Thoughts on my 40th Birthday

The Big 4-0I know – I’m officially old now.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been getting grief from my wife, my kids, and my co-workers about hitting the Big 4 – O.  Honesty, it really doesn’t seem as big a deal to me as it did when I turned 30.  But with all of the harassment and joking, I have spent a little time pondering the significance of this milestone in my life.

For me as I have reflected on the implications of turning 40, my mind keeps going back to the use of the number 40 in the Scriptures.  It seems that 40 is commonly found as a measurement of a substantial amount of time, and often a period of preparation.  Noah was in the ark for 40 days and nights (Gen 7:4,12). Moses was believed to be 40 when he killed the Egyptian and fled (Ex 2:12).  After 40 more years of preparation as a shepherd he saw the Burning Bush (Ex 3:2) and went back to Pharaoh and shepherded the people out of Egypt.  Then he spent 40 more years leading them in the wilderness as God prepared them to enter the Promised Land before he died at the age of 120 (Deut 34:7).  Moses remained on Mt. Sinai for 40 days twice while receiving the ten commandments (Ex 24:18, Deut 10:10).

We also see King David who ruled for 40 years (2 Sam 5:4), as did his son Solomon (1 Kings 11:42). Elijah fasted in the wilderness for 40 days(1Kings 19:8) as did Jesus (Matt 4:2). Jonah’s prophecy was that in 40 days Nineveh would be destroyed, thus giving them time to prepare and repent (Jonah 3:4).

In Jewish tradition, the Rabbis considered 40 years a notable length of time to study Torah.  Rabbi Akiva spent 40 years as a shepherd, studied for 40 years, and taught for 40 years. The Mishna states that at age 40, one achieves understanding (Avot 5:21)  and “A man does not comprehend his teacher’s full intention until he is 40” says Rabbah(Av. Zar. 5b).

So in light of this theme of 40 being a significant time of preparation, I am excited about what lies ahead in this next season of life. Excited that He has given me 40 years of training and preparation for what He is calling me to do.  May I be faithful to obey His call and to use what He has given wisely.



Filed under Birthday, Christianity, Numbers, Preparation, Scripture

4 responses to “Thoughts on my 40th Birthday

  1. As you wisely note, 40 is a number wrought with significance throughout scripture. May God continue to bless you with many gifts of the spirit. BTW, 40 is NOT old.

    • jeffabel

      It is not nearly as old as I used to think : ). Thanks for your kind words and for all the encouragement you have given to both Julie and I on Twitter.

  2. Hey Jeff,
    When I sent you the well wishes earlier on Twitter, didn’t realize it was for 40. Had to send another note to officially welcome you to the 40 & Fabulous club! It’s not old, it’s a pretty good place to be. Thanks for the thoughts about the number 40, really interesting. I’m starting to wonder if my new venture/new book is the result of my 40 years of training & prep 🙂

    Again, wishing you blessings and many many more birthdays.

    • jeffabel

      Thanks again for the birthday wishes and I’m happy to join the club. I’m sure God will use the wisdom and knowledge He has given as you write. Blessings to you.