Why is the number 40 important?

This past Saturday evening I was in Wichita, Kansas at a surprise 60th birthday party for my oldest friend in life. I have known this person since shortly before I was transformed by God on that mountain in New Mexico in 1969. That means we have been either friends or best friends for 40 years. Perhaps he thought I was there to help celebrate 60 years of his life, but in reality I was there to celebrate 40 years of friendship.

40 years is a long time and a very significant time in the Bible. In fact, 40 years is one of the most important increments of time in that it represents a Biblical generation. Moses spent 40 years in the desert tending the sheep and then another 40 years in the wilderness tending the rebellious children of Israel. Needless to say, when there was a 40th anniversary of something in the Bible, it would equivalent to our current fixation with 50.

I think anyone married 40 years should have their big anniversary then and not wait until they have been married 50 years. I think the most important birthday in a person�'s life should not be their 16th, 18th, 21st or even 100th. I think when a person turns 40, they should have a gigantic party to celebrate finally being a mature adult according to the Bible.

Why did Jesus wait until He was 30 years old to start His ministry? Why didn�'t He start turning water into wine and preaching sermons on the mount when he was 21 years old? The reason is that in Bible times a person was not even considered an adult until they were 30 years old. Anyone under 30 was considered a youth. When Paul addressed Timothy he referred to him as a youth even though we know he was in his late 20�'s.

A generation in the Bible is 40 years. Thus, when a person turned 40, they were deemed mature enough to be considered an elder. There really are no further designations in the Bible as to any significance attached to age past 40. Once you turned 40 in Bible times you were in the same bracket until you died.

When a Jewish boy turns 13 (or a girl 12), they are deemed old enough to understand their faith and accept it. In Bible times many marriages were arranged and consummated about this time. There is a very strong argument that Mary was perhaps as young as 13 or 14 when she bore the Lord Jesus. How times have changed.

So, if we were to use the Bible to establish important birthdays or anniversaries, we would see the following having special significance:

12 or 13



Personally I like this way of establishing what dates are important. I think birthdays should be discontinued at age 40 and replaced with 40 year celebrations of marriage, friendships and special events. If we did this, then those of us who are deemed geezers by young people would all be in the same bracket and would really be considered elders when we turned 40.

If a young person between the ages of 12 and 40 really wanted to learn about life he or she would spend ample time at the feet of anyone over 40 years old. If a person really wanted to know what to do and not do to be blessed and blessing in this life; all they need to do is schedule plenty of time to sit down with anyone old enough to have trod that road before and who knows where the potholes are as well as the shortcuts and the speed bumps.

Do not include honorifics.

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