Why Doesn’t Eleazar Die in the Wilderness?

What does the entrance of Aaron’s son Eleazar into the promised land say about the curse upon the generation which rebelled at the edge of the promised land? We see him in Numbers 3, Numbers 4 (apparently as an adult), Numbers 16, in Numbers 19, and we see him taking over Aaron’s office in Numbers 20. Unless another Eleazar is meant, he doesn’t die until Joshua chapter 24. Based on the curse in Numbers 14 “your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward” are we to conclude that Numbers had described Eleazar as assisting with priestly service at some age younger than twenty, or is this an indication that the curse isn’t to be taken literally, and that some men from that generation other than Joshua and Caleb survived?

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Levirate Marriage

What were the purposes of levirate marriage? I can see that it would help to provide for widows, but its described purposes appear to go beyond that. In our culture, if a brother dies, he and his brother already share a name and his nieces and nephews by a brother will carry on the family name. My understanding is that the Israelites did not have family names in the same manner as modern English-speaking cultures. What was different about Israelite culture that causes the first child born of a levirate marriage being described in Deuteronomy 25 as assuming the name of the dead brother (and what does such a taking of the brother’s name mean, in cultural context)? Also, does levirate marriage imply polygamy because of how, with regard to the levirate marriage, it apparently contains an increased risk that the surviving brother will not have a child from that marriage to succeed him (if, for instance, he only has one son by that wife)?

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The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Image of God

In your video “Created in the Image of the Angels” you say that humans were supposed to grow into the Image of God, but don’t discuss how this relates to the verse you referenced in passing earlier in the video: “Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—” Can you expand on the meaning of this verse in the context of the passage (did the serpent speak part of the truth earlier in the passage, or is this just a verbal play on what the serpent had said?) and in the context of what you believe the Bible teaches about redeemed humanity and the image of God. (I realize I could have asked via a comment to the video, but this is an issue a wide range of Bible readers, with different levels of familiarity with the scriptures, find perplexing, and a video might be helpful.)

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Human Sacrifice and Divine Wrath in 2 Kings 3

I was reading 2 Kings 3 which discusses the war with Moab, and I was struck by how the story ends – Elisha seems to prophesy success, at least he counsels engagement, Israel does succeed, but at the end King Mesha sacrifices his son and “great wrath” comes against Israel, driving them back. Two questions arose from this ending. What do you think is going on in this story, as it ends abruptly and unexpectedly? And how do you make sense of the victory that seems directly linked to child sacrifice? The ESV study Bible comment claims that this great wrath must have been the wrath of the Moabites, but that interpretation doesn’t sit well with me given the way the text invoked a kind of “divine passive” of sorts. Do you think there is some sort of real demonic response here? How might that affect the way we view the competing gods of the Old Testament and the competing spiritual practices of the present day?

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How Do We Apply Paul’s Teaching to Jews as Twenty-First Century Gentiles?

How should Gentile Christians situate themselves when listening to the New Testament’s many sections which were originally directed towards Jewish Christians, but seem now in many ways to apply to Gentiles who have been raised in the the faith?

For example, large sections of Romans are clearly directed at Jewish believers (e.g. Romans 2:17-29), with the basic thrust here and elsewhere being the dangers for those who use the law to justify themselves whilst condemning others.

However, with most churches across the world now being predominantly or wholly Gentile, there will be few, if any, converted Jews in the congregation to create this tension. These passages, then, are usually reapplied as a warning to mature Gentile believers not to look down on others.

The logic of this “re-application” is obvious, as mature Gentile believers, standing atop centuries of Christendom, do find the religious Jews addressed by Paul easier to relate to than the recently converted, formerly idolatrous Gentiles he addresses elsewhere – and yet to identify with them seems to do a violence to both the text, and the categories of Jew and Gentile which God has created. Even though the dividing wall has been torn down in Christ, both categories still exist and matter in some sense. As a Gentile Christian, though my felt experience may be as an “older brother”, the reality and categories of salvation history inescapably categorise me as a “younger brother”.

However, if one preached and taught these sections with exclusive reference to Jewish Christians in congregations where you will never actually have any Jewish Christians, I imagine the result would be a lot of sermons directed at people who aren’t there!

How then should we Gentiles situate ourselves when applying these texts?”

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How Should We Introduce Evangelicals to Liturgy?

I have been following the resurgence of interest in ancient liturgies and have read your two part article on Theopolis as well as several podcasts where you speak about this topic. As a lifetime evangelical who has been awakened and inspired by the depths of church history, sacramental theology, and liturgy in the past year, I am incredibly excited to see more and more evangelicals looking into what worship truly means Biblically and how it forms us as worshipers through liturgy.

I am wondering in what ways you could see the “liturgically opposed” churches such as the ones I was raised in embrace some of these historical forms and practices while avoiding the pitfalls you pointed out in your articles? I am a worship leader with a deep desire to shape our services into a more Biblical, liturgical form but don’t really know where to start.

Any other resources you could recommend to me would be greatly appreciated!

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