Time (Dictionary): The measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues; the point or period when something occurs.
Time (Bible): Lifetime; cycle; season; at the present point.
The number 40 in the Bible is known as the “number of testing”. As we read the many times it is used we can see how God works within that type of time frame. In our culture we call it the start of middle age! Ouch. Moses was a man who REALLY knew about 40!
The First 40
Moses was brought up in the splendor and wealth of Egypt for about forty years. In that time, he lived in lavish luxury and indeed lived in a land of “milk and honey”. Meanwhile, his relatives were in bondage to Pharaoh, despised and in slavery.
Genesis 46: 31-34: 31Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, I will go up and tell Pharaoh and say to him, My brothers and my father’s household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32And the men are shepherds, for their occupation has been keeping livestock, and they have brought their flocks and their herds and all that they have. 33When Pharaoh calls you and says, What is your occupation?34 You shall say, Your servants’ occupation has been as keepers of livestock from our youth until now, both we and our fathers before us–in order that you may live in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians. (NASB)
Acts 7: 22-23:22So Moses was educated in all the wisdom and culture of the Egyptians, and he was mighty (powerful) in his speech and deeds. 23And when he was in his fortieth year, it came into his heart to visit his kinsmen the children of Israel [to help them and to care for them].(AMP)
Moses killed one of the Egyptians for mistreating one of his people and was forced to run away. An “awakening” was finally occurring.
Acts 7: 29,30:29At that reply Moses sought safety by flight and he was an exile and an alien in the country of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. 30And when forty years had gone by, there appeared to him in the wilderness (desert) of Mount Sinai an angel, in the flame of a burning bramblebush. (AMP)
Moses fled to the land of Median where he became a shepherd, married and had children. He lived there for 40 years. Moses was forced to learn what it means to shepherd a flock. He learned how to control the flock, how to lead them to green pastures and how to protect them. This was all new to him to say the least. It appeared that now he was ready to serve God in an amazing way. However, this time his sheep (i.e. children of Israel) will number(estimated) over one million.
Moses then received orders from God at the burning bush and set out to free his brethren. Moses ended up in another 40-year period. Wow.
Deuteronomy 29: 5,6 : 5I have led you forty years in the wilderness; your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandal has not worn out on your foot. 6You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or strong drink, in order that you might know that I am the LORD your God. (NASB)
Summary of the 40’s
So, what do we see in all this? The number 40 certainly is a test period. But beyond this we learn something about authority. Moses was a great man –because he accepted God’s authority for incredible tasks! Here are points to ponder:
• Moses had the good life for 40 years. But he really didn’t seem to interact with his fellow Jews very much. Maybe it took time for him to really see the injustice. Do we see the injustice and hurt around us or are we hidden away in our palaces?
• He then lives in Median for 40 years. During that time, he goes from an Egyptian culture of despising shepherds to becoming what is despised. It must have taken awhile for this culture shock to set in. But he was obedient to the work God had given him. Through it all, the 40-year test made him a servant/shepherd, not just a spoiled prince. He was now ready to become what God had called him to.
• The next 40 years were a severe test of his faith and trust in God and in God’s plan. Moses had learned what it is to be a prince, what it is to be a humble shepherd and now must learn what it is to be a great leader. And, he became a seasoned leader.
• Greatness in God’s kingdom comes from obedience to the Lord and becoming a humble servant with a humble heart! It starts there. God will take us from where we are in our comfort zone and use us for His glory. But God will need to work on us and it may take 40 years or 40 months. Whatever it takes, we must surrender to Him!
Each of us will face times where our faith will be tested. The first 40 years of a marriage or of the single life are a challenge. The next 40 years should see us at a place of wisdom, servant hood and acceptance of God’s absolute authority. Some of us will get it earlier than others. Earlier is really a lot better. Watch out for the 40!!