Mark Driscoll is correct; Jesus fulfils the ritual system: the shapes and colours of the Yom Kippur festival are focused and made vivid in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
These shapes and colours are not, however, those of penal substitution.
Jesus as fulfilment of Yom Kippur
The bull and first goat are not substitutionary, and it is not God’s wrath that is poured out upon the animals instead of upon the Israelites. The animals are sacrificed to retrieve the blood, which represents life, which is needed to purge the impurity from the holy places, thus allowing the presence of God to dwell. In the New Testament Writings a continuation of the purpose and symbolism of the Hebrew Scriptures is seen through Jesus (cf. Matthew 5:17; Colossians 2:16-17).
Yes, Jesus has dealt with sin, but it should not simply be reduced to him dying; There is much more depth and symbolism in how and whyhis death was so powerfully atoning.
A superseding of the Levitical ritual system was necessary, and indicated in the Hebrew Scriptures: The Psalms indicate the Davidic king/ coming Messiah, will be of the order of Melchizedek (ps 110:4); The writings of Jeremiah indicate a new Law is to be written on peoples hearts (Jer 31:30-34).
Jesus as High Priest, by his obedience, has entered into the Heavenly Tabernacle, and inaugurates the anticipated New Covenant. This is achieved by the unique nature of his sacrifice.
A Perfect High Priest: Willingly Entering The Heavenly Tabernacle
The Levitical High Priest was human and held back by personal sin. To be able to oversee and enact the festival of Yom Kippur he had need to purify himself and the priestly tribe.
Jesus, however, being ‘holy, faultless, unstained, beyond the very reach of sin and lifted to the very Heavens’ (Heb 7:26) becomes for humanity the perfect High Priest, not needing to be purified. He shows his perfection through his wilful obedience and endurance of suffering: obedient as the Son of God under oath, not under the Law as a Levite.
Jesus perfect and willing sacrifice enables a unique High Priestly privilege.
He does not gain entry to minister in the sanctuary of the Earthly Tabernacle of the Law. Jesus, as High Priest, ministers in the Heavenly Tabernacle, of which the former is a mere foreshadowing. Jesus does not merely enter into the Earthly Sanctuary, but into the Heavenly throne room. And not that he should be required to be a sacrifice year after year, limited to entry to the Sanctuary once yearly. Jesus’ perfect sacrifice is once, for all time, as a superseding of the Levitical system. Being the eternal Son of God, he is our perpetual High Priest in the presence of God the Father; There is no requirement for a Levitical lineage from which to elect a High Priest.
A Perfect Sacrifice: Once For All
1] Bearing the Burden of Sin
Jesus bore our sins as he carried the cross out of Jerusalem. Mirroring the Yom Kippur ritual, he left the order of the city, moving away from the central Sanctuary, and went out into the wilderness, into chaos. Jesus, though blameless, carries the guilt of our sin in its entirety. So heavy is the burden of the guilt of sin, and so crushing on the covenantal relationship between God and humanity, Jesus calls out from the cross “Father, why have you forsaken me?” In that moment, Jesus embodied the tragedy of the effect of sin on the covenant relationship.
That Jesus bore or carried our sin is attested in 1Peter 2:24, and that he had to leave the city in Hebrews 13:11-13.
2] Sacrificed through death
Sacrifice was effectual in the Levitical system because of the blood, in which was found life; it has the power to purify. The freely offered blood of Jesus, as the Holy Son of God, holds far greater purifying power. This purifying power in his blood is strong enough to inaugurate and sustain the New Covenant.
The First Covenant required continual animal sacrifices to allow the High Priest annual entry into the Earthly Sanctuary. Jesus does not need to continually die as a sacrifice. His perfect sacrifice and unmatchable purifying blood granted him entry into the Heavenly Tabernacle.
As God incarnate, Jesus is unique: His Godly eternal nature means he may remain there indefinitely; His acquired human nature means he can intercede on behalf of humanity, having endured temptation.
Signs Of The The New Covenant: Dwelling Within His People
Jesus’ death enacted, empowers, and sustains the New Covenant. He takes position as the perfect High Priest, seated in the Heavenly Sanctuary at the right hand of the Father. His position is vindicated by his perfect sacrifice, the unmatched power in his blood, and his assumption of humanity in bodily form and temptation.
The Gospels record the curtain splitting in the Temple at the point of Jesus’ death on the cross. God’s presence no longer dwells in the Earthly Sanctuary, and it ceases to be the locus of a priestly mediation of the Covenantal relationship between God and his people.
The First Covenant has ended, and has been replaced by the superior New Covenant.
By entering into the New Covenant, by accepting the cleansing power and divine mediation of Jesus, we receive what Jesus had promised: the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the law written on our hearts. We no longer follow the Law of the First Covenant. We have perpetual access to God the Father, and a much greater transformation: Not by the limited Law, but by the dynamic Spirit, bringing freedom.
This receiving of the Holy Spirit, however, is a deposit: The first portion and blessing of the New Covenant. The power of sin has been broken, and the way to God the Father has been opened. We now await the full outworking of the New Covenant. A promise already made visible in Jesus: the final removal of the power of death, and the receiving of perfect resurrection bodies as part of the renewed creation.
The First Covenant was a sign of
The New Covenant in Jesus’ blood is a sign of