Jesus, 40 Days in the Desert, and the Ego

by Joshua Tilghman on July 5, 2012

Today I have a special revelation for all my blog readers. In our last article, we discussed why the author of Hebrews encourages Christians to leave the doctrines of Christ (exoteric or outer teachings) and go on to maturity realizing the inner (esoteric) teachings of Christ. We also stated that when a Christian reaches this level of maturity, it is more important to realize what Jesus represents instead of focusing on who he was. Ultimately, the author of Hebrews wanted to teach his disciples a much more advanced set of teachings that were not anchored to the literal interpretation of the Biblical text. In today’s blog post I am going to focus on what Jesus should represent by going over the story of Jesus’ 40 days and nights in the desert.

First let’s look at the number 40. Its frequent use in the major Biblical stories shows us how significant it is. Here’s a quick list:

  • 40 days and nights of rain during the flood of Noah
  • 40 days after flood Noah opened door to ark
  • 40 years the children of Israel wondered in the desert
  • Moses was in Egypt (ego, flesh) 40 years, Midian 40 years, and then in the desert 40 years.
  • Moses was on mountain for 40 days and 40 nights
  • Solomon reigned 40 years
  • Jonah said it would be 40 days until Nineveh would be destroyed

There are literally hundreds more verses that involve the number 40, but this short list should suffice to show you how important it is. So what does 40 represent?

Many commentaries and religious leaders can tell you that 40 represents a time of testing and trial. But what they might not explain is that on the grand scale 40 represents the experience of spirit in the physical body. So the number 40 doesn’t represent different trials you might face in life so much as it represents the testing and trial of your physical life as a whole!

As you already know, the average gestation period of a baby in the womb is 40 weeks (, a further confirmation that the number 40 in the Bible is symbolic of a physical lifespan.

Sow how does all this relate to Jesus’ 40-day sojourn in the desert to confront Satan? In the literal story, we see this as an individual trial in the many trails Jesus experienced. But in the grander scheme Jesus’ 40 days and nights in the desert exemplifies what every human has to go through in a lifetime to evolve on the path to Christ consciousness.

Satan confronts Jesus with three major temptations. If we look closely, we discover that this story is about Jesus confronting his ego, and from an esoteric standpoint, this story represents what you have to do to confront your own ego!

Let’s look at the first temptation:

“And when the tempter (Satan / Ego) came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he (Jesus) answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:3-4).

Our ego always compromises the truth by masking true reality for the grand illusion; in essence, the ego is the anchor to the physical perspective. But Jesus overcomes this perspective. He tells Satan that man does not live by bread alone (physical existence), but by every word from the mouth of God (spirit). In fact since Jesus denies the bread completely, we understand that ultimate truth lies beyond the veil of the physical realm and instead resides in the spiritual realm, or the realm of consciousness that operates beyond this 3D physical experience.

But as the next few verses reveal, the ego will never quit here. If it did, the path to enlightenment would be a lot easier. Now Jesus has to deal with the ego on the next level.

“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And said unto him, If thou be the son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee…Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:5-7).

Remember, Jesus is on the path to higher consciousness, and it is never enough to have knowledge of our egos and the spiritual realm. Jesus’ ego returns through the back door and tempts his humility. But Jesus continues to surrender his ego. In this way Jesus uses the ego as a springboard to higher consciousness. The key is surrender. Let go, let love. Jesus doesn’t have anything to prove. Many people who begin the narrow path get stumped by their ego because they cannot remain humble once they have a higher knowledge of the physical and spiritual world. This second initiation can only be realized by learning to deal with our complex range of desires and emotions which are good at controlling us when we least expect or realize it. Jesus has mastered this. Remember, our desires and emotions are another part of our ego that furthers to anchor us in the lower planes of consciousness, and usually negative emotions are implanted into our subconscious by the ego itself.

After this temptation Christ has one more major test that we all must go through on the path to Christ consciousness. In a last desperate attempt of the ego to shake the foundations of Jesus’ detachment to the physical world, the ego unleashes its greatest temptation by offering to give Jesus anything he desires:

“Again the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

Jesus’ ego makes a last desperate attempt to embrace desire and fail the entire initiation process. But Jesus so completely overcomes desire that he remains detached from all that this world has to offer! This is the way of the master! Remember, we are sojourners on this earth. We should be looking for a heavenly city. Attachment to this world and what this world offers keeps us anchored to the process of life and death in the 3D world.

