I have some favorite numbers, and 40 is one of those.
I rather think God liked the number 40 as well because it shows up over and over in the Bible. Do you have any idea how many occurrences there are in the Bible where the number forty comes into play? For that matter, there are plenty of events with other numbers – and it’s interesting to note that God has a pattern in this.
When our kids were small, we played a numbers game. When we were traveling or waiting in a restaurant for our food to arrive, we played this game. It kept our kids entertained as the miles passed or until the waiter brought our food. Sometimes we used this game as part of our family devotions. Only, in this case, our kids knew what the “number” would be that evening. Some of them took the time to go through a concordance to try to be the winner for the evening. It made for some interesting times!
If you were to play this game with me today, I’d give you the number “40”. There’s a reason I’d choose forty this month instead of another number. Do you have any idea why?!
Ready? Let’s play.
What stories in the Bible do you know that include the number 40? GO!
Our kids racked their brains and came up with answers. For starters, even a small child can think of a few stories.
How many days and nights did it rain in the world-wide flood?
For that matter, how many years did Moses function as an Egyptian before fleeing to the wilderness?
How many years was Moses in the desert before God appeared to him in a burning bush?
How many days did Moses spend on the mountain with God – twice?
How many years did the children of Israel wander in the wilderness to get to the Promised Land?
MOSES & JOSHUA:
How many days did the spies spy out the promised land?
How many years did the Israelites serve the Philistines before Samson’s deliverance?
How many days (morning and evening) did Goliath, the Philistine, come to heckle Saul’s army before David took him down?
When Jonah was sent to Ninevah, what was the pronouncement of how many days until Ninevah would be destroyed?
How many days and nights did it take for Elijah to get to Mt. Horeb when he fled from Jezebel?
How many days did Jesus spend in the wilderness fasting before He was tempted by Satan?
How many days after the Ressurection was Jesus on earth before His ascension?
This year (2019), Ascension Day falls on Thursday, May 30.
Ten days after that, we have Pentecost. (So if you are playing this game, remember Pentecost as occurring TEN days after Ascension. OR you could use Pentecost with a 50 because Pentecost occurred fifty days after the Resurrection.
Jesus spent those forty days after His resurrection getting His disciples ready for His departure to Heaven. He showed Himself to them on various and different occasions. They saw the prints in His hands, His feet, and the scar from the sword in His side. He passed through walls and doors.
He cooked fish by the sea and told the disciples which side of the boat to cast their nets for fish. He showed Himself to men, women, and children. He had conversations with His disciples, including a particular one with Peter about feeding His sheep. On one occasion, He was seen by over 500 people. No doubt about it, He was alive and real.
He was getting them ready, not only for His departure, but for His absence. At the same time, He promised that the Holy Spirit would come (and He did.)
His Ascension occurred exactly forty days after His resurrection. Why not 39 days or 41?
There’s a reason for God’s numerical decisions. He makes no mistakes and He does all things well. I don’t know the reasons, but whatever they are, they are good reasons because they are His reasoning.
I don’t know the answer why Jesus ascended forty days after the Resurrection. Most important is that Jesus died, rose again, and ascended back to the Father and that Jesus is now interceding at the right hand of God.
How do you plan to remember and celebrate Ascension day?!