Jesus Plus Nothing Bible Studies
Top 10 Questions from God
by I Gordon
I like God's questions because they tend to have multiple levels. First there is a simple surface level. Then there is the deeper level that speaks to more than just the person He is talking to. I wanted to do a quick study that looks at some of my favorite questions that God has asked in the Old Testament. We will carry this series on with other great questions from Jesus Christ and others in the Bible but for now we'll stick to the Old Testament. So let's start right back in the beginning, in Genesis.
1. Where are you?
Genesis 3:8-12 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (9) Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" (10) He said, "I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself." (11) And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" (12) The man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate."
This is the first recorded question by God. It is not the first ever question mind you. That one was the infamous 'Did God really say?' posed by the serpent. But this is the first question from God and on the surface level He is calling out to Adam, asking where He is. Now obviously God knew exactly where Adam was. And yet He asks the question. Why? God obviously wants Adam to acknowledge where he is and why he is there. Where was he? Well, Adam was hiding! Why was he hiding from God? Because he had disobeyed, fallen into sin and he was now fearful.
On the deeper level this question from God is one that He has asked all mankind over the ages. Man has continued to run and hide from God, and God, for His part, has sought out the lost. How would you respond if God asked that question to you? 'Where are you at?' Are we hiding at all from God or fully walking in the light? Do we know that God is ever seeking us out to draw us back to Himself?
2. What is this you have done?
Genesis 3:13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
The next relevant question is for Eve. 'What is this that you have done?' At a surface level question, God, like he did with Adam, was trying to get Eve to take responsibility for what she had done. Adam had blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. Like little children being caught red-handed, they still had to blame someone else. Nobody wanted to take responsibility. This is the way it was when it comes to sin and it is how it is today.
But the deeper answer to 'What have you done?' probably couldn't be answered by Eve at that stage. She wouldn't have been able to grasp what she and Adam had done. But how devastating that fall was! Imagine if they could see throughout the ages; see the sin, the violence, the murder, the lust, the pride, the oppression, the broken families, the desperation and loneliness... Imagine if they could have seen all the effects of the fall! What have you done?
3. Where have you come from and where are you going?
Genesis 16:6-10 But Abram said to Sarai, "Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight." So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence. (7) Now the angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. (8) He said, "Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from and where are you going?" And she said, "I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai." (9) Then the angel of the LORD said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority." (10) Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, "I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count."
In its context, Hagar came from a bitter situation with Sarai, Abraham's wife, and was on the run, not really knowing where she was going. God was about to show her that her future was actually bright. She would have many descendants. The question however is one that is asked of all of us today. People today often don't know where they came from or where they are going. Evolutionists teach that we come from randomness and go back to the ground in a complete purposeless existence. People have mid-life crises because they see their life ebbing away and feel they have nothing to show for it. Christians should know the answer to this question. They should know where they have come from and where they are going; both in terms of their eternal destiny and also, to a lesser extent, concerning how they are pressing on to the higher calling of our God. All believers should know that they were made in the purpose and plan of God and their destination is to be with, and enjoy Him forever. Knowing this, where you have come from and where you are going, leads to real purpose and focus on this things that matter in this current life.
4. What is your name?
Genesis 32:24-29 Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. (25) When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. (26) Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." (27) So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." (28) He said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed." (29) Then Jacob asked him and said, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And he blessed him there.
Jacob had wrestled with God throughout the night and wouldn't give up! So God asks the question 'What is your name?' Now obviously God knew Jacob's name but he wanted to ask the question to get Jacob to say who he was. You see, Jacob means 'supplanter' or 'trickster'. That is who he was naturally and Jacob acknowledged that. But God has something more for this man. He name shall no longer be Jacob but Israel ('prince with God').
