God's Great Questions

By Doug Batchelor

An Amazing Fact: Did you know that the longest list of questions found in the Bible is made up of questions asked by God? In Job chapters 38 and 39, God poses query after query to His servant Job, who has daily begged for answers to some tough, heart-wrenching questions of his own.

Instead of providing Job with simple answers, God delivers a string of thought-provoking riddles. They start with words like "Who? Where? When? Have you? Can you? Do you know?" He describes all the miracles of the animal kingdom, and He talks about the weather and the solar system and other mysteries of nature.

It's as if God is talking to Job as a parent would talk to a child. He asks: "Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, Or loose the belt of Orion? Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?" (Job 38:31-32, NKJV).

God asked Job questions in order to remind him that His ways are often beyond our understanding. Some people try to melt God down and put Him in a test tube so they can define Him and understand Him, but this is a mistake. The Bible says, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways" (Isaiah 55:9).

When we humans ask a question, it's usually because we're lacking information. God, on the other hand, knows everything. He's omniscient; nothing is a mystery for Him. So I started wondering, Why are there so many Scriptures in which God asks a question? As I began looking through my Bible, I found hundreds of them!

What I've discovered is that God does not ask questions because He doesn't know the answers. He asks us deep, penetrating questions because He wants us to think.

The famous philosopher Socrates, who lived about 400 B.C., used the very same teaching method. Rather than merely giving his pupils the answer to a particular problem, Socrates would ask them questions that forced them to analyze the situation and find the answers for themselves, which in turn helped them learn each subject more thoroughly.

When God asks us a question, we really need to sit up and pay attention. When He tells us, "Come now, and let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18), the Lord is inviting us to ponder along with the Almighty! What a privilege.

Where Are You?
The first question God asks in the Bible is "Where are you?"

Adam and Eve had just sinned, and in their fear and confusion they ran away from God. In Genesis 3:9, we read that "The Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?"

If you believe that God knew where Adam was, then you must pause to consider why God asked that question. I believe He wanted Adam to think: "What has sin done to me? Why did I leave God, and why am I running away from Him?"

The question "Where are you?" was posed first to Adam, but it's actually directed to you and me, as well. Every sinner is running from God, and the Bible says that our sins have separated us from Him (Isaiah 59:2). You need to hear God say to your soul, as a sinner: "Where are you? Are you hiding in the bushes, sewing together fig leaves in an attempt to cover your nakedness? What has sin done to you?"

It is probably no accident that God's first question to man in the Old Testament is "Where are you?" while the first question the wise men ask in the New Testament is "Where is he?" (Matthew 2:2). Humans have been separated from God by sin, and there is a massive search underway. God is looking for us, and we are looking for Him.

The Bible tells us that as soon as we begin to make an effort to return to God, He will draw near unto us (James 4:8). It's like the story of the prodigal son who ran away from his loving father. As soon as the father saw the young man approaching, he ran to embrace his son. God is looking for us, and He wants us to come back.

Who Told You That You Were Naked?
In response to God's question, Adam said, "I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself" (Genesis 3:10).

Then God asked, "Who told you that you were naked?"

Here God was prompting Adam and Eve to compare their current condition with the unspoiled joy and peace they had previously experienced. Before they sinned, Adam and Eve had worn no artificial clothing. Instead, they had been clothed with garments of light. It was probably similar to the aura that Moses began to reflect after spending 40 days on Mount Sinai talking face-to-face with God (Exodus 34:28-30). He returned to the Israelite camp shining with a light so bright that the people were afraid to come near him until he had veiled his face.

After Adam and Eve sinned, they lost that unbroken communion with God and felt naked (Genesis 3:7). Nobody had to tell them they were naked. Whenever we sin, our conscience will condemn us. The Bible tells us that if our conscience condemns us not, we have peace with God (1 John 3:21).

When I was growing up, I would brag at times about being an atheist, but I can't honestly say that I was a convinced atheist because I always experienced conviction whenever I did something wrong.

I was raised with almost no moral values. My mother used to take me to Bloomingdale's and show me how to shoplift. She didn't need to steal. For her it was a game, and she liked to see if she could get away with it. She must have been pretty good at shoplifting, because I don't think she ever got caught. If she did, she was an actress and she was probably able to act her way out of it.

In spite of the fact that I had very, very poor moral training, I always knew I'd done something wrong after I broke one of God's commandments. No person had to tell me I had done something wrong. The Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin (John 16:7-8).

What Is This You Have Done?
Our youngest son, Nathan, is learning to ride a bicycle, and I must remind him, "Nathan, put your shoes on when you ride your bike."

One day recently he ignored me, and about halfway up the block on the sidewalk, I heard the clanging sound of a bike crashing. I knew he'd hurt himself, so I ran over and saw that he'd torn one of his toenails off halfway back. I said, "Nathan, did Daddy tell you to wear shoes?"

"Yeah," he replied.

I said, "You need to put your bike away." So he got back onto his bicycle barefoot and started pedaling back to the house. I said, "No, push the bike back to the house."

After we put a Band-Aid on his toe, Nathan went back downstairs and got right back onto the bike barefoot, with one toenail missing!

We laugh at children, but are we adults any different? How many times have we broken God's commands, which He gave for our protection? Worse yet, we often con-tinue to return to the very thing that brings us sadness and suffering.

After that first act of disobedience in the garden of Eden, God asked Eve, "What is this you have done?" (Genesis 3:13, NKJV).

At first, Adam and Eve probably had very little comprehension of how far-reaching would be the consequences of that first little choice of rebellion. Part of the ugliness of sin is that it usually causes a chain reaction. Think of all the sin and suffering in the world today. Visit the emergency room of a hospital, and walk down its corridors. Go to a police station and listen to the dispatcher. Take a walk through a cemetery and think of all the misery experienced throughout the ages.

