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Pastor Rueter's September Blog

Both the Books of Job and Ruth take on the concepts of Deuteronomy and raise issues with the approach of blessings going to those who obey and curses going to those who break their relationship with God by going their own way and doing their own thing.

Both books deal with the question of the presence of evil or things which are bad for us, when God is portrayed as so loving and just. Job deals with his tragedies by continually demanding an opportunity to confront God and to show that he did not deserve the misfortune which had come upon him. For many chapters he and his friends debate one another, using deep thoughts and poetry to seek to explain the presence of evil. The friends confront Job as a sinner and tell him continually that he must have done something wrong to receive all this bad stuff. Job continues to argue for his innocence. In the end God appears to Job in a whirlwind and raises questions about Job’s ability compared to God’s. Job then humbly adores God and leaves everything in God’s hands. The book ends with Job restored to his wealth and a new family.

The Book of Ruth takes a different approach. Naomi is its main character. Its her plight that drives the narrative. She is widowed and has no hope of grandchildren. She is bereft of the primary hope that woman had in those days of a family to support and care for. Like Job she is bitter and declares that the hand of the Lord is against her.

But this narrative does not present an argument. indeed no where in the book is there a word from God delivered by an angel or a prophet. God’s activity is hinted in the Hebrew word “happened” at the point in the story where Ruth goes to glean in support of Naomi. She happened into the field of Boaz and from that point on the well-being of Naomi (and Ruth and Boaz) begins to shift.

Naomi and Ruth and Boaz all continue to show favor to one another and faithfulness to the covenant God made with Israel. Naomi returns to her homeland to which that covenant was tied from the promise to Abram and Sarai. Boaz acts with favor toward Ruth and Naomi making sure they have enough to eat and support themselves and later fulfilling his duties as their redeemer (next of kin charged with sustaining families). Ruth commits herself to the covenant by rejecting the gods of Moab and linking her future to the Lord of Israel, the God of Naomi.

This covenant faithfulness in the face of the plight that Naomi suffers leads to her eventual joy as she is able to introduce to her community Boaz and Ruth’s first child, Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David (yes, that king and the one from whom Jesus descends).

So Naomi and Ruth challenge us to remain faithful to God’s steadfast love (chesed) even when it looks like God is against us by showing favor to others, particularly those who are weakest among our neighbors. If the Lord can use a Moabitess like Ruth to continue his plan of salvation, then the Lord is at work in our lives as well. As Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” [John 13:34]

In the face of our questions about evil, the book of Ruth urges us to show kindness toward others just as the Lord has shown steadfast love to us in Jesus. God’s love empowers our kindness.

Thanks for accepting me as your Sabbatical Pastor for the summer. You have been a blessing to Nancy and me.


You are loved.  Gary Rueter, PT Sabbatical Pastor