Today’s Old Testament lesson is the famous account of the Israelites taking the city of Jericho. The LORD gave his people the unusual instructions of marching around the city once each day for six days. On the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times and then give a loud shout and the walls would come down. The Israelites followed the command to the letter and, as a result, saw a great work of God.
There are two words in this text that are repeated frequently and stand out: “seven” and “shout.” Seven priests with seven trumpets march around the city seven times on the seventh day. And the people were not just to shout on that seventh day – they were to give a great big ol’ shout together.
The number seven shows up a lot in the Scriptures. Maybe it is God’s favorite number. Whenever we see the number seven it is in reference to something God is up to. The Psalmist makes a reference to seven in Psalm 119:164 and says, “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.” The ancient Israelites took this verse literally and seriously by instituting a daily offering each and every day of prayer and worship and spaced it out over the course of a twenty-four hour time period. The early church continued the practice, and even today many liturgical traditions still hold to the “Daily Office” which are seven distinct times in the day (and night) of intentionally connecting with God.
In our contemporary evangelical climate of once-a-day quiet times (if that!) perhaps we need to re-connect with the number seven. Maybe we would see God do the miraculous if we committed to prayer to the degree that the ancient Israelites were attentive to it, and to meticulously following God’s instructions. And maybe if we followed our prayers with a great shout together that was a confident expression of faith in God we would see the LORD do mighty works in our lives and in our churches.
O God, seven times a day I come to you. Surround my enemies and bring them down so that Your great promises will be fulfilled in and through my life to the glory of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.