In 2008 I went to Israel for the first time with my husband Richard. One of the sights I was enthralled with was the view of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount from the Mt of Olives and the fact that Jesus would be returning to that same place one day.
Acts 1:10-12 NKJV And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey.
We kept going back to the viewing platform a few times during that first trip. Before we left Israel I decided to design and make a mosaic of memorable churches and sites in Jerusalem and Jesus return to the Mt of Olives. It was an ambitious project as I had only started dabbling in mosaics a few years earlier.
On my return I sketched out a plan of my mosaic with a few biblical sites and churches but left the top third of the mosaic blank as I had no idea how to depict Christ’s return. Richard got a piece of 1.8m by 1.2m board for me, I drew my plan onto the board, prepped the board and then set about finding limestone mosaics that were the same size as glass mosaics. I drew a blank here, got busy with other things amongst them The OTRF and stopped work on the mosaic.
I started going to Israel with Julia in 2010 and although I talked and thought about the mosaic I didn’t do much about it. In 2013 after repeatedly being teased by my family that Jesus would return before I finished the mosaic, I set about trying to find limestone mosaics. I found a supplier and started working on the mosaic. Although I did have a plan for the mosaic, it changed and evolved with each trip to Israel that I did with Julia.
On one memorable trip Julia took me to the Golden Gate also known as The East Gate or the Messiah’s Gate. As we stood at the sealed gate, surrounded by Muslim graves and looking out onto the Kidron Valley and up into The Mt of Olives Julia explained that when Jesus came for the Feasts, he would come down the Mt of Olives, across the valley and walk up through the gate to the temple courtyard ( Luke 19 v28-48).
The gate was walled up by the Ottomans in the 1530’s and a cemetery was placed in front of it. Many believe this was done to prevent the Jewish Messiah from entering the city as it was foretold in the scriptures. Ezekiel 44:1-3 NKJV Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces toward the east, but it was shut. And the LORD said to me, “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the LORD God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut. As for the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go out the same way.”
Julia and I stood among the graves and spoke about the day the Messiah will come back with all the saints, walk down the Mt of Olives, up the cemetery, through the gate and into the temple forecourt. As we paused and reflected on this I had a vivid picture of Jesus marching victoriously up the cemetery and through the gates onto the Temple Mt. It was a powerful moment for both of us. I then had to have the Golden Gate in my mosaic.
2014/2015 was quite a difficult and emotional year for me in more ways than one. A very good friend was terminally ill, a lot was happening in our family and I struggled with various emotions and guilt. I felt I was far from God and that I was not hearing from Him. Throughout this period I spent quite a bit of time working on the mosaic. Although a part of me felt far from God, I felt at total peace whenever I was working on the mosaic. In mid 2015 I felt an urgency to finish the mosaic and the last verse in Revelations kept coming back to me as I worked on it. Revelation 22:20-21 NKJV
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
As I put the finishing touches to the mosaic in December 2015 I realised that God had been speaking to me throughout the planning and designing. He gave me the verses, guided my choice of colours, ideas and even where I placed sites.
He was speaking to me in a different way at a different season. He will never leave us or forsake us.