Questions God Asks

Study Guide, May 22, 2022

Pastor Clay Olsen

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In much of our lives as Christians, we tend to focus on the questions we ask of God. And because our God is so benevolent and gracious towards us, He invites our questions, especially those that cause us to grow deeper in our understanding and relationship with Him and His Word. One of my favorite passages about this is Jer 9:23-24- “Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.” NASU How amazing to know that one of the things God wants most in our relationship with Him is for us to better understand and know our God…to know His Personhood and know His passion, to understand His character and understand His ways, and to especially better understand and know His revealed words to us; the Scriptures. Many Christians know a lot of things about God, but they don’t understand or know Him very well as a Person…God’s heart and character and even God’s personality. But that’s really what our Lord Jesus wants from us – to not only know what Jesus likes, but to also know what Jesus is like…as a Person.

But back to our issue of ‘understanding’ before we get to the issue of ‘questions’. In a recent conversation I had with another believer we were talking about our quest to understand things, and how good it is to want to better understand our world and our lives and all kinds of things. However, one thing we all are to understand is that our understanding is limited to two realms. God put it like this: Deut 29:29- “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” NASU

There are two realms in which we live life: the realm of the secret things and the realm of the revealed things. The revealed things include much of creation around us and especially the Scriptures that God has given to us. And God has promised to guide us and lead us and teach us in the understanding of His created world and especially His revealed Word, the Scriptures. However, as long as we are on this side of Heaven, there is also that realm of the ‘secret things’ that belong to God…and therefore, these things require our trust over things that go beyond our understanding. The secret things are the mysteries of life which God has not yet revealed, such as our questions about the details of different matters of life, such as trials and tribulations and sicknesses and persecution and tragedies, and so on. They are the Job-like ‘Why’ questions of life. Again, whatever God has not revealed to us from His revelation; from His information and His explanation in His Word, it therefore lies in the realm of the yet secret things…things yet to be revealed…things that we may not yet understand, but things about which we can certainly trust our Lord and rest in His wisdom and His works. Remember, everything in the things He has already revealed to us prove God to be more than worthy of our trust and our love and our worship and our service, even when we are wrestling with things we don’t understand. And hopefully, in understanding this, it will help us with our own questions that we have for God.

Which now brings us to pondering some questions that God has asked of us…or at least of others like us. For example: the first question we see God ask in the Bible is this: Gen 3:8-9- “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. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”” NASU

Right away, one of the fascinating things about this passage is that it’s also the first display of what is theologically called a ‘Theophany’, which is the pre-incarnate presence of Christ in the Old Testament. Within the Godhead, whenever any physical manifestation of God was required, it was Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, that would interact with people in a physical form. Remember the encounter that Abraham had with the three men that came to his camp? Two were Angels and one was the Lord…as in, the Lord Christ, a Theophany or Christophany…the pre-incarnate person of God. We know that because later when Jesus was teaching at the temple in Jerusalem, He revealed to the religious leaders just Who it was that they were talking to: John 8:56- “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” NASU

So, yes, before Christ permanently took on the human body of Jesus, as in Jesus Christ, He took on other physical forms in the Old Testament, one was what we see in Genesis, where God in Christ is walking in the Garden in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve and His created animals. That was a favorite pastime for them all. And how really cool is that? Have you ever thought about God walking around on the Earth He created, especially this Garden paradise, with His first created humans? Plus, knowing that He would one day take on a human body Himself and become God and man forever?

So they heard God walking toward them, but we know this time was different; because this time Adam and Eve were hiding. Which brings out the question from God: “Where are you?” Do you think God already knew where they were? Of course God knew where they were. So God wasn’t asking where they were in the Garden, He was asking where they were in their relationship with their God? “Adam…Eve…where are you in your relationship with Me now?”

Every person on Earth is either a son or daughter of Adam and Eve. And in a very real sense, God asks that question to each person: “Where are you?” Where are you in your relationship with your God…with your Creator…with your only Savior? And just like with our first parents, every person is either walking in a saved relationship with their God and Savior, or they are hiding…hiding in the trees of the garden, the garden of Earth. Those trees might be their job or their hobbies or their family or their friends and such. And there’s nothing wrong with the trees…it’s just that they were never meant to be places to hide from God. They were meant to be places and things where you walk in a saved and serving relationship with your God throughout the garden of your life.

The strange thing is that many people don’t realize that they are hiding. They think they’ve got it all covered. Remember what Adam and Eve did? Gen 3:7- “So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.” NLT They thought they had covered their guilt with their works. But their works couldn’t cover their guilt. So what did God have to do to cover their guilt? Gen 3:20- “And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” NLT It was the first instance of death in the Garden. Their sin had caused death. And they also learned that they couldn’t cover the guilt of their sin by the works of their own hands. God would have to do that. Only God could cover them, cover their guilt of sin. And in order to do that, it would require the death of an innocent one in their place in order to cover the guilt of their sin. And that became the lesson that the people of God learned and watched take place for the next thousands of years. They watched God covering their sin, atoning for their sin, by the sacrificial offerings of innocent animals in their place, because the justice for sin is death…physical and spiritual. They watched these temporary coverings or atonement sacrifices until the final Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, offered Himself, the innocent on behalf of the guilty…us, so that God could cover us with His righteous garment…cover us with His innocent skin, as it were.

