There will be beauty

Comfort my people, oh comfort them, says your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her that her time of hard service has been completed. Reading Isaiah 40:1,2 in various versions I realize that the time of hard service has been completed not by this one beloved by God, but by another on her behalf. She is set free. How do I come to that conclusion? The parallel text comes just after: Her sin has been atoned for. This refers to a sacrifice of an unblemished lamb, say, or a scapegoat, that takes on all the wrongs, the crimes, of a person and lets that one go free: bail paid for, felonies wiped off the charts. It doesn’t make logical sense, but then grace is a ridiculous concept to many. A stumbling block. A goad to kick against until a rational being’s shoes wear out to bare feet and the person says, This kicking against goads is too hard. I might as well try a simpler way and listen to the heart of a comforting God. Make our future as glad as our past was hard, says the Song of Moses. There will be dancing, there will be beauty where beauty was ash and stone, this much I know, sings the band Casting Crowns.
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