The Kingdom, by Witness Lee

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Now we come to the meaning of the number forty-two. In the Bible we have the number forty and also the number forty-two. By the revelation of the Scriptures, we understand that the number forty means trials, sufferings, testings, and temptations. There are many forties in the Bible. For forty years the people of Israel were in the wilderness being tested and tried by God, with a great deal of suffering. When Moses was on the mount for forty days, that was a testing for the people of Israel (Exo. 24:18). There was a period of forty days and nights related to Elijah (1 Kings 19:8), and the Lord Jesus Himself was tempted for forty days (Matt. 4:1-2). Following His resurrection, the Lord tested His disciples for forty days by doing nothing to vindicate Himself and nothing to prove to them that all authority in heaven and on the earth had been given to Him. If I had been Peter, I would not have had the patience to wait day after day, week after week, with nothing happening for thirty-nine days. Those forty days were a time of real testing. Clearly the number forty means testing, trials, temptations, and sufferings.

Forty-two, of course, is composed of forty plus two. Two is the number of witness, of testimony. Forty-two means that after the period of testing and trial something will be accomplished to fulfill God’s purpose. Hallelujah! From the time of Abraham to the birth of Joseph’s father was a period of forty generations, a period of testing. The promise of Abraham had not been fulfilled, nor the promise to David. Neither had the promises of so many good things to the children of Israel been fulfilled. These were generations of real testing.

However, after two more generations, the fulfillment was realized. The Lord Jesus came! He is God incarnated! He was not incarnated in the second generation of the human race, nor the twentieth, nor the fortieth. God did not count from Adam, the created race, but from the children of Abraham, the people of promise. There had been many promises, but God was not incarnated until the forty-second generation, the second generation after a long period of testing, trials, and even failures.

The record from Abraham to Malachi on the one hand is a record of all God’s promises. On the other hand it is a record of testings, defeats, disappointments, and failures. Surely we would have given up. We would have said that God made promises to our forefather Abraham forty generations ago, but nothing has happened. But now, at the forty-second generation God Himself was incarnated. The forty-second generation is the Lord Jesus, the fulfillment of God’s promises and God’s purpose, even the fulfillment of everything God intended to do. Forty plus two means the sufferings and testings plus the fulfillment of God’s purpose. After forty-two generations everything pertaining to God’s purpose is fulfilled.

In Revelation 12:6 there are forty-two months, or three and a half years. The end of those forty-two months will be the completion of the great tribulation. At that completion, the Lord Jesus will come again, and that will be the fulfillment of God’s purpose.

The forty-two generations in Matthew 1 are divided into three sections. Matthew 1:17 says that from Abraham to David is fourteen generations, from David the king to the captivity another fourteen generations, and from the captivity to the birth of Jesus Christ a third group of fourteen generations. The first fourteen generations are related mainly to God the Father; the second group, the kingly generations, are undoubtedly related to God the Son, who is the King; and the third group, which includes so many sufferings and experiences, is related to the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Trinity is indicated in these forty-two generations, and the outcome, the issue of all these generations is the Lord Jesus, the forty-second generation. He is the all-inclusive issue of these generations mingled with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. So His name is Jehovah-plus and God-plus. To see this we need a spirit of wisdom and revelation. How wonderful our Lord Jesus is! Our human vocabulary is not adequate to describe Him. He is the issue of all the generations of the promised people mingled with the Triune God to be Jehovah-plus and God-plus.

(The Kingdom, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)