Who do you say that I am?
Which one of you if your sheep fall in a ditch on a Sabbath would pull it out?
Why are you persecuting me?
Can these bones live?
Who will go for us?
(Luke 9:20; Matt 12:11; Acts 9:4; Ezek 37:3; Isa 6:8)
Here are a few questions that God asks various people as documented in scripture. There are many other places in scripture where this occurs, these are just the few that came to mind when considering this topic.
God wants us to engage Him in conversation; He’s not looking for answers.
Nor does He let Himself become simply answers to questions. That would be too easy. In fact He resists being put in any box and held captive by anyone.
As much as God does speak to us to guide us away from harm, a good portion of the scriptures are very instructional. He most often asks questions that will prompt thought and further conversation with Him.
Do you know how a good question can grab your attention and draw you into further conversations, sharing hidden parts of your life, deepening friendship? This is what God desires with us. The questions and answers are means to an end, not an end result.
In Jewish culture, historically and unto today, men debate and converse about their interpretation of scripture and their interpretation of God. Rabbis ask questions to their disciples and the disciples in turn ask the Rabbi questions. Each question building upon the previous revealing the knowledge gained about the topic and delving more deeply into the topic. For example, “Were the 10 commandments originally written by God or by Moses?” With a response of “According to scripture, the Word has always been. Who wrote those words if they have always been?” Questions are answered with other questions that probe the abyss of truth and of God.
There’s a higher level of intellect that’s required in this, all falling under the understanding that God is so much higher than us and worthy of great reverence. Although those who have drawn conclusions about various facets of God may be highly intellectual and may expend more effort drawing conclusions, they minimize the fact that God is indeed our creator and therefore unable to be tamed and fully understood by us.
Jesus was in the temple at the age of 12 asking questions, and the teachers of His day were blown away by His wisdom and the posture of His heart. His questions were baffling them. If you noticed in Jesus‘ teaching He often refers to other teachers and explains His perspective. “You’ve heard it said… but I say…” He gave credence and respect to other thoughts and teachings as He taught. The Oral Law, the Talmud & Mishna, are a collection of writings that have been passed down from generation to generation in the Jewish religion. In it several different Rabbis share their interpretation of a topic. And as the reader you get to hear what others have said a topic and enter into the conversation revering that we are creatures who are collectively seeking to understand and know our creator.
It’s a way of Jewish culture that we have failed to understand in our leg of the race as Christians and as Gentiles. We have thousands upon thousands of church splits and denominations because we don’t understand God’s grandeur and grace in the same way. We find ways to “conclude” what scriptures mean and arrogantly miss the point.
In fact, the scriptures are the invitation to life with God. They are not an Encyclopedia on Him. They are the alphabet that begins to scratch the surface of His character, His infinite beauty and His grandeur.
This is where we as Gentiles have missed the mark. We have divided over the information about God and have failed at being involved with God in relationship.
This is just my speculation but I imagine that “Mose’s Law”, as Jesus put it in several times, was a result of conversations that Moses and God had.
I believe this is why we so frequently translate the word teaching in the old testament as law. We would much rather have some guidelines to be “in or out” of than to be students involved in a conversation with a loving Teacher. We prefer law that can be documented and calculated rather than relationship. Relationship can only be seen in active participation. A present reality. We want black and white, in and out, right and wrong… while God is calling us to come near.
Can you hear Him? Asking us questions? Wanting to debate and argue? All so we can feel His love as He smiles at our questions and retorts.
What is He asking you today?