Sunday, July 7, 2019

Call to Fast, Pray, and Read Week Two

αλλάξουσιν ισχύν (Isaiah 40: 31)
in case the reader missed it, the next verse repeats it
αλλάξουσιν ισχύν (Isaiah 41:1)

For the God-awaiting, and for the rulers over them, and for the one who brings justice


It appears miniscule floating in the middle of all this white space. To Isaiah, it’s central.

Strength, Power, Might, Force, Ability, Am/Is/Are-ness

This hard-to-translate-into-English-because-of-its-layers-of-meaning word, The Book of Isaiah repeats 15 times over 13 chapters.

That’s hard to miss in the Greek.

Isaiah is a prophet of justice proclaiming a power that can bring to life his prophetic vision. God, as the source of this justice-achieving power, is able to imbue humans with it.


Gamers have a phrase-- Power Up. It refers to finding an object in a video game that gives the player an extra ability. It might be heftier firepower, stronger shields, longer life, greater speed, claiming objects that make the game easier to play and winning it more likely is a power up.

God’s power, according to Isaiah, is something along these lines. Isaiah is not describing a human power, such as force of personality or strength of intelligence, but instead Isaiah’s message conceives of God’s power as an in-addition-to and other-than our natural abilities.

“Renews their strength” is not an adequate translation of αλλάξουσιν ισχύν. “Adds another ισχύν” to those they already have, is closer to the Greek.

I’ve spent this week contemplating how I’ve been powered up by God in the past. What kept coming to mind is the number of times that God gave me the ability to love my enemies and pray for my persecutors. Definitely not a strength that comes to me naturally.

I admit to a certain amount of grumpiness that in the midst of justice-seeking discernment of UMC next steps, “love your enemies” is the lesson God imparted. Apparently, I needed reminding.

I suspect that the ισχύν given is different depending on the needs of the individual. God has given me love of enemies. What power is God imbuing you with that will aid the movement forward?

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