So, what is the Biblical significance of the number 40? Let’s see what God’s word says.
Probably the most well known one is the account of Noah’s Ark and the Flood.
And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. Genesis 7:12 (NIV)
Something of interest here, verse 11 says that on the “seventeenth day of the second month–on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.” Now, I’ve heard teachings that prior to the flood it had never rained on the earth, but even if you choose not to believe that bit of information, from what I can find, the halfway point through the second month of Ziv would have been well into the dry season.
Ex 16:35-is the account of the Israelites eating manna for forty years.
Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. Ex 24:18
And yet another:
Moses was with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant-The Ten Commandments.
There is another interesting account of how God had Moses send one leader from each of the twelve tribes into Canaan. The twelve representatives spent forty days searching the land God had promised them. When they returned ten of the twelve had nothing but fear to share amongst the Israelites and therefore rebelled against God. If we look at the previous accounts of forty used we should be able to grasp the idea that those forty days were meant to draw closer to God. Maybe draw closer isn’t a strong enough description, maybe reliance on God is a better term.
In the desert your bodies will fall-every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. But you-your bodies will fall in this desert. Your children will be shephards here for forty years, suffering for you unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert. For forty years-one year for each of the forty days you explored-you will suffer for your sins adn know what it is like to have me against you. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this desert; they will die. Exodus 14:29-35 (NIV)
In Deuteronomy, Moses knows his time is coming to an end and so he begins to remind them of all God has done for them. Here is an explanation of the forty years.
Remember ho the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert for forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
I think that is enough for now. So based on what the scriptures say so far, what do you think forty represents?