Summary: In the midst of the busyness of humanity, and their journey to nowhere, God makes an astounding promise.

Soon It Will Be Christmas Day – Part 1

December 9, 2001


The popular Christmas song, “Silver Bells,” begins with the familiar words, “City sidewalks, busy sidewalks.”

That picture is certainly accurate at Christmas time. The city sidewalks are busy sidewalks filled with holiday shoppers. The parking lots are full. The stores are crowded. I haven’t been out shopping yet, but I’ve heard from many who have that it’s still busy out there this year. Even as we were entering this post September 11 recession, a number of stores are recording record high sales. People, people and more people. Each one on a mission. Many in a hurry. Some bumping into one another. Few without holiday stress.

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks.”

The picture is also accurate globally. Cities are growing larger.

According to research done by Johns Hopkins University,

In 1950 2/3 of the world’s population lived in rural areas. Today, nearly half of the world’s 6 billion people live in cities. By 2030 the urban population will reach 4.9 billion—60% of the world’s population. Nearly all population growth will be in the cities of developing countries, whose population will double to nearly 4 billion by 2030—about the size of the developing world’s total population in 1990. (Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health,

So the sidewalks of the world are busier than ever. People, people, people. More and more people.

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks.”

I wonder though, to play off the title of a Shel Silverstein book, Where does the sidewalk end? If the sidewalks are busy, where is everyone going?

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks.”

The picture is accurate metaphorically.

Some want the sidewalk to end at success

Others want to accumulate along the way

Some are out to see the sights

Others just love being in a crowd

Still others are hoping the sidewalk will get them home.

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks.

The entire human population on the way to their individual destinations. Busy, industrious, active, technologically savvy, overloaded with information, and still searching for significance.

The city of Jerusalem could have been said to have some busy walkways around 735 B.C. It was a thriving city – well populated – the capital of the nation of Judah – and led by a king from the family line of the great King David. This current king’s name was Ahaz.

Ahaz, however, was not a good man. The book of 2 Kings says he worshipped idols, going so far as to sacrifice his own son in the fire. If the kings from the family of David were to produce the perfect king or usher in the golden age, they had failed miserably, and Ahaz was a prime example of that failure.

Looking at the story in Isaiah 7, we find that the political situation surrounding Jerusalem was becoming volatile. The nearby countries of Syria and Israel had formed an alliance and sought to conquer Jerusalem. So God sent the prophet Isaiah to speak to Ahaz. God’s message: Don’t be afraid. You will not be defeated. And then in rather uncharacteristic fashion, God says to Ahaz through Isaiah (v. 10), “Ahaz, ask me for a sign.”

Similar to when Gideon asked God for a sign, so he could make sure he was walking in God’s will. You see, Ahaz was considering a treaty of his own with Assyria, which God did not want him to do. So the opportunity remains open for Ahaz to affirm his faith and act as a believer. Basically, God says, “Ask me for a sign so you can believe I will protect you.”

Ahaz says (v. 12), “No, I won’t put God to the test.” Pious sounding words, that really say, “No, I won’t believe God.”

I want to go about it my own way. I’ll scheme to make a back room alliance with the most vicious army of all time. I’ll strive keep up my practices as an idol worshipper. Maybe I’ll even aspire to become more powerful as a king in the process, but, no, I won’t trust God with the fate of the city of Jerusalem.

Oh, city sidewalks, busy sidewalks filled with scheming, striving and scurrying.

Big Idea: But, in the midst of the busyness of humanity and their journey to nowhere, God makes an astounding promise. In words first given through Isaiah to Ahaz, it is a promise that will free us from a life dominated by busyness, if we embrace it.

Isaiah 7:14

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

TRANSITION: The promise is called a sign here. Let me point out a few things about the sign. #1…


Ahaz wouldn’t ask God for a sign – he displayed unbelief.

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Michael Sims

commented on Nov 29, 2006


Bill Scott

commented on Dec 9, 2014

Great job

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