Biblical significance of 40 days of Lent


God saw the increasing wickedness of the humankind (Gen. 6.5). People did not listen to Noah who was ‘a righteous man, blameless in his generation and who walked with God’ (9). The just God, who intended to eliminate the wicked and purify the earth, allowed forty days of flood on the earth (17).

The Law was given to Moses at Mount Sinai after his prayer and fasting for forty days and forty nights. (Ex.24.18).

The Israelites took forty years to travel from Egypt to Canaan, the promised land. During this journey they experienced God’s caring love, protection and deliverance from enemies.

King David’s rule of forty years was significant because it helped the Israelites to be united and to form a kingdom.

Prophet Elija journeyed forty days to reach Mount Horeb where he had a deep encounter with God. (1 Kgs.19)

Prophet Jonah asked people of Nineveh to pray, fast and do penance for forty days to repent and do reparation for their sins. (Jon.3.4-10)

After his Baptism at river Jordan, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit and went to the desert where He fasted and prayed for forty days (Mt.4.1,2)

The Temptation by the Devil – G. Doré (Bible-Library)

King David, after committing sin, truly repented his sins, did fasting and reparation for his sins (2 Sam.12. 13-17). In his Psalm of repentance, he proclaimed the goodness and mercy of the Lord. “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51.17).  “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3.23), and since He “desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim.2.4).

The loving God is giving us a time to repair our past misdeeds through our acts of penance, prayer and almsgiving. May the Holy Spirit of God transforms our lives through the grace of this Season and help us to bring about a revival in our relationship to God and to our fellow beings.

Mary Pereira


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