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Sunday: Mi-yitten — 11 Comments

  1. Moses retold the story of the Hebrews receiving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. He reminded them of the experience of hearing the voice of God, and of their promise that they would keep his commandments. Six weeks later they had forgotten their promises and were worshiping a golden calf in much the same way as other nations around them were doing.

    It reminds me that as a small child, I would watch my mother put the fresh baked cookies on the cooling rack to cool and she would announce in her sternest voice. "Promise me you won't eat any of them!" She would then go off to collect eggs or help Dad milk the cows. And those cookies smelled so good and Mum had baked so many of them. She wasn't looking and my little mind would calculate the risk of pinching just one cookie, because, believe it or not, I was so hungry.

    Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and halways keep all My commandments, ithat it might be well with them and with their children forever! Deut 5:29 NKJV

    God wanted the Hebrews to understand the obedience was something that came from the heart and was not just a set of rules to manipulate and see what they could get away with.

  2. The desire is a want that first has to be registered in the superconscious and expressed in the conscious mind. If the extraction of the desire is overcome by evil will, the outcome of the activity expressed will be evil.

  3. I find 3 valuable insights reflected in today's lesson and am hilighting them for what they are worth:

    1) When reading/studying the Old Testament, we need to be mindful of the existence of Hebrew idioms - words that "mean something different from what they actually say".

    2) Similar to point 1, we need to consider the actual concept behind words we assume we are familiar with. For example, in Deuteronomy 5:22-29, the people are speaking to Moses because they are clearly fearful. And God says in verse 29 that He 'wishes' (mi-yitten) that they "...had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!"

    If we don't stop and consider more deeply, we can come away with the impression that God wanted the Israelites to be afraid of Him and keep His commandments out of fear. But if we look more closely we see that the fear of the Israelites led them to stop and think carefully about their situation to the point that they considered things carefully. In their fear, they took the matter seriously and gave it their full attention and focus - all their heart, soul and strength - so to speak.

    This is what I believe God was talking about when he was wishing that they would 'fear' Him. It was not the fear per se that God wanted the Israelites to experience as much as it was what that fear would lead them to do - give the matter full and undivided focus and attention. Moses, on the other hand, did this but not because He was fundamentally 'frightened' of God like the Israelites were (eg the Israelites recoiled from the display of God's presence on Sinai whereas Moses entered that presence). Thus, the reference across scripture to 'fear God' is more a reference to giving God (and the matters pertaining to life and living) the full and undivided attention that they need because of their 'life or death' importance (as per Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

    3) The lesson rightly points out that there are instances where "... we see that there are limits to what God can do in the midst of the great controversy". This causes us to rethink notions of God's sovereignty. This is not to say that God is not sovereign, but rather that God is not sovereign in the way He is typically portrayed as being sovereign.

    God's ways are infinitely higher that our ways (Isaiah 55:8,9). And yet God wants each and every one of us to grow in our understanding of His ways - and keep growing, and keep growing, and keep growing... (Jeremiah 9:23,24). Consequently, when reading/studying the bible, we will often need to go beyond our 'default' understandings to gradually and progressively learn to see God's higher ways*.

    Unfortunately, God is 'limited' to communicating with us through our language - including our existing understanding of word-concepts that reflect our 'lower' ways rather than His 'higher' ones. Therefore that is His starting point in communicating with us. But it is only His starting point - He then wants and needs to take us beyond our existing understanding of word-concepts and help us begin to be able to see and grow in our understanding of His 'higher ways' using those same words but seen in a 'newer light'. Mi-yitten...

    What do you think?

    * I would not want anyone to think that they don't have what it takes to study God's Word more deeply. You don't need to be a theologian first - for it is the Holy Spirit that is promised to be our teacher. Therefore hunger and thirst - rather than university degrees - is what is primarily needed.

    • Phil, thank you for insight. It is much appreciated. If I might add, my college professor, Douglas Waterhouse, always preferred to translate the Hebrew word for “fear” found most commonly in the Bible, with the word “respect”, connoting the idea of awe and reverence rather than the modern English understanding of the word fear; “ unpleasant emotion caused by being aware of danger/death : a feeling of being afraid.” ( Webster).

      • Thanks Jim

        I agree with your addition.

        One of the key aspects of understanding fear and similarly 'wrath' is going deeper than merely looking at the 'whole package' that we 'instinctively' bring to mind as humans. This is not a 'natural' process for us as humans to do - therefore it is something we need to train ourselves to do. This is because it is the sub-elements of these experiences that we need to become aware of if we want to grow in our understanding and awareness.

        What I mean by this is that what we term emotions are, from a functional perspective, motivational energy. That motivational energy will in turn express itself in one way or another, but it is helpful to distinguish between those two aspects. This is why Paul (Ephesians 4:6) was able to say in your anger (ie your state of elevated motivation), do not express that motivation in a 'sinful' manner (ie self-seeking, lawless and therefore inherently self-destructive and consequently also other-destructive).

        Similar with fear. Fear motivates us initially to pay full and undivided attention to something - which is why your professors suggestion regarding awe and respect is relevant because in that space of awe and respect you pay full and undivided attention to that thing: ie, you take it seriously. This is the key element that I believe the 'fear of God' is aiming to convey - take it seriously because there is a life and death reality involved. And because that life or death is tied directly to reality - via reality's cause-and-effect nature (ie 'law/constant'), we need to be sufficiently aware of that reality so we can live in harmony with it.

        I appreciate this can sound too complicated, but unfortunately reality is incredibly complicated (ask any physicist). But that is also why we have the Holy Spirit and why we have Christian community with leaders who are responsible to help people understand things (just like Moses was working to do with the Israelites by teaching them as per Genesis to Deuteronomy).

  4. Who will give, depends on the context? Out of context is God gave His Son, for us. John 3:16.
    In context of Deuteronomy 5:29. Who will give? Who will surrender, and obey now, of course by willing to be made willing? As Shirley said last week on Wenesday, a change of heart. Now a change of heart takes place when we allow God to put His Spirit within us, causing us to walk in His statutes, keeping His ordinences and doing them. Ezekiel 36:27.

  5. "Turn Their Hearts" or in other words, "Let Us Turn Our Hearts";

    This is a very important especially we Adventist, as our fellow ancient Israel were supposed to do, they were to repent in order to return to the land. The temptation of Israel as they settle in the land was to think that they have reached their destination and do not need to be careful anymore, which applies to us today that since we are in the remnant church we have got not to care anymore, but remember, these children of Israel, little by little , they were losing touch with God and the demands of His law. Thus, thinking that they had arrived at their destination, they will venture outside old paths.

    However, as the title reads on top, "return to God", is an important principle( which is the structure of repentance) in the book of Deuteronomy, which will confront us with the following themes:

    > Seeking God
    > God's forgiveness
    > The Return
    > The Fulfillment of Prophecy

    We will study them as the structure of repentance

  6. "Mi-yitten" - "oh, if only one/they would come to me, trust me, love me with all their heart - how wonderful this would be, how pleased and happy I would be!" 
    To interpret this emotion as an expression to depict 'free-will', I find somewhat contrived; if so, only secondary. I see this expression as an outcry of our merciful, loving, caring, anxious Heavenly Father who desperately hopes that His children choose safety and Life in Him.

  7. We as a Jesus follower we must fully committed to God with our Heart, Soul, and strength. If we come close to God, we will be in his side. Even when the problem comes, we will stand fast with GOD.

  8. In life we are only given two choices,that's to choose life or death and just like practically when we have two different way to go we will need to choose one since we can't divide ourselves into two parts so let's ask for christ intervention so that we may go the wright way


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