The Names of God • Sermon • Submitted • Presented
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Let’s begin by reading our theme verse together.
17 For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awe-inspiring God, showing no partiality and taking no bribe.
Last week, we looked at the first revelation of God given to man in his title Elohim. God is Elohim. He is the mighty creator God. This morning, we are going to look at a second title given to Yahweh. This one is different than the first and really, it is different than any other name attributed to Yahweh. It is the only time in the Bible where God is given a name by a woman.
Have you ever been lost? I mean, like, really, really lost. You have no idea where you are. You have no idea where to go to find out where you are. You are lost. With GPS technology everywhere, it is much harder to get lost today. Personally, I don’t like to use GPS or maps if I don’t have to use them. I tell my wife , “I’m not lost. I just don’t know where I am yet.” Being lost in not always a physical thing. You can be emotionally lost. Have you ever been there? Something terrible has happened and you don’t know where to turn or what to do. You feel as if you have lost your bearings. You can be spiritually lost. The Bible teaches us that we are born spiritually lost and separated from God. This morning, we are going to look at a woman who was lost in every sense of the word. She had nowhere to go. She had no one to turn to. She was abused, pregnant, and scared. But, she had an encounter with God and she realized something about God. She gave God a name which teaches us something about Yahweh.
Before, we look at the name she gave to God, let me give you some context on what happened from . God had promised Abram that he would make him the father of many nations. The major problem was that Abram had no children with his wife Sarai and they were getting past the baby-making time. Sarai had an idea, which was very common at the time. She would take her Egyptian slave, Hagar, and give her to Abram as a wife. Then, if she got pregnant, the child would be belong to Abram and Sarai. Basically, it was a forced surrogate pregnancy. Abram took his wife’s suggestion and Hagar got pregnant.
Hagar, thinking that her status in the household had changed, didn’t treat Sarai with the same respect she had before she became pregnant. Sarai told Abram what was going on and Abram told her to do what she wanted with Hagar. Sarai began to mistreat Hagar. The Bible doesn’t record what she did to Hagar, but the treatment was so bad that Hagar thought her best option was to run away.
Now, I want to stop here for a moment so that we can appreciate the situation. This woman is at the lowest place possible. She was a pregnant run-away slave. She is in a position of extreme vulnerability. She was in a situation because she had done what was expected of her. Yet, she was scared, alone, and suffering. She ran away to get away from an abusive relationship. Nobody cared anything for her. Abram didn’t. Sarai didn’t. No one was out looking for her, except the God who made her.
7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.
Again, don’t read this too fast. The angel of the LORD found her. Often, when the Scriptures use the phrase “angel of the LORD”; it is referring to a preincarnate appearance of Jesus, the Son of God. The Son of God found her. When she was at the lowest point possible, when she was in a position of extreme vulnerability, when she was all alone, the Son of God found her. Why did God find her? God found her because he was looking for her.
It reminds me a story Jesus told that is recorded in the gospel of Luke. He told about a shepherd who was counting his sheep. The shepherd is counting and he gets all the way to 99, but something is wrong. He had 100 sheep. He looks around and double-checks. There is Larry. There is Charlie. There is Ernesto. There is Maria. Where is Bob? Bob is missing! What is he going to do? Does he just say, “Well, I guess Bob is a goner. 99 is good enough.” No, he went after the lost one and searches until he finds the missing one. Then, he calls everyone and tells them, “Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!”
The angel of the LORD found her. Look at the conversation Yawheh had with Hagar.
8 He said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She replied, “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her authority.” 10 The angel of the Lord said to her, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, and they will be too many to count.” 11 The angel of the Lord said to her, “You have conceived and will have a son. You will name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your cry of affliction. 12 This man will be like a wild donkey. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; he will settle near all his relatives.”
He knows what has happened, but she needed to be honest with him. She was running away and God said tells her to go back. Perhaps it is shocking to you that God would tell a run away slave to go back to her mistress and submit to her authority, but that is exactly what God told her to do. I am not sure that I understand all of why God would tell her to go back, but I know that you can’t run away from your problems. Problems have a strange way of intensifying and catching up with us. After telling her to go back and submit to Sarai’s authority over her, Yahweh blessed Hagar. He told her that he would greatly multiply her offspring and that she would have a son. She was to name her son Ishmael. Ishmael would be an untamable man and he would have great relationship struggles.
