(Copyright 2009 M. Lynne Bennett; All rights reserved;
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Whenever you’re alone—in your house or car or wherever—and you’re contemplating giving in to a temptation, does the Holy Spirit ever bring Scripture into your mind? Maybe it’s a verse that says that what you’re about to do would be displeasing to God? Or one that reminds you of the price Jesus paid for your sins? Or… maybe even a verse that puts the fear of God in you.
The Scripture that generally comes into my mind when I’m being tempted to sin is Hebrews 4:13. Read this verse, and I think you’ll understand why. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (emphasis mine). In the original Greek language, the phrase “open and laid bare in His eyes”—or “naked and open in His eyes,” as the KJV puts it—means to be uncovered, exposed, or manifest to God.
Although this verse does not specifically provide a name of God, it does illustrate the attribute of the name we’re looking at. The name of God implied in this verse is El Roi [pronounced Raw-ē], which means, “the God Who Sees.”
Hebrews 4:13 always reminds me that God is omni-present, meaning He is everywhere present, so no matter where I go, I cannot hide from His sight. In fact, the Greek language definition of the word sight in this verse actually means in the face of or in the presence of. So, even if I am by myself, I am not alone. God is there. Psalm 139 illustrates this truth beautifully.
Hebrews 4:13 also reminds me that even if no other person sees me commit a sin, God does, becauseall things are open and laid bare to His eyes. One of the psalmists wrote quite vividly about this as well. Speaking about the Lord, he said, “You have placed our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence” (Psalm 90:8; emphasis mine). Job also informs us that God’s “eyes are upon the ways of a man, and He sees all his steps. There is no darkness or deep shadow where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves” (Job 34:21-22; emphasis mine).
If I was blameless and upright and always turned away from evil like Job, Hebrews 4:13 may not elicit such fear. But I’m not blameless, and I sin, even sometimes willfully, more often than I’d like to admit. So when I’m being tempted to sin and this verse pops into to my head, it fills me with fear—a fear of the consequences I’ll reap if I choose to sin.
The verses we’ve looked at so far all deal with God seeing our outward sins. But Hebrews 4:12 intimates that in addition to God seeing our outward sins, He also knows the sins of our heart. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, … and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (emphasis mine). Ezra made this truth very clear as well in 1 Chronicles 28. He wrote, “…know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind;” [and WHY?] “for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts” (emphasis mine). Our God is not only the all-seeing God, El Roi, He is also the all-knowing God, for He is omniscient.
So what does all this mean to us? It means that every single one of our sins, whether in deed or in thought—even our secret sins—are not hidden from Jesus, but are in fact “open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” God, El Roi. And we ought to consider this every time we’re tempted to sin.
When we consider our own sin, it is not particularly comforting to know that God is a God who sees all things, is it? And yet, it can be a great comfort to know God as El Roi when someone else has sinned against us and we are hurting and in need. The story in Genesis 16 reveals God in just this way. You are probably familiar with this passage, so I’m not going to include all of it, but just enough to give you some context. Starting at verse 6, it says:
After God said a few other things to Hagar, “Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God who sees’; for she said, ‘Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?’ Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi.” This is the very first place in the Bible where God is specifically referred to as El Roi, the God who sees.
This passage says that the angel of the Lord—which is actually a manifestation of Christ Himself—found Hagar in the wilderness. Why do you think Christ even went looking for Hagar? Because He had seen all that had been going on in Abram and Sarai’s home, and He knew that Sarai had mistreated Hagar. Although God rebuked Hagar for running away from Sarai, the context here is not primarily about God seeing Hagar’s sin, or even Sarai’s sin. This passage instead primarily reveals God as the One who sees, knows, and understands our circumstances, our struggles, our pain, and our deepest needs. We see God in this light in various Scripture passages.
For instance, in Exodus 3:7, we read, “The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.” And Psalm 31:7 says, “I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness, because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul, and You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a large place.”
Have you ever had anyone sin against you and you wondered why God allowed it, why He simply didn’t stop it from occurring? You know He saw it taking place, but why did He let it continue? I imagine you have pondered such thoughts at one time or another—if not about yourself, then probably about someone you love. Well, I certainly have.
Early in my Christian walk, there was a time when I questioned why God allowed my dad to molest me and my sister, and many of our family members and neighborhood friends. I also wondered why God continued to let the men in my life hurt me so badly by cheating on me and lying to me. But thankfully, I had some wonderful Christian counselors early on that helped me understand and accept the truth of Romans 8:28—“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.” And within a few years after becoming a believer, I realized why God allowed me to suffer the pain of sexual abuse and relational heartbreaks. He intended to use my life’s story and my testimony of forgiveness and healing to speak into the hearts of others who needed Christ and who needed healing.
Over the years, I’ve shared my story with over 60 groups of people, both large and small, all over the United States. And as a result of my sharing how God saved me from a life of destruction and how He also saved my marriage, I have had the privilege of seeing numerous women either receive Jesus as their Savior or receive a touch of healing.
If we and our circumstances were hidden from God, if He couldn’t see them, then He would not have known to use me in the way that He did. But El Roi did in fact see all the garbage I had to deal with growing up. And it is primarily because He permitted me to suffer such things that I have come to know Him not only as the God who sees and knows all things, but also as the God who heals, our Jehovah-Rapha, and the Lord who sanctifies, our Jehovah-Mekoddishkem, and the Lord our peace, Jehovah-Shalom.
So why is it important for us to know El Roi as the God who sees all our circumstances? Because bad things happen in a fallen world. And when they happen to us, we need the comfort of knowing that God is tuned in to what’s going on in our lives, and He cares. Knowing God as El Roi should invoke in us both a healthy fear and a perpetual gratefulness. Fear, because El Roi sees and knows our every sin, and there are always consequences to sin. And gratefulness, because El Roi is aware of all our circumstances and our needs, and He promises that He will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.