Recently an American archaeologist, Arthur Demerest, was in Guatemala walking across what he thought was a hill. He fell through the heavy vegetation and nearly fell in to the courtyard of an ancient Mayan palace covering 26,000 square yards -- the size of two football fields.

The ruins are littered with jade, and there is abundant evidence that this was a large, wealthy and powerful city. There are no signs of warfare, and yet the city was abandoned centuries ago and fell into ruin. No one knew it was there until Demerest literally stumbled upon it. Now it joins a list of lost cities: Tikal also in Guatemala, Angkor in Cambodia, Herculaneum in Italy, Cihuatan in El Salvador and Petra in Jordan.

All these were once great cities; then they fell into ruin and were forgotten until fairly recent times. Each is a sobering reminder that "crowns and thrones perish, kingdoms rise and wane." Each stands in stark contrast to "the New Jerusalem that shall not pass away."