Longing for the Good Old Days

Job 29

Comes a time for those to whom God grants sufficient days when you add reminiscing to list of things to do. Not a pastime usually enjoyed by the very young, have to reach a certain age before it has appeal. “I remember when” is how it often starts – when gasoline cost 10 cents a gallon; Eisenhower was president; cars had tail fins; life was simpler. It has become a marketing tool: those little magazines that have all the stuff from a particular year; retro fashions and designs; oldies stations; Down Memory Lane with Toby Leboutillier.

Talk about “good old days”, what is it that you miss the most? Is it that you don’t like change? It’s more work to keep your hair the same color, takes longer to do things, can’t understand words to the music any more? Or is there something of real substance that once was part of your life and now is missing? Job still sitting there at the city dump with his three unhelpful counselors, winding down in what he has to say. Chapter 29: how it used to be; chapter 30: how it is; chapter 31: how he is confident it will be.

Job longing for the old days, the way it used to be. What did Job miss about the old days? Given what he’s been through, not hard to come up with things! Good night’s sleep, healthy children, contented wife, healthy retirement plan in place. How about the absence of negative things? Like way less pain and suffering, fewer worries, less criticism. Not what Job said! Job’s desire: “Oh, for the good old days, when God showed me favor.” Signs of God’s favor gone missing was Job’s greatest trial.

A. fellowship/communion with God v.1-4

this the hardest for Job to take – cf. his repeated cries for God to speak, to reveal his presence / nearness

not a case of playing cowboy song backwards, getting all the stuff back – only way stuff comes into the picture is as evidence of God’s favor, and…only portion of the evidence

here’s what this great man of God recognized as signs that relationship with God was on good terms

God was watching over him: this an umbrella over the rest, but has its own significance – those times when he could see and feel God close by, Shepherding him through life

if drive much at night, even watching vehicles pass by, see the “new thing”: high-intensity headlights; important to be able to see road clearly

Job understood that, longed for return to circumstances where God’s light was clearly present, showing him the right way, giving understanding, providing security in uncertain times and situations

was time when Job was productive – not simply physical prime of life but when he was most useful to God

longed for return of clear awareness / consciousness that God was his friend – God’s intimate friendship blessed his home

“Christian life” not a burden when you experience God’s intimate friendship continually

God isn’t the friend you go visit for an hour on Sunday morning, call on the telephone once or twice a day

is your constant companion – you know him, he knows you; often, conversation isn’t necessary, you can frequently finish his sentences

even more intimate and continual presence than Moses experienced – “the Lord spoke to Moses face to face” (Ex. 33:11)

was a friendship that spilled over in blessing on the entire household – all members of the family, not just Job

Job in no way took God’s presence for granted – had hunger and thirst for God so intense it nearly killed him when couldn’t satisfy it; greatest desire was for that to be restored

B. blessings for dependence on God v.5-6

in the old days – El Shaddai was a friend, not an enemy; we know God was not Job’s enemy, but…sure felt like it from Job’s perspective

then, the Almighty defended him, blessed him and his family with good things all across the spectrum

spiritual well-being (intimate friendship), protection (by the Almighty), provision – children and prosperity

now, the Almighty is his enemy, seems determined to at least abandon him if not destroy him; Job’s inability to figure out God’s purpose makes it that much more painful

important note: in Job’s view all the good things he enjoyed were directly and inseparably connected with God-as-his-friend

Job depended on God for everything – his watchful care, his light, his intimate friendship, his protection and provision

Job’s children (and obviously his wife), his prosperity, the respect he had in town, the usefulness he had to God and others – all came from hand of God

C. usefulness to God v.7-17, 21-25

“larger than life” – how could one person achieve all this? where has Job just given all the credit? to God

Job’s usefulness to others in the community was usefulness to God; but…no hint of pride or self-importance

just as God came first in Job’s reminiscing, he came first in Job’s life and thoughts; Job was useful to God because God enabled and equipped and directed and provided all Job needed

