Hello Ernest, I have a question. When you look at the scriptures, you often find a few instances where God asks people questions. Why does the Ancient of Days ask a question to a lesser being? Isn’t He all-knowing?
Thank you for writing, Beloved. This is a good question 🙂 The short answer is that God often locates our hearts with questions. When the LORD asks a question, it is not to receive information but rather, it is to reveal information. An omniscient God is predisposed to all knowledge; nothing escapes Him. He does not ask to gain more understanding and add it to his reservoir of knowledge. He asks so that He may release from His reservoir of knowledge. Some revelations cannot be attained unless the LORD Himself engages His creation. And one of the ways the LORD loves to engage His Creation is through questions. Let us look at a few biblical examples.
Genesis 3:9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” (NKJV)
The LORD knew exactly where Adam was. Adam had just eaten the forbidden fruit and was hiding in the bush. The question solicits a confession from Adam. God is locating Adam’s heart. A moment later Adam admits that he is naked. God responds with another question. “Who told you that you are naked?” God knows exactly who. It was Lucifer. The Almighty is not doing a mere police interrogation. He is drawing sinful Adam back to Himself.
Genesis 4:6 So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? (NKJV)
Cain is upset that his sacrifice has been rejected. God asks him this question to show him that his heart is not right. He is full of self and God wants that to change. God pursues Cain further by revealing that his heart is like a crouching beast at the door waiting to pounce on him. Cain does not heed to God’s clear revelation through the question and he kills Abel. God asks him another question.
Genesis 4:9a Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” (NKJV)
The LORD knows exactly where Abel is. Abel is pushing up daisies. God is addressing Cain in the same manner He addressed his father, Adam. Cain replies arrogantly. And his response reveals his own heart. Cain now sees that God was right about his heart from the onset. The question’s purpose is not to get revelation but to give it.
Job 1:7 And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” (NKJV)
Again, the LORD knows exactly where Satan is from. This aim of the question is to set up a conversation to reveal two things- the vileness of Satan’s character and the devotion of Job’s heart.
Job 40:6-7 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: “Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me:” (NKJV)
Job had endured suffering and torment from Satan. God had granted Satan that permission. Job felt it was unfair and even claimed that He had the moral authority to argue with God (see Job 23:4). God finally responded to Job. What followed was a series of rhetorical questions from God himself to Job. He gave Job the chance to argue and Job faltered. The series of questions from God reveal the wisdom of divinity and the foolishness of humanity. Job was dumbfounded by every question. He realised that his human heart could not be justified by his works and he repents. Job 42:5-6 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.” (NKJV)
Numbers 22:9 Then God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?” (NKJV)
Pagans had approached Balaam to curse God’s people. They came with a diviner’s fee for the services of Balaam. The diviner’s fee is a financial reward given to witches, wizards and warlocks for the services of sorcery. Balaam should have chased these men away immediately. Why would they compare the work of God to God to sorcery and divination? But Balaam hosts the pagans instead and tells them that he will inquire of God. This already reveals the greedy heart of Balaam. He loves money. He should have nothing to do with this men. It is a shock that he even accommodates them and insults God by inquiring for them. But before Balaam inquires, God sees his heart and comes to him and He questions him. “Who are these men with you?” God is revealing to Balaam his error. How can you marry my counsel with witchcraft? Later, God, full of mercy, expressly tells Balaam not to do as these men desire. But Balaam in his love for money and stubbornness keeps pushing the envelope. God sends an angel to kill Balaam yet still has mercy on him and saves him by giving a donkey the power to speak. Balaam obeys God eventually but it seems that his heart doesn’t change; we later see that the error of Balaam led to his demise (see Joshua 13:22). Balaam is also later used in the New Testament as an example of bad character (see 2 Peter 2:15) and an example of how Satan works (see Revelation 2:14).
1 Kings 19:9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (NKJV)
Elijah had just received what is arguably the greatest success in his ministry. And it was coupled by two literal great signs from Heaven- fire and water. Both miracles were seen in one day. Yet when Elijah was confronted by defeated Jezebel, he fled like a scared cat. Whatever happened to the bold spirit that Elijah had? Whatever happened to the man who slew the false prophets of Baal? Whatever happened to the man who summoned fire from Heaven? Whatever happened to the man who through supernatural superspeed raced in the rain past the chariots of Ahab? God then led Elijah to a mountain. At this very mountain God asks Elijah why he is here. The LORD is calling out the identity of Elijah. “You should not be here, Elijah!” the LORD is saying. “We just dealt Ahab and Jezebel the ultimate uppercut. This is no time to quit.” As the conversation continues, we see a warped perspective in Elijah. He thinks he is the last faithful man of God yet the LORD assures him that He has 7000 people in league with Elijah as far as devotion is considered. The question from God reveals Elijah’s fear and self pity and it helps him overcome it. God’s questions reveal our hearts.
Revelation 5:2 Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” (NKJV)
Revelation 7:13-14 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (NKJV)
John the Revelator is in the midst of visions, heavenly experiences and deep revelations. These two instances of questions reveal something about the questions that come from Heaven. They offer an opportunity to grasp deeper spiritual revelation. The first question was answered when a wounded lamb was worthy to open the scrolls. This lamb is Jesus. The questions brought forth a powerful revelation to John and to us. That when Jesus was crucified, it granted Him the ultimate power in Heaven. The second question from the elder in Heaven reveals a mystery of identity that we would not have known.
The second question is fantastic way for teachers of the word to relay revelation to those they instruct. You can read through a passage of scripture and see a conundrum. Because you have studied, you know the answer. But in order to give the people a deep revelation, you could ask them a question instead. This is effective because the Bible says that when people discover a revelation they are more blessed for having discovered it. Proverbs 25:2 “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (NKJV). You are more blessed by a revelation that you discover than one that is simply handed down to you. That is why your personal devotion in the scriptures is more important than waiting for your weekly sermon. And God will get you there through questions.
Are there any other questions you see from the LORD in the scriptures? What do you think they are for? Let us know in the comment section.