Even though I am not used to the way that many Charismatic Christians interpret the Bible, I still think the number “40” is an extraordinary number quoted throughout the Bible that has its own remarkable meanings. Let us take a look at some biblical stories related to the number “40”. I will only list those “40s” that may be most familiar to us:
- The life of Moses could be divided into three distinct sections of 40 years.
- The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years, which is 10 times 40.
- The Israelites were wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.
- Moses went up and stayed at Mt. Sinai twice with God for 40 days each to receive the Ten Commandments.
- Kings Saul, David, and Solomon each reigned in Israel for 40 years.
- The world drowned in a deluge of rain and rising seas for 40 days in Noah’s time.
- Jesus was tempted following a period of 40 days of fasting in the desert.
I wanted to reaffirm that Pentecostalism is not my usual way of interpreting the Bible. I am strongly convinced, however, that since the number “40” appeared so many times in the Bible, it must have its own significant importance. For example:
- The flooding on earth stopped after 40 days. “40” indicated the end of the unrighteousness and the new phase of a better world.
- After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites started a new life, post-slavery, in the Promised Land. “40” indicated the beginning of a new phase of life.
- Jesus was tempted in the desert after 40 days of fasting. “40” here was not only an ending, but also marked a new phase of the journey to fulfilling His purpose.
In the same way, to the San Francisco Chinese Mennonite Church (SFCMC), the number “40” means a new phase of ministry. With God’s grace, our first official Sunday service was on November 8, 1980 and this year is our 40th anniversary. SFCMC just reached this milestone—our first 40 years of serving our community—at the same time as we engaged in new, effective ways of serving during this historic pandemic.
We are so grateful for God’s blessings, provisions, and presence for the past 40 years. SFCMC still has a long future ahead to be used by God, however, just like in the life of Moses. We are looking forward to serving the Lord for the second phase of our 40 years, the third phase of our 40 years, and until we accomplish the mission that God assigned to us.
Forty years is not a short period of time. There is a Chinese saying about how a person’s perfect life should look: “When you reach your 30s, it is the prime time of your life, and you should be capable of thinking independently. By the time you reach your 40s, you should be mature enough to execute the right judgement without any hesitation and strong enough to cope with challenges and adversities.”
I strongly believe that SFCMC will be blessed abundantly with God’s grace in the years to come and continue to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. I also have confidence that SFCMC’s coworkers team, which was newly restructured during the pandemic, can bring in new visions, commitment, and strength to lead the church into another blessed, rich, and fruitful 40 years. Amen!
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