Four Rhetorical Questions God Asked

The Omniscient God knows everything. His questions must have some other purpose besides obtaining information. They are sometimes asked to make a point, pose a challenge, or in the following situations, to call attention to something about Him He wants to underscore.

These four rhetorical questions addressed to Old Testament characters Abraham, Moses and Job, and Saul in the New Testament tested their understanding of God and the measure of faith they have in Him. Even today, these questions challenge our thinking, demonstrate the limitation of our wisdom compared to His, and stir us to confess that He is wise and good.


(1) God to Abraham

And the Lord said to Abraham . . . “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14)

"Abraham, Sarah, and the Angel" by Jan Provoost
"Abraham, Sarah, and the Angel" by Jan Provoost | Source

God had promised Abraham that he would have descendants more than he could count (Genesis 15: 4, 5). When he and his wife believed that she was past her child-bearing years, they lost faith, became creative (or meddlesome) and attempted to help out God by allowing their maid to sleep with Abraham. Abraham was 86 years old when his maid, Hagar, bore him a son.

More than ten years later, Abraham “sat in the tent-door in [Mamre] in the heat of the day; not so much to repose or divert himself as to seek an opportunity of doing good, by giving entertainment to strangers and travelers,” states the Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary. He extended his hospitality to the men and ran back inside the tent to ask Sarah his wife prepare them a meal.

When he returned, the spokesman (whom some believe was the Son of God in human form) announced that in one year Sarah would have a baby. Sarah overheard Him and laughed. Abraham had his doubts too. If they couldn’t produce when they wanted to, how could they more than a decade later? The Omniscient God read their skepticism and confusion, and answered their unspoken questions with one of His own. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” He repeated His promise that she would have a child in one year when she was 90 years old, and Abraham was 100. It happened just like He promised.


(2) God to Moses

And the Lord said to Moses, “Has the Lord’s arm been shortened?” (Numbers 11:23)

" The Israelites Resting after the Crossing of the Red Sea" by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg
" The Israelites Resting after the Crossing of the Red Sea" by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg | Source

Within a few days after God delivered the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt, they wanted to trade their freedom for the food they left behind. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now . . . All we ever see is this manna!” (verse 5). They began to cry for meat.

They complained to Moses who was chosen by God, the leader of the historical event. He in turned complained to God that their complaint was too heavy for him. God told Moses that He would give them so much meat, they would be sick of it. Moses found it necessary to remind God that there 600,000 people, as if challenging God to do what He said.

Moses had seen God rain down ten plagues on the Egyptians without harming the Israelites. He had walked with the people on dry land through the Red Sea, and watched the Egyptians drown when they tried to cross afterwards. Did Moses forget who was responsible for these miracles? Or, did he think that God’s miracle-working arm had lost its power? This rhetorical is a reminder that no task is ever too big for God.


(3) God to Job

Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said: “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?” (Job 40:1, 2)

God challenged the devil that no matter what happened to Job, an upright, wealthy man in the land of Uz, as long as the man was alive, he would honor Him. Consequently, Job’s children died, he lost his property to invaders and natural disasters, his wife discouraged his faithfulness, but Job kept the faith.

 Illustration by Jim Padgett
Illustration by Jim Padgett | Source

Which of these questions are you most likely to reflect on?

See results without voting

When his physical health was threatened with boils all over his body, his friends hastened to his side to sympathize; but they irritated him by their suspicions that his dilemma resulted from sin in his life. Job responded by asserting his innocence and airing his views on God and suffering.

Job trusted God to vindicate him, but questioned Him. Had he not been righteous, contrary to the suspicions of his friends? Was it necessary to make him suffer so much? He grew impatient. “Oh, that the Almighty would answer me,” he prayed. Then God joined the conversation with a series of rhetorical questions (Chapters 38-41) which could be summarized in the one quoted above.

God established His sovereignty, His wisdom and His managerial skills. Job was convinced that he was unqualified to question the Omniscient, Omnipotent God about His control over the affairs of the world, including incidents which happen in the lives of individual men. “I put my hand over my mouth . . . I will say no more.” Job responded (40: 4, 5). God had made His point once again.


(4) God to Saul (Paul)

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. Acts 9: 3-5

Photo Credit:  Paul Mann
Photo Credit: Paul Mann | Source

Saul had convinced himself that he was living in God’s will, although he was doing the very opposite. What made him think that the person asking the question was God? Why would God accuse anyone of being against Him, if that person is doing His will?

