orty, four-oh, ogoji (Yoruba), quarante (French), cuarenta (Italian), arobaini (Swahili), 40 - This is just a number, isn't it? Maybe... But this number marches through scripture in consonant to some highly significant events. Occurrences, which cannot be passed of as mere coincidence. The constancy of this number recurring throughout scripture, caught my attention and brought to mind a dream I had a long time ago... I do not quite remember which year I had this dream, but I knew that, in the dream, I saw a Forty-something year old version of myself doing some things that I believe He is still going to perform in and through me. Those images I saw were quite impressive, but the first thing that struck me then, and still continues to resonate today is the timing of the events I saw as it pertained to my age. I was clearly FORTY years old… Why had the Lord emphasized this as my age in the dream? At that time, I did not fully understand it, but I as began to learn about the scriptures I got to realize that Forty is an extremely significant number in the plan of God, as it symbolizes the timing or deployment of an assignment or prophetic dispensation that launches a person, a purpose or a call into it's era of maximal power and authority, or catapults it into it's next stage … a position of supreme preeminence!
So we get it! Forty is particularly crucial… Let's take a look at some biblically significant events in which this number featured prominently:
God destroyed the whole earth with rain and flood to restart civilization with Noah - the only righteous man at the time, his family, and the animals that were with him in the ark:
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. Gen 7:4
Isaac the son of Abraham got married at the age of forty, and his son Esau also did the same - the start of the next generation in the promise of God:
And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. Gen 25:20
And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. Gen 26:34
Joseph dreamt his dream at the age of seventeen, became second in command to Pharaoh at the age of thirty, and was reunited with his brethren again after two years of famine had passed after the seven years of plenty:
In the beginning of his fortieth year! For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. Gen 45: 6,7
Moses lived in Pharaoh's palace for forty years until the Lord placed it in his heart to search out his people:
And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. Acts 7:23
He dwelt for forty years in the desert of Midian until he came to Mount Sinai and saw the burning bush:
And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. Acts 7:30
God fed His children with manna for forty years, to tide them over from the time they were in the desert land till they got to an inhabited land:
And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan. Ex 16:35
Moses spent forty days and forty nights up on mount Horeb TWICE to receive the Ten commandments from the hand of God:
And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights. Ex 24:18
And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. Ex 34:28
The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years:
Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not. Nehemiah 9:21
Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart. Josh 14:7
Goliath presented himself to the Israelites for forty days:
And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days. I Sam 17:6
Both David and his son Solomon reigned in Israel for forty years:
David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. II Sam 5:4
And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. I Kings 11:42
Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights, was tempted in the desert by Satan and returned in the power of the Spirit:
And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. Mark 1:13
Jesus showed himself to his disciples for forty days after the resurrection:
To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it firmly establishes the fact that the number Forty - Whether it's in days, years or in aggregate, is symbolic of the timeline taken to define and establish an assignment … Now this is all well and good, but what does that have to do with you, my dream and I?
Well what I believe is that God has appointed for man to live 120 years on earth as is stated in Gen 6:3, and each segment of life is meant to prepare one to move from one stage to the next; The forty days as extrapolated from scriptures, were times of transfer of authority and power from God to man to accomplish a purpose - Moses receiving the ten commandments, Jesus launching into his earthly ministry, David slaying Goliath, Jesus appearing to His disciples before ascending into heaven, etc., and The forty years - The time taken to establish and complete prophetic dispensations in the timeline of God i.e. Joseph's birth through his dream and his testing to his place of promise - being sent ahead to usher Jacob into Israel - The first step in God getting His people into the promised land…
And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years…
When we look at the life of Moses, for the first forty years of his life he lived in Pharaoh's palace, the second forty in the desert of Midian where he also got married. At the end of the second forty, He met God at the burning bush, and God sent him to deliver His people. The Israelites were supposed to get to Canaan in forty days, but because of sin and disobedience, it took them forty years, Moses died when the end of his third forty years were fulfilled, with him looking into the Promised Land… He had fulfilled his ministry of leading God's people there, even though he did not enter in …
The number Forty is representative of the timeline for the transfer of authority, power and purpose from God unto His Kingdom players, for the fulfillment of His will here on earth; But whether you are in the first, second, or third forty year segment of your life, or whether you are taking forty minutes to pray or forty days out to fast, know that the integral and non negotiable parts of this equation are not the time taken, (as our God dwells outside of time), but in maintaining the firm understanding that you were born for a purpose, and called to the service of the King for such a time as this...
So as I approached my fortieth birthday, just like Moses my heart began to be stirred, I became dissatisfied with my 'status quo', and the Lord started a work in me, which is still ongoing. I began to desire for more, I began to seek for more and in my fortieth year, I entered into what I believe is the next phase of God's plan for my life.
No matter where you are in your journey - the beginning, the middle or the end of your 1st, 2nd or 3rd forty-year segment, the most crucial thing is for you refuse status quo! Just like Joseph, dream again! Like Moses step aside to see; Like David step up to the plate to slay Goliath, and like Noah, build an ark.
As you do this, you will see your assigned purpose come into being, and begin to manifest in your life, to fulfill destiny.
It will come…You mark my words - IT WILL COME!
Happy New Year to you all!
From "Me" to you,
AdePero Mettabel Okulaja
Mettabel Okulaja is an Internal Medicine physician who lives in Eden Prairie MN, and is also the author of 'The Voice of One Woman' - A beautiful and rich anthology of prose, poems, original quotes and short stories. Available online both in paper and eBook formats, at amazon.com, bn.com and wherever great books are sold.