The idea of a God who is all-seeing is common in Scripture, but the name El Roi is used only one time, and that by Hagar. Remember that Sarai tried to fulfill God’s promise of a son by offering her servant Hagar to Abram. But once Hagar became pregnant, the relationship between Hagar and Sarai became toxic! So toxic that Abram agreed to have the pregnant Hagar thrown out of his house, and out from under his protection. But, “The angel of the LORD [YHWH] found Hagar near a spring” (Genesis 16:7). God had not deserted her. God saw her, saw her need, and made promises to her about her future and the future of her child. Hagar’s reaction? “She gave this name to the LORD [YHWH] who spoke to her, ‘You are the God who sees me [El Roi],’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me [Elohim Ra’a].’”
Bible.org points out two astonishing things about this interaction. They say, “There are two dominant themes in these verses: First, God sees Hagar (16:7-12); and second, Hagar sees God (16:13-16). God saw Hagar’s affliction; as a result, Hagar saw God’s mercy and submitted to Him.”
Now, we know that God told Moses, “You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live” (Exodus 33:20). Further, John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God.” So just how much of God did Hagar see? Clearly she saw His love and compassion for her. Clearly she saw that God saw her, saw her circumstances, reached out to her in those circumstances, and provided for her. She saw as much of Him as she needed to see to trust Him with her own life and the life of her son.
Perhaps that’s the primary lesson we need to learn from this name. God sees us (we’ll give you plenty of verses to back that up). God sees us as we are: Sinful, weak creatures who desperately need His help. Will we trust Him?
Proverbs 15:3 – The eyes of the LORD [YHWH] are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
Ecclesiastes 12:14 – God [Elohim] will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
Hebrews 4:13 – Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Job 28:24 – He… sees everything under the heavens.
Jeremiah 16:17 – My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes.
Jeremiah 23:24 – “Who can hide in secret places so I cannot see them?” declares the LORD [YHWH]?
Job 34:21 – His eyes are on the ways of mortals; he sees their every step.
2 Chronicles 16:9 – For the eyes of the LORD [YHWH] range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
Proverbs 5:21 – For your ways are in full view of the LORD [YHWH], and he examines all your paths.
Jeremiah 23:23-24 – “Am I only a God [Elohim] nearby,” declares the LORD [YHWH], “and not a God [Elohim] far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the LORD [YHWH]. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD [YHWH].
Perhaps no passage of Scripture addresses this point of the God who sees better than Psalm 139. Right now, take your Bible, turn to Psalm 139 and read it carefully. What does God see? When does He see it/you? Where does He see it/you? Should your reaction be fear? Shame? Can you honestly react to Him as David did by saying, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Put yourself in the hands of El Roi, the God who sees you, and know that He is there with you and for you!