Biblical Hebrew, like most languages, is sprinkled with idioms, words, or phrases that mean something different from what they immediately say. An example is mi-yittan, which is composed of two Hebrew words: mi, which is the interrogative “who?” and yittan, which means “will give.” Thus, we have “who will give?”
In the Hebrew Bible, this phrase expresses the idea of a wish, of a desire, of someone wanting something badly.
For instance, after their escape from Egypt, the children of Israel, facing challenges in the wilderness, exclaimed, “ ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt!’ ” (Exod. 16:3, NIV). The phrase “if only” came from mi-yittan. In Psalm 14:7, David utters, “Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion!” The Hebrew doesn’t say, “Oh”; it says mi-yittan. In Job 6:8, when Job exclaims, “ ‘Oh, that I might have my request’ ” (NIV), “Oh” is from mi-yittan.
Another occurrence appears, this time in Deuteronomy 5:29. Going over the history of God’s providences, Moses reminds the children of Israel about their request that he, Moses, talk to the Lord for them, lest they die. According to Moses, the Lord, pleased with their request, then said: “ ‘ “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would hear Me and always keep all My commandments” ’ ” (NKJV). The word translated “Oh”? Yes, it is mi-yittan.
Incredible! Here is the Lord—the Creator God, the One who made space, time, and matter, the One who spoke our world into existence, the One who breathed into Adam the breath of life—uttering a phrase generally associated with the weaknesses and limitations of humanity.
Talk about the reality of free will. Talk about the limits of what God can do in the midst of the great controversy. This use of mi-yittan reveals that even God won’t trample on free will (because the moment He did, it would no longer be free).
Now, if ever one book of the Old Testament revealed the reality of God’s desire for humans to obey Him, and the human tendency not to, it would be the book of Jeremiah, the topic of this quarter. Set against the background of great geopolitical changes in the ancient Near East, the book of Jeremiah recounts the ministry and message of the prophet as he, with passion and faithfulness, preached God’s message to a people who, for the most part, didn’t want to hear it. Starting with the prophet’s call, the book takes us through decades of biblical history as the Lord used this young (and then old) man to proclaim the basic truths that have been the foundation of the biblical message from the beginning. And of all the spiritual truths taught in the book, these words catch the essence of so much of what the Lord seeks from His people: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord’ ” (Jer. 9:23, 24, ESV). To read the book of Jeremiah is to take a journey, a spiritual journey that goes back and forth from the lowest depths of human depravity to the heights and grandeur and majesty of the Lord—the Lord who, from those heights, cries out to all of us: Mi-yittan that such a heart would be in you!
Imre Tokics, PhD, is the head of the Old Testament Department at the Adventist Theological College, Pecel, Hungary. He is a professor of Old Testament and Jewish religious sciences and also has a doctor of law (LLD) degree.
Editorial Office: 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904 Come visit us at our Web site: http://www.absg.adventist.org
Principal Contributor: Imre Tokics
Editor: Clifford R. Goldstein
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Art Director and Illustrator: Lars Justinen
The teachers edition components were written by the following: The Lesson in Brief, Lessons 1–13, and The Learning Cycles, 1–13: Martin G. Klingbeil, DLitt, professor, biblical studies and archaeology, Southern Adventist University, Collegedale, Tenn., U.S.A.; assistant director, Institute of Archaeology, Southern Adventist University, Collegedale, Tenn., U.S.A.
© 2015 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists®. All rights reserved. No part of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide may be edited, altered, modified, adapted, translated, reproduced, or published by any person or entity without prior written authorization from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists®. The division offices of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists® are authorized to arrange for translation of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, under specific guidelines. Copyright of such translations and their publication shall remain with the General Conference. “Seventh-day Adventist,” “Adventist,” and the flame logo are registered trademarks of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists® and may not be used without prior authorization from the General Conference. Cover and Interior images © 2015 Lars Justinen and Good Salt Inc. All rights reserved.
Get Motivated to Explore, Apply, and Create
We hope that this format of the teachers edition will encourage adult Sabbath School class members to do just that—explore, apply, and create. Each weekly teachers lesson takes your class through the following learning process, based on the Natural Learning Cycle:
And for teachers who haven’t had time to prepare during the week for class, there is a one-page outline of easy-to-digest material in “The Lesson in Brief” section.
Here’s a closer look at the four steps of the Natural Learning Cycle and suggestions for how you, the teacher, can approach each one:
Step 1—Motivate: Link the learners’ experiences to the central concept of the lesson to show why the lesson is relevant to their lives. Help them answer the question, Why is this week’s lesson important to me?
Step 2—Explore: Present learners with the biblical information they need to understand the central concept of the lesson. (Such information could include facts about the people; the setting; cultural, historical, and/or geographical details; the plot or what’s happening; and conflicts or tension of the texts you are studying.) Help learners answer the question, What do I need to know from God’s Word?
Step 3—Apply: Provide learners with opportunities to practice the information given in Step 2. This is a crucial step; information alone is not enough to help a person grow in Christ. Assist the learners in answering the question, How can I apply to my life what I’ve learned?
Step 4—Create: Finally, encourage learners to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). Invite them to make a life response to the lesson. This step provides individuals and groups with opportunities for creative self-expression and exploration. All such activities should help learners answer the question, With God’s help, what can I do with what I’ve learned from this week’s lesson?
When teachers use material from each of these four steps, they will appeal to most every student in their class: those who enjoy talking about what’s happening in their lives, those who want more information about the texts being studied, those who want to know how it all fits in with real life, and those who want to get out and apply what they’ve learned.