Job set out to serve God well, God made him useful; wasn’t Job’s goal to be big deal in town even though God made him one; was his first goal to live righteously: to be “a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil”

yes, Job seems to toot his own horn: v.7-11

describes how young and old would make way, show deference to him when took his place in public square

held their breath to hear what Job would say, even those who had similar social standing and should be heard in their own right

what you might expect in the courtroom when Solomon had to decide which woman was really the baby’s mother

and then there are the “regular” people, those who have no position of particular importance in community

everyone without exception spoke well of Job, approved of Job and his actions – like God, found no fault with his conduct or his character

but what is reality here? is this the way it truly was? or is Job exaggerating, making himself out to be some kind of hero?

if look closely at v.12-17, 21-25: have picture of someone who lived for sake of others, without regard for social standing or need

took what God had blessed him with and gave it away as fast as he could…wisely

look at all the different sorts of people Job helped and advocated for: poor, orphans, dying man, widows, blind, lame, needy, strangers

and kinds of things he did: provided comfort, offered hope, secured justice for both the oppressed and the perpertrator; helped the handicapped, provided material and practical help for the needy, gave assistance to strangers as quickly as to his friends

provided godly counsel to all who came seeking it, and…this is important…gave in such a way that they received it

in all that Job did for his friends and neighbors and those who passed by, sure sounds like Jesus doesn’t it

teaching God’s truth to all who would listen whether “Christian” or not – communicating in ways that made sense, that drew them in to the conversation

Job couldn’t heal the blind or lame but he could be their eyes and feet; Job couldn’t replace the absentee dad, couldn’t be the missing husband, but were ways he could bring light and help and joy to those in need

Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”; same could have been asked of Job – given his circumstances, why does he pay attention to those people

Job was committed to being salt and light – being involved in his community in such a way as to change it, using what God had entrusted to him for benefit of others

result: men and women, boys and girls saw Job’s good works and gave glory to God – they followed his counsel, took his direction, gave him respect that was due a servant of God

D. a secure old age v.18-20

Job expected “not a violent or untimely, but a natural, and peaceable, and seasonable death, sweetly expiring in my own bed and habitation, in the midst of my children and friends, leaving the precious perfume of a good name behind me, and a plentiful inheritance to all my posterity.” Matthew Poole

not because he planned out his retirement but because he trusted God to continue caring for him, shepherding him

it’s pretty clear from all that is said about Job: his #1 priority was to live pleasing to God and leave the results up to God

Job’s desires pretty much right on even when his perspective was clouded by circumstances. What he missed in his affliction was all good: intimate fellowship with God; continual dependence on God that was satisfied; usefulness to God; a secure future wrapped up in God. We’ve read rest of the story, know how it all turns out: Job’s “longing for good old days” was satisfied and more:

Job 42:12And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.

Job’s greatest usefulness happened when he was most incapacitated – on the garbage dump! It is the account of Job and his faith and perseverance through his affliction that has encouraged millions of believers. Similar true for Jesus: he longed for good old days before time – John 17:5 – hours before he was crucified, when he experienced utter humiliation at hand of his Father. But in that humiliation, he accomplished greatest wonder of all time – our redemption. Perhaps that will be true of you – that in your affliction, God will use you to bring the Gospel, a message and example of hope to some who are in great need. Merry, Dana…

“Perhaps, however, [like Job] we are deluding ourselves; he is really nearer to us in adversity than he was in prosperity, only we cannot understand the mysteries of his providence.” Pulpit Commentary

Important questions:

1 – Are you living now so when it’s your turn to reminisce you can look back on a life like Job’s? If yes, keep it up! If not, start now!!

2 – Are you in middle of affliction like Job? If you are a child of God, he is not far from you. Ask him to help you understand his providence, and, seek to think like Jesus. He prayed:

“Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. ….O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (John 17:5; Matt. 26:39)

We can pray: “May the mind of Christ my Savior Live in me from day to day, By His love and pow’r controlling All I do and say.”

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