"...his name will not disappear..." Ruth 4:10d
I've always been intrigued with magicians, people who have practiced the skill to make things disappear or appear using slight of hand that cannot be detected by the casual observer. But they are in reality only tricksters. They make us think something has happened when, actually, he/she has only disguised it to appear that way. With God though, He raises Kingdoms up and brings them down. He spoke the world into being, and His Son, Jesus, could calm a raging see by His command - and it was done without a slight of hand maneuver. Mahlon's name was important to Boaz and the people of his day because of the how God also preserved the name of Perez. I promised you that I would share the significance of Perez's name being mentioned in the account of Ruth's marriage to Boaz. However, let me warn you... this is going to get messy.
God works through the worst of circumstances to bring about a good end. Only God can turn the despicable acts of others into a blessing. The relationship between Lot and his daughters brought about two tribes who were considered related to the Jews - yet tainted. Thinking that all of the world had been destroyed, Lot's daughters came up with a scheme to continue the race of man. Their plan resulted in the birth of bastard sons from an incestuous relationship with their father. This was accomplished by Lot's daughters getting him drunk. There thinking was faulty and without faith, for they did not trust God to work through their dire circumstance and continue the human race through His own methods (He could have created two other men from the dust of the earth). Yet, through this corrupt action, God, in His time, brought about the life of Ruth, who teaches us about full trust in God's ways to protect and provide for His children.
After losing her husband in death, God once again showed how he can work things out for the good through the life of Ruth... to bless her and her future heirs. This woman of Moabite heritage became the grandmother of the second King of Israel! A family member of her deceased husband, Mahlon, was moved with compassion for Ruth and took legal actions that would protect and provide for her. Boaz became her "Kinsman-redeemer". As such, his life points to Christ, Who, to us, is closer than a brother (the ultimate Kinsman) and is our Redeemer (the One Who blesses our life for things to work out for the good).
When Boaz worked through the customs of that day to redeem Ruth's life, he was blessed by the city leaders and those who witnessed his actions of kindness. Boaz announced: "Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion, and Mahlon. I have acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon's widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown." (Ruth 4:9-10)
The name of each person is significant. God knows each of us intimately and has a plan for our lives. In fact, in the townspeople's blessing, they pronounced: "Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah." What is the significance of Perez's life?
Welllllll.... prepare yourself again.... it's about to get even messy'er'. Follow along with me in your Bible as I seek to describe the events of Genesis 38. Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob. Tamar was first married to Er, Judah's oldest son who was evil, so God took his life. Tamar became Judah's daughter-in-law a second time when Judah arranged for his next oldest son, Onan, to marry her (the Kinsmen-Redeemer). Onan viewed any child born from that arrangement to be the son/daughter of the deceased brother (I know, it seems odd, doesn't it). So, knowing that the child would not be "his" (even though genetically it would have been), Onan "wasted his seed" (demonstrating his lack of faith in God to work all things out for the good) so Tamar would not get pregnant. God viewed this action as evil, too, for which Onan's life was taken as well. (I warned you this was going to get messy, but there's more...)
Tamar, widowed twice over, was sent to live with her father, but not before Judah promised to her that she would return when his youngest son, Shelah, grew up, at which time she would become his wife (Shelah would then become the kinsman redeemer). We don't know how many years passed, but we are told it was a long time, when Judah's wife, the daughter of Shua, died. Tamar, impatient by the amount of time passing for Judah's youngest son to grow up, took matters into her own hand (do we ever do that?): she discovered that Judah was on his way to shear some of his sheep in a nearby village; discarded her widows garb; dressed herself in a veil; and strategically stationed herself along the road for Judah to notice her. And notice her he did! He thought she was a prostitute! He made arrangements to "do business" with her - giving as pledge (for payment) his own cord with his seal (an important article for business transactions within the region), as well as his staff. Judah impregnated his own daughter-in-law (without even knowing it - I'm not sure how that happened), and sent the "fee" of a young goat by way of his long time Adullamite friend, Hirah. (Judah had been friends with Hirah a long time. He actually lived with him for a while, and met his Canaanite wife at that time.) Judah had described Tamar as a shrine prostitute by the side of the road. Hirah was to deliver the young goat to her, but was unsuccessful in locating a shrine prostitute anywhere in the area.
Three months passed and the news of Tamar's pregnancy traveled through the region's gossip grapevine, finally reaching the ears of Judah, who ordered that she be brought out and burned to death. As she was being brought out, she had a messenger return the articles he had left behind that day. Knowing he would become the target of judgment, her life was spared. She gave birth to twin sons: one, whose hand came out first, and to whose wrist a midwife tied a scarlet thread; and the other, who broke out ahead of the first child with the scarlet thread. The one who broke out first was named Perez. The second child was named Zerah.
Perez, however, became the forefather of Boaz - acknowledging the significance of God's hand in working all things out for the good. You see, the future is no different than the past to God. We live in linear time, but God resides in all time. He was working, even through the contorted events that brought Perez into this world, to make things work together for Ruth... and for us... for the lineage of Christ, as described in Matthew 1:3-5, includes the lives of Judah, Perez, and a Moabite woman named Ruth. God takes the messes we make of life and turns them into blessings. Trust Him today to making all things work together for good in your life, just as He did in these messy lives.
Though Mahlon's name is not mentioned again... he was not forgotten... his name did not disappear from the fabric of history, and neither will yours when you place your life in His hands.
Giving my messes to Him,