Animals, Colors, Metals, Numbers and Signs in Scripture.
The number forty is often associated in the scriptures with the subject of trial and judgment. In a courtroom, you first have the trial and then you have the judgment. Sometimes we see the number forty associated with the trial and sometimes we see it associated with the judgment after the verdict is rendered.
We observe in the scriptures the number forty associated with the following examples of trial or judgment:
1. The destruction of the world during the days of Noah
2. Moses going into the mount to receive the law contrasted to Christ's being tested of Satan.
3. The spies spying out the land of Canaan
4. The judgment upon the children of Israel in the wilderness because they did not believe the promise and power of God
5. The judgment of a wicked man
6. National judgment of Israel because of sin and repentance
7. Trial of faith due to Goliath's defiance
8. The buildings of the tabernacle, temple, and of Ezekiel's vision
9. The trial and judgment of Ninevah
10. Judgment of Jerusalem and Jews for their rejection of Christ.
The children of Israel spent forty years wandering in the wilderness until all of those who were 20 years of age and older when they came out of Egypt had died. This was a judgment pronounced upon them of God. The reason for this judgment we will now examine.
When the spies had returned from spying out the land of Canaan for forty days, they gave their report of what they had found: Num. 13:27 "And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. 28 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan." From this we gather that the land was a very good land and that the inhabitants of the land were strong and well fortified, with the cities walled and very great. The people of Israel would have to trust in the Lord's deliverance in order to drive out the inhabitants of the land and possess it.
There were some facts that the people knew before the spies gave their report:
1. The Lord had by a strong arm poured out his ten sore judgments upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians.
2. The Lord had parted the waters of the Red Sea that the children of Israel may pass over on dry ground, then He caused the waters to return to drown Pharaoh and his host when they marched after the children of Israel.
3. The Lord had caused water to flow out of the rock to give drink to the children of Israel.
4. The Lord had caused manna to appear on the ground each day to give food to the children of Israel in the wilderness.
5. The Lord had sweetened the bitter waters of Marah when the children of Israel were about to die of thirst when they first came into the wilderness.
6. The Lord had gone before the children of Israel in a pillar of a cloud.
7. The Lord gave light to the children of Israel at night by a pillar of fire.
8. The Lord had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give the land of Canaan to the children of Israel for a possession by covenant promise.
Next, two sets of witnesses among the spies gave contradictory conclusions:
1. Caleb and Joshua encouraged the people to go possess the land of Canaan:
a. Num. 13:30 "And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it."
b. Num. 14:6 "And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: 7 And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. 8 If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. 9 Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not."
2. The other ten spies discouraged the people: Num. 13:31 "But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. 32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. 33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight."
The reaction of the people was to disbelieve Caleb and Joshua and to believe the evil report of the other ten spies: Num. 14:1 "And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! 3 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? 4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt." Thus, the reaction of the people was to disbelieve the covenant promise and power of God. They also desired to return back unto Egyptian bondage! Further, they murmured against Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Caleb and the Lord.
Because of this, the Lord pronounced judgment against the children of Israel:
1. Num. 14:22 "Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; 23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: 24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it."
2. Num. 14:27 "How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. 28 Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: 29 Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, 30 Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. 31 But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
32 But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. 34 After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise. 35 I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.
Further, this judgment was used as a warning to us in this day in which we live in Hebrews chapters 3 and 4. Heb. 3:7 "Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. 10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. 11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) 12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Also, we read in Heb. 3:17 "But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
Next, we read in Heb. 4:9 "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." Many people today do not believe in the covenant promise of rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ and are going about trying to establish their own righteousness. Subsequently, they remain in the wilderness outside the true church of Jesus Christ and find no rest from their ignorant labors in a false works system. The major lesson in all of the above is that we should believe in the covenant promises of God and rest in the power of God who has finished the work of redeeming us from our sins.
Micah 7:14 "Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old. 15 According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I show unto him marvellous things." This prophecy was of the coming of the Lord in his personal ministry in the flesh here on earth. Beginning with his baptism until the time of the destruction of Jerusalem was a period of forty years. During this time signs and wonders both at the hand of the Lord and of the apostles was manifest for a period of forty years, just as the children of Israel had wondered in the wilderness for forty years and saw God's daily manifestation of signs and wonders.
The Lord warned the Jews and the city of Jerusalem of the impending judgment that was to come upon them because of their rejection of him:
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In addition, the Lord warned certain cities in Israel of impending judgment:
The judgment upon Jerusalem and the cities of Israel began around 70 A.D. about forty years after the coming of Christ into his personal ministry in the flesh.
During the days of Joshua, the children of Israel were blessed of God to go in and possess the land of Canaan. They drove out most of the former inhabitants of the land through the delivering hand of God. However, God left some of the inhabitants of the land in order to prove Israel, whether they would keep the commandments of God: Judges 3:1 "Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; 2 Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof; 3 Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baalhermon unto the entering in of Hamath. 4 And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses."
It was not long until the children of Israel left off following the Lord and keeping his commandments: Judges 3:5 "And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: 6 And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. 7 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves. 8 Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim eight years."
While in bondage, the children of Israel cried out and the Lord sent a deliverer who then judged Israel for forty years: Judges 3:9 "And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. 10 And the spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim. 11 And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died."