So ultimately Jesus in this story represents the Christ in each of us that has the power to defeat the ego!

In conclusion, I want you to think about the fact that Jesus spent 40 days in the dessert. This is a long time for introspection. The ego would be at its greatest in such a situation. During this time, Jesus was involved in some serious meditation. The entire process of Jesus defeating Satan is about surrendering oneself in meditation so that you can see the ego for what it really is.

Our next blog post will discuss what Paul means when he states that a true Jew is one “inwardly.” As we’ll see, the institutional church has missed the fact that a true Jew (spiritual person) practices meditation to help catapult them into the higher realms of consciousness!

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzy July 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Thanks for this great exploration of what surrendering means in relation to the ego. Interesting, 40 has always been a favorite number of mine. Thanks for explaining its meaning. Looking forward to learning more from your great blog. ~Suzy


Joshua Tilghman July 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm


I am glad you found it helpful. Numbers are so important in the Bible, but so easy to overlook!


Blair July 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm


I want to speak to you. This was very interesting but I’m a little confused about some of the text…

When can we talk?



Joshua Tilghman July 5, 2012 at 4:49 pm


No problem. Contact me via the contact page and I will be happy to answer any concern you have to the best of my ability.


Bunders September 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm

I made myself a cross to wear around my neck to remind me to keep a check on my ego and keep it nailed down that the world might be spared my judgement and I might spend more time in the heaven of loving and less in the hell of judging.

To remind me to crucify that self-congratulatory part of me (the ego) that I might share the love of God. (with others)

It’s no miraclulous talisman but it serves as a reminder.


Joshua Tilghman September 23, 2012 at 9:27 am


I think this is a very good idea. We all know that a talisman can have no power in and of itself, but it can be a healthy reminder to turn back to introspection. Thanks for commenting.


oana p November 17, 2012 at 10:36 am

Hello, Joshua
This might seem strange to you, but I recently had a revelation that we are in those 40 days right now, the ones awakened and on the path to enlightenment. I realized this as a result of several synchronicities and that always happens when I am about to receive information of great value. Between 11.11.12 and 21.12.12 we have 40 days. We are also in Scorpio, which is the symbol of ego. Beginning with 11.11.12, I experienced some very dark moments and I wasn`t the only one. I realized quickly this is that time of final trial before light begins to shine. The final death of ego. My dreams confirm my discoveries. The days 20, 21 and 22.12 are the three days of initiation, as you explained it so well in your other posts.
I was wondering if you knew about this or felt something similar.
All my best,


Joshua Tilghman November 20, 2012 at 11:36 am

Oana P,

Sorry about the late reply. My time has been spread more thin lately. As to your comment…

What you have discovered is pretty exciting. Yes, I believe December 21, 2012 is a great initiation date for many people. In my next blog post (If I can get the time soon enough) I plan to write about how balance needs to return to the human conscious experience. The scriptures speak so much about the importance of balance. The world has become so unbalanced, and nature is suffering terribly from it. We are also suffering from it. I believe 2012 is about helping to bring that balance back to the conscious experience. Not everyone will participate, but so many are waking up to it now. And yes, I believe you are right on. And in perfect balance, I have found that the ego has very little wiggle room!



anny April 22, 2013 at 9:50 am

Hi Joshua,

A number can also say something about a person and as such is mentioned as his or her age in the bible. In Hebrew that is called ben .. or bat ..

Like I already said about Joshua, who was a ben Nun, which means 50, which meant that he had regained his higher awareness and not necessarily that he was fifty years old or the son of someone, called Nun.

Joseph was a ben 17 when he was sold into slavery. Seventeen is the numerical value of the word tov, which means good, but it is also used when the last, difficult phase of a period has been reached: difficult but still good because something new will be born out of it. That is what signifies Joseph in that stage.

David fell in love with Bathseba, which is bat 7, daughter of the seven. This means she was committed to the process of the world of the seventh day, which is the journey of experience, and she had almost completed it.

And so you also have people who are called ben 40, for instance Isaac when Abraham sends Eliezer to Haran to find a wife for him and Isboset, the only surviving son of Saul, when he inherits the throne. For both of them it means they are under the influence or even in the grip of their ego.