God says to each one of us: "What is this you have done? Do you have any idea how much misery and woe and heartache is going to follow in the path of your one act of disobedience?"

Where Are You Going?
Adam is not the only runaway mentioned in the Bible. In Genesis 16:6, we find that Hagar the Egyptian ran away from Abraham's wife, Sarah. As soon as Hagar had learned that she was pregnant, she started to despise her mistress, who seemed cursed because she was unable to bear children. Alarmed by such blatant disrespect, Sarah retaliated by treating Hagar harshly.

Although there later came a time when Hagar needed to separate from Abraham's family (Genesis 21:5-21), in this case she had decided to flee before the appointed time.

God always seems to ask the runaways why they are running. He said to Hagar, Sarah's maid, "From where have you come, and where are you going?" That is a very good question. You'd be surprised how many people have no idea where they've come from or where they are going.

I am convinced that people cannot be happy unless they understand three basics: where they've come from, what they're doing where they are, and where they're going. If you're an atheist, there's no purpose for life. You think that you've come from nothing and that you're going nowhere. So in the meantime, you're trying to prove to everybody that nothing matters and that everything is relative.

Mahatma Ghandi once said, "I cannot understand atheists, who spend all of their time trying to convince people that a God who they do not believe exists does not exist." I believe the reason they do this is because in their heart of hearts, they know that God exists but cannot bear it. They feel compelled to disprove Him because they don't want to answer to Him someday.

What Are You Doing Here?
Another Bible hero who was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time was the prophet Elijah. He was hiding in a cave on Mt. Horeb when the word of the Lord came to him and said, "What doest thou here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:9).

God had just worked a mighty miracle through Elijah on Mt. Carmel; but instead of celebrating, the prophet of God was hiding in a remote desert cave.

Isn't it amazing that Elijah was not intimidated by the 850 false prophets, yet he lost heart and ran away from a single woman? He wasn't afraid to stand up against Ahab, the prophets of Baal, and the whole nation of Israel. However, when Ahab's wife Jezebel sent a threatening message, he ran for 40 days and 40 nights to a cave to hide.

Notice that God sustained him even as he was running in the wrong direction! God sent angels to feed him while he was fleeing the wicked queen.

I've seen some people try to justify their disobedience by saying, "I must be doing the right thing because God is blessing me and taking care of me."

That's not necessarily true. God provides for you because He loves you, even if you're running away from His will. His care and protection are not always evidence that you're doing the right thing. For instance, I've seen people attempt to use the blessings of God as an excuse for divorcing their mate. They say, "You know, since I've separated from my mate and started dating somebody else, things seem so much better. It must be evidence of God's blessing."

We sometimes presume that God is going to curse everybody who walks the wrong direction, yet we would be outraged if humans were that unmerciful. For example, how many parents continue to feed their disobedient children everyday? How strange that we sometimes expect more from people than from God! As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, God loves us to a far greater extent than earthly parents love their own children (Matthew 7:11).

Who Touched Me?
One day Christ was walking through a crowd on His way to heal-and ultimately resurrect-the daughter of a synagogue ruler named Jairus. On the way to the man's house, Jesus passed a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. Rendered unclean by virtue of this ailment, she had been barred from worshiping in the temple for more than a decade.

After hearing so many wonderful stories about the great Healer from Galilee, this woman believed with all her heart that if she could just touch the hem of His garment, she would be healed. As Jesus traveled through the crowd, she somehow managed to get past the inner circle of apostles, and her outstretched fingers touched the hem of His garment.

That's all it took. Instantly a flash of vitality passed from His body to her body, and she knew she had been made whole. The woman stopped, beaming with joy that this horrible medical problem, which had drained her bank account and caused so much unhappiness, had finally been resolved. Hardly a moment passed before Jesus stopped, turned around in the crowd, and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" (Mark 5:30).

Jesus knew who had touched His clothes, and He also knew why the woman had reached out to Him. He knew the entire story, yet He stopped the huge procession and asked, "Who touched me?" (Mark 5:31).

Fearful and trembling, the newly healed woman finally spoke up and shared her testimony. If Christ had not asked, "Who touched me?" her story would not have been included in the Bible.

Christ's question remains relevant for you and me today. It reminds us that if we reach out in faith and grasp the hem of His garment, the righteousness of Christ's robe still heals our sins.

Have you touched Jesus? Most people today, like those in that crowd long ago, jostle against Jesus throughout the week but get no lasting benefit because they aren't reaching out and touching Him in faith. When Christ asks, "Who touched me?" He's asking us whether or not we've reached out in faith and grabbed hold of His righteousness.

The Most Important Question
One of the most important questions you can find in the Bible is "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3). This is a question I cannot answer. In fact, not even the angels or God Himself can answer it. How can any of us justify a decision to reject the gift of salvation that God has provided for you and me? God the Father emptied heaven when He gave His Son. What more can He give?

Perhaps God has recently been trying to gain your attention. Nothing in the Bible commands us to come to Jesus when we are in the mood or when it is convenient. There is no time to wait or delay. If the Holy Spirit is speaking to you right now, then answer Him now. You'll never be sorry that you accepted Jesus.

If you have heard God's voice speak to your soul through this study of the great questions found in His Word, don't run away from Him as did Adam and Eve. Even if you're not currently in the place where God wants you to be and know that you have made some poor decisions, as did Elijah and Hagar and others, remember that God is full of love and mercy and is waiting to welcome you back to Him.

Reach out in faith and grab hold of Jesus Christ, who has promised to forgive us and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Then ask God to help you see the far-reaching consequences of sin and to learn from your mistakes so that you won't keep putting yourself in harm's way.

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