Matthew 4:2 “And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.”
WHAT DOES THIS SAY?
Fasting, in the Jewish tradition, means you should pray have nothing to eat or drink for a specified period of time. In this case, Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Spirit to pray and fast for 40 days and 40 nights.
Normally, it would seem highly improbable that anyone would attempt such a thing, since credible medical and scientific sources tell us a person cannot stay alive for more than 8 to 21 days without food and water. Yet, The Bible plainly states, Jesus fasted in an arid and hostile environment, alone, for 40 days and 40 nights.
Imagine wandering in a hostile, arid wilderness, having no food or liquid for 40 days. Imagine the weakened state of a person! You might even wonder if anything you see or think is real or rational? This was Jesus’ condition.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
First, you must ask yourself “Do I believe it?”, because ultimately, this is what the Bible and faith in God comes down to: Belief.
Next, perhaps you should ask “Why prayer and fasting” and why for “40 days and nights”, specifically? What was Jesus trying to accomplish and what was He telling and showing us?
I would have to surmise it was very important to go to this extreme and to take this kind of risk, wouldn’t you think so, as well?!!
FIRST about FASTING. One primary reason for fasting, found in Psalms 35:13 is to “humble my soul with fasting”. Jesus was being tested through temptation.
SECONDLY, in Isaiah 58:6 God says, “This is the kind of fasting I want:
- Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
- lighten the burden of those who work for you.
- Let the oppressed go free,
- and remove the chains that bind people.
- 7 Share your food with the hungry,
- and give shelter to the homeless.
- Give clothes to those who need them,
- and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
- 8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and
- your wounds will quickly heal.
- Your godliness will lead you forward,
- and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.
- 9 Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
- “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
- Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
- 10 Feed the hungry, and
- help those in trouble.
- Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
- 11 The LORD will guide you continually,
- giving you water when you are dry
- and restoring your strength.
- You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
- 12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a re-builder of walls and a restorer of homes.
- 13 “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. 14 Then the LORD will be your delight.
- I will give you great honor
- and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
I, the LORD, have spoken!”
Finally, the number 40. FORTY shows up often in the Bible. Forty appears often in contexts dealing with judgment or testing. Many scholars understand it to be the number of “probation” or “trial.” This doesn’t mean that 40 is entirely symbolic; it still has a literal meaning in Scripture. “Forty days” means “forty days,” but it does seem that God has chosen this number to help emphasize times of trouble and hardship.
In the Old Testament, when
- God destroyed, purged and cleansed the earth with water, when He caused it to rain 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7:12).
- After Moses killed the Egyptian, he fled to Midian, he spent 40 years in the desert tending flocks (Acts 7:30).
- Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 24:18).
- Moses interceded on Israel’s behalf for 40 days and 40 nights (Deuteronomy 9:18, 25).
- The Law specified a maximum number of lashes a man could receive for a crime, setting the limit at 40 (Deuteronomy 25:3).
- The Israelite spies took 40 days to spy out Canaan (Numbers 13:25).
- The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years (Deuteronomy 8:2-5).
- Before Samson’s deliverance, Israel served the Philistines for 40 years (Judges 13:1).
- Goliath taunted Saul’s army for 40 days before David arrived to slay him (1 Samuel 17:16).
- When Elijah fled from Jezebel, he traveled 40 days and 40 nights to Mt. Horeb (1 Kings 19:8).
- The number 40 also appears in the prophecies of Ezekiel (4:6; 29:11-13) and Jonah (3:4).
In the New Testament
- Jesus was tempted for 40 days and 40 nights (Matthew 4:2).
- There were 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension (Acts 1:3).
It is interesting that Dr. Paul Halpern, Ph.D in theoretical physics, an M.A. in physics and a B.A. in physics and mathematics, writes, “The universe is built on (mathematical) harmonies. The Pythagoreans had it right when they married mathematics, music, and the cosmos. Just as mathematical patterns underlie the musical scales and intervals most pleasing to the ear, they also describe the probability waves at the heart of quantum theory.
“More than 2500 years ago, according to ancient sources, Pythagoras applied his discoveries in music theory to the behavior of the celestial objects. Pluck a string, and the pitch of the note it produces is related to the length of the string. When the lengths of two strings are a simple ratio—1/2, 2/3, and so on—the notes together sound harmonious. Pythagoras believed that the universe itself hummed with its own harmony—beautiful, divine, and inaudible to human ears. He characterized the intervals between successive orbits, such as those of Mercury and Venus, as either tones or half-tones (the smallest intervals in the musical scale), adding up to seven whole tones that form a perfectly harmonious natural order.”
Is it any wonder that the Word of God is replete with the repetitive use of certain numbers and patterns to remind us of certain Truths, or as symbolysms of God’s Intentions and Ways.
After Jesus had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, “He then became hungry”. This statement seems straight forward enough, right? But, look at the word “hungry” as used here: It is the Greek word, “peineo”. Through the idea of pinching toil, or to “pine” for a need; to suffer want and to be to be needy, to crave ardently, to seek with a desperate and eager desire It could describe one who is “starving”.
This word is synonymous with the Greek word, “ptochos” found in Matthew 5:3, translated as “poor” which could easily read, “Blessed are the POOR / the STARVING in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”!
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME?
Jesus is telling and showing us that it is at a time like this, a condition like this, when we are POOR & STARVING in our Spirit, destitute in our body, mind and soul, that He may prepare us to come into His Kingdom!
When you make your decision to follow Christ, and you bind it by covenant of your mouth, something miraculous happens. It ORIGINATES in the Spiritual realm of God’s Kingdom and is manifest in the natural world – your natural world. And, make no mistake, you are being readied to enter His Kingdom. This is the One and Only way you and I may enter His Kingdom. By way of faith in Christ!
And, just like Jesus’ testing in the wilderness, He strengthens the souls of His disciples, encouraging us to continue in the faith, saying, “It is through many tribulations we enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22
Our Promised Land is within our reach! Scout it out and be ready, for we are about to Enter The Kingdom!
Your Brother and Friend,
The Next Teaching from Matthew 4:3
PS: Please be aware that this is not metaphorical. This Kingdom is real. It is not so much a defined territory as it is the dominion, authority and the power of God manifest. Jesus demonstrated Kingdom Life as He went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. THIS IS OUR CALLING!