Volume. XXXVI, No. 33
Sunday, 13 February 2022

El Roi – God Who Sees Me

The name of God El Roi, which means 'God who sees me, is found in Genesis. The book of Genesis had many well-known people like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph etc. An ordinary slave girl named Hagar gives this name to God. She was neither wealthy nor full of faith, and some got entangled in a big mess in Abraham's family. The story surrounding this incident is not pretty, just like many of our life situations. But it is an important lesson that God remains faithful, and He is El Roi- the God who sees us.


The beauty of the Bible is it doesn't sugar-coat reality. We find in the Bible the gross sins of David and even weak moments of Peter. In Genesis 16, we see the mistake of Abraham and Sarah. They distrusted God and found solutions in man's way. Warren W Wiersbe comments on this section, "Do not miss the practical lessons here: whenever we run ahead of God, there is trouble. The flesh loves to help God, but true faith is shown in patience (Isaiah 28:16). We cannot mix faith and flesh, law and grace, promise and self-effort...A willingness to wait on the Lord is another evidence that you are walking by faith."


The human plan of Sarah to use Hagar to have a child for Abraham backfired. Sarah was upset with Hagar attitude, and Abraham, too wisely or foolishly, decided to stay out of this contention between the two women. So much can be said about these mistakes, but the lesson to remember is God's way alone is the best path, and man's way always fail, always brings heartache and more confusion. The Bible describes the result of this whole incident in Genesis 16 in one short, telling sentence in verse 6, "And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.". For Hagar, life is out of control, hopeless and only full of struggles. Have you ever felt like this?


God Sees Hagar struggles in Genesis 16:7 and finds Hagar in the wilderness of Shur. She was homeless, hungry, pregnant, and broke. Two people who could help her abandoned her, but God did not abandon Hagar. Instead, God went to her right where she was. God calls Hagar by name, empathises with the situation, and meets her needs. Seen by God, however, she was empowered, in return, to see Him. God was no longer a vague concept or the God of Abraham, but God became real to her, so real that she gave God a name, El Roi, which means "And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?" (Genesis 16:13).


Hagar gave God the name "El Roi" – the God who sees. This name of God is only seen in the scripture once though its concept is seen throughout the scriptures. God knows us and sees us. God sees our heartache, depressions, struggles, turmoil and challenges. He is our El Roi – He is the God who sees you. El Roi saw the barren Sarai convincing Abram to have a child with servant Hagar. El Roi also saw the mistreatment Hagar experienced at the hands of jealous and disgruntled Sarai. Even when all have forgotten and abandoned, El Roi saw Hagar flee into the desert Shur, surely doomed to die. But to Hagar, God revealed in Genesis 16:13 that he is El Roi. God who sees us our struggles and miseries also offered a solution to the problems.


God offers a solution for Hagar in Genesis 16:8-9, "And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? And whither wilt thou go? And she said I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands."  When the angel of the Lord spoke to Hagar, he called her by name and designation "Sarah's servant". He then gave her explicit instructions, the solution, "Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority." El Roi, who revealed Himself, prophesied the nation to come from the birth of her son, Ishmael. This promise was quickly fulfilled in Genesis 21:17. Hagar did obey God and returned to Sarah. However, Hagar did not continue her submission, and the hatred grew between Hagar and Sarah. Eventually, Hagar and Ishmael once again leave the protection of Abraham's home. The Middle East would be different if Hagar followed God's plan. In all the imperfections of man, God the sovereign still rules and yet sees the need of God's children. 


What does the name of God El Roi teach us? God knows us and sees us all the time, especially in our dire times of loneliness, frustration and depressions. Psalm 33:18-19 says, "Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield". Jesus is alive, and he prays for us, and His love never fails.  Don't feel alone and a failure. El Roi brings hope for your future. You don't have to be a spiritual giant like Abraham to be seen of God, even a nobody like Hagar 'God sees'. We can trust the El Roi. In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."


Another lesson to remember from the Genesis 16 saga is God allows mess in our life, and there is always a message to trust God as no problem is too big for our God. God knows precisely what you need to do to turn your situation around. Don't give up but turn to Christ. He knows and sees you and will guide you in the solution. These also teach us to treat others, especially those under us, with grace and dignity. And not to let bitterness and jealously bring the worst in the relationships. Be patient and trust in Him. God sees our secrets.  God knows our battle scars.  God sees our strength. He is unceasingly watching us and unfolding His perfect plan for our lives. Remember that God sees you no matter how ugly or complicated or hopeless your situation seems. Be humble and trust Him for "God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7.


Let us ponder these words concerning El Roi in Psalm 121, "My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.  Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep." El Roi never sleeps and sees us always giving the undivided attention.  Psalm 33:13 says, 'The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;". The psalmist declaring God's omniscience declares in Psalm 139:1-4, "O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether." This thought that God sees you and knows you can either be terrifying or comforting, fear-inducing or a great assurance. To the sinful, it should bring repentance and to the weak and struggling hope. For Hagar, God was comforting. God sees us too. He knows your past, failures, success, pain, paths and does not forget your future too. May you rely on El Roi and listen to His solutions and obey it wholly.


Rev Mathews Abraham



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  • Missions – Preacher Ang Liang Phoa & family, GAPPI Filadelfia Church & school (Batam).
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