the metric system. Beyond this, God and His Word is the ultimate standard of what is true. Anything outside of God's word is a lie, Psalm 119:151 "...all Your commandments are truth."

The measuring line is what represents the truth of God's commandments. It's used to measure what is, and what it should be. God's commandments are also judgments that hold our lives and decisions accountable to what is perfect. You use God's commandments and truth to measure how near or far something is from the truth. Without an accurate measurement you won't be able to build or discover what is plumb.

" righteousness to the plummet"

The word is telling us that righteousness is the plummet, but again, a plummet (plumb bob) measures what's perfectly vertical. So how is righteousness perfectly vertical? Because it is looking down in a perfectly straight line from heaven; Psalm 85:11 "... righteousness shall look down from heaven." Righteousness is the perfectly vertical line this "spiritual plumb bob" line is attached to.

But a "plummet (plumb bob)" is more than just a string and weight, it's specifically a lead weight. Lead in scripture represents wickedness, (the lead in the mouth of the woman in Zechariah 5:7-8. Lead is described as a weight that sinks to the bottom of the sea of God's judgment, Exo. 15:10. In the same way plumb and level are not visible, we need the Holy Spirit to teach us what is righteous so we can stay plumb to the foundation of Christ. And how does God do this? By tying you to his Spirit which is the string to the plumb bob, and His Spirit takes your own wickedness which is the weight to the plumb bob and shows you how near or far you are from the perfection of Christ.

Now that you understand the correlation between riotousness and plumb, we can move onto peace and level. Psalm 85:10 "...righteousness and peace have kissed each other" This verse is describing Jesus. Jesus is where perfect righteousness and perfect peace meet, they make up plumb and level, which when combined make square.

The peace of God is the perfect horizon that is a leveled mind, allowing David to lay down and sleep in Psalm 4:8 "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety." We know that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and His peace keeps our minds level. Psalm 122:7 "Peace be within thy walls..." When your life is built on Christ, the peace of a level mind follows in all areas.

This cornerstone needs to be plum and level, making a perfect 90 degree angle the rest of the building is built on. Jesus is the cornerstone where righteousness and peace kiss, He is the perfection of righteousness and peace the whole body of Christ is suppose to build their lives on. But people often change their "measuring system" by changing the meaning of God's word because it doesn't line up with their happiness. This is one of the many delusions, and a common delusion seen in the body of Christ today is hypocrisy.

This is what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 7:2 "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Unfair judgment is wickedness and it comes from an inaccurate measuring system. You can't hold others to a different standard than your own, and we can't use a standard that isn't God's Word. This hypocritical system of unjust judgment can only come from someone who has a spiritual temple that isn't "level or plumb". They are a leaning tower that will crumble in the next storm. This lack of level and plumb comes from building on a foundation that isn't square, notbuilt on The Cornerstone.

Overtime, the Holy Spirit is building up our spiritual temples according to the perfection of our author and finisher Jesus Christ. Lacking to obtain perfection won't disqualify you from God's promises or love, but it's what he's always working in us. Only the Holy Spirit is able to keep our buildings level, and remind us when our temple is leaning.

Although people might chose to blind themselves to God's "measurement" of His perfect judgment, the plumb righteousness of God is a perpetual witness their own wickedness makes evident. The righteousness of God is only found through faith in Christ's blood, and if Christ is building your temple, peace should follow.

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