I read an interesting post found in my Facebook feed today, one that has been circulating a bit lately:



It says: “The official lockdown started March 23 and will hopefully end May 1st. That is EXACTLY 40 days. The Latin root of the word “quarantine” is “forty”. So what does the Bible say about 40? The flood lasted 40 days. 40 years Moses fled Egypt. 40 days Moses stayed on Mount Sinai to receive the Commandments. Exodus lasted 40 years. Jesus fasted for 40 days. 40 days for a woman to rest after giving birth. Optimum number of weeks for human gestation is 40. A group of theologians thinks the number 40 represents “change”. It is the time of preparing a person, or people, to make a fundamental change. Something will happen after these 40 days. Just believe and pray. Remember, whenever the number 40 appears in the Bible there is a “change”. Please know that during this “quarantine” rivers are cleaning up, vegetation is growing, the air is becoming cleaner because of less pollution, healing is happening, and most importantly, people are turning to Christ. The Earth is at rest for the first time in many years and hearts are truly transforming. Remember we are in the year 2020, and 20+20 = 40. Also, 2020 is the year of the United States Census. Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, was born during a census. Lastly, 2020 is perfect vision. May our sight focus on the Lord and living according to His perfect vision for us knowing He holds us in the palm of His hand”.

I thought about that a bit.

What about people whose quarantine won’t end on May 1st, (or didn’t start on March 23rd)? What about them? Are they not included in God’s plan for a better change?

What the author of this post has done is over-analyzed and over-applied a numerical concept far beyond what was indented. It’s not uncommon, I suppose. People are drawn to mystery and like to “uncover” insight with ohhs and ahhhs.

I would agree that the Bible does seem to use numbers that would signify a pattern of meanings. For instance, seven is often used as a number of completion. God created the world in seven days, the walls of Jericho fell on the seventh day, and the number seven is all over the book of Revelation (the seven seals, the seven churches, and seven trumpets). It’s a great number. The number three is  viewed in reference to the divine perfection of the Trinity, and the number forty from my study is frequently the number of probation and trial, consistent with the examples given in the original article above (The flood, Moses fled Egypt, the Exodus, and Jesus’s fasting, etc.).

However, where many people get in trouble is when they try to pull those examples out of context, or worse yet, use formulas to look for numerical patterns or dates even behind the Bible’s words. In this case, they are actually plugging them into present-day events…when there’s no precedent to do so.

Often a number is just a number.

This reminds me of the Bible code claims. Does God call us to search for secret meanings, hidden messages, and codes in the Bible? If there is anything in his Word that he wants us to know, why would he hide it enough that we would have to excavate codes and de-code? If we are left to our own interpretations to such a vague and ill-defined undertaking, coupled with man’s own inborn inclination to seek out what he wants to find, (Philippians 2:21), What is left is an arbitrary and subjective practice that neither Jesus nor any of the biblical authors ever referred to. In so doing, we put conjecture over clarity, the man-made over the scriptural.

There is more than enough truth in the words and meanings of Scripture to meet all our needs and make us “complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16).

A few other side notes, just for kicks: Has the Earth really been at rest? I’ve heard of tornados in Tennessee and Mississippi both within the last month. What about the virus itself? The covering of this plague over the globe does not sound like rest to me. In fact, the Bible teaches that the Earth will continue in increasing groanings and unrest until Christ comes (Romans 8:22). Finally, the statement of 20 + 20 = 40, and the census year correlating to the year Jesus was born? Might be just a weee bit of a s-t-r-e-t-c-h….

Yes, God is in control (Psalm 103:19), yes, he will work all things together for the good to those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Yes, he will always be with us, whether the end of this thing comes soon or later (Matthew 28:20). We can be confident of this because he spoke those words. That’s all we need to know. News reports share a ton of numbers these days. No more please. We have enough confusion in the world as it is.

What are your thoughts? Comments welcome!


  1. Margaret, This is such thoughtful insight. I agree that folks often use numbers in a way that God may not have intended. As you put it, sometimes it’s a s-t-r-e-t-c-h. You are correct; the Earth has definitely not been resting.
    God is truly in control.

    • Hi Pam! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, it feels like the Earth has not been resting lately, more like a marathon! Thanks for your comment. I look forward to lunch sometime, Lord willing. Good to hear you are doing well. 🙂

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