God has always been in the business of changing people and a change of name is but an outward sign of the inward change. What would you say if God asked you your name? Have you seen who you are naturally? More importantly, if you are a Christian, have you come to see your new identity and ability in Christ? Too many Christian's only see who they are through their first birth. They see their fears, their worries and weaknesses. But God is in the business of changing names and lives! We should learn to see that who we are through the second birth is the most important!
5. What is that in your hand?
Exodus 4:1-5 Then Moses said, "What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, 'The LORD has not appeared to you.'" (2) The LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" And he said, "A staff." (3) Then He said, "Throw it on the ground." So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. (4) But the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail"--so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand-- (5) "that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you."
The timing of this question occurred when Moses met God at the burning bush. It was during this time that God commissioned Moses to be His spokesman before Pharaoh with the purpose of leading the nation of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. But Moses was so confident! Gone were the days when Moses thought he was a hot shot with fame and power down in Egypt. That was 40 years ago and now he was just a shepherd in the backside of the desert! He didn't feel he had the skills or ability to do any such thing. So God asks Moses 'what is that in your hand?' It was of course a staff and when he threw it down God performed the miracle of turning it into a serpent. In doing this, God showed Moses that He was the only one that could do the miraculous, not Moses! He could use whatever Moses had as long as Moses remained humble and looked to the Lord.
The bigger picture speaks to all of us. It is not just Moses that God asks this question of. 'What is that in your hand believer?' What do you have to offer? Oh, you don't have much... Just an old stick? God is always trying to remind us that it is not your ability but your availability that He is looking for. You may have very, very little in your hand that you can present to God. That is just how He wants it! He is more interested in using your little so that the glory belongs to Him than to use someone who sees themself as a spiritual Green Beret who has all that they need in themself. What is that in your hand? It is not what you've got. It is who you present it to.
6. What are you doing here?
1 Kings 19:1-10 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. (2) So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them." (3) Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. ... (9) There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (10) He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."
Having faced down the prophets of Baal with tremendous faith, Elijah was then faced with the wrath of Jezebel... and fear took over! Elijah ran and hid in a cave. When the word of the Lord came to him it was very direct: 'What was Elijah doing there?' This was not the place that the Lord wanted His prophet to be. Not the place physically and certainly not the place spiritually! This question speaks to all of us when we are acting in fear or disobedience does it not? The fact is that we don't have to physically go anywhere to still hear this question. We can be hiding at home in fear or self pity for the Lord to say 'What are you doing here my son?' We could have worked ourselves into a state of anger or bitterness for the Lord to ask this question. And what response is God looking for? For Elijah, God was simply looking for honesty. He was looking for Elijah to acknowledge that he was operating in fear, not faith, and had taken his eyes off the Lord and onto the circumstances. It is the same with us. He requires an honest appraisal on our behalf how we got to where we are. Only then can we start to move forward in the right direction again.
7. Where were you when I laid the earth's foundations?
Job 38:1-4 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: (2) Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? (3) Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. (4) Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
If you have read the book of Job you will have seen how thoroughly Job and his 'friends' debated the why's and how's of Job's troubles. Everyone had a say and everyone had a theory. Lots of things had been said on all sides with much argument between them! Job, as righteous as he was, could not understand why this trouble had overtaken him. At different times he began to doubt the goodness of God. Is God just? Is He always true in His judgments? Has he dealt righteously with me? In his heart of hearts, Job began to slowly doubt this as the story unfolds. That is the context of this quote. God has been quiet through the whole discussion but finally He speaks. 'Who is this that darkens my counsel? Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? The next couple of chapters bring forth dozens of questions from God to Job. And Job can answer none of them. And that is the point of the questions. God was acting in power and knowledge of all things before Job (or us) even existed!
We also, like Job, can doubt the goodness or justice of God in times of prolonged difficulty. Does He care? Does He know what I'm going through? Why has He allowed this? In times like this we need to remember this question of God to Job because it shows us again the wisdom and power of our God. He knows all things. He controls all things. He allows that which comes into the lives of His people. And He cares. He cared for Job and He cares for us. But He cares too much to not allow things that will come into our lives that would force us to press into Him and learn more of who He is.
