Forty days and forty nights

Exodus 24:18: 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.

Three people in the bible spent forty nights and forty nights without food, and they got three things from God. They are Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. We will examine part of their lives.


Thrice, Moses went to the God, spending forty days and forty nights each time (Deuteronomy 9:7-29).

And his life was divided into three segments of forty years each. He stayed forty years in the house of Pharaoh, forty years in the wilderness leading sheep; he also spent the same number of years leading the children of Israel through the wilderness. My guess is that he would have spent another forty years stabilising the nation of Israel in the Canaan, he however committed a sin of contempt against God, which cost him that (Numbers 20:11-12).

The times Moses spent forty days with God; he did not eat food nor did his drink water. That is not a recommendation for you because Moses exists in a peculiar state, experiencing the manifested glory of God (on the mount and in the tabernacle), which every cell in his body fed on.

The first time, he was there at God’s behest, at the end of God making covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai. While there, God wrote on two tablets of stone, the Ten Commandments, which were meant to guide the life of a new nation, especially when it has to do with relationship with God and with other people (Exodus 20:1-18).

The last two times was of Moses going to God to seek for the forgiveness of God for Israel’s sin, first for of idolatry, the second time for their unbelief, when the rejected God’s plan to take them to the promised land, because they feared the people of the land, not regarding the power of their God (both times God wanted to wipe them out).

They resorted to idolatry, after they thought Moses was not coming back from the mount the first time he was there.

On seeing their acts of idolatry, Moses was seriously angered and he threw down the two tablets that God gave him, on which were inscribed the Ten Commandments by the finger of God.

At the end of his prayer of intercession (the second time of spending forty days and forty nights), God, wrote again on a new set of tablets, which Moses hewed from the rock.

The first time he went to the mount, he sought for God’s mind for the new nation of Israel (he received the form of the tabernacle in the wilderness). The last two times, he sought for God’s mercy for their errant way.

On that second time, when he got back from the Mount, his face glowed, so much that he covered his face because of the glory that was manifest through it, and the people could not look steadfastly at his face. Therefore, to have a meaningful conversation with the people, he had to put a cloth over his face (Exodus 34:29-35).

Paul called this a glory that fades (2Corinthians 3:7-28), that is deteriorating, and that it is the symbol of the fading glory of the old covenant. But for the new covenant, the glory we partake of is the glory that excels; the far exceeding glory of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote that with opened faces, we look into the face of Jesus, and are changed into the same image from glory to glory.


Elijah went without food and drink for forty days (1Kings 17-19). He did it because he was frustrated with life and wanted to meet with God. He wanted to sort some issue out with Him. At that time he was at the lowest ebb of his life.

He had been in the forefront of calling Israel back to the true God, away from the “carved” gods of other nations. The people had been captured en-masse into idolatry. And Elijah, full of zeal for God, had been involved in intense prayer, seeking God’s intervention.

Eventually God answered his prayer by stopping rain from falling on the land leading to difficulty for everyone including the king, after that Elijah came out, (all the while he had been representing God, and God had been guiding him to places of provision even during the famine) to announce to the king that rain will come, but before then he wants the people of Israel to come together on a mountain, together with the prophets of Baal, and Ashtoreth, who were being hosted daily in the palace of the king.

Elijah was a one-man gang facing hundreds of false prophets, in a calling-down-fire-on-the-sacrifice match. At the end of the day, Baal and Asheroth did not answer but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob answered by fire, settling the argument of who the true God is, once and for all. And Elijah killed all the prophets of Baal present, after the children of Israel caught them so that they will not escape.

After that Elijah prayed and it rained on the earth, after three years of famine. That was the height his ministry, getting whole Israel to say: the Lord, He is God, after miraculous fire fell from heaven.

That was his highest moment, but Jezebels will burst his bubble. Jezebel was the wife of the king and the woman who does whatever she wants as the queen, and the personification of false god worship in Israel, who will not take defeat lying low. She threatened to kill Elijah as he had killed the prophets of Baal.

I believe that he was surprised that God did not tell him about the threat of Jezebel earlier. As a profound prophet he thought he should have seen this post-script being planned by Jezebel.  In shock and being at loss about what to do, he ran for his life, went into deep depression and wanted God to kill him.

He really believed that Jezebel had the power to kill him (but he wants God to do it before her, because Jezebel killing Elijah would be a win for the false prophets, and threaten to rubbish Elijah’s years of ministry).

He walked for forty days and night, not on an empty stomach but after eating meals provided by angels at the start of the journey. At the end of the journey, he got to the mountain of God.

When he got there, to show that Elijah’s problem was preempting how God would speak, or act in a situation, God allowed the manifestation of fire, winds and but those did not convey any message from God, but eventually God spoke to him in a still small voice, to show that God would not be tied to a method, or a manifestation, or lack of it, but he can manifest in a still small voice.

Elisha went without food for forty days and forty nights, and the end result was that he discovered God anew.


Jesus went without food for forty days and forty nights at the start of his ministry. It was not by choice, he was compelled by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1-4). It was as if, God removed the ability to be hungry from him. I know this because the bible recorded that after forty days and forty nights of being without food, it was then and only then that Jesus became hungry.

He was not hungry before then. This makes the impact of the first temptation so strong. What happens He was supernaturally made to not want food for forty days and forty nights, and at the end, he was allowed to feel hunger, the full blown forty-day hunger, in a moment, That is why the first temptation that the devil brought to Jesus that he should turn stone into bread was probably the most intense temptation of all time.



Have your say

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s