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.
God created the world and formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostril the breath of life and he became a living soul. God gave one commandment to Adam and told him that "Of every tree of the garden, thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." When Adam broke the commandment, he plunged himself and his posterity into the pit of being dead in trespasses and sins. Man began to live out his sin-cursed nature and to commit grievous sins. This is illustrated when Cain killed Abel because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous.
Nearly nineteen hundred years into man's history on earth, God had determined to destroy the earth with a flood. The condition of man upon earth is described thusly:
1. Gen. 6:5 "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them."
2. Gen. 6:11 "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. 13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth."
Yet, even in this den of iniquity, we see the grace and mercy of God: Gen. 6:8 "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD."
There are many ways in which God judges sin, both eternally and timely. Of course we know that in the end of time, the non-elect will be cast in the lake of fire and be eternally judged of sins. Yet, among other ways, God judges the sins of nations and in the time of the flood, the sins of a whole world: Ps. 9:17 "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God."
The scriptures tell us that the Lord rules and judges the nations:
1. 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.
2. 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."
This execution of the wrathful judgment of God upon nations is further illustrated for us in the scriptures in the destruction of the following nations:
1. Sodom and Gomorrhea,
2. The seven nations that Israel displaced from the land of Canaan,
4. The empire of the Medes and Persians,
5. and the nation of Israel.
The one common element that all these nations had is that the iniquity had come to the point that there was no recourse but destruction: Gen. 15:16 "But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full."
Yet, as we previously pointed out, in the midst of timely judgment, God is still gracious and merciful:
The ark, we are informed in 1 Pet. 3:20, 21 is a figure of the death and resurrection of Christ: "Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Thus, even in the midst of a timely destruction, God had placed that which was a figure of an eternal deliverance from sin.
The actual destruction of the earth was by a flood, part of which was a result of rain for forty days and nights:
1. Gen 7:4 "For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth."
2. Gen 7:12 "And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights."
3. Gen 7:17 "And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth."
This was the beginning of the association between the number forty and the subject of trial and judgment.
Moses and Christ are set forth for us in the scriptures for us to compare:
1. Deu. 18:15 "The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;"
2. Acts 3:22 "For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you."
3. Acts 7:37 "This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear."
4. John 1:17 "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
Moses is the prophet by which the law was given. Jesus Christ is the prophet by which grace and truth came.
When Moses went up into the mountain at the commandment of God to receive the law, including the ten commandments he fasted forty days and forty nights: Deu. 9:9 "When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water: 10 And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. 11 And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant."
In contrast to this, when Christ was baptized of John in the river Jordan, he was led of the Spirit into the wilderness: Matt. 4:1 "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered."
Fasting for forty days and forty nights is, no doubt, a quite arduous task. Moses and Christ are the only two that I read about in the scriptures who fasted for forty days and forty nights. It is easier to say that we are followers of the Lord when we have everything going right for us. If we are in good health, have a good job, have no problems to speak of in our family and in our church, have a good relationship with our fellow workers, etc. and are not faced with any particular troubles or problems, then to say that we are followers of the Lord and are walking by faith is much easier, than it is when our health falters, we have lost our job, or we have family difficulties, or we have troubles in the church, or we are faced with a myriad of troubles and problems.
It is much more a test of our faith when we are at our weakest condition than when we are at our strongest condition. Now, I say the above to show that both Moses and Christ were put to the test at the point of great weakness of body. Actually, it could be argued that Christ test was more arduous than Moses test. Moses was in the mountain, whereas Christ was in the wilderness.
In Moses test, he had been given the ten commandments which were written on two tables of stone by the finger of God. When he came down out of the mountain after forty days and nights, he found the children of Israel committing idolatry and fornication and revelry. In his anger, he threw down the two tables of stone and broke them. Thus, the first thing that man did after receiving the ten commandments was to break them!
In contrast to Moses, Christ was tempted of the devil and sinned not. Moses later sinned in the matter of the waters of Meribah and was not permitted to go into the land of Canaan: Deu. 32:49 "Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession: 50 And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people: 51 Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel. 52 Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel." Christ never did sin though he had more tests of faith than anyone ever had.
This comparative test of faith shows forth the superiority and greatness of Christ and that he is a worthy redeemer for his people.
No doubt, Moses was a great prophet and he was blest of God to deliver the law. Christ is the greater prophet and he delivered both truth (justice) and grace to which we are totally indebted and should be most thankful.
Num. 13:1 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them." God commanded that spies be sent to search the land of Canaan and bring back a report.
In sending out the spies, Moses gave them commandment as to what they were to do: Num. 13:17 "And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain: 18 And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; 19 And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds; 20 And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes."
In going forth on their duty to spy out the land of Canaan the twelve men were being tested as to the report they would bring back. Likewise, when we are going forth on our duties toward the Lord, we can consider that often we are being tested as to our response in carrying out those duties and the report that we bring back.
The spies went about carrying out their duties in spying out the land of Canaan and this is what they found: Num. 13:21 "So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath. 22 And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs. 24 The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence. 25 And they returned from searching of the land after forty days."
