The number 40 in scripture is abundant. I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to this until recently. I was thinking about Lent and how it was 40 days. I didn’t grow up with Lent, though I knew about it and many of my friends practiced it. I think the Protestant churches on my side of the spectrum have embraced it more and more as the years go by. And with good reason, I think.
For 40 days we meditate. I don’t know about you, but I don’t meditate for 40 seconds. It’s hard work that meditatin’! Focus and concentration isn’t my strong suit. I would venture to say it isn’t many people’s of my generation and younger. Too much distraction. I have five tabs open and the tv is on and I have no idea what I’m watching, oh right it’s Curious George for my five-month-old. I am pretty sure she has a better attention span than me these days.
And we’re back to the point… Focus! So for 40 days I am reading through the Psalms of Ascent, chapters 120-136. They were the songs that the people of Israel sang together as they made their way from wherever they lived to Jerusalem, the spiritual center of Judaism, where they had yearly festivals and went to the temple. One of those festivals is Pesach or what we call Passover. And we Christians celebrate when Jesus travelled to Jerusalem for Passover to celebrate with his friends the freedom of Israel and to make the ultimate sacrifice for their ultimate freedom. It’s poetic and beautiful. This is our God.
I am also reflecting on instances in the Bible where we see the number 40. here is a short list, though a quick google search will give you plenty more to look up. I will be posting a reflection and some questions that my husband and I will be writing together for the next few weeks leading up to Easter. So come back and check it out. And please do send me comments or reflections of your own if you’d like.
Week 1: 40 years in wilderness – Jews
Week 2: 40 days on mt Sinai – Moses
Week 3: 40 days spying on Canaan – Joshua/ caleb
Week 4: 40 days of strength before meeting God – Elijah
Week 5: 40 days of repentance – Nineveh
Week 6: 40 days of taunting – Goliath
Week 7: 40 days & nights – Noah
Good Friday: 40 days of temptation – Jesus