Daily Devotions

40 Days and 40 Nights

40 Days and 40 Nights 
Day 17

"And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights..."

Text: Matthew 4: 2


In the original commandments of the Lord given to the children of Israel, all the religious feast days were celebratory in nature. They commemorated special events.

1. The Passover and Unleavened Bread – Exodus 12:1-20

These commemorated the time when God passed over Egypt and slew the firstborn sons in Egypt, but spared the children of Israel.

2. Firstfruits – Leviticus 23:9-14

This was a special event when the firstfruits were presented to the Lord.

3. Harvest (Sometimes called Pentecost or simply Weeks) – Deuteronomy 16:9-12

This was to give thanks to the Lord for a good harvest.

4. Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah- New Year) – Numbers 29:1-6

This ushered in the New Year.

5. Tabernacles (Booths, or Ingathering) – Nehemiah 8:13-18

6. Purim – Esther 9:18-31

7. The Day of Atonement – Leviticus 23:26-32

Only one religious event involved “fasting”. This event was called “The Day of Atonement” (Leviticus 23:27). On that day the children of Israel were commanded to “afflict (their) souls” (Leviticus 23:27, 29, 32). In none of the other feast days was this required.


This was not commanded by the Lord. However, the call to fast as a special time for prayer was practised.

1. Called by the prophets

Joel was one of the prophets who called for a special fast (Joel 1:14). The reasons given: –

a) The Day of the Lord was feared.
b) It was a day of judgment and destruction.
c) The possibility of experiencing a great calamity moved the prophet Joel to call for a national fast.

2. Four special fasts were practised by Israel – Zechariah 8:19

a) The fast of the fourth month (To commemorate the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem.)
b) The fast of the fifth month (To commemorate the destruction of the temple.)
c) The fast of the seventh month (To commemorate the slaying of Governor Gedaliah.)
d) The fast of the tenth month (To commemorate the beginning of the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar in Jerusalem.)

However, these days of fasting were not often matched with genuine spiritual fervor. These fasts were actually rejected by the Lord (Isaiah 58). Very few truly practised fasting correctly. Moses and the Lord Jesus Christ did!