Jehovah-Nissi ~ Pray and Watch 

“I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.” Habakkuk 2:1

This verse in Habakkuk has spoken to me for years. Habakkuk had already laid out his complaints to the Lord in chapter 1. He felt that he had been clinging to God to help Israel and he felt that he was getting nowhere. That his prayers were hitting the ceiling. Have you ever felt that way? I know I have. There have been battles that I can look back on in my life that, with the looking back perspective, I can trace God’s hand, but in the middle of it, I had to discipline myself to try to see it. At the time you are in the battle sometimes it is so very hard to see. I have wondered “how long Lord?” This is why this verse has become so important to me, along with journaling and clinging to God. You see I think that when we are praying for something our next step is to stand watch and see what His answer will be. That may sound like I am trying to make it too simple and maybe I am. Make no mistake I have been in some battles in this life that didn’t seem simple at the time. But when you lay it at His feet, you must believe for an answer. I love that Habakkuk has taken the posture of standing watch to see what “he will say to me.” 

I often talk of laying things at Jesus feet and leave them there. And yes, that is what I believe. In the book of Daniel it says that as soon as you say the prayer a word is sent out to give an answer. 

“At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved.” Daniel 9:23

I believe that answers are falling into place as soon as we pray. But you see God’s timing is not our timing. I think there is still a posture of praying and watching for the answer that we have to take in our hearts and minds once we have laid our requests, complaints, or pleas at His feet. That is not as much for Him as it is for us. Many times in God’s word we are told to be alert, to be sober-minded. One of my favorite verses is in 1 Peter. 

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

You may wonder why in the world that verse could be a favorite because it may not sound very encouraging. But it is a reminder to me not to let my guard down. Just like when Moses was on top of that hill and when he would begin to tire and to let his guard down the Amalekites would start winning, me letting my guard down gives the devil a foothold into my life. I want to stay in a posture of prayer and to be watchful for how God will work things out for me at all times. And I want my life to exhibit that. I am not sure it always does. I fail, I say dumb things and I do dumb things. But my prayer and the desire of my heart is to raise my banner high and be watchful of how He will work on my behalf and on the behalf of those that I love and am praying for. 

If you are in a battle my friend, you can be assured that as soon as you send out your requests He is working on your behalf. Stand watch, be alert, keep your guard up so that you don’t let the devil find a way in and watch for his answer. Raise that banner high! And if you are having trouble keeping your arms up, call for some reinforcements to help you! 

Jehovah-Nissi ~ The Battlefield! 

I left you yesterday with the Israelites in the wilderness. There were twelve tribes of Israel and each of them had a family banner that they took with them when they travelled. They would break camp when the cloud of the Lord lifted off of the tabernacle, they would follow the cloud and they would set up camp. Setting up the tabernacle and the tribes would set up their camps outside the tabernacle, surrounding it on all sides. The people of Israel went through many moods and temperaments while they were in the wilderness. They experienced many blessings and saw many miracles of God, the parting of the Red Sea for one. They ate manna, bread from heaven every morning and ate quail that came to them in the evening.They saw Moses hit a rock and water gushed out for them. But at times even while witnessing all that God was doing for them, they grumbled and complained. I know that God must have become weary with them so many times. Just as I know that He must become weary with me so many times when I forget His faithfulness and become anxiety filled and worrisome over what lies ahead of me. 

This brings us to our story of the day and we will see where God got His name Jehovah-Nissi. 

“Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim.” Exodus 17:8

To understand this battle we must understand the characters. First of all Amalek is a descendant of Esau. Remember him? Jacob’s brother. Even though Jacob and his brother had reconciled there were obviously people in the family who didn’t forgive quite so easily. The Amalekites, were a tribe that came from Esau’s family, therefore they were basically cousins of the Israelites. They came to fight with the Israelites and try to defeat them. One point to make here is the way the wrongs done to Esau by Jacob were never forgotten by the family. Even though Esau had long forgiven and they had reconciled there were still harsh feelings among these families. Another point here is that ever since the Israelites had left Egypt, God had led them and had blessed them and provided for them. This is the first time they are having to go into battle. I wonder if God had this happen partially because of all of the grumbling and complaining. Up to now, they had their food, their water, their clothing had not worn out, and they were following wherever a cloud led them to go. I wonder sometime if I don’t work myself into some of the battles that end up before me by not counting my blessings when they are in front of me. I wonder if God does not give us over sometime to our grumbling so that we will appreciate His blessings all the more. This is just what I am getting and I am wondering. 

So Amalek came to fight the Israelites and Moses lays out the battle plan. 

“So Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’” Exodus 17:9

Joshua was to go fight and Moses was to stand on top of a hill and pray. So that is exactly what they did. Joshua and his men went into battle with Amalek while Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill overlooking the battlefield. Moses stood there with his staff over his head. This was to remind them how God had fought for them in the past. As the Israelites would look on top of that hill, they would see their leader holding the staff up high above his head. Somehow this gave them courage and what they needed for the fight. But have you ever tried to hold something over your head for a long period of time? It’s hard to do so Moses would begin to grow weary and he would start to drop his hands. And when he dropped his hands Amalek would begin winning. And when he raised his hands Israel would win. As long as they kept God in the battle with them, they were winning. This next part of this story may be my very favorite part. 

“But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.” Exodus 17:12-13

I love how Moses was holding up the staff for the Israelites to prevail but I also love how the supporting characters in this story held up Moses hands so that he could hold up the staff so that Israel could prevail. I will never forget the first time I really heard this story. At that time my family was going through a trying time of some job situations and confusion of whether we should move or stay in our area. I was a young mama and I was just learning how to be a prayer warrior for my family. My husband was trying to figure out what his next step was in his career path and what the best way to provide for our family was. I felt helpless in some ways but I also knew that what I was being called to do was to pray for my husband as he made these decisions. Some days were hard and confusing and I would grow weary with all that we were facing. But I had some really close people to me at the time who would hold me up and were also supporting me with their prayers. Then I heard this story and all the pieces fit together that that is the way it is meant to be. 

You see, we will all find ourselves in a battle at times. And we all need someone standing on the hill holding us up in prayer and we also need the prayer support of close friends holding our arms up as we pray. I have been the one in the battle and I have been the one on the hill praying the prayers and I have been the one holding the arms