It is obvious that somewhere in that light, God and Saul had an intimate encounter which left Saul aware of who he was and what he was really doing.

We also need an encounter with God which may not take the same form, but dramatic enough to wake up our consciences. Is it possible that we could be busy doing in God’s name the very thing that He despises?

Sometimes we get involved to impress someone, to maintain our popularity, or any such ungodly reason. What a rebuke it would be for God to inform us that our mission is totally against His will. What is worse is that we cannot argue with Him because He knows our innermost thoughts.

© 2013 Dora Isaac Weithers

More by this Author


Comments 16 comments

lifegate profile image

lifegate 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

MsDora,

Thanks for making me think. God is past finding out, but His questions to those in the past help to know Him today. Great Hub!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Life you expressed my thoughts exactly. Thanks for your affirmation.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Interesting and true the questions asked allows us to believe and learn more.


shofarcall profile image

shofarcall 3 years ago

Hello MsDora,

This is a hub which should drive us all to our knees in repentance. How starkly and clearly you have managed to portray 'like' questions posed by God to these 3 different, Old Testament characters. These questions have no answers from us mere mortals and silences our tongues.

I loved the pictures too. So well chosen and a delight to behold. Thank you dear sister for a pertinent look at the the magnificence and greatness of our God!


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Great Hub. I just love it when Jesus asks questions of the people. Of course He knows the answer, He knows the answer He will get and He knows how He will deal with it. But He still asks the question --- just for me.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

DDE, I agree with you. The questions do challenge our belief. Thanks!

Shofarcall, you do understand the significance of these questions. Thanks for your kind comments.

Eric, just for me too. The questions popped into my mind several times since I've written the hub. Thanks for your comment.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

What great choices you made. God the Father and Jesus asked many rhetorical questions, but these are very powerful. Although I voted with Moses as the one I am most likely to reflect on at this moment in time, I have reflected a lot on the Job one. Those last few chapters of Job are so amazing. I love it when God says to Job,

“Who is this that questions my wisdom

with such ignorant words?

Brace yourself like a man,

because I have some questions for you,

and you must answer them.

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?

Tell me, if you know so much."

My translation would be, Okay smart guy, if you think you know it all, let me ask you a few questions. Then we'll see how smart you really are."

It's interesting to note God did this more than once. The last four chapters consists of God brining Job up short. In the end Job cries "Uncle,"

"I know that you can do anything,

and no one can stop you.

You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’

It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,

things far too wonderful for me.

You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!

I have some questions for you,

and you must answer them.’

I had only heard about you before,

but now I have seen you with my own eyes.

I take back everything I said,

and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”


josiejossy profile image

josiejossy 3 years ago from Nairobi Kenya

Waoh, saying great is understatement....mhh felt like am in a church listening to a preacher....Thanx for sharing, cldnt have imagined those were rhetoric questions.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Lambservant, you got really involved. I like that! Yes, all the questions at the end of the Book of Job are meaningful, and Job's feeble responses are our thoughts exactly. Thanks!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Josiejossy, we can have church anytime. Why not now? Thanks for your passionate comment.


Kristeen profile image

Kristeen 3 years ago from Michigan

Great hub MsDora - very though provoking. We are all guilty of doubting God at times or thinking we know as much or more than He does. Thankfully he loves us unconditionaly and is a forgiving God.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Kristeen, you put it very well. It's all about God's unconditional loves despite our doubts and fears. What an awesome God!


Kasman profile image

Kasman 3 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

MsDora, I love this. One thing about it is the fact that I've heard very similar questions from the Lord in my own walk. Whenever I want to question the Lord or just converse........maybe I'm angry at times, maybe I'm needing strength, the Lord gently (most of the time) asks me a question to bring me back to keeping my eyes on him instead of looking at my navel. I'm voting this up and sharing! This made me contemplate.


Kasman profile image

Kasman 3 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

I love this hub MsDora. It definitely reminds me of all the times the Lord asks me rhetorical questions to get me thinking about him instead of my navel. Whether I'm angry or frustrated, happy, or sad.....He's faithful to bring me back to what really matters! Voting this up, sharing big time!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Kasman, thanks for sharing your very personal testimony of your walk with God. You inspire me.


Kasman profile image

Kasman 3 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

Keep writing what you write, you're an inspiration to many I'm sure.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    MsDora profile image

    Dora Isaac Weithers (MsDora)946 Followers
    257 Articles

    MsDora, former teacher and Christian counselor is also an avid Bible student, and presents practical Bible principles for everyday living.



    Click to Rate This Article
    working