Next, here is the report that they gave of what they found in the land of Canaan: Num. 13:26 "And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 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." Up to this point, it would appear that the spies had done well in spying out the land, in discovering what was in the land and in reporting back to the children of Israel.
The conclusion that ten of the spies drew from what they reported, however, was based on a lack of faith in their God, his power to deliver and his covenant promise: 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. 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."
It was true that there were giants in the land, and it was true that they were well fortified in their positions to defend the land. From a natural physical ability, they would have appeared to be much more capable in battle than the children of Israel were. However, one only had to look back a short time to see that God had manifest much power and deliverance to the children of Israel. God had sent forth his ten sore judgments upon the land of Egypt. After these judgments, Pharaoh had agreed to let the children of Israel go into the wilderness, but then changed his mind and went with his army to destroy and bring back the children of Israel.
While Pharaoh and his host marched on against the children of Israel, the children of Israel were penned up next to the Red Sea. God sent forth a pillar of a cloud and of fire to separate between the children of Israel and the Egyptian army. The pillar was a light by night to the children of Israel, but was darkness to the Egyptians. During that night, God caused a mighty east wind to blow and to part the waters of the Red Sea so that the next morning the children of Israel were able to cross the Sea on dry ground. When Pharaoh and his mighty army assayed to follow the children of Israel, their chariots became stuck in the mud and God caused the waters of the Red Sea to return and to drown Pharaoh and the host of the Egyptian army. Afterwards, the children of Israel sang and gave praise to the God of Israel for his great deliverance in saving them from their enemy.
The spies should have been well aware of the manifest power and deliverance of the Lord in delivering them out of Pharaoh's hand, but they also should have been well aware of the promise that God had made by covenant to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give them the land of Canaan.
The spies report that, "We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we," showed forth a lack of faith in God and his promises and encouraged the children of Israel also to doubt the power and promises of God. The ten spies were leaders of the people, they were put to the test and failed, and judgment was to follow. In contrast Caleb and Joshua encouraged the people by saying: 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."
Therefore, by the actions of the ten spies who discouraged the people, and the actions of Joshua and Caleb, the following judgment was carried out of the Lord: Num. 14:36 "And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, 37 Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD 38 But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still." Our faith is often put to the test, let us be found faithful in the service of the Lord and trust in Him and his promises. Our God never calls on us to do anything, but that he gives us the ability to do it or else delivers us in the trial of our faith.
1 Pet. 1:6 "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." Many times in the life of a child of God his faith is put to the test. This was true in the case of David going to battle against Goliath.
The children of Israel were at war with the Philistines. The Philistines had a mighty warrior named Goliath. King Saul, the army of Israel, and nearly all Israel were afraid of this mighty warrior as he was truly a giant in stature and human strength. The size of Goliath is described as follows: 1 Sam. 17:4 "And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. 6 And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. 7 And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him."
Goliath put forth a proposal to the children of Israel that struck fear in the heart of King Saul, the army of Israel and all of Israel: 1 Sam. 17:8 "And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. 9 If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. 10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. 11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid."
The problem King Saul, the army of Israel, and the people of Israel had was that they were strictly looking upon an arm of flesh. They only saw how they in their flesh matched up against this man who was far greater and stronger than any of them. They were not trusting in the Lord and his promises.
Among all of Israel, there was a young lad by the name of David who was not afraid of the giant. At one time he had been a servant of King Saul but had returned to his father's house to care for the flock of sheep. Subsequently, his father Jesse sent him to carry food to his brothers in the war and to see how they fared: 1 Sam. 17:16 "And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days. 17 And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren; 18 And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge."
David came to the army to see his brethren when the giant came and once again defied the army of Israel:
David had learned by experience how that the Lord can deliver and told King Saul of his experience: 1 Sam. 17:34 "And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: 35 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. 36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. 37 David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee."
Most people in telling the story of David and Goliath, think that the young and much smaller David was up against great odds in fighting Goliath and that he was fortunate to slay the giant because of the path of the stone that lodged in Goliath's forehead. The fight was indeed a great mismatch, but not as most people believe. Goliath had no chance of victory in this match as he was doing battle not only against David, but also against the Lord. The Lord had delivered David out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear. The Lord has all power and all wisdom and therefore Goliath was no match for the Lord.
David trusted in the Lord and proved his faith in battle against the giant. Even though his brothers derided him, and King Saul had said that he was no match against the giant, and the giant ridiculed him, yet David did not let the fear of the people, or of the army, or of King Saul deter him. David had the only one he needed to assure him of victory over the giant. He had the Lord. His trust was not in his own arm of flesh, but his trust was in the Lord. The people feared the giant because they trusted in their own strength. The army feared the giant because they trusted in their own strength. King Saul feared the giant because he trusted in his own strength.
David knew victory would be his because he trusted in the Lord: 1 Sam. 17:45 "Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. 46 This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hands."
Just as the number forty is associated with trial and judgment, David passed the trial of his faith and consequently the judgment was that he slew the giant with his own sword.