Sabbath School Lesson for November 20-26, 2021

See Teresa’s “extra” about the Thanksgiving holiday:

Overview for Lesson 9

Some key thoughts brought out in this week’s lesson about turning our hearts to God are:

  • God longs for us to turn to Him, but the choice to do it is ours. (Sunday)
  • God’s foreknowledge of our choice does not determine what that choice will be. (Monday)
  • God is always available to forgive us when we return to Him in repentance. (Tuesday)
  • True repentance must start with the heart. When our hearts are right with God, our actions will follow. (Wednesday)
  • Repentance, or turning our hearts to God, is promoted all through the Bible. (Thursday)

The sad truth is, ever since Adam and Eve sinned, we are prone to follow their unfortunate example. Looking at the history of mankind, it isn’t hard to find corruption, distrust, and hatred in every aspect of life. As a matter of fact, we find faults and unholy traits as close as that person staring at us in the mirror.

The need of repentance, or turning our hearts to God, is an ongoing feature of our relationship with Him. We must never give up on our efforts to draw as close to God as possible, in humility and love. That, in the end, is the only thing that will save us for eternity.

Memory Text: ” ‘But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.’ ” Deuteronomy 4:29 NKJV

As the season for celebrating Christ’s birth is about to begin, let’s not forget that wise men still seek Him. And they do it with all they’ve got, for all they’re worth. No gift is as important as the forgiveness and hope our Lord offers to everyone who repents.

Sunday: Mi-Yitten

The Hebrew phrase, mi-yitten, literally means “Who will give?”, or you might say, “Who will make it happen?” It is like saying in English, “oh, if only…”. Examples would be…

  • during the exodus from Egypt, when they proclaimed, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt!” (Exodus 16:3).
  • or when David said, “Oh that the salvation of the Israel were come out of Zion!” (Psalm 14:7)
  • Job’s statement as well, when he exclaimed, “Oh, that I might have my request” (Job 6:8)

As you see, the expression, mi-yitten, is used when a desire for something is overwhelming. That makes God’s words to Moses all the more appealing to us. After Moses repeats the Ten Commandments, he reveals these words from God in Deuteronomy 5:29…

“Oh, 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!”

God’s desire has always been for His people to follow Him and love Him with all their hearts. This doesn’t come from any selfish longing on His part, but because it would result in the best outcome for them and their families.

Turning our hearts to Him is simply the greatest thing we can do for ourselves and those around us. In a very real sense, it even makes God happy. We have the power to put a smile on God’s face.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Deuteronomy 5:29

  • Why is the heart so important as we follow God?
  • Who benefits from keeping God’s commandments?

Monday: Seek Me and Find Me

Deuteronomy 4:25-28 is an amazing passage that accurately describes the course Israel would eventually take in the future. They would fall into idolatry just like God predicted. This would result in destruction and a scattering of their population to other lands. Despite God’s warning, a massive Babylonian invasion and exile did take place many years later.

But Moses went on to describe God’s forgiving nature in Deuteronomy 4:29-31. In their distress, God would hear their calls and not forsake them. He would find a way to restore them back into the covenant relationship He had made with their forefathers. But this would come only after they searched for God with all their heart and soul.

Make no mistake. God knows our weaknesses and shortcomings, but He does everything to preserve our power to choose. He may be able to forecast the future, but His knowledge does not determine the choices we make in who to worship. How much grief we could save ourselves by choosing to follow Him every day of our lives. Nothing is as important as our search for God, for His mercy and forgiveness.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Deuteronomy 4:25-28 and 28:62

  • In what major way were God’s people disobedient?
  • What should they have done to protect themselves more from idolatry?
  • Why are we sometimes led into the very sins we’ve been warned about from our family and/or friends?

Tuesday: Teshuvah

The Hebrew word teshuvah, meaning to “turn” or “return”, is found in chapter 30 of Deuteronomy. In verse 2, it talks about returning to God and obeying His voice. In verse 10, it also mentions their option to turn to God with all their heart and soul.

