Forty-photo by: Pastor Larson
For in seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights: and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.
The Lord sent rain for forty days to wipe the world clean. Noah then waited on the ark for forty days after the mountains reappeared and the ark came aground on Mt. Ararat before sending out a raven to check for adequate dry ground. Forty days – from an objective viewpoint, it seems like not a terribly long time. However, imagine witnessing those forty days of steady, earth swallowing rain… or the impatience of waiting an equal period to see how the earth will reappear as the floods subside – it must have felt close to an eternity.
Forty days is a recurring time-span throughout the Bible. It is asserted on Wikipedia that in the context of the Bible it was meant to convey a large, approximate number, akin to “umpteen.” Another reference describes evidence showing that some in the ancient world devised a calendar system using forty day “months.” Either way, forty days, for those in biblical times, were a well-known time span representing a significant period. Its importance is elevated by the various events said to span forty days, including:
• Moses sat with God on top of Mt. Sinai for forty days, fasting and receiving the Commandments.
• Israelite spies explored Canaan for forty days before the people entered the land.
• Goliath taunted the Israelites twice a day for forty days before David faced him.
• Jesus prepared for his temptation for forty days by fasting and abstaining from drink in the desert.
• There are 40 days between Easter and Jesus’ ascension.
The pattern can be seen – forty days of trial, forty days to prepare for change, forty days in which everything changes. From afar, it seems such a short time – but does it seem that way for those amidst those trials? Does it seem a short time in which to witness the end of the world? How about to absorb the miracle of Easter before Jesus sent his apostles out into the world?
How will you use the forty days of Lent to prepare for the Resurrection? Consider the heaviness of forty days of trial, the hunger and thirst from forty days with no food or water, how one’s entire existence can change in those forty days. These are days of preparation – preparation for the experience of Holy Week, with the depths of the Crucifixion followed by the elation of Resurrection. Prepare your heart and mind for the journey.
Dear Lord, as we enter our forty days of Lent, open our hearts to the possibilities that can occur across those days – times of trial, times of great change. Guide us to experience this time profoundly, that we may reflect on the lessons that can be learned from these umpteen days and absorb the changes those lessons may bring to our lives. We pray that we be open to the trials of others and ask for your assistance in traversing our own forty day journeys. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
written by: Garrick Grant