Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tim, March, 2011

posted Feb 27, 2011, 7:46 PM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Feb 27, 2011, 7:53 PM ]

Ash Wednesday, March 9, marks the beginning of the season of Lent.  Lent is the forty day period where believers journey with Jesus to the cross. 


The number forty is significant in the Bible.  The story of Noah and the Ark found in the book of Genesis states that it rained “on the Earth forty days and forty nights.” (Genesis 7:12) The flood covered the entire Earth.  When the waters receded, Noah along with his family, lived in a God-honoring way—it was a new beginning for humanity. 


Forty is mentioned several times in the book of Exodus.  During the ancient Israelites journey to the Promised Land, Moses would withdraw from the people to the mountain to seek God’s direction. “Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain.  Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24:18)   Leading the people was at times difficult for Moses.   By spending time alone on the mountain with God, Moses’ faith was strengthened.  His encounters with the living God changed him, giving him a new sense of direction.  The people recognized Moses’ holy encounter and would continue their trek to the Promised Land.


The Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land would take forty years.  It would take that long to break their bad habits to become the people God desired.  Their time wandering in the wilderness taught them to place their trust in God.  By the time they entered the Land that God had promised them, they would be different—they believed that God would provide for them.


Another incidence involving “forty days and forty nights” involved the Prophet Elijah.  Elijah had challenged the prophets of Baal in order to prove once and for all that God was the one true God.  Perhaps Elijah over did it a bit.  After this show down Elijah fled for his life “forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.” (I. Kings 19: 8) It was on the mountain that Elijah would encounter God.  However, the way he experienced God was not what he expected.  First there was a strong wind that shattered rocks—but God was not in the wind.  Next there was an earthquake, followed by a fire.  God was not in the earthquake or the fire but in “a sound of sheer silence.”  God spoke to him at that moment.  The lesson for us as we begin Lent is that sometimes we must remove all the distractions in our lives before we are able to hear God speak to us.


The gospel lesson for the first Sunday in Lent reveals the time when our Lord Jesus was in the desert where he “fasted forty days and forty nights.” (Matthew 4:2)  His resolve was strengthened as a result of his time in the desert.  At the end of the “forty days and forty nights” Jesus came face to face with Satan; and because of his time alone with God, he was able to overcome temptation. 


The Book of Worship includes the following direction as we enter Lent: “I invite you… to observe a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.”  It is my hope and prayer that the forty days of Lent will be a profound time of spiritual growth; and that come Easter Sunday, we will be different people.


See you in church as we journey with Jesus this Lent.


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