8. Whom shall I send?
Isaiah 6:1-8 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. (2) Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying... Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
Isaiah was given a tremendous vision of the Lord is His Heavenly realm. And when the word of the Lord came it was an interesting question: 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' It is interesting because God, seen and displayed in all His power, still asks who would go for Him. In other words, though God can do anything He wants, He still chooses to use weak vessels to do His bidding. That included Isaiah in his day but could also include you and me. God hasn't changed and is still using people like you and me to carry out His will. This is both a privilege and a responsibility. How would you respond if you heard God say 'who will go for us?' If I was to be honest, I'd probably be thinking 'So, argh, exactly what is the task then? Where is it that I'm meant to go? Whether I speak up or not kind of relies on what the task is!' Isaiah of course didn't think like that. Having seen God and His glory, he was quick to answer 'here I am. Send me!' 'Ooh, ooh, pick me, pick me!' Maybe if we knew God better and knew that we could trust and rely on Him we also would be quicker to put our hand up realising that in all that He asks us to do, He will be with us.
9. Do you have reason to be angry?
Jonah 4:1-4 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. (2) He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. (3) Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live." (4) But the LORD replied, "Have you any right to be angry?"
In Jonah chapter 4, Jonah is pretty slacked off. He wanted God to severely judge the Assyrians in Nineveh, but alas, the Ninevites have gone and done the unthinkable and have repented of their sin! 'Oh great...' says Jonah. 'Just what I didn't want!' And what's worse, God has gone and been gracious again and forgiven their sin! 'Oh double drat!' It might seem like a strange reaction--- for what preacher is annoyed when the audience does actually repent and come back to God? But Jonah actually wanted these people destroyed for they were a wicked and ruthless nation who acted as a great threat and enemy to the nation of Israel. So Jonah is angry. A boiling hot type of anger... furious. And then the question comes from the Lord: 'Have you any right to be angry?' In the deeper meaning this is a question for us all when we are angry at what God does, or seemingly doesn't do. It is a similar thought to that which we saw with Job. The fact is that we only see things on the one level. God sees all things. God's actions are performed taking into account the past, present and future. He takes into account motives of the heart as well as words of the mouth. We do not have a right to be angry with Him unless we put ourselves into a position that says we know more than Him. And I don't think we need to answer that question!
10. Son of man, can these bones live?
Ezekiel 37:1-4 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. (2) He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. (3) He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said, "O Sovereign LORD, you alone know." (4) Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!
For this question it will be worth your while to read the entire chapter. But as a summary, the prophet Ezekiel was given an amazing vision of a valley of dry bones and the question came to him asking whether the bones can live. Ezekiel wasn't sure and replied to the Lord that He alone knew. He was then asked to prophesy to the bones and tell them to live! You probably remember the story. The bones started to rattle and came together. Soon there were tendons, flesh and skin... that which was dead had come alive! Now in context this was giving an illustration of the nation of Israel. God said that Israel would be scattered amongst the nations but he would bring them out of the graves and back into their own land in the last days. And we have seen, in the last 70 years, a fulfilment of this amazing prophecy! We still await the time when they, as a nation, will have the spirit poured out upon them as indicated also in this chapter.
But going a bit deeper, this question to Ezekiel speaks to us as well. 'Son of man, can these bones live?' In other words, do you believe that I am the God of the impossible? Do you believe that I am the God who brings life out of death? We need to know the answer to this question. Whether it is to do with the physical nation of Israel being scattered amongst the world, or giving life to the spiritually dead, or Jesus' resurrection, or the future resurrection at the end of the age, it doesn't matter. God is in the business of making old bones live again! We need to take that into account. He is the living God and when we get into situations that seem that there is no way out, remember this question 'Can these bones live?' If they can live, then the same God can bring about deliverance for you as well.