2008-02-15 - Lenten and Easter Traditions
Installment 1: 40 Days
During the next four weeks, we will look at several Christian traditions of Lent and Easter. It is my hope that the series will be a catalyst to further Bible study of the passages that relate to the tradition.
Why are there 40 days of Lent? Orginally, in the third century A.D., Lent was observed for only 2-3 days. However, around 325 A.D., the Council of Nicea extended the observance to forty days.
Throughout the history of the people of God, you will find that the number 40 recurs in both the Old and New Testaments. For example, Genesis 8 tells us that after the flood, Noah waited for 40 days after seeing the mountain tops, before sending out a raven to seek dry land.
In addition, the number forty is associated with fasting and the wilderness. The Jewish people suffered in wilderness exile for 40 years, before reaching the Promised Land. Moses fasted for 40 days before God gave him what have become known as the Ten Commandments. And in similar fashion, Christ fasted in the wilderness for forty days, before embarking upon his ministry.
Are you in a wilderness experience - a period of spiritual dryness, painful relationships, devastating illness or something else? Ask God to use this period of Lent to redeem that situation for you. He may not lift you out of it, but He can use it for good, a la Romans 8:28.