13 So she named the Lord who spoke to her: “You are El-roi,” for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the one who sees me?”
God is El Roi. He is the God who sees me.
El Roi - the God who sees me.
El Roi - the God who sees me.
God sees you. He watches over us and takes care of us. God did not abandon Hagar and he will not abandon you. God saw her and met her in her place of need. Likely, Hagar didn’t know much about Yahweh. She was likely acquired as a slave when Abram and Sarai went to Egypt during the famine recorded in . Even Abram’s knowledge of God at this point is very basic. Yahweh had not really told people very much about who he is. Hagar was just a run away, pregnant, slave girl, but she knew two things. I want you to hear these two things. They are so important. God was there with her and God cared about her personally.
God is present with you and cares about you personally.
God is present with you and cares about you personally.
I think she was completely amazed that God would care about her. Nobody cared anything about her. She could die in the wilderness, but she was not alone. Her situation was not unknown to God. Have you ever been in a place like Hagar? Perhaps you came to worship today and you feel like Hagar felt. You have acted wrongly and now you are in a bad situation. You are thinking no one cares. You are thinking you have to deal with your problems on you own. You think God doesn’t care about you. You are scared. You feel alone. You are suffering. Maybe the fault is even your own. You made your own problems. You are responsible for the decisions you have made. You need to hear this.
God sees you and loves you.
God sees you and loves you.
God is El Roi. He is the God who sees you. He is keenly aware of what you are going through. Actually, he even has the solution to your problem ready to present to you. He told Hagar what she needed to do. Hagar obeyed what God told her to do. Do you think she was scared? Absolutely. Could you imagine returning to the slave owner you ran away from, who has already mistreated you? What are they going to do to her? How are they going to respond to her return? Would they treat her even worse than before? What is going to happen to her once her son is born? Are they going to take him from her? Could you imagine?
Remember what she knew. God was there with her and God cared about her personally. If God cared for her and if he was there with her, what did she have to fear? Why would she worry? Why would she allow anxiety to control her? God is with you and he cares for you personally.
God is with us, therefore, we have nothing to fear.
God is with us, therefore, we have nothing to fear.
God is El Roi. He is the God who sees you. You have nothing to fear. Say it. God is with me and I have nothing to fear.
Do you understand how liberating it is to know the God is with you and you have nothing to fear? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew it. They told King Nebuchadnezzar that they didn’t fear being thrown into the fire because God was with them. Daniel knew it as he told the king that God had sent his angel to shut the lion’s mouths and they didn’t harm him. Paul knew it as he sung songs of praise in a Philippian jail. John knew it as he was exiled to the island of Patmos. God is with you and you have nothing to fear. God is El Roi. He is the God who sees you.
Child of God, the evil one will try to convince you that it isn’t true. He will try to isolate you. He will try to paralyze you with fear. However, when the fear comes and the anxious feelings arise. You can confidently say what the Psalmist said in .
4 Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.
I fear no danger because God is with me. Valleys were dangerous places in ancient Israel. You were vulnerable in the valley. I imagine the Psalmist had a picture like this in mind.
<show picture of valley in Israel>
Steep cliffs are on both sides. Robbers and wild animals could be lurking around the corner. Flash floods could come out of no where. Valleys were dangerous places. It would be easy to be afraid in the valleys, but the Psalmist knew that God is El Roi. He is the God who sees me and I have nothing to fear.
Now, let’s consider the flip side of this conversation.
13 No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.
God is El Roi. He is the God who sees me. If you are his child, you have nothing to fear because you are covered by the blood of Christ. If you aren’t his child, you need to deal with the reality that everything is exposed to him. He knows it all and you are going to have to give an account to him. God sees everything that is taking place in your life. Nothing escapes him. For sake of time, I am not going to read it again, but write down . The Psalmist talks extensively about the fact that there is no where you can be where God is not.
