One of the most inspiring lessons we did in Sunday School was on the New Jerusalem, the spectacular golden city. "Wow" does not begin to describe that city! You will find the golden city in the Book of Revelation chapter 21. I told the kids we would make the golden city, and they were so excited to join in our project.
First I told them all about the golden city – that the apostle John actually saw it coming down out of heaven from God. It happened when he was an old man exiled on the Isle of Patmos. It was shining like a diamond, just blazing with beauty. The size was 1400 miles on each side of a square – the size of about half ofAmerica!
It had 12 gates, three each side, with an angel by each gate and over each entrance was the name of one of the 12 tribes of Israel.
It had 12 foundations, all bejewelled with sparkling precious stones, and each foundation was emblazoned with the name of one of the 12 apostles.
This really shows how the roots of our faith came via the Jews. God worked through a nation He Himself founded through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the 12 sons of Jacob. And we fortunate Christians get grafted in! You couldn’t make it up! If you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died for our sins and rose from the dead, you are among the most privileged people on the planet, for you will live in that golden city.
Getting back to Sunday School, I had brought along a roll of wall lining paper which is very cheap, just £3 at a DIY store, and we laid out a long horizontal strip of it on the floor. We all got down on our hands and knees to work on it. I had scriptures already typed out in big type telling about the golden city. Some of the kids pasted the scriptures on the poster.
I drew a big outline of a square with some turrets and tower shapes at the top, just showing one side, with three big arches for gates, and over each we pasted the name of a tribe of Israel, with Judah in the middle, since Jesus came from the tribe of Judah.
We pasted the names of the 12 apostles on one side of the poster, and they put 12 different colour lines for the foundations.
Then we glammed it all up with glitter and fake jewels of many colours. I got the jewels at the Pound Shop in England, just £1 each for a page full of beautiful stick-on phony gems.
While they worked to make the city as glittery and glowing as we could, I also told them about Abraham, and how God called him from ancient Iraq to go to a land he had never seen. The book of Hebrews tells us that Abraham was “looking for a city…whose builder and maker was God.” Hebrews 11:9,10
Abraham (4000 B.C.) never saw the city in his life, but 2,000 years later, the apostle John saw it! Amazing! God’s Bible is so wonderful, full of wonders!
This lesson had been fermenting in my mind in the weeks before the Sunday School, and I had asked the Lord for a song about the golden city. I plonked around on the piano and strummed my guitar, but I just wasn’t getting one.
So the week leading up to my turn at Sunday School, I was driving and said: “Lord, it’s coming up now, and I still don’t have a song.” Suddenly the word “Abraham” came into my mind.
I thought: “Abraham? What’s he got to do with it? He’s in the Old Testament, Lord, and I’m going to teach from the New Testament.” Then I remembered: "Isn't there something about Abraham looking a city not made with hands?" When I got home I looked it up in my Bible and there it was in Hebrews Chapter Eleven, the great roll of faith. Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, who left his pagan nation and went in obedience to God to a land he did not know. And that strange phrase "looking for a city" - I had never understood it, but suddenly the light dawned. The wonderful city that he never found, but which he knew by faith, the city that the apostle John saw 2000 years later, the city that is in Heaven, but will one day come down from Heaven - the city that God Himself will live in, where the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus, is the light.
So when I got home I sat down at the piano and plonked around again, this time thinking about Abraham. Two verses just came. Later I got a chorus to go with it. Then I understood – the Old and New Testaments like two hands folding together, God's Word in the Bible, seamless. The prophecy to Abraham 4000 years ago; John actually saw it 2000 years ago, but it is still future even now, not here yet, but boy oh boy, it is coming!
I wish I could get the song on the web, but that is beyond me at the moment, and anyway I can’t sing very well. Here are the words:
Abraham was looking for a city, looking for a city not made with hands
4000 years ago he was looking for a city, looking for a city not made with hands.
John was on an island when he saw the city, saw the golden city not made with hands
John saw it shining, coming down from Heaven, saw the golden city not made with hands.
City of Gold, it’s the City of God,
Jesus is the way, the one and only way
Put your faith in Jesus, don’t let your love grow cold
And join His family in the City of Gold
Dear readers, God bless you all and I hope someone can bless their children with this lesson God gave me. I’m sorry I don’t have the original poster to show you, but we also did some little golden cities drawn with felt tips and glittered up on paper plates. That way they had something to take home.
We also made little Golden City Passports. This was card folded to make 4 small pages. The top page said “Passport” and bottom of page said “Our citizenship is in Heaven. Philippians 3:20." I left space in the middle for the kids to put their own decoration ideas, and they came up with some lovely designs.
Page 2 & 3 inside they pasted things I had printed out. Page 2 said “Jesus died for me. He was buried and rose on the third day." Page 3 said “I put my trust in Jesus to forgive all my sins."
Page 4, back page said “Name…….is a citizen of Heaven” with a blank space for them to write their own name if they agreed with pages 2 and 3.
We talked about – did we really believe Page 2 and could we really do Page 3? Then they could add their names on Page 4 – which they all did.
Can you agree with Pages 2 and 3, dear reader? Will God write your name on the Golden City Passport? He certainly will if you put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, the one and only way (John 14).