'The Number 40'

Friday Reflection

19th June 2020

Interesting facts about the number 40 in the scriptures

There are certain numbers in scripture that hold significant importance.
Mentioned 146 times in Scripture,
the number 40 generally symbolises a period of testing, trial or probation.
It may be 40 days, 40 years or 400 years;
a time scale in which God brings about a major change.

In Genesis, after the disobedience of Adam and Eve bringing sin into God's perfect world,
God had to deal with the situation.
In the time of Noah he caused a flood to wipe out all the sinful nations, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights.
After this period of time a new period came into being as Noah and his family began again.
The exodus from Egypt,
when God took the Israelites from slavery and led them to the Promised Land,
fulfilled a promise God made to Abraham.
After 400 years of slavery it was time for a change.
God's people could start a new life in Canaan;
but before they could reach their destination,
they had to spend 40 years wandering in the wilderness.

During this time Moses spent two periods of 40 days up on the mountain
meeting with God receiving from him the Ten Commandments,
laws and other teachings.
It is interesting that King Saul reigned for 40 years as did David,
the greatest king the Israelites ever had;
likewise, his son Solomon, who built the Temple,
and Joash, who later repaired the Temple and brought the people of Israel back to God.
Other significant events in the Old Testament related to the number 40
Forty stripes was the maximum number allowed for anyone to be punished (Deut. 25:3).
After fleeing from Jezebel it took Elijah 40 days and nights to travel to Mount Horeb.
the mountain of God. (1 Kings 19:8)

Moses sent spies into the Promised Land
and they were there for 40 and 40 nights before returning
to give their report about the land (Numbers 13:25, 14:34).
When Israel disobeyed God,
He gave them over to their enemies for 40 years (Judges 13:1).
Isaac and Esau were both 40 years old when they married (Genesis 25:20, 26:34).
God, through Jonah, called the people of Nineveh to repentance
and gave then 40 days to bring about the change. (Jonah 3:4).
The holy place of the temple was 40 cubits long (1 Kings 6:17).
The period between the Old Covenant and the New was 400 years.

God was about to bring about the greatest change imaginable when his Son,
Jesus, came down from heaven to be born as a human being,
to live as we live, experiencing all the pleasures,
sorrows and pains that all humans experience.
The King of Glory would now reside on earth;
the one through whom and for whom all things were created and have their being.
After Jesus' baptism he was led into the wilderness where he spent 40 days and 40 nights
fasting and being tempted by the devil, but did not give in.
Moses also fasted in the wilderness for 40 days.

Jesus, just days before his crucifixion,
prophesied the total destruction of Jerusalem.
40 years after his crucifixion in 30 A.D.,
the mighty Roman Empire destroyed the city
and burned its beloved sacred temple to the ground.
After his crucifixion and resurrection Jesus appeared
to his disciples over a period of 40 days before ascending in heaven.

Whether or not the number 40 really has any significance is still debated;
many say that the number '40' just indicates a long period of time.
The facts are there, it's up to us to pray,
seek God's guidance and decide for ourselves.

The Bible definitely seems to use 40 to emphasize a spiritual truth,
but it must be pointed out that the Bible
nowhere specifically gives any special meaning to the number 40.

God does not call us to search for secret meanings,
hidden messages, or codes in the Bible.
There is more than enough truth in the plain words of Scripture
to meet all our needs and make us

"complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:17).