It was with patience and determination that the Hebrew Children marched around the walls of Jericho seven times before it fell. It wasn’t until Naaman obeyed the Prophet Elisha and resolutely dipped himself into the Jordan River seven times that he was healed of his leprosy. And in this passage, it was a persistent and tenacious Prophet Elijah that prayed seven times before the rain came and ended the drought. The number seven doesn’t matter here as much as the idea of not giving up! For all these examples show that perseverance pays off in the end, and that God rewards the single-minded.
Zacchaeus was the Chief Tax Collector in Jericho. A much hated puppet of the Roman government who regularly exploited and gouged his own people. But Zacchaeus had heard of this man Jesus and wanted to get a closer look…so he decided to do something completely undignified for man of his position…he climbed a tree. He climbed a tree for the practical reason that he was a short man in a sea of people…but, as the old saying goes, “to be up a tree” could be fitting for him also. When someone is “up a tree” they are in a difficult situation without a way of escape. Could Zacchaeus had sensed the hopelessness and desperation in his soul as Jesus approached? As Jesus came near the tree, He looked up, called Zacchaeus by name, and invited Himself to his house in one short interaction…but this encounter changed everything for Zacchaeus. For the seeker now had been sought by the Savior, and his life would be changed forever.
Jericho was a formidable Canaanite city, filled with smug, godless people who weren’t afraid of this Israelite army or their God. And then we have Joshua and his troops, who were simply obeying the Lord by dutifully marching around Jericho for six days. But on that seventh day, God’s display of miraculous power had a two-fold purpose. First to the idol worshiping people of Jericho, the Lord’s judgment was pronounced in one explosive moment as the walls fell. Secondly, as the Jewish people shouted, they watched in awe as Jericho became a heap of rubble before them…demonstrating that God was in control, He was abiding by His covenant with them, and that nothing was impossible when they trusted in Him .
The enemy people of Jericho were entrenched in a formidable stronghold, with walls that had held back warring nations in the past, so they must have watched with amusement as the Jews walked silently around the city for six days. But come that seventh day there was excitement and anticipation in the Jewish camp…God had promised that He would turn Jericho over to their control, and they were eager to see how He would accomplish this feat. The destruction of those massive walls started with “trumpet blasts” from the Priests… those words also meaning thrusting a sword or a spear. Those sounds were used like a weapon in God’s hand to initiate the destruction of the walls. But it was when Joshua ordered the once silent people to give a mighty war cry, that the deafening sound reverberated off those walls, and they came tumbling down.