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The Inheritance of Mahlon

Biblical characters exist whose names we scarcely remember. For example, Joshua and Caleb are renowned, but who can name even one of the other ten men who spied out Canaan? Similarly, Boaz takes on an important biblical role, and is named by Matthew in the genealogy of Jesus (Matt. 1:5).


Boaz was the second husband of Ruth, but who can remember her first husband? I could not do so, until virtually stumbling across his name during devotional Bible readings. Ruth’s first husband was named Mahlon. This family was from Bethlehem, but went to live in Moab, where Mahlon met and married Ruth. Unfortunately, Mahlon and his brother Chilion, as well as their father Elimelech, died in Moab. (Chilion’s wife was named Orpah, whom Oprah Winfrey was named after, but the spelling of which was changed to Oprah.)


The death of all the family’s males left Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah in a bad situation. Naomi and Ruth, her Moabitess daughter-in-law, decided to return to Bethlehem. And this is where the story turned from bitterness to joy.


Moses commanded the Jewish people in Deuteronomy 25 that if a man died, his brother should raise up children for his brother by marrying his widow. This system was known as “levirate marriage,” and provided a mechanism for keeping land inheritances in the same family, clan, and tribe. The system was also a provision for widows, as well as to preserve the name and inheritance of the deceased:


When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. It shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel. (Deut. 25:5-6)


In the case of Ruth, the closest relative to Mahlon did not want to take on the responsibility of levirate marriage, so the opportunity fell to Boaz, another close relative. Boaz, called the elders of the Bethlehem together:


Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.” All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. (Ruth 4:9-11, emphasis added)


Boaz, as kinsman-redeemer, foreshadowed the role of Christ, the great Redeemer. The story truly had a happy ending when Boaz and Ruth became the great-grandparents of David, the great king of Israel.


Interestingly, this whole drama unfolds to raise up an inheritance to the deceased Mahlon. As it would turn out, Mahlon’s inheritance ties into King David, and then to the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. That’s a pretty remarkable legacy for a guy who died young, and, as far as we can tell from the biblical narrative, never did anything notable.


An Inheritance in Christ

In some ways, I feel connected to Mahlon. After all, Jesus did all the work on the cross. We have received that gift of salvation earned by Christ. His blood redeemed us. We have done nothing to merit salvation. Paul states that, as believers, we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). Truly this is an amazing inheritance!


An Inheritance in the Nations

In Psalm 2:7-8, the great messianic psalm, God says through David:


“I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.’


Through the blood of the Jesus, we are invited to petition the Lord for our inheritance—the nations. Our inheritance is not in gold or silver, but in the nations whom Jesus wants to reach. One objective of the Jumaa Prayer Fellowship is asking the Lord for our inheritance, which includes the Muslim nations. Thank God, many people are turning from Islam to Christ in these days.


Please join us in asking God for our inheritance in the Muslim nations. We may feel unworthy or insignificant, like the biblical Mahlon, yet Mahlon found an unlikely inheritance through the kinsman-redeemer Boaz. Ultimately, this lineage included David and then Jesus Christ the Lord. This same Jesus is saving Muslim souls today.




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