Biblical Significance of
120 Days/Years

*40 Days and 40 Years
*40-Day and 40-Year Periods of Cleansing and/or Rejection
*120 days of Commandments, Cleansing, and Fasting
*120 Years of Moses and 120 Years of Noah
*Three Parallel Starts of 40-Year Periods
*Questions Raised
*The 120 Years of Kings Over United Israel

40 Days and 40 Years

Numerous Bible prophecies show that a prophetic day can be prophetic of a year. Consider these examples:
For the 40 days that the IsraElites spent spying out the Promised Land (because they turned against God and refused to enter it), the IsraElites had to wander in the desert for 40 years (Numbers 14:34).
Ezekiel was instructed to lie on his left side for 390 days and then on his right sided for 40 days as part of a prophecy to show the people when the 10-tribe kingdom of IsraEl and the 2-tribe kingdom of Judah would be destroyed, which was to happen at the end of 390 years (the last 40-year portion of which was to be the destruction of the tribe of Judah).

40-Day and 40-Year Periods of Cleansing and/or Rejection

Notice that 40 days and 40 years often indicate periods of cleansing. For example, rain fell on the earth for forty days and nights to cleanse it during the time of Noah. Also, because of their lack of faith; IsraEl had to spend 40-years wandering in the desert prior to entering the Promised Land. And Jesus seems to have undergone two 40-day periods of cleansing, the first being the 40-days that he spent in the desert without food or water after his baptism and before he was tempted by the Slanderer, and the second 40 days happened between his resurrection and the time that he was allowed to reenter the heavenly presence of God.

The same thing was true of the Prophet EliJah at 1 Kings Chapter 19 we are told that he had to go without food or water for forty days as he traveled to the Dry Mountain (Horeb) to be in the presence of God.

120 days of Commandments, Cleansing, and Fasting

You might notice that one seemingly important prophetic 120-day period mentioned in the Bible started when Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. For the account tells us that after he spent 40 days on the mountain (Exodus 24:18), he returned to find that the IsraElites had built a gold calf to worship. So he threw the tablets down and broke them, and he started a 40-day fast, as he begged God to forgive the people (Deuteronomy 9:18). Then he went back up the mountain to create duplicate stone tablets, where he stayed for 40 more days (Exodus 34:28), after which the people agreed to follow God's laws.

What was the significance of this 120-day period? Well, not only does it have to do with the cleansing of Moses, but it also had to do with the creation of God's Sacred Agreement with His people from its inception to its acceptance, and it was a time of turmoil and testing. Does this 120 days symbolize a significant future 120-year period? Time will tell.

120 Years of Moses and 120 Years of Noah

In addition, there's a 120-year period that had to do with Moses. It started at his birth in Egypt when the Pharaoh decreed the death of all the newborn IsraElite male children in the land (Exodus 1:15, 16). Then, 40 years later, he killed an Egyptian and fled the country to live in the land of Midian. It was there – 40 years after that – that God's messenger spoke to Moses from the burning bush and gave him the commission which led to the IsraElites being set free and God's Sacred Agreement being established with them. And finally, there was the last 40-year period that the IsraElites spent wandering in the desert. So at the end of exactly 120-years (see Deuteronomy 34:7), Moses died and the IsraElites entered the Promised Land.

It's interesting that Noah also saw a 120-year period that led up to the destruction of his ancient world. For at Genesis 6:3 we find God saying that he was going to destroy both men and animals in just 120 more years, and that's when He gave Noah the order to build the chest (ark) to save the lives of his family and of selected animals.

So is there any significance to these 120-year periods in our time? Well, if you haven't read it already, consider the observations made in the linked document, 'Armageddon – When?' under the subheading: 'Theory 4: 2,520 Years.' As it points out, this could possibly be (but it isn't necessarily) prophetic of the period known as 'the last days' of this 'age.'

Three Parallel Starts of 40-Year Periods

It is interesting that the 120-years of Moses' life started with an attempt to kill him as a newborn baby in Egypt, for we read of a similar event happening at the time of Jesus' birth, when JoSeph and Mary had to flee to Egypt to save the baby's life. Then we read of such a thing happening a third time at Revelation 12:4. For there it warns of a time when the Slanderer will try to devour (destroy) the 'seed' (or baby) of God's 'woman.' And this action then leads up to a war in heaven (see verse 7) that results in the Dragon and his messengers (angels) being cast down to the earth. According to that account, this brings a period of 'woe' for the earth (see verse 12), while the Kingdom and Jesus' authority to rule begins in the heavens (see verses 10-12). So, could the start of the last days have been symbolized by the start of the 120 year life of Moses? Time will tell.

Also notice other important parallels between the life of Moses and the earthly life of Jesus. For the Bible tells us that IsraElites were baptized into Moses at the Red Sea (see 1 Corinthians 10:2), the same as Jesus' disciples are baptized into him (see Galatians 3:27). And it says that Moses was the mediator of God's Sacred Agreement with His people (Hebrews 12:24) the same as Jesus was the mediator of the New Sacred Agreement (see 1 Timothy 2:5). So there could be no one more fitting to symbolize Jesus than faithful Moses, and the 40-day (and 40-year) periods do seem to find a parallel in their lives and in the signs that lead to the birth of God's Kingdom.

Questions Raised

If any of the above is significant, it raises many other questions that deserve further investigation. Some of these are:

What does the beginning of the first 40-year period (the saving of the child) signify for God's people today?

Will the second 40-year period in Moses' life that ended with God's deliverance of His people from Egypt have a modern fulfillment?

Will the last 40-year period 'in the desert' also have a modern fulfillment?

Does the complete 120-year period have a modern fulfillment? And if so, when will (or did it) begin?

Notice that 40-years is the typical length of the life of a single adult generation, as the 40-year trek in the desert shows. So if the 120-year period has a modern fulfillment, it seems to picture three generations.

The 120 Years of Kings Over United IsraEl

Another interesting (but usually overlooked) 120-year period that is broken into three 40-year parts, is the combined reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon. For according to the Bible, each reigned for exactly 40 years.

Since the 40-year reign of King David was one of turmoil, war, and the defeat of IsraEl's enemies; this period is thought to be prophetic of the 40-years of cleansing of the wicked from the land. This was followed by the peaceful 40-year reign of Solomon (during which God's Temple was built), which is thought to picture 40-years of peace and prosperity that follow sometime after 'the Battle of Armageddon.' But if this is true, then what (if anything) did the first 40-year reign of Saul picture?

Saul's reign is surely significant, because he was selected and anointed by God (although he wasn't of the kingly tribe of Judah), and his reign lasted for exactly 40 years. There is too much that is prophetic and planned here for it to be unimportant history. So, might it picture a period of imperfect rulership that leads up to the coming of the greater David, Jesus?

Also, notice that the second 40-year period in Moses' life ended with the release of the IsraElites and the destruction of PharaOh and his army. This could indicate that Armageddon will come at the end of an 80-year period; and thereafter, there may come a final 40-year period of cleansing and wandering. For if the destruction of Pharaoh and his army pictured Armageddon, then the last 40-years that the IsraElites spent in the desert must be prophetic also. Notice that this was also a period of peace for God's people and of relying on Him for their sustenance. So it appears as though a third 40-year period comes after the Battle of Armageddon. For more information, see the linked document, 'Similarities Between the Exodus and the Events of Revelation.'

To return to the previous document, select the Back arrow on your browser

Home Page