The punishment that we see in scripture especially in the ending of the age took place as a “state of consciousness” in the ending of the law.
The catastrophic events surrounding this “punishment” simply provided the back drop for the play.
It was their “conscience” that was judged.
I have learnt from Barry Dupont his preterist view of the punishment in the context and audience relevance of AD70 at the end of old covenant age. I find this interpretation makes sense because all the while, the Jews were under the law mindset, which had to do with reward and punishment, and they projected that mindset onto their god, thinking he did it on them. We know that Jesus came to renew their mind to tell them God is not like that as He is a loving and gracious Father. He warned them to change their mind because he knew the Romans would soon destroy the Jerusalem temple in their generation, and they would mistakenly think it was their god punishing them.
Like what Barry said, it was their conscience condemning them when that happened. In fact, the writer of Hebrews was trying to help them to understand they were no more under the law system and they should have no more consciousness of sins in the new covenant since the true God (their highest self) does not record or remember their sins. Where there is no law, there is no imputation of sin, therefore sin is only a religious concept in the Jewish old covenant theology. In the new covenant, everyone is under grace, so the good news is all about seeing ourselves as beloved, complete and innocent. In reality, there is no reward or punishment. There is only Christ consciousness.
“In your presence there is fullness of joy (when we see face to face our true perfection and beauty in the mirror of our Beloved), at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16)
The good news is that religion ended in AD70 in the Jewish context, as symbolised by the destruction of the Jerusalem temple. There would be no more sacrifice, no more sin consciousness, no more performance-based living, no more illusion of separation of God, and no more guilt, fear, shame, self-loathing and condemnation.
It reminds me of Galatians 3:13 – Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law (or religion) through his death on the cross, and in his resurrection (together with all of us) we receive the blessings of the everlasting covenant with him – peace, wholeness, joy, abundance of favour, health and longevity, goodness and love chasing us down all the days of our life as we dwell in Christ consciousness forever.
There is no going back to religion which has to do with a separation mindset which puts people in bondage to fear and condemnation. Freedom from religion is so precious for our inner peace and overall wellbeing.
The cross is about oneness, not payment. I guess the penal substitution theory of the cross appeals to the ego to those who subscribe to it because the ego feeds on the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The ego’s motto is “an eye for an eye”, but we know that is not Love’s motto. Love keeps no records of wrongs, so payment isn’t necessary. Besides, we are already innocent and perfect.
“Much of Christian theology has been used to induce guilt and shame. ‘You are so bad that Jesus had to die on the cross. The bloodier and more painful the death serves to demonstrate the depth of your depravity. You deserve all that beating. But Jesus took it for you.’ That is default Christianity. I call it spiritual abuse.”
I think the theology of blood sacrifice needs interrogation not only because it mischaracterises God but also there are more resources available, thanks to the internet, that help people understand the original Bible languages and Hebrew or Jewish culture better. People are more well informed and the Bible is no longer left to the authorities to interpret for the masses. People are waking up and questioning doctrines and traditions. All that is a good thing, and I am glad to see those who are awakening making use of Good Friday to address and challenge the penal substitution theory of the cross.