Seven Active Names: 4.5 El Roi (אל ראי) The God Who Sees Me
In this damaged world, we are all damaged people. Jesus makes us whole, and filled with the Holy Spirit, we can return to fellowship with God the Father – be at one with Him in His glory.
But in this damaged world, we can often feel that nobody knows, nobody understands. We can feel isolated (or we can consciously isolate ourselves). We must remember ‘Emmanuel’ – God with us: we may be lonely, but we are not alone.
And it is both a relief and a satisfaction to realise that God does know; He does see us. And this is the meaning of El Roi – He is the God of seeing. It is linked to Yaweh Roeh (Lord, my Shepherd) that we looked at earlier, and it denotes something more than mere ‘gazing’ – indeed something more than just ‘seeing.’ It is an active looking, both looking for and looking out for.
El Roi is only found once in the Bible, and comes from an unusual source. A source who, in that time of need, can be in turn both inspiration and encouragement to us.
As ever, the names of God tie together, and we are reminded here of God’s compassion; that He is an active God. We must remember:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
God does not sit by. And He does not just have sympathy whereby He seeks to understand our pain (the ultimate pain of sin). No, He shares in our pain. We can think back to the shepherds at the root of the ‘Roi’ part of the word – the shepherd would watch after their sheep, and if the sheep were in trouble, the shepherd would see; would ‘know’ that trouble. But the shepherd would not leave it there. The shepherd would intervene; take action, get alongside the sheep to protect it and chase or fight the attackers.
And, beautifully, the shepherd would not just protect the prize sheep – the single best ewe (anyway, how can we tell which is ‘best’ in the shepherd’s eyes?). The shepherd would protect all his sheep, even those who wandered away. Sometimes it may appear that the shepherd must have dedicated a special time for the wanderer – for why else and how else would the shepherd just happen to be in the right place to take action? God, our shepherd, is with you always, always looking out for you and always seeing you. Always in the right place, which is right beside you.
After Sarah became pregnant, she mistreated her slave Hagar (with whom Abraham had had a son, encouraged by Sarah). Unloved, unseen and outcast, Hagar fled with Ishmael her son. She was in the desert, without friend or hope. But God looked for her, looked out for her, knew her and protected her. He spoke to her of the descendants she would have; He gave her a future. Hagar realised that God saw, knew and understood. We are not alone because God sees us, hears us and understands us all.
Hagar named the LORD, who had been speaking to her, “You are El Roi.” She said, “This is the place where I watched the one who watches over me.” (Genesis 16:13)
[from Timothy Pitt]