Joshua Tilghman April 25, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Great additional info, Anny. Thanks for posting this.


Kristofa July 29, 2013 at 4:18 am

Nice post!
Great find Oona!
Question: What is the initiation into ? Who is initiating who ? Are there any fees ? Feel free to email me! Or share my email with Oona !
In a seperate post you mentioned that Lucifer was Jesus ! What translation do you quote ? writes something similar in a pactum de singularis caelum are you affiliated with this group in any way ?
What is the significance of Janus ? The Masons in our world have a lot of control so who is fighting who ? If Christ is not coming again unless in our bodies where does the body or spirit go after ascenscion ? Do you subscribe to the god described in ?


Joshua Tilghman July 29, 2013 at 5:09 pm


No, there are no fees. The initiation is into higher consciousness. Going from Jesus the man to Jesus the Christ represents the evolution of every soul. Lucifer is the light-bearer because without the temptation of the serpent, man would have no conscious free will. This adds a new dimension and experience to awareness itself.

I am not affiliated with or, but I will be interested in checking those links out now that you have mentioned them.

About God:

God is not limited to an individual being or thing as religion tries to teach us. God is unlimited, and therefore, God is something our minds cannot grasp. God is both no-thing and everything. God is both the source underlying the process of creation, and God is the creation itself. We are limited conscious aspects of an infinite awareness. That’s just the basics of it.

About the Masons:

I believe the original ideal of the Masons is noble, and to tell the truth, since I am not a Mason I can’t really comment on what they are about. Some believe the Masons have degenerated into something evil today. Who knows?

If you want to discuss further feel free. Blessings!


Paula Kempf September 26, 2013 at 10:21 pm

I would also love to see studys on the Holy Feast Days mentioned in the Bible that many are bringing back into practice 🙂 The reason is because many are NOT SEEING BENEITH the Scriptures saddly. I love your pages! I read them all day long and can not get enough! 🙂


Joshua Tilghman September 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm


Thanks for the encouraging words. The Feast days are making a comeback. Would love to address these in the future.


Betty Alark October 25, 2013 at 11:13 am

Great post!

This post causes me to look back on my life/early childhood. I was rasied up in a nature environment where my childhood was spent away from a lot of distraction/ the things of the world. Most of my time was spent out in nature. In the woods I would pour my heart out to the wind so to speak– not really having an understanding of who I was. life or God, etc.

Growing up I had various, numerous out of the ordinary experiences that allowed me to know that there were other realms beside this one; and I had guides that assisted me on this journey, but my point is that I had a sense of the inner me since I was an introvert that always went within – had moment by moment experience with what the inner me was experiencing and I had a pretty good sense of my nature. I considered myself to basically be a good hearted child and person. I knew I wasn’t perfect, I delt with all aspects of self.

So I quess my question is: Jesus knew the word of God and spoke it. You stated elsewhere that the word He spoke was the Spirit. So what was the word the Spiri spoke ? It wasn’t from the Biblical word?

You say the Spirit is within- my second question is: what if we never had been influenced by religion and learned to speak the word? What would we speak or consider to be the word of God? What would that speach be like?


Joshua Tilghman October 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Betty, great questions. I believe I answered the last part of your question in another post, so I’ll address the first one here.

Imagine that someone asked you what a flower smelled like. You could try to describe it, but unless you explained something similar (which the person you were explaining it to also had experienced), it would be impossible to explain to them with words what a flower like a rose smelled like. The literal words can only convey a very limited association to the real thing. The literal Biblical word is the same. It is a very limited expression that can never be truly understood until it is experienced. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a place. Through the higher intellect and intuition (as it develops) we begin to discern bits and pieces of the word as we experience life. As the word puts it, Jesus learned obedience through suffering. This means that even God grows through conscious experience. The word is living and spirit because it becomes discerned when our experiences allow us to realize the spiritual interpretation over the literal one. This is true conscious growth.



Albert March 2, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Symbolically 4 represents all of creation and 10 represents completeness. Physically 40 is also significant in fasting. After not eating the stomach shrinks and a person can live 30 days or so without many problems. As it passes 30 and goes to 40 it becomes unbearable, probably representing the strength of Satan’s temptation to humans. It takes spiritual strength at this point. There is much more symbolism that is interesting. Good article and points to bring up.