We see this pattern repeating itself repeatedly throughout the Old Testament history of Israel. The Lord would deliver the children of Israel, then they would do evil and the Lord would deliver them into bondage of another people. After Israel had been in bondage for several years, they would cry out unto the Lord and he would send another deliverer. Then the children of Israel would keep the commandments of God for a period of time. Then they would do evil again, etc. Other examples are set forth in the following passages:
1. Judg 5:31 "So let all thine enemies perish, O LORD: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years."
2. Judg 8:28 "Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon."
3. Judg 13:1 "And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years."
This trial and judgment of national Israel in the Old Testament should be a warning to all nations: Psa 9:17 "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." In addition, we are told that the Lord rules the nations with a rod of iron:
1. Rev 2:27 "And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father."
2. Rev 12:5 "And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne."
3. Rev 19:15 "And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God."
My fear is that the United States has forgotten God as evidenced by her actions and shall be turned into hell as the Lord rules her with a rod of iron.
In studying the dimensions, colors, metals, etc. of the various buildings set forth in the scriptures, we find that their correlations with various bible subjects often point us to characteristics of the object they are a type of. The tabernacle, the temple, and Ezekiel's vision of a house are all typical of the Lord's church in this New Testament age.
The dimension of forty is found in all three of the subject Old Testament buildings:
1. Ex. 26:19 "And thou shalt make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons, and two sockets under another board for his two tenons."
2. 1 Ki. 6:17 "And the house, that is, the temple before it, was forty cubits long."
3. 1 Ki 7:38 "Then made he ten lavers of brass: one laver contained forty baths: and every laver was four cubits: and upon every one of the ten bases one laver."
4. Ezek 41:2 "And the breadth of the door was ten cubits: and the sides of the door were five cubits on the one side, and five cubits on the other side: and he measured the length thereof, forty cubits: and the breadth, twenty cubits."
5. Ezek 46:22 "In the four corners of the court there were courts joined of forty cubits long and thirty broad: these four corners were of one measure."
Since these building in type all point us to the Lord's New Testament church, we conclude that as the number forty is associated with trial and judgment, so the New Testament church has been tried in the fire of God's judgment and found to withstand the test of time.
1 Corinthians chapter three tells us of the trying of God's people in the church:
In 2 Chronicles 7:14 we read of a remedy for God's people who are under the sentence of impending judgment because of their sins: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." Some have suggested that this only applies to the nation of Israel and under the Old Testament law economy. However, the example that is given to us in the scriptures was with a city of people other than Israel who were not under the Old Testament economy of worship. This city was Nineveh. Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria and was an enemy of Israel and Judah. Yet we see God's mercy manifest to the city of Nineveh.
In 2 Chr. 7:14 we notice that the remedy is only given to God's people. Since the remedy was manifest by the city of Nineveh, we must conclude that God had a people in the city of Nineveh who were not of the nation of Israel. The city, however, was under the impending judgment of God because of gross sins. This raises the question, "Do God's people commit sins?" The answer is a resounding yes. However, God also is not mocked, whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
God sent Jonah to Nineveh to deliver the following message: "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." The first thing that is necessary to bring about the remedy in 2 Chr. 7:14 is to believe God: Jonah 3:5 "So the people of Nineveh believed God." Had they not believed God, then they would have been destroyed without question in forty days.
Next, we see the inhabitants of Nineveh doing what is set forth in 2 Chr. 7:14. The first thing is that God's people must humble themselves: Jonah 3:5 "and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. 6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth."
The second thing that God's people must do is pray. We see the inhabitants of Nineveh praying: Jonah 3:8 "and cry mightily unto God." Through the King's commandment, the inhabitants of Nineveh cried mightily unto God.
The third thing is that God's people must turn from their wicked way. Again, the King of Nineveh commanded and the people complied: Jonah 3:8 "yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands."
The fourth thing is that God's people must seek God's face: Jonah 3:9 "Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?"
When the inhabitants of Nineveh had done the four things set forth in 2 Chr. 7:14 we read of the conclusion: Jonah 3:10 "And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."
The application is for us today. Whether it be for a whole nation, or for a city, or for a church, or for a group of churches, the remedy is there for us.
It is not difficult to see the wickedness that is becoming so prevalent in the United States and in especially certain cities of the United States. Also, it is easy to see the laxness of discipline in many of the churches and the lack of true discipleship in the lives of many members of the church. God is not mocked: whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. How shall we escape the timely judgment of God because of these things? The answer is found in 2 Chr. 7:14. Do we believe it? Are we willing to do those things?
Deu. 25:1 "If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. 2 And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. 3 Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee."
This, obviously, has nothing to do with the eternal judgment of sin, but was given to the judges of Israel to combat and judge wicked actions among the people. In order for a person to be beaten with forty stripes, he must first have been judged worthy of being beaten with that many stripes. The punishment was to fit the offense. Implied in the above was that a person could be beaten with fewer stripes if the offense was not as bad, but in no case was he to be beaten with more than forty stripes.
Thru tradition, the Jews had shortened the number to thirty nine stripes and would not give anyone more than thirty nine stripes. The thirty nine stripes was reserved for the most heinous of offenders according to their judgment.
In the eyes of the Pharisaical Jews, Paul's preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ constituted a most heinous offence as five times he was beaten with forty stripes save one: 2 Cor 11:24 "Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one."