40 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE
It seems that the majority of the quarantine or shelter in place will be lifting on May 1; not all but most. I find it very interesting that from the beginning of the shelter-in-place, to May 1 is approximately 40 days.
In Hebrew and in Latin, the word “quarantine” means 40. There is something very significant about the number 40. Afterall, it is mentioned 146 times in the Scripture with great purpose. The Bible signifies that the number 40 generally symbolizes a period of time dedicated to testing. Whether it was 40 days or 40 years, it was typically a time where people were living in the unknown while God was busy at work moving in them the that only He can move.
I believe this shelter-in-place or as most folks refer, quarantine time has been a time of testing. And there is nobody who has walked through this, whether believer or nonbeliever who cannot recognize the trials and tests that have come with this lockdown. It’s been hard, painfully hard.
For me, I have been very passionate and championing the urgency that we should come out of this much different than when we began and that that will look different for everyone. God never wastes a day, not even a moment when it comes to accomplishing his purpose and his purpose in us and I believe he doesn’t want not one of these days to go by unused. He wants his glory to be seen, even in us.
40 days Noah spent locked in an ark, waiting for the rain to stop and life to resume. And although there were many uncertainties about the face of life, he sheltered in place for 40 days and 40 nights allowing God to work in him and through him to position him for what was his next step, in a new evolving world. Noah was a God fearing and God loving man who had a heart for obedience and although the 40 days had to have been painfully difficult, there was growth and preparation for Noah. He walked off that ark a very different man.
Moses spent 3 different 40-year segments of significance during his life and while they all dramatically varied. They were times of growth, endurance, grit, and God showing up in times and places that caused great change in his life.
The first 40 years of the life of Moses he lived as a prince. Adopted by Pharoah’s daughter, he received the best education, training and preparation possible. He was taught by Egypt’s political and military elite. The first 40 years of his life were preparing him to lead!
But of course, we know the what happened next, Moses in a response dictated by flesh, and led in a spirit of anger he rushed to defend an Israelite who was being unjustly and cruelly abused. Moses reacted by killing the Egyptian. And although his promising future as a prince was buried along with the Egyptian, God wasn’t done.
Moses fled and spent 40 years in the desert. This wasn’t an easy 40 years for Moses because he carried the pain and failure of what he had done and lost, and although it burdened him, he most likely never desired to return as a fugitive. Besides, it was in the desert that he met and married his wife because even in the desert, God still brings blessing.
Moses had settled enough and accepted his fate to stay in that place with his new life, his new wife, and his family. But God was not settled, God was moving, working and creating the perfect platform for Moses’ return. In fact, it was those 40 years that God was preparing him for his most significant 40, the life of a leader.
And, we all know what Moses did the last 40 years of his life, he led God’s people to the Promised Land.
Forty is significant. And although there are many Biblical stories of God moving, working, transforming and preparing in segments of 40, none is more important than that of Jesus himself.
Immediately after Jesus was baptized he was led into the desert, alone. This was the ultimate quarantine, no food, water, shelter, internet, zoom, nothing but Christ embracing the opportunity to be completely prepared, ready and empowered to do the work of God. And, it wasn’t easy because Scripture tells us that He was tempted in the most difficult ways. But of course never wavered, walking in faith, devotion and Spirit.
Jesus walked on earth for 30 years before He did His first miracle. He was empowered by the Holy Spirit, faithful, fervent in prayer and devoted to God long before He was led into the desert, but it wasn’t until He walked out from the desert, after 40 days, did He begin that empowering work.
The world sees this time through a very different lens. Many view it as bad coincidence. Many see it as an unfortunate event in our time. Many see it as a reckless attack. Many see it as a conspiracy. And restricted to that lens how daunting is the view. I see this through a Kingdom lens and that lens isn’t just for a particular people, it is for everyone. God has always been trying to move and capture the complete hearts of lost people. God is all about accomplishing His purpose in our lives. God’s biggest desire is to grow us in our faith and fervency for Him as Lord. He will use everything he can to draw us back to him.
But like many, we’ve missed opportunities to cease the moment. We’ve missed hearing his endless call and voice that is muffled by the noise in our lives. We’ve missed seeing the power he is trying to display because we are focused on any and everything other than him. Yes, even believers! Our mouths tend to speak loud contradictions of our hearts and God is trying to get our attention.
Of course, there are many deep and unseen forces going on behind this quarantine that we may never know or may unfold later but one thing for sure, God is trying to awaken a sleeping people. He is longing to awaken the soul of the idle believer. He is trying to prepare us, solidify us and grow us to an unwavering faith that cannot be shaken for whatever comes our way.
Forty is significant. What will God say about how you used your quarantine time?