Stepping into Lent #2

Matthew 4:1-11

Do you struggle with the hardships you face in life, or do you cling too tightly to life’s comforts?

Read HERE Matthew 4:1-2

I am fascinated by the science of Bible Numeric. To find out more click HERE

By numerics, we mean observing that God has planted order in the world and His Word. The number seven, for example, recurs throughout the Bible – as in the number of days of creation, the days of a week, the number of biblical feasts, and others.

Both the Old and the New Testaments sync with numeric patterns of seven. No writings of other religions display the phenomenon.

We draw the conclusion that only God could have created such a pattern. It could not have occurred by chance. It is further evidence of the seal, or signature, of God. It is proof of divine authorship.

Firstly– 40 is also a significant number. In scripture, it is used over 140 times.

For example, the rain during the great flood lasted 40 days and nights. Each time Moses went to Mount Sinai, he remained there 40 days and nights. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared for 40 days before ascending to heaven. And there are many uses of 40 throughout the Bible. 

In science, forty is the unique temperature at which the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales correspond. 

In mathematics, 40 is a semi-perfect number. 

In Antiquity, beginning around the second millennium BCE, a Sumerian God was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40”, occasionally called his “sacred number”.

In Judaism

In the Hebrew Bible, forty is often used for periods, forty days or forty years, which separate “two distinct epochs”.

· Rain fell for “forty days and forty nights” during the Flood (Genesis 7:4).

· Noah waited forty days after the tops of mountains were seen after the flood before releasing a raven (Genesis 8:5–7).

· Moses sent spies to explore the land of Canaan (promised to the children of Israel) for “forty days” (Numbers 13:2, 25).

· The Hebrew people lived in the lands outside of the promised land for “forty years”. This period of years represents the time it takes for a new generation to arise (Numbers 32:13)

· Several early Hebrew leaders and kings are said to have ruled for “forty years”, that is, a generation. Examples include Eli (1 Samuel 4:18), Saul (Acts 13:21), David (2 Samuel 5:4), and Solomon (1 King 11:42).

·        Goliath challenged the Israelites twice a day for forty days before David defeated him (1 Samuel 17:16).

·        Moses spent three consecutive periods of “forty days and forty nights” on Mount Sinai:


Christianity similarly uses forty to designate essential periods. 

· Before his temptation, Jesus fasted “forty days and forty nights” in the Judean desert (Matthew 4:2, Mark 1:13, Luke 4:2).

· Forty days was the period from the resurrection of Jesus to the ascension of Jesus (Acts 1:3).

· According to Stephen, Moses’ life is divided into three 40-year segments, separated by his growing to adulthood, fleeing Egypt, and returning to lead his people out (Acts 7:23, 30, 36).

· In modern Christian practice, Lent consists of the 40 days preceding Easter. In much Western Christianity, Sundays are excluded from the count; there are 46 days total Lent; in Eastern Christianity, Sundays are included.

In Human life

·        Quarantine, the practice of isolation to prevent the spread of epidemic disease, derives from a Venetian dialect of the Italian quaranta giorni meaning ‘forty days’, the period that ships were required to be isolated before passengers and crew could go ashore during the Black Death.

  • Interestingly, 40 is even significant in human nature in that we develop within our mother’s 
  • We are in the Womb for 40 weeks before being born.  

We commemorate the forty days and nights spent in the desert by our Lord while he fasted. Here, 40 is a time of testing, temptation, or trial. 

Saint Bede commenting on this, points out that this period is also a symbol of our entire life on earth, which includes the idea of days and nights.

In St Matthew’s version of events, he primarily uses – 40 days and 40 nights. 

The days represent the many blessings we receive, while the nights symbolise the crosses we endure. 

Thirdly, as we begin our Lenten journey, we must apply the lessons we learn from Jesus’ time in the desert.

What Can We Learn?

First, we see that the spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. This teaches us that not only did Jesus endure temptation, but he also was not afraid to face the devil and did not fear his attacks. Instead, he willingly faced the temptations of being led by the spirit and overcame them.

This also enables us to confront and overcome every temptation through power and initiative. We must never be afraid to confront temptations directly and confidently when the Holy Spirit leads. 

The second important lesson is that Jesus voluntarily fasted during this time in the desert. This stresses the importance of moderation, self-restraint, and self-control. 

If we see the pattern of 40, we will understand that self-control is always a part of our daily lives.

Therefore, when we experience the joys and blessings of life, symbolised by 40 days, we must indeed celebrate them.

But we must always do so with self-denial, in that we must never allow the passing things of this world to hinder our relationship with God and our discipleship walk. 

St John of the Cross wrote that we could even become overly attached to spiritual solace and embrace the 40 nights of testing and trial by not letting the difficulties of our lives discourage or distract us from seeking and fulfilling the will of God.

Fasting helps us with this. Fasting restrains us from looking inward unduly and plants our focus squarely on God the Father, strengthening us through life’s ups and downs.

Fasting helps us keep our eyes on the truths God has revealed to us while rejecting the ideas that the devil speaks to us.

Reflect Today 

Reflect upon the importance of embracing the 40 days and nights model. It will help give you courage throughout life. It will help you make sense of the ups and down’s joys, and sorrows we encounter.

We must embrace the blessings and crosses and, through it all, allow ourselves to be led by the spirit, facing every circumstance with courage and self-control. 

Reflect upon the crosses you endure or may cling unduly to life’s consolations. 

Let’s seek to embrace the road of virtue this lent, imitating Jesus 40 days and nights in the desert.

LET Us Pray

Our temperate and courageous Lord, you confronted all temptation with courage and strength. You fasted throughout the 40 days and nights to teach us how to navigate the ups and downs of life. Please give us the virtues of temperance and courage. May your Holy Spirit empower us to meet any life challenges so we may follow you into the desert of our lives. 

Jesus, we trust in you- amen.

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Remember to live life on purpose, in Hope. Faith and Love 

Paula Rose Parish💕 

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