1 Lord, you have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away. 3 You observe my travels and my rest; you are aware of all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, Lord. 5 You have encircled me; you have placed your hand on me. 6 This wondrous knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it. 7 Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. 9 If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits,
For the choir director. A psalm of David. 1 Lord, you have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away. 3 You observe my travels and my rest; you are aware of all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, Lord. 5 You have encircled me; you have placed your hand on me. 6 This wondrous knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it. 7 Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. 9 If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, 10 even there your hand will lead me; your right hand will hold on to me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”— 12 even the darkness is not dark to you. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to you. 13 For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well. 15 My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began. 17 God, how precious your thoughts are to me; how vast their sum is! 18 If I counted them, they would outnumber the grains of sand; when I wake up, I am still with you. 19 God, if only you would kill the wicked— you bloodthirsty men, stay away from me— 20 who invoke you deceitfully. Your enemies swear by you falsely. 21 Lord, don’t I hate those who hate you, and detest those who rebel against you? 22 I hate them with extreme hatred; I consider them my enemies. 23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.
3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, observing the wicked and the good.
When you come to understand that God is El Roi, the God who sees you, you can either be full of confidence as his child or full of guilt because of your sin. God does not want you to have a spirit of fear. God can free you from your feelings of guilt. He can take away your sin. He wants you to be full of power, love and a sound mind. Let me tell you this morning how you can take this understanding of the God who sees you and have nothing to fear.
The Bible teaches us that the only way you are made right with God is by the grace of Jesus. Our problem is our sin nature. We sin. We rebel against God’s ways. We do wrong things. Our sin separates us from God. However, God loves us and he didn’t want us to remain dead in our sins. Sin leads to death. God doesn’t want anyone to die because he wants to be with us. The good news is that Jesus, who is God, came to earth and took on flesh.
Our problem is our sin nature. We sin. We rebel against God’s ways. We do wrong things. Our sin separates us from God. This is amazing. God loved the world and he didn’t want us to remain dead in our sins. Sin leads to death. God doesn’t want anyone to die because he wants to be with us. The good news is that Jesus, who is God, came to earth and took on flesh.
The Bible teaches us that the only way you are made right with God is by the grace of Jesus.
That is why we call it the gospel, the good news. The good news is that God did something for us that we couldn’t do for ourselves. Jesus left heaven to come to earth. God took on flesh in the person of Jesus and lived a perfect life in every way. Without ever sinning, Jesus became the perfect sacrifice by dying on the cross for our sins and our offenses. He died in our place for the forgiveness of sins. On the third day, when the stone was rolled away, Jesus was not there. The tomb was empty. Jesus had risen from the dead, so that anyone, that includes you, who calls on the name of Jesus would be saved and forgiven. The amazing grace of God, no matter how bad you have been, no matter how dark your life is, no matter how many people you’ve let down, when you call on Jesus, he hears your prayer and he will forgive every sin and make you brand new.
I believe there are people here today who need Jesus. You can’t work your way to him. You can’t be religious enough for him. You receive the free gift of eternal life through the grace of Jesus Christ. You call on his name and when you do, he will hear your prayer, forgive your sin, and make you brand new. Your old life will be gone and you new life will begin. Come to Jesus this morning.
Father God, thank you for being the God who sees us. You are not unaware of what we are going through. You know exactly where we are. No matter where we go, you are there. You see us. Every part of us and nothing is hidden from you. Thank you for loving us in spite of our failures. Thank you for dealing with us in mercy and grace. I pray that you would draw people to yourself this morning. I ask you to convict of sin. I ask you to strengthen the ones who are suffering. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
This morning, I want to invite you to respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life. Our deacons will be at the rear of the worship center, if you want to talk to someone about how you can have a relationship with God, please slip out of your row and talk to one of them. If you need prayer, please slip out of your row and let them pray with you. If you are ready to become a member of FBC Laredo, please meet me down front so that you can be presented to the church family for membership. If God is dealing in your heart and life right now, don’t let this moment pass. We exist to minister to one another. We are here to support you in your walk with God.