40 days. That’s how many days Jesus was on the earth between His resurrection and ascension. That’s also how many days Jesus fasted and prayed while being tempted at the beginning of His ministry. So His ministry on earth begins and ends with distinct 40 day periods. It makes me wonder… is there any significance to that number?
The number 40 shows up many times in the Bible.
It’s mentioned 146 times in scripture.
Moses lived 40 years in Egypt and then 40 years in the desert before his burning bush experience.
Moses was on Mount Sinai 40 days and nights receiving God’s Law.
Moses sent the spies into the land God had promised Israel for 40 days.
Jonah, after being spewed out by a large fish, preached in Nineveh for 40 days.
Ezekiel laid on his right side for 40 days to symbolize Judah’s sins.
Elijah went 40 days without food or water on Mount Horeb.
The children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.
Othniel, Deborah, Barak, Eli and Gideon all ruled as Judges over Israel for 40 years.
The first three Kings of Israel- Saul, David and Solomon- each ruled for 40 years.
God flooded the earth by having it rain for 40 days and nights.
After Jocob died in Egypt, they spent 40 days embalming his body.
And interestingly, the Bible was written by 40 different authors.
40. What’s the big deal? In Jesus’ ministry, the number 40 represents the Priority of Preparation.
After His baptism, Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness are a period of preparation. His first 30 years had been preparation, but these 40 days are set apart from the 30 years as unique. It’s now begun. The Father has announced it, the Spirit has confirmed it, John the Baptist has heard it. It’s Go Time!
That initial 40 day period would be one of trial and temptation, a period of humility and submission.
Jesus is now sent.
The final 40 days would also be an initial period of preparation… for the disciples. Yes, John the Baptist had prepared the way, and then Jesus had spent 3 years preparing them. But just as the Baptism marked an official starting point to Jesus public ministry, the Resurrection would mark an official starting point to the next phase of Jesus public ministry… through His disciples. Everything before seemed to build up to the crucifixion. Now, from the point of the Resurrection, their work without Him by their side would soon begin. Everything was in place. The Spirit would come.
This final 40 day period would be one of affirmation and confirmation for the disciples.
Jesus sends them.
“Go and make disciples!”
“Go and preach the gospel!”
“Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached among all nations.”
“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the most distant places on earth.”
It’s Go Time!
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