Evelyn Smith August 17, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I AM that I AM. Is a phrase I have believed assist us to connect to Christ Consciousness.
Would you agree Joshua? Perhaps we do not “REQUIRE” words, and just the thought to focus
on our own understanding of GOD. The goodness in our hearts through meditation always serves.
Just a thought, as I have been reading OVER your truly wonderful blog posts once again.
Thank you for all you do, and for all who thirst for PEACE.


Friend January 2, 2015 at 11:08 pm

That was awesome. Thank You!

I am doing a personal ego check right now and your breakdown about the Jesus in the desert was spot on. Such a blessing for that!


Joshua Tilghman January 3, 2015 at 10:05 am

Thanks for commenting. Blessings.


Nita February 13, 2015 at 10:52 pm

This was very helpful to me; I thank you and I thank what brought me to it.


William December 7, 2015 at 7:44 am

Fasting and praying for 40 days is key. It will help you make then journey within. Great discoveries await you.


Joshua Tilghman December 22, 2015 at 7:49 pm

William, I don’t think I could fast 40 days. I’m glad you were able to. I did know someone who went to twenty, but the longest I’ve been is three.


Shane December 9, 2015 at 7:40 pm

Christ consciousness…? No such thing. You are either awake or not awake, no middle ground here!


Joshua Tilghman December 22, 2015 at 7:47 pm

Shane, I understand your point, and in the ultimate scheme of things I couldn’t agree more. But I also think there is a process to reaching what you might refer to as awake.


Russell West January 25, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Just so you know, you are not alone in how you interpret Jesus’s test of 40 days. But in our lives I wish it were just 40 days and nights. Could our 40 days and nights be our entire moral life? I think so. The 40 days in the desert is our mortal existence


Joshua Tilghman February 21, 2016 at 10:29 am

Russell, yes. I agree.


Theo January 29, 2017 at 10:37 pm

Thanks for this information.I see that you know how to use both science and religion to find the truth.

This is topic reflects my questions that I always ask myself “What is the linkage between Buddhism and Christianism”?Why Jesus life looks like the life that Monks(Buddhist ) live today(meditation,simple life,…etc)?Why the Bible doesn’t mention the life of Jesus from 13 until 30years old ?Where did he attend school ? Is it possible that he might go to study in India? I have many related questions like these..

I am Christian from my Childhood.Due to my parents are religion practitioners,I have started reading Bible from my Childhood. When I was in high School of Roman Catholic Church (Junior Seminar ), I begun to link the sciences and religion (history,psychology, philosophy…etc vs what is written in Bible ). The first challenge I got was to understand the linkage between evolution(science ) and the creation written in Bible .The second question was to understand the history and religion (archeological findings vs religion teachings ).

In my Bachelor, first year, I got one book talking about Buddhism.I started to know about it by reading many books…After my Bachelor,I took the decision to come here in ASIA studying for coming in touch with Buddhists. I have many Asian Buddhists now from different countries.I have known the base of their believe and something about their religion.My target is to know the truth and what is behind all religions and any kind of believe we meet in this World (Muslim,Christianism ,Atheism, Illuminati…etc).

Regarding this topic,you are able to explain thing as they are…capable of linking psychology(ego…)and religion.
I am sometimes sad to hear some Pastors, Priests, Bishops (holding a PhD in Theology)who read Bible as kids and teach to the people in blind way….Many Christians think that there is Satan (in symbol of big snake) who confronted Jesus in three big temptemptations,but it is Ego as you said.

Can I talk to you later ?I have many things to ask you..



Joshua Tilghman February 24, 2017 at 8:10 pm

Sure Theo, message me through the contact form.


Joanne April 7, 2017 at 9:21 am

I read the temptation scenario differently. Jesus had fasted 40 days, presumably to “find enlightenment.” The first two temptations weren’t about turning stones to food or testing the angels.

The temptation was “If you are the son of God.” Isn’t that what we are all tempted with when we begin to realize who we really are? And once having stood firm in his resolution of his true identity, he was tempted with grandiosity.

That’s my take on it, anyway.

BTW, the human body can fast up to around 90 days depending on bodily energy and nutritional reserves. After the first few days, hunger disappears, and the fast can be quite comfortable. When bodily reserves are used up, true hunger begins, and you are now entering starvation. Jesus was an hungered, meaning he was starving. Hey, Jesus, if you are the son of God…


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