The number 40 is a very intriguing number. It shows up 146 times in Scripture and it seems like it has 40 purposes. Testing, trial, probing, correction, warning, encouraging… it is likely we don’t even know all of God’s reasons behind the repetitive use of this number. For brevity sake, I won’t list every occurrence, but here are a few uses of this number as they appear in Scripture:
~ The rain fell on the earth for 40 days and nights while the family of Noah were safely aboard the Ark.
~ Moses spent 40 years in Egypt, 40 years in Midian, and then 40 years in the Wilderness. The latter with the rest of the Israelite’s who would not see the Promised Land.
~ The spies spent 40 days investigating the Land promised to Israel.
~ Jonah warned Nineveh for 40 days that their sins would bring about destruction.
~ Ezekiel laid on his right side for 40 days to symbolize the sins of Judah.
~ Elijah fasted for 40 days at Horeb while Yeshua (Jesus) fasted for 40 days and nights before his ministry began.
~ Saul, David, and Solomon each ruled for 40 years.
Obviously there are many more examples and one of the most amazing appearances of the number 40 isn’t even found within the text, it is that many believe that 40 different authors were used to write the Tanach (OT) and B’rit Chadashah (NT). That may or may not be true as Moses certainly didn’t record his own death and there are questions about a second author in Isaiah. Regardless, clearly the number 40 has great meaning to the God we serve.
The month of Elul
Friday evening the new moon (Rosh Kodesh) will be visible, and that celestial event, as it does every month, marks the beginning of the new biblical month. According to the Hebrew calendar, that month is called “Elul,” and Elul, a 30 day month, is somewhat of a somber month in that it precedes the holiest time of the year. This is the time of the year when one begins to do some serious introspection, repenting, and drawing closer to both God and to His will for you as an individual and for this nation (Israel) to which we belong. The month of Elul ends on Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets (aka, “Rosh Hashanah”) and that begins what has been traditionally called, “The Days of Awe.”
The Days of Awe are truly the time when one really digs deep within themselves and seeks to have God reveal to them anything that might indicate where they have fallen short of God’s expectations. It is also a time when one might seek to make right any wrongs we have with one another. Pride is set aside and we walk in pure humility before God and neighbor in a true spirit of reconciliation. These 10 days end at the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur. This day has always been tied to not only our own sin, but the sins of our nation. It is a time of fasting, prayer, rebuilding, and maturing. It should be that we have been reminded of our sins while being made aware of those things we didn’t realize were sin. We then lay it all out before God cleaning the slate, if you will, before beginning the next annual cycle in our walk.
40 Days and Nights
If you did the math above, Elul being 30 days and the Days of Awe being 10, you realize that Friday evening marks the beginning of 40 days that end on Yom Kippur. I doubt that fact is incidental, in fact, recognizing it now almost seems like a call by God to make use of that time in a manner beneficial to not only us as we walk individually before our God, but also beneficial to our community at large. The closer we draw to God, and the more we walk in humility before Him AND our neighbor, the better our community (or nation) will function as a whole.
In the spirit of being United 2 Restore, I am suggesting that we all take at least some time out of each of the next 40 days to pray, repent, and reconcile so that we might receive not only forgiveness but also direction for the days ahead. All of us setting aside time each day will mean that as a united body we will stand together daily in prayer, lifting each other up. It also means that as we do this as one people, we will start to draw closer together and truly begin resembling a nation. To borrow part of a verse from Esther 4, if we have “come to the kingdom for such a time as this” then it is time that we collectively begin to act like citizens of that Kingdom. Let us take the next 40 days, beginning on Friday evening, Elul 1, to pray, repent, and reconcile to whatever degree we are capable of. May you be blessed and may HE be exalted!
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