In a sense, Adam and Eve’s story is our own story. God called out to us: “Where are you?” We were hiding. We may not have even realized that we were hiding, but we were. We may have even been hiding behind our own works…behind the fig leaves of our own good works, thinking we were covered, thinking that our relationship with God was covered by the fig leaves that we made ourselves. But then God points us to the Lamb of God and we learned that in order to be right with God, someone had to die in our place, and we would have to be clothed in His skin, in Jesus’ works, in Jesus’ innocent life in order to cover the guilt of our sin.

Like Adam and Eve…no one can cover themselves…only God can cover you. And He covers you with the skin of the Lamb of God as you repent of your sin and ask God to cover you with Jesus’ righteousness.

Remember what Paul said? Phil 3:9- “…and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith…” NASU There are two ways to approach God…in a righteousness of your own…in fig leaves that you have sown, or in the righteousness which comes from God, in the skin of the Lamb of God. Isaiah called this ‘a robe of righteousness’. Isa 61:10- “I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” NASU

So, a question for the world…for everyone really is: “Where are you?” Where are you in your relationship to God? To help with the answer to that is perhaps another question: “What are you wearing? Everyone is either wearing the fig leaves of their own works or the skin of the Lamb of God? But as Adam and Eve showed us – our own leaves won’t cover our sin…only the Lamb’s skin covers our sin. Have you ever asked God to cover you with the Lamb of God’s skin…to cover you with Jesus’ sinless righteousness instead of your own sin-stained attempts at righteousness? If you have any doubt about that, just ask Jesus to cover your sin with His righteousness, and He will. He will clothe you with His garments of salvation and wrap you in His robe of righteousness. And you will be covered and saved forever.

All right, one more question for today that God asked, and then we’ll wrap it up. But before that question, another question…So, do you ever feel down in the dumps, a bit depressed…just feel like singing the blues? You’re not alone. Even one of the heroes of the Bible got really bummed out and wandered out to a wilderness place and just started hanging out under a Juniper tree. But an angel delivered some Domino’s to him…I don’t know, it might have been Jericho’s…Jericho’s Pizza…or something like that. And then Elijah moved on and wandered off to a cave…but still down, still bummed. So God came to him and asked him this: 1 Kings 19:9- “Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” NASU

Again, God knew what he was doing, but He wanted Elijah to talk to Him about what he was doing. And it wasn’t so much about the place Elijah was in – it was more about the state Elijah was in…the state of his spirit and his mind and his emotions. And before we get into that, consider this: Once again, what do we see? We see God coming to His people in their time of need. We see God being even more concerned than even His people are with whatever is concerning His people.

One of the false assumptions that even God’s people have about God is that they think they are more concerned about their concerns that their God is. But nothing could be further from the truth, for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is God lovingkindness and compassion and concern for us. Plus, we are on God’s mind all the time. Did you realize that? You are on God’s mind all the time. The Psalmist reminded us: Ps 139:17-18- “How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, You are still with me!” NLT The next time you go walking on the beach, take a look at the sand around you, and realize that you are looking at the number of thoughts that God is thinking about you. Really? Yes, really! The Psalmist said so! God is thinking about everything that you are thinking about, and are troubled about, and are anxious about, and are concerned about. In fact, God is even more concerned about your concerns than you are concerned about your concerns!

So what did God do to help Elijah? After a series of amazing object lessons reminding Elijah of the power and the presence of his Lord with him, and then also encouraging him greatly by reminding him of others that were also serving God and fighting the good fight of faith, God then gave him a mission…a mission to anoint kings and another prophet. And in doing so God reminded Elijah of his great significance to God and then gave him a mission of great significance.

Often when we are down and depressed, we lose sight of both. But that’s when God wants us to realize how significant we are to Him and to others, and how significant our mission is for Him to others around us. And here’s the deal: God often seeks to communicate that to His people through His people…through you and me. You and I are the messengers of this message of how greatly significant our Brothers and Sisters in Christ around us really are, both to God and in their mission for God.

So how about that? You and I can help others around us who might be down, by encouraging them to also better understand ‘what they are doing here’, simply by assuring them of how important they are to God and how important each thing is that they do unto God. They matter greatly to God, and what they do for God matters greatly. And that’s something they can feel great about. And in reminding others about that it will also remind you about that as well. And that will then also help you get up when life knocks you down.

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