11. El Roi God Sees Our Affliction, Circumstances and Hears Our Misery
In Verse Eleven, the Lord told Hagar that He saw her unborn child and told her she would have a son and she should call him Ishmael, meaning, “the Lord has heard of your misery.”
Psalms 139:16 says, “My eyes saw your unformed substance and in My book all the days of your life were written before ever they took shape when as yet there were none of them.”
Did we get that? There is a book in heaven with God’s plan for us in it–not only is every day of our life recorded, but our life’s purpose is included. This book will help you find it.
God sees where we are, as well as our circumstances. “And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Jer. 23:24 Amplified).
Every detail of our lives is recorded in heaven. “You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into your bottle; are they not in Your book?” (Ps. 56:8 Amplified). He records our wanderings. He knows every move we make, every word we say, and every tear we shed.
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As a small child, Denise called out to God when she was afraid. Today, she says, “I knew God was watching over me. I could feel His presence. As I grew older and was never taught about Jesus, I didn’t know I could have a relationship with Him and that He would fill the void in my heart.”
12. El Roi God Sees Our Future Purposes and Designs
God told Hagar more about her unborn son in Verse Twelve, “He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”
Job 39:5-8 gives another description of the Ishmaelites: “Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied his ropes? I gave him the wasteland as his home, the salt flats as his habitat. He laughs at the commotion in the town; he does not hear a driver’s shout. He ranges the hills for his pasture and searches for any green thing.” In other words, He will be a wild donkey of a man . . . living in hostility toward all his brothers. The country which these free descendants of Ishmael may be properly said to possess stretches from northwestern Syria to the Arabian Sea, and from Egypt to the Persian Gulf; a tract of land 1800 miles in length by 900 in breadth.”2
Surely, God was saying He had a plan. He had a purpose, and He designs all things, even though we may never see the complete picture or understand it all. But He knows, and that is what matters, “For I know the thoughts and plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11).
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God has a purpose and a plan for our lives as well. God gave Denise the gift of writing songs and a full, rich voice to sing them. She went back to school to learn voice and take piano lessons in preparation for the future she could now see God had for her. She also furnished her spiritual library with all versions of the Bible she could understand and self-help books to increase her learning.
13-14. God El Roi our Father Who Sees His Children Wants to Be Wanted
In the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Verses, Hagar gave the name El Roi to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me. That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.”
How can we tie these loving actions and requirements from God together to make enough sense to have an intimate relationship with this One who sees us? Maybe some clues can be found in looking at God’s parenting skills. If we are His children, surely He is our Father “for we are His offspring” (Acts 17:28).
The parenting guidelines, taught by Jim Fay and Dr. Foster Cline, in their book Parenting with Love and Logic could easily come from this passage about El Roi. Their teachings are widely utilized by parents and educators. Their premise is: “Effective parenting centers around love . . . that is powerful enough to allow kids to make mistakes and permit them to live with the consequences of those mistakes. Most mistakes do have logical consequences. And those consequences, when accompanied by empathy-our compassionate understanding of the child’s disappointment, frustration, and pain-hit home with mind-changing power.”3
Fay and Cline continue to say, “The challenge of parenting is to love enough to allow them [children] to fail-to stand back, however painful it may be and let significant learning opportunities build our children.”4
Did God allow Abraham and Sarah the freedom to fail? You bet He did. He did not step in to keep Sarah from asking Hagar to sleep with her husband. He did not step in to keep Abraham from doing so. God was not like so many parents who are the rescuing kind, who rescue out of their own need to be needed. He is a parent who wants to be wanted. The children of rescuing parents never learn to think, to decide, or to learn how to solve their own problems. They don’t take responsibility for their choices or understand there are consequences.
Did God step in to keep Hagar from failing? Yes, in the desert. Why? Because good parenting calls for “stepping in (1) when our children are in definite danger of losing life or limb, or of making a decision that could affect them for a lifetime; and (2) when children know that we know that they know that they cannot cope with their problem, and the consequences are very significant.”5
Did Hagar learn from her interaction with the God she named El-Roi? Did her attitude change? Genesis 21 tells about the birth of Isaac to Sarah and the great feast on the day he was weaned. Ishmael mocked Isaac, the child of promise fulfilled, just as Hagar had ridiculed Sarah when Hagar found herself pregnant. Children adopt the attitudes of their parents. Evidently, fourteen years later, Hagar’s attitude had not changed.
