Bible by the Numbers – Part 2

The number 40

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:  Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it (Math 13:45-46)

The Bible is filled with hidden treasures; are we among those who diligently search them out? One of the keys in unlocking such treasures is in the study Biblical numerics. God’s creation reflects cyclical order as seen in time and days. In our first instalment we examined the significance of the number 120. The law of first mention defines the meaning as being the “end of all flesh” (Gen 6:3). This number can be equated to Moses (Deut 34:7). The number 120 can also be linked to the glorious dedication of Solomon’s Temple (2 Chr 5:11-14) and to the power of Pentecost that was demonstrated in the upper room (Acts 1:15, Acts 2:1-2). Interestingly, we are entering the fulfilment of the 120th Jubilee of years since the time of creation. (A period of 6000 years) Did you know that there is a greater glory to come then Solomon’s Temple and the outpouring in the upper room at Pentecost?

The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts (Hag 2:9).

What will this glory look like and how can the church prepare for this soon coming event? Let’s consider the significance of the number 40. The number 40 speaks of testing and trials. The children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for a period of forty years (Deu 8:2). The Lord Jesus spent forty days and nights in the desert where he became tested in the area of appetite, identity and obedience (Math 4:1-10). The number forty has special significance for Singapore as well.

The late Rev Dr. Billy Graham prophesied Singapore as being an Antioch to Asia forty-years ago in 1978. (This will be developed a bit later on). Tung Ling Bible School, a premier Bible Institution in Singapore is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year. Lighthouse Evangelism Church is also celebrating its fortieth year as one of the leading churches in Singapore. Is there a message in all of this? Consider the following:

In our last instalment we cited Moses as living to the age of 120. His life can be broken down into 3-stages of forty-years. Called while in Egypt (1-40), chosen while in Midian (40-80) and faithful as God’s deliverer (80-120).

These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful (Rev 17:14).

The churches in Singapore have echoed the words of Dr. Graham in being an Antioch to Asia. What does this actually mean? At a recent conference in Singapore the term 40-year cyclical review was cited on numerous occasions. The ministry of Dr. John Sung was also cited as one who ministered in Singapore forty years before Billy Graham (1938). Perhaps it would prove helpful to examine Dr. Sung’s message in 1938 for the purpose of putting the Antioch call into perspective. His text was taken from Rev 3:7-11 which is the Lord’s address to the Church of Philadelphia. The message placed an emphasis on holiness and the Fear of the Lord. It also spoke of having a love for Truth. This passage also reveals the Lord as the one who holds the Key of David. This is true kingdom authority! This is how the church in Singapore and beyond can fulfil its Antioch Destiny. This privilege is not something that can be assumed. Dr. Billy Graham’s prophetic declaration should not be seen as a stand-alone event. The danger of presumption is something that the church can ill-afford in this season.

It is here where the life of Moses can again provide added insight. Do you remember Moses at the age of forty when he rightly discerned his leadership call? He willingly forsook the privileges of Egypt in choosing to identify with the Jews. He asserted his leadership in a premature fashion (Exo 2:12). This resulted in an additional forty-years of wilderness training. How does the Singapore church fit into this equation? Is it possible that the church is being a bit presumptuous in its approach to fulfilling its Antioch mandate?

Moses at the age of 80 stood before God at the burning bush (Exo 3:2-10). His approach was far different than forty-years earlier. He stood before a Holy God and was silent as he came under the burden and commissioning of the Lord. Is this not the message that Dr. John Sung presented to Singapore in 1938? Moses at the age of 80 resembles the message heard in Singapore 80 years ago in 1938. The message is clear! God is calling the church to come before the throne of grace. God will not give true kingdom authority to just any church or man. This privilege is given to men and women who walk in the Fear of the Lord.

Bible by the Numbers helps to bring clarity as to where the church stands today. (We saw this in examining the number 120) The 40-year cyclical review provides perspective in how the church should approach God. There is a strong case to be made in comparing Moses at 40 and 80 with the Singapore church in 1978 and 1938. If applied properly it will result in the church fulfilling its Antioch mandate with true kingdom authority.

Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation (Zec 2:13).

Bible by the Numbers will conclude with an examination of the number 70 in the next and final instalment.

Bible by the Numbers – Part 1 (My previous article)