Whether it’s a returning to the previous status you had with God, or a first-time turning to God, His arms are always waiting to receive anyone who comes to Him in repentance.

True repentance is more than just feeling sorry for our sins. This remorse leads to turning away from the evil that convicts and condemns us. It happens when we see the hurt that it causes our heavenly Father. Our humility and loving devotion must lead us to the place where we’d rather die than hurt our Savior. That is the kind of repentance, or returning, that God cherishes most of all.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Deuteronomy 30:2, 10

  • What difference might there be for someone who returns to God and someone who does it for the first time?
  • Why is obedience mentioned in these verses? What does obeying have to do with repentance?

Wednesday: With All Your Heart

God made those fearful predictions of their punishment for idolatry in chapter 4 of Deuteronomy. But as Moses reached the close of his sermons, he once again reminded them of God’s acceptance and forgiveness when they would turn to Him in heartfelt repentance. See Deuteronomy 30:1-10.

Although the consequences would be harsh (those left would be scattered to distant, foreign lands), God was willing to circumcise their hearts (Deuteronomy 30:6), enabling their obedience to once again be an expression of their love and devotion to their heavenly Father.

For if their hearts were right with God, if they had true humility and remorse for their errant ways, keeping God’s commandments would naturally follow. The covenant agreement would be mended and God would draw close to them again.

The many times obedience is mentioned by Moses tells us of its importance. Only when we see how God is hurt by our sinful thoughts and ways, will we be able to live in accordance to His commands. The heart must first be touched, for healing obedience to be seen in our lives.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Deuteronomy 30:6, 10:16, and Romans 2:29

  • What does it mean to have our heart circumcised?
  • What does circumcision of the heart enable us to do?

Thursday: Repent and Be Converted

The kind of repentance Moses called for became the main topic of New Testament preaching. We saw it in…

  • the call of John the Baptist to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2),
  • Jesus’ early ministry when He said, “Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15),
  • the counsel of Peter to “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;” (Acts 2:38).

These and other preachers strike a common chord when it comes to repenting. In most cases, there is some kind of action or thought conversion involved.

This seems to happen when any of us are “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37). In other words, when God circumcises us inwardly, as Moses suggested. We are made aware of our sin, acknowledge and are sorry for our mistakes, and finally we choose to rely on Jesus’ righteousness to replace our own shabby, unreliable performance.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Matthew 3:2 and Mark 1:15

  • What kind of kingdom was John the Baptist preparing for?
  • How did the life of Christ bring God’s Kingdom to us?
  • What gospel are we to believe? What is the gospel Jesus promoted?

Acts 2:37, 38

  • After being “cut to the heart”, why is the question often posed “What shall we do?”
  • What is the only thing we can do?

Friday: Final Thoughts

Our Bible study in these lessons have truly brought us to a deeper understanding of what Moses was trying to say in Deuteronomy. When we grasp the importance of law and grace, we are then encouraged to choose God’s grace in order to live our fullest lives, both now and through eternity. This causes a shift in our hearts, a turning away from sin and a turning to God and His forgiving power to overcome it.

This turning, called repentance, is a constant theme all through Deuteronomy and the whole Bible. Moses reaches God’s people ironically by going over their past, but also holding out to them their shaky, but full-of-possibilities future that awaits them. This all-encompassing preaching still touches hearts today.

We are only made aware of our need for God by seeing our sinful past and experiencing, not only guilt for it, but remorse for the pain it causes our Creator God. The glorious future must also enter our thinking. Keeping our eyes on the final prize of spending eternity in a sinless universe with our loving Savior moves our hearts and strengthens us to be like Him.

And that is where our present lives are most affected. Being like Him means to follow His commands. His moral law, expressed in the Ten Commandments, must become our strategy, propelling us to the goal of being like the One we love and worship. Keeping His commandments will not be difficult when our hearts are in the right place. And truly, obedience from the heart is the only kind that He can accept.

Next Week: Remember, Do Not Forget

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