Hagar only partially obeyed God–physically, not spiritually. Matthew 7: 13-14 says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Hagar took the wide, easy, lazy road. She was unwilling to make the effort necessary to allow God to change her heart, mind and soul, which is the narrow road to life. And, Hagar’s choice affected her son’s choices and those of his descendants. How about you? Are you partially or wholly obedient to God?
Did God step in to keep Denise from failing? Certainly, He did. He sought and found her in the bookstore. “Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]” (Ps. 27:10 Amplified).
What did Abraham and Sarah learn from the logical consequences of their choices? Did they learn to think, to decide, to be responsible (accountable) for their own behavior? Sarah faced a real problem after Isaac was born. She had not accepted the responsibility for her own actions and words before when she blamed Abraham for getting Hagar pregnant. She was now forced to have to deal with her mistake because of the resulting strife and hostility between Ishmael and Isaac. She told Abraham he needed to send Hagar and Ishmael away, because both could not share in the inheritance together.
Of course, this greatly distressed Abraham. What happened next is priceless! If you are a parent and old enough to appreciate the joy of having your adult child come to you for advice after the years they thought you knew nothing, then you may appreciate what happened. The adult child Abraham of 100 years of age went to his Father seeking His wisdom. Abraham certainly did not want to make another mistake he would regret. He had to know this time before he did anything.
And, finally, the only way he could know was to go to the One who knows all and sees all.
Can you feel the Father El Roi’s joy when Abraham took the time to present Sarah’s suggestion to God for His advice? God responded with the fatherly love and logic parenting empathy saying, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant.”
Then, he said, “Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned [called]. I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring” (Gen. 21:11-13). God was telling Abraham, “I have a plan.”
This is where the relationship between God and Abraham begins to deepen, although Abraham knew God for more than twenty-five years. The Lord probably reminded Abraham (through His still, small voice) of His promise to Hagar to increase her descendants. Abraham then recognized God’s intent: the only way two nations could grow is if both sons were separated. Abraham wanted God’s wisdom and sought it out. Only then, did Abraham and Sarah communicate.
In 1911 B.C.6 Abraham and Sarah had to live with the consequences of their choices. Those consequences are significant because they affect us today. Likewise, our choices affect everyone around us-for eternity. You may ask, “Why didn’t God step in with Abraham and Sarah to keep them from making a decision that would adversely affect them and the whole world for the rest of time?” Perhaps, He is still trying to get the attention of the descendants, and as our Parent, He is still trying to teach us through the choices we make.
Conflict is the passageway to intimacy in any relationship. Hostility, suffering, adversity, all force us to look outside ourselves for answers. What a stubborn, rebellious lot we are!
Could it be God is allowing continual conflict because He wants His children to want Him, and to seek His wisdom in everything, just as He is constantly seeking an intimate relationship with us?
What better promise can we have than the one God gave the children of Abraham who became the children of Israel? In 597 B.C., after seventy years in captivity in Babylon (Iraq), God told the Israelites, “Then you will call upon me, and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. ‘I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity'” (Jer. 29:12-14).
The same is true for us today when we seek God through facing life’s difficulties in the light of our Father El Roi’s love.
Please go HERE: Make it Personal El Roi for your printable exercise.
- Adam Clark, LL.D., F.S.A., &c., Clark’s Commentary Volume I—Genesis to Deuteronomy (Abington Press, New York, Nashville) p. 110.
- Clark, Clark’s Commentary, Volume I, p.
- Foster Cline, M.D. and Jim Fay, Parenting with Love and Logic, (Pinion Press, Colorado Springs, CO,1990,), p. 12.
- , p. 13.
- , p. 51
- Clark, Clark’s Commentary, Volume 1, p. 111.