Word for the day: “Significance of Forty”

Matthew 4: (NIV) Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Have you ever noticed the significance of the number forty in Scripture? Moses worked as a shepherd forty years before God called him to lead the Israelites from captivity. Moses was atop Mount Sinai forty days receiving the covenant God made with the Israelites after redeeming them from bondage. God led His people in the wilderness for forty years of testing before entering the Promised Land. Jesus was tested in the wilderness forty days before beginning His public ministry. And it rained forty days and forty nights when Noah built the ark.

As you can see, it’s not only the number forty that’s significant, but the events that this number helped to define. Each event is a period of passage and transition, in the unfolding of God’s gracious and redemptive activity. The number forty has long been universally recognized as an important number, both on account of the frequency of its occurrence, and the uniformity of its association with a period of probation, trial, and chastisement of God’s people.

The number 40 is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8). This is certainly the case where Forty relates to a period of evident probation. But where it relates to enlarged dominion, or to renewed or extended rule, then it does so in virtue of its factors 4 and 10, and in harmony with their signification.

Are you in a period of passage? We’re all living through seasons of life if not specific, shorter transitional phrases in life. It’s the way God designed it. Every end is a new beginning. The number 40 is mentioned 146 times in the Bible. The number points to or symbolizes trial and testing, or probation. Make the most of it at this time in your life by making God your ultimate choice and lover of your soul.

Elder Baker

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