Summary: How Job’s desire for intimacy with God remained even in times of suffering.
INTIMACY WITH GOD
I read recently in a book the following: ‘Look at any Sunday morning congregation and what do you see? Tired women and bored men.’ There is, I believe, some truth in both of those descriptions. It is all too easy to become exhausted in the Christian life. The comment ‘my Christian life is not what it once was’ is very common today. For some reason after the initial excitement and enthusiasm of faith many settle down to what one man described ‘as lives of quiet desperation.’ What has gone wrong in our lives, in the life of the Christian church, that Christian people are tired or bored in their walk with God? Listen to two verses from two different men in the OT: READ Psalm 42.1-2, and Job 29.4. Both Job and David had been greatly blessed by God and then both (for different reasons – David because of sin and Job because of righteousness) journeyed through a period of suffering, difficulty and what seemed to them to be abandonment by God. Yet, even in the midst of that feeling of abandonment they could speak those words of longing. Now let me ask you a question: Are they words which could be applied to your soul this morning? When you got up this morning to come here was it with a longing (a panting as of thirst) to be in the presence of the living God and to know again in your soul ‘God’s intimate blessing?’ I believe the truth is for the majority of you those words are hollow and empty of meaning this morning. The truth is for many, not just here but throughout the Christian world, there has been a loss of intimacy with God and what is even worse there has been a loss of desire for intimacy with God.
So this morning I want to take a few moments to encourage all of us to once again desire intimacy with God and to know again the blessing of God. Turn with me to Job 29. In this passage, and the next two chapters, Job is like a lawyer summing up his case. He begins in this chapter with an emotional recall of times past – when his life was full of happiness. A life full of wealth and honour. He then proceeds to lament his loss, not of wealth, but of his dignity and more importantly of his intimate friendship with God. He concludes in chapter 31 by stating his innocence before God.
Job was blessed by God and honoured by men. We know that from the prologue to the book. If you look at verse 14 of this chapter you will see that Job used his position and his wealth to be a benefactor and a leader in the community. In the first 6 verses of chapter 29 Job’s words are charged with emotion. He longs for the precious days when he enjoyed God’s watch-care (verse 2) and his guidance (verse 3). God had been his friend (verses 4-5) and he had enjoyed the blessing of wealth and family (verses 5-6). Verse 6 speaks poetically of the abundant blessing of his life by God. But let me focus for just a moment on verse 4 – I think this is one of the most beautiful verses in all the book of Job – READ. Literally translated it says this ‘oh, for the days when God’s counsel was my tent.’ Think about a tent for a moment and the image that it conjures up in your mind. A tent is a place of shelter and protection from the elements. Was that not what satan had said of Job to God – you have put a hedge of protection around him. A tent is a place of rest and refreshment after a long day in the fields. It is a place where the heat of the day can be escaped and the cold of the night avoided. It is a place of warmth as well as a place of refreshment. In a tent it is impossible to hide. In fact it is a picture of intimacy. Job was saying that God was all of these to him. It is an amazing picture of intimacy with God and between God and Job. Please note it is God’s counsel that is his tent. Job was saying that God’s wisdom, God’s Word, God’s guidance and God’s presence were the things which were his tent. They were his dwelling place. His shelter from both the heat of persecution and the cold of suffering. In everything that entered into his life Job found God’s counsel his dwelling place. That is where his intimacy with God came from. You cannot know God’s wisdom, word or guidance if you do not spend time in the presence of God. For Job time in the presence of God was part and parcel of everyday life. Is it for you?