This all foreshadowed the realities that Jesus later brought to pass and anticipated the eternal atonement Jesus would make by his self-offering to God on the cross. The white linen spoke of purity and common humanity. Though deity incarnate, Jesus was fully man, and he went to the cross having kept God’s laws perfectly and having lived in absolute covenant faithfulness to God.
The word for the Mercy Seat in the Greek Old Testament was hilasterion, the “Propitiation,” a word combining the ideas of appeasement and reconciliation. By offering himself, symbolized in the shedding of his blood on the Cross, Jesus accomplished propitiation for all who will ever be saved, whether they lived before Jesus or since. Since Jesus had no sins of his own, his self-sacrifice was effective for all time and needed offering only once in human history.
As the Scapegoat symbolically carried Israel’s sins into the wilderness, Jesus removed forever the guilt of sin from all those whom he represented. As the High Priest went into the Most Holy Place into God’s symbolic presence, Jesus rose from death then ascended into heaven into the actual presence of God where he intercedes for his people. As the High Priest finally came out from the Most Holy Place to the forgiven people, Jesus will return some day from heaven to receive all his waiting people, whether still living or raised back from death.