Fellow Passengers: This week’s Prophetic Passage (Isaiah 7:10-25) transports me to the hot sands of the Mexico-Arizona border region in the summer of 2006, where 130 US citizens start a 75-mile, 6-day walk through the desert from Sasabe, Mexico to Tuscon to raise awareness of immigration issues. My wife, Kim, participated in this 3rd annual Migrant Trail Walk as part of a Christian Peacemaker Team delegation, which joined the Coalición de Direchos Humanos (Coalition for Human Rights) and other advocacy groups calling for a more compassionate and Christ-like approach to our immigration policies. It was a hot, dry, and dusty six days, and while Kim had trained for weeks and was in amazing shape for the walk, the march still pushed her to the brink. She could not imagine how the families and children make the trek without the daily supplies of food and water and sunscreen and shelter. But despite the challenges, thousands are motivated by desperation to attempt the trek, and the reality is many do not make it, giving the desert walk the name “Gauntlet of Death.” And as citizens like those in CPT try to elevate the sense of compassion and mercy for the migrants, many more citizens join other advocacy and activist and vigilante groups like the Minutemen, working to secure the borders and keep the immigrants out at all costs. Some politicians want to emulate Ezra and Nehemiah’s approach of building walls, seen today in Israel’s West Bank Barrier and Gaza Strip Barrier (which not only keep the unwanted out, but have kept humanitarian aid from getting into some of these areas). Other politicians want to follow the model of Jesus, who “broke down the dividing walls” and they advocate for policies like the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, aka the DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for children brought across the border without documentation. Interestingly enough, given this week’s focus on dreams in the Daily Passages, the lame duck House passed the DREAM Act yesterday, but it is highly unlikely it will pass the Senate, so the children I know who would have benefited from the DREAM will once again return to the nightmare, the dread of deportation back to desperation.
It was really interesting for me to go back and read the prophetic source for Joseph’s dream that his betrothed would bear a child and he would be called Emmanuel, that is, God With Us. It comes from today’s passage, and Isaiah’s context is all about borders being breached and aliens invading the land. The prophet says that a virgin shall conceive Emmanuel, and before “God With Us” is halfway grown the landscape of world politics as they know it will change dramatically. In one of my favorite images in all of scripture, the prophet pictures God putting two fingers in the mouth to blow an ear-shattering whistle: The LORD will whistle for the flies. Because the people of the promised land have not kept their end of the promise, God will call for the enemy neighbors to cross the borders and occupy the land, like an army of flies or a swarm of bees. “God With Us” in Isaiah’s context could be translated “Despised Foreigners With Us.” God makes the borders porous and allows the aliens to cross as a means of restoring the land, and restoring the promise. The cultivated civilization will be laid to rest, so that the land will all return to pasture, with the cows and the bees having free reign. And once again, it will flow with milk and honey. The influx of illegal aliens is an instrument of God to bring all this about.
So here we live in what has long been thought of as the promised land of America. Could it be that the growing unrest and discontent and rage in our country is a sign that we have not lived up to our end of the promise? The height of irony could be that the very people who pray and sound the loudest call for a return to Judeo-Christian values, (those same people who pray and sound the loudest call to keep out the aliens), might get their first prayer answered in a prophetic way. God just might be whistling for the flies, and no wall we build and no vigilante force we muster will be enough to stop the influx. Could it be that Emmanuel, God With Us, could mean “Manuel the Mexican With Us” in these days? Could it be that “Undocumented Aliens With Us” is in reality God’s presence, God’s instrument to restore our land to pasture, so that the mild and honey will once again flow?
As always, your feedback and comments are welcome.