A friend recently asked me, “How do you reconcile the different images we're given of a kingdom, a bride, a dance, and the Old Testament sacrifices? I guess the first three can sort of be reconciled, but it's hard to get a coherent picture out of all of this. I read Michael Horton's critique of the idea that salvation wasn't a legal issue as much as it was a health issue. As much as I love the trinity, I find some of these ideas as less obvious in scripture than the reformed interpretations.”
My response: Good question!
Images of the Kingdom are about the fulfillment of God's community, the reconciling of all peoples at God's table, living within God’s peaceable kingdom as the fulfillment of an expectation that goes back at least to David.
The Bride is also about the fulfillment of God's community in the language of covenant relations toward which we are drawn to feast at the great banquet and then in the life of intimacy that follows.
The Dance is also about the fulfillment of God's community, first as the Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son (perichoresis) and then we enter the dance as we are in Christ and He is in us. This is also the language of the life of intimacy and recursion (have you read my article?)
Old Testament sacrifice is also about the fulfillment of God's community. Atonement is making at-one that which is fractured. On the Day of Atonement, the most holy person, the high priest, enters the most holy place, the holy of holies, and speaks the most holy word, the name of Yahweh. All Israel sees herself in the High Priest (symbolized in the breastplate) going in as a mediator to restore intimacy and a forgiven community. The outcome is a restored community at one with God in grace and forgiveness that creates renewed intimacy.
Each of the sacrifices is realistic in acknowledging the alienation of sin on our relating to God and one another. All envision an overcoming of shame and a return to loving community. This is especially true of the shalamim offering. Part is offered to God to eat (burned); the rest is shared with friends and family to celebrate the fellowship and peace that is the outcome of God's gracious community.
I have not read a lot of Michael Horton, so I cannot critique or comment on his views. But I do think it is about health as the proper function of the people of God in restored relation acting out that love in the community and world. Our modern legal thinking should not be transposed back on that time. I do think that guilt, shame, and a clean conscience are not as time-bound.
The Triune life of God is the life of the Kingdom lived in heaven for which we pray that it come to earth. The Triune life of God is God’s husbanding to embrace his bride in fulfilled intimacy. The Triune God lives the Dance of God that acts from eternity to eternity and invites humanity to participate that our joy may be full in that koinonia. The Triune God is the self-sacrificing God who fulfills the sacrificial system, offers forgiveness and restoration, and reconciles the world in acts of atonement.
The Trinity makes sense of it all ...