May 19, 2020, 6:00 PM

Well, something happens apparently when you turn forty, that’s what they say? Or is forty the new thirty? Or is forty half way till the end?

This Memorial Day I turn forty. I am lucky to have friends that have already turned forty and as one struggled in the process she mentioned that someone told her forty is a holy and lucky number. Really?

My favorite number is three; it was my high school soccer jersey number. Also the number of the Holy Trinity is the number three (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Numbers can have meaning in the Bible. Let’s look at three of the examples of forty in the Bible.

  1. FASTING
  1. Matthew 4:1-3 – The Temptation of Jesus - Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
  2. Exodus 34: 27-28 - The Lord said to Moses: Write these words; in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel. He was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
  3. 1 Kings 19:8 So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.

The above situations of fasting show the Lord’s powerful presence in the lives of his people. They abstained from something that was in between them and the Lord or they wanted to rid themselves of sin. What do you need to abstain from for the next forty years, or let’s try forty days so that you can better communion with your Lord and Savior?

  1. CHANGING
  1. Genesis 7:12 – The Great Flood – The rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
  2. Joshua 5:6 -  For the Israelites traveled forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the warriors who came out of Egypt, perished, not having listened to the voice of the Lord. To them the Lord swore that he would not let them see the land that he had sworn to their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey.
  3. Ezekiel 4:6 – The Siege of Jerusalem – When you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah; forty days I assign you, one day for each year.

The three situations mentioned here look at three different ways to repent. Noah and the Ark called those onto a boat. The Israelites wondered in the wilderness until the cleansing of those that did not listen had happened. In the siege of Jerusalem the Lord allows Ezekiel to act as a sign so that others may know God and God’s power. How has God acted in your life? Are there situations where you have been able to wonder or see him working in the mist of pain? How will you listen to God now or do you repeat the mistake like the Israelites?

  1. LOVING  
  1. Genesis 25:20 – and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddanaram, sister of Laban Aramean.
  2. Genesis 26:34 - When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite.
  3. Deuteronomy 9:18 - Then I fell down before the LORD for forty days and forty nights, as I had done the first time. I did not eat bread or drink water because of all the sin you had committed in doing what was evil in the LORD's sight and provoking Him to anger.

God provided for Isaac and Esau marriage at an older age for that culture. God is still providing for us. In Deuteronomy we see how Moses had to repent for forty days and nights because of the sin of the people. Should we take an inventory on ourselves so that we may not be led to repeat our sin in the next forty years? This may not sound loving, but God is love and sent his only son to die on the cross for our sin. Before he got to the cross Jesus was striped. Deuteronomy 25:3 lets us know that the maximum number allowed for anyone to be punished is forty stripes. The New Testament does not say how many stripes Jesus received. It is assumed that he was given thirty-nine because it was customary to give forty lashes minus one. It was done this way because it was assumed that forty or more lashes would kill someone.

In seminary I had a professor that told us we could not quote or recite John 3:16 without John 3:17. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Jesus took those stripes for me and for you. How will we follow Jesus, not just in number, but in ministry to all the world until Christ comes in final victory? The number forty shows me that maybe we need to look at fasting, seeking changes, and loving others as Christ loved us. Pretty sure it does not matter what age you are, but forty might be a good age to take inventory and continue to seek grace given to us through the Holy Spirit by our Loving God through the son our Savior Jesus Christ.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)