See Part One
The sin that disordered man’s blessing of dominion also disordered his relationship with God. God revealed that sacrifice is necessary for sinful man to approach God. Some see this in the killing of animals to provide clothing for Adam and Eve (cf. Waltke & Fredericks, Genesis, 95). More clearly, the chapter directly following the account of the Fall reveals that humans now approached God in worship through sacrifices. The position of Leviticus in the Pentateuch further reinforces the necessity of sacrifices if sinful man is to approach God. Exodus closes with the erection of the tabernacle, which was a symbol of God’s presence (Exod. 29:46). This raised the question that existed since man’s sin drove him from the presence of God (Gen. 3:8, 23f.): how can God dwell with sinful man? This is the question that Leviticus exists to answer (Lev. 26:11-13), and it answers it with a detailed exposition of Israel’s sacrificial system (cf. Kiuchi, “Leviticus,” 152.).
Sacrifices imply priests. If Job reveals the state of true religion in patriarchal times, it may be that the father served as the priest for the family (Job 1:5; cf. Gen. 8:20; 12:7; 13:4; 35:1). Melchizedek, king of Salem, also served as a priest (Gen. 14:17), and this may indicate that for a time kings served as priests for their subjects. With the establishment of the nation Israel, God ordained a separate class of priests to mediate between God and man for the nation.
For mankind to receive revelation from God about his condition and about God’s expectations regarding worship, fallen man needed prophets. Abel (Matt. 23:34), Enoch (Jude 14), and Abraham (Gen 20:7) were all prophets, but among the covenant people, the office of the prophet originated when the people of Israel asked for someone to mediate between them and God (Ex. 20:18-21; Deut. 5:22-27; 18:15-16) (Robertson, The Christ of the Prophets, 25). Not only was Moses the first to fill this office, he was the greatest of Israel’s prophets (cf. Robertson 36-39). As his ministry drew to a close God told the people to look for a future Prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:15-22; cf. Acts 3:22-23).
By the close of the Pentateuch, God’s people knew that sin had disordered mankind’s dominion over the world, and they knew that as part of God’s restoration they ought to look for a Judean king and a Mosaic prophet. There was no prediction at this point of a coming priest, but the Israelites probably already realized the insufficiency of their sacrificial system and thus the need for something more than they had in their current priestly system. [While many liberals have suggested a tension between the Pentateuch’s sacrificial system and the prophetic critique, Childs suggests the basis for the prophetic critique is found in Leviticus 26:14-45, which predicts the judgment of Israel for its sins in the exile. In the exile Israel is unable to offer sacrifices and they must simply cast themselves on the mercy of God (Childs, Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context, 160f.).]
Watke, Bruce and Cathi J. Fredericks. Genesis: A Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.
Kiuchi, Nobuyoshi “Leviticus.” In New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2000.
Robertson, O. Palmer. The Christ of the Prophets. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2004.
Childs, Brevard S. Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985.