April 21, 1992
Anyone old enough to remember the good old days may recall the prices we once paid at the grocery store. For instance, prime rib roast: 79 cents/lb., peanut butter: 99 cents/48-ounce jar, and coffee: 69 cents/lb.
Transportation and television was good in the good old days too. A 1967 Oldsmobile 88 hardtop sold for $3774 (the tag for one of that vintage and in good condition could be higher now), a front-end alignment was $7 and gasoline was 45 cents a gallon or 10 cents per liter. We watched Bonanza, Red Skeleton, Front Page Challenge, and the Lucy Show. “Good” takes on even more meaning when these oldies are compared to most of today’s programming.
Progress says we can’t go back. Maybe we don’t want to — wages have gone up a bunch since then too. In fact, the average salary has increased far more than grocery and automobile prices, enough to make one wonder why it is so difficult to make ends meet, much more difficult than the good old days.
Historically, the Hebrews had some good old days too. They came out of slavery in Egypt by means of the Exodus led by Moses, entered and possessed the promised land under the leadership of Joshua, and grew to a prosperous nation under King David and his son, Solomon. God had promised to bless them if they obeyed Him, and they did — so He did.
However, the good times came to an end. The generation after Solomon built idols and fought over the land. The nation divided and the blessings dwindled. God told them if they did not obey they would be cursed and cursed they were. Their prosperity changed to famine, disease, and invasion by enemies. Assyria invaded the northern kingdom and Babylon the south. The Hebrew people wound up exiled in a foreign land.
But God didn’t forget them. After many years they were allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild it. However, life was never the same. The people had not regained the prosperity promised them. The prophet Haggai described what was happening: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
He goes on to say their problem was that they had neglected their spiritual lives. The temple should have been rebuilt and they had not done that. Because of their neglect, God said to them, “I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”
We are not the nation Israel and our drought (so far) is mostly economic. But many work hard only to have their wages go into a bag of holes. Their money is gone before the month is over even though costs have not escalated nearly as much as the size of pay cheques. For those who do have enough money for basic needs, most are far from being content. Could it be that our problem in Canada is the same as it was in ancient Israel?
Instead of crying out for a return to the good old days, instead of pressuring our government to force economic progress, instead of vain hopes of ever making wants and wages match, maybe as a nation we need to give some attention to our spiritual condition.
God does say if we “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” He will take care of the necessities of life. If necessities are not satisfying, maybe we are seeking our satisfaction in that which can never satisfy.