March 24th is when the State of Michigan was initially starting to shut down its economic activity. Today is day 34. I started to think about 40-day/year periods of solitude or isolation in the Bible. 

The Jewish use of the symbolism of numbers associated with letters or events is known as gematria. I found many references to the number “forty” in the Bible. Here are a few; Moses on the mountain getting the ten commandments-40 days, the flood raining for 40 days, the Israelites disciplined for 40 years in the wilderness,  40 days to repent in Nineveh by Jonah, Elijah in the wilderness without food and water for 40 days, 40 years from the crucifixion to the destruction of Jerusalem, and even Jesus in Luke 4: 1 “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil”

The euphemism of “Forty days and Forty nights” was not meant literally but rather a long period of time.  It was often used to mean a time of probation, trial, or a period of chastisement. During this time of shut down, I wonder how we are spending our “Forty days.”  I have not done as well as I would have liked, perhaps because I did not choose it, it chose me. I still have three weeks and I have decided to make better use of my time.

The following was sent to me by a dear friend.  She writes:  “I think no matter what the practical reason why this is happening, I think the spiritual reason is it was time for the human race to slow down, to stop creating & just “BE” for a little while. I think God has gotten our attention now. We should not be “too busy” to put our attention back on Him.  And Yet people still complain. Yes, we are meant to be social and in community, but we need to be quiet too. So, I would say to people, let’s make the best of the quiet, like we make the best with all the mental noise. Bottomline: If God is in control, all is well.”

I would add in almost every instant listed in the Bible, forty days and forty nights led to change!

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