I was recently asked this question by a young person. I remember being very disturbed about this same thing when I was about the same age. How can a God who is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient, not know something?
However when one looks at all the passages where God asks a question, it is not because God doesn’t know the answer, it is because the person or persons being addressed by God don’t know the answer. Take the very first question God asks. It is the saddest verse in the Bible.
But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” Gen. 3:9
Before this Adam and Eve met and walked with God every evening. God is not asking because He doesn’t know exactly which bush they are hiding behind. It is because they have not considered why they are hiding. It is only just dawning on them that the relationship was forever marred. Until this point man was an eternal being. Now they are mortal and God’s presents is painful. His holiness alone would have been unbearable. Where they had been perfectly made and unashamed of their bodies walking about nude, now their own bodies where shameful, they felt a need to cover themselves. The image of God had been blemished. The entire universe changed that day. Death was now everywhere.
FYI: Pagan mythologies remembers this even quite differently. The serpent is celebrated as the Great Enlightener. There is a stingy selfish god who will not let mankind have light or fire, so the serpent gives them the magic fruit or fire that enlightens them.
6 The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Gen. 4:6
When Cain’s sacrifice was rejected he was angry. It is not that God is unaware of why Cain is angry it is that He wants Cain to consider his own actions. However Cain is not an introspective man. Rather than take responsibilities for his own short comings he blamed Able and then kills his own brother for being better than him.
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” Gen. 4:9
We know God knew what has happened to Able for He says so in the next verse.
And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. Gen. 4:10
“crying out” to the Lord aways bring judgement to those who are being cried against.
Then the LORD said, “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, Ex. 3:7
. . . and when we cried to the LORD, he heard our voice, and sent an angel and brought us forth out of Egypt; and here we are in Kadesh, a city on the edge of your territory. Num. 20:16
The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, oppressed you; and you cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. Judg. 10:12
. . . they cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?” Rev. 6:10
Each and everyone of these have faced God’s judgment. Pharaoh and the Egyptians lost their first born. Ever met a Sidonian, Amalekite, or a Maonite? They are all gone. All that is left is Babylon i.e. Rome and finally the Roman Catholic Church. God has not forgotten one tear. These souls (from the Great Roman Persecution from 303-313AD) are safe under His throne, they are always in his hearing, He remembers.
The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered great Babylon, to make her drain the cup of the fury of his wrath. Rev. 16:19
And he said, “Hagar, maid of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” Gen. 16:8
Like most of us Hagar didn’t know where she had come from or where she was going. All she knew was that she was running away. She had come from Egypt a land of paganism, and now she was fleeing from the people who knew the One True God. God informs Hagar that He will take care of her, buy sending her back to her tormenter. God’s ways are not our ways.
The Lord Himself
Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; what is the house which you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? Is. 66:1
That omnipresent thing is really hard for us humans to get a handle on. We imagine that God is in need of a house, a chair, or a footstool. His question is really telling us is that He is so far and beyond and He needs none of this, we do. However It is the only way we can begin to understand Him. We need to put God in a place we can comprehend. And He allowed us to bring Himself down to what we can comprehend.
“How can I pardon you? Your children have forsaken me, and have sworn by those who are no gods. When I fed them to the full, they committed adultery and trooped to the houses of harlots. Jer. 5:7
Here the question shows that although God’s justice is slow, it is sure. His people cannot flaunt His laws forever. Jeremiah over and over warns them that Babylon is coming and that will only be the beginning of their troubles.
The Son of Man
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” Matt. 16:13
Messiah new exactly what the people were tinkling about Him. He wants His disciples to consider what the questions are leading to. He calls Himself the “son of Man”. He does not call Himself the son of Joseph or Mary or sen David, but rather the son given to all mankind, the son of the vatar promise in Gen 15.
And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; your own son shall be your heir.” Gen. 15:4
After a discussion of everyone else’s opinions, it is Peter who voices the right answer.
Simon Peter replied, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matt. 16:16
He does not call Him by the humble term “son of man” but calls Him the “Son of God” and the “Anointed One”.
All God’s questions are to make men consider their relationship with Him. Is He your friend, your father, your judge, and/or your executioner?
He questions to all of us; Son of Adam, Daughter of Eve, “Where are you?”