The Significance of the Number 40

The number forty is used by God to represent a period of testing or judgment (the length of time necessary to accomplish some major part of Gods plan in his dealings with various portions of mankind). The 40 days of rain in the days of the flood were the judgments of God. The 40 day periods of fasting, testing, and communing with God that were faced by Moses and Jesus were a form of God’s judgments. The forty years that the Israelites spent in the wilderness were also the judgments of God. Various leaders in Israel who reigned for 40 year periods were put there BY God according to His Will and Judgments. Egypt was left desolate for 40 years because of God’s judgments. I could go on and on, but I think these examples should suffice for now.

The maximum number of “stripes” allowed for punishment was 40. “Stripes” have to do with judgment (including God’s). See Luke 12:47-48. When God brings judgment upon His people, it may be rightly termed, “stripes”. When Peter states (about Jesus) “by whose stripes ye were healed” in 1 Peter 2:24, he is quoting from Isaiah 53:5 which is a prophecy concerning spiritual and not physical healing as many teach. Although physical healing from God is a wonderful blessing, spiritual healing is an even greater blessing. Our salvation is dependent on the fact that Jesus bore the stripes that you and I deserve to bear. In other words, Jesus’ bore the main force of the judgments that should come upon you and I as sinners. Isaiah’s prophecy shows the judgments of God were poured out upon Jesus for our healing.

Forty sons of a judge in Israel (Abdon), whose name means “servitude” represents the product or offspring of a judge who serves in Israel. Once again we see the number 40 used in connection with the subject of judgment.

There were ten lavers in Solomon’s temple, and each one contained 40 baths of liquid volume (over 350 gallons each). Do these have anything to do with judgment? Yes, because the water in the laver was symbolic of the word of God which “washes” us as followers of Christ today (Ephesians 5:26, Revelation 22:1-2).

I believe one of the easiest “40s” to use to illustrate this symbolism is the story of Noah and the flood. There are two basic forms of judgment that God sends forth. One is the type that He pours out upon the ungodly. This would be the kind we see illustrated in the flood, and also the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The other is the type that He sends upon His people in order to awaken them or bring them to a closer “walk” with Him.

We know that, in Noah’s day, the rainfall coming down from “heaven” had two different effects. Obviously, it was a destructive force as far as the lost were concerned. They were outside of the ark of safety, and therefore beyond any hope of survival. However, when the water hit the earth it raised the ark. Raising the ark heavenward symbolizes our being “lifted up to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). The same waters that destroyed the wicked also caused the people of God to be lifted up (thanks to the ark).

God poured His judgments upon the ark. He knew it would stand fast. It was built to His plans and specifications. Why would God require the people to build an ark if He did not plan on sending the same judgments upon it as he sent upon the people who were not in it? The Ark was a God given escape route from judgments which fell upon them all. The forty days and nights of the flood are symbolic of God’s judgments which fall primarily upon his people and the spiritual ark today. Even though the wicked drowned right away, God still had a purpose for the ark to go through the 40 day and night period in order to picture the spiritual type. The judgments of God had to fall upon even his true people, but He had provided a means which would save them from those judgments.

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About Seeing with Brahmin eyes
My sense of humor can be keen, sarcastic, silly or corny -- sometimes all at once. I enjoy meeting new people with no preconceived ideas about what or what is not possible. You get much more out of life by being open minded and willing. I'm an easy going, good-natured person who loves life and loves people. I'm both optimistic and realistic and pretty objective when it comes to assessing situations, events, etc. In general I am a very positive person and you'll usually find we with a smile on my face.

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