6A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.
Those great caravans that came up from southern Arabia and the horn of Africa, carrying precious goods from the regions we now know as Yemen and Somalia, the caravans that connected the world of the East to the Mediterranean, the gold and incense, spices and silks and exotic goods that transfixed Europe in many eras, the treasures that would eventually lead sailors across the Atlantic seeking a shorter route than around Cape of Good Hope – the prophet imagines that Jerusalem shall become their destination.
Jerusalem was not much to look at in the time the prophet spoke. It had none of its former grandeur. There was no royal palace. The city was not awash in gold and silver and bronze. The temple was a pale reflection of the one that had once graced this city.
There was no king of David’s line. The prophet Malachi will chastise the priests – and the people – for their half-hearted service of God, willing to bring lame and blemished animals for their sacrifices, offering God their second-hand stuff, leftovers rather than their first and best. Traditional churches are often awash in used TV’s and computers and such when people buy new for themselves.
It is to this city that the prophet speaks of its shining radiance. The glory of the LORD has risen upon it. The face of God shines upon it. All the world wanders in darkness, but here light shines. And the nations shall come. They will lay their riches at the feet of this city. They shall proclaim the praise of God.
But it is not to the city they come. It is to the presence of God in their midst. A city is just a city; a community in which God dwells is a light for the world.
So, also, the church. A church is just a church; a community where God dwells is light for the world.
And just so, a person. A person in whom God dwells is light for the world.