The Number 40

June 2018

Some people may assume by the title of this article that this is going to be about numerology. 


Let me address that concern up front. 


First, Bible numerology, codes or secret meanings behind words or numbers does not exist in Church of God (7th Day) doctrines or teachings. 


Second, numerology, or a code, is not the method the Lord uses to teach us His instructions on how to live a Christ-led life and obtain individual salvation.  Bible truths come from simple, straightforward, inspired words of Scripture. 


Timothy says it best: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (II Timothy 3:16). Note this verse says nothing about hidden meanings or fanciful interpretations.  


The number 40 is used 146 times in the Bible (KJV) both literally and symbolically. It seems that God has chosen the number 40 to help emphasize times of trial, testing, consecration, reigns, trouble, hardship, chastisement, probation, purification and fulfillment. 


Historically (outside of Bible texts), 40 would be a memorable number to readers, as 40 weeks is the average length of a human baby gestation. 


Another historical example, supported by Bible text, is that God calls 40 years a “generation” (Numbers 32:13).  


Forty is a large number, but remember, Scriptures do not provide any significant meaning to this number. 


Below are a few other Bible verses using this number 40: 


 • The rains (in the epic of Noah’s Ark) fell for 40 days and nights (Genesis 7:4)

 

• After the Flood waters had receded, Noah waited another 40 days to open the window of the Ark (Genesis 8:6) 


• Israel ate Manna for 40 years (Exodus 16:35) 


• Moses was on Mount Sinai with God for 40 days and nights (Exodus 24:18)


• God allowed the land to rest for 40 years (3 times) (Judges 3:11) (Judges 5:31) (Judges 8:28)


• God gave the nation of Israel to their enemy, the Philistines, for 40 years (Judges 13:1) 


• Eli judged Israel for 40 years (I Samuel 4:18) 


• Saul, David and Solomon reigned over Israel for 40 years each (Acts 13:21) (II Samuel 5:4) (I Kings11:42) 


• The Temple, built by Solomon, was 40 cubits long (I Kings 6:17) 


• 40 baths (measurement of about 230 gallons) was the size of lavers (basins) in the Temple (I Kings 7:38) 


• Egypt to be laid desolate for 40 years  (Ezekiel 29:11-12)


• In the book of Jonah, God gave Nineveh 40 days to repent (Jonah 3:4) 


• Jesus fasted 40 days & nights in the wilderness and was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:2) 


• After his resurrection, Jesus was on the earth 40 days (Acts 1:3)  


The various uses of the number 40 is associated with a period of time with spiritual significance to certain memorable events. By comparing Scriptures, numbers and passages, we can always rely on these divinely inspired, written words of God to reveal old truths with the assistance of the Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:21).  


At times, there are relationships and patterns to numbers. However, we should be careful not to go beyond obvious quantitative values. Seeking meanings that do not exist, is speculative and wrong. Furthermore, mathematicians can find patterns in most large groups of numbers, as found in the Bible. 


That just confirms the obvious: Our Bible uses a lot of numbers and numbers will have patterns. In closing, remember to follow Scripture,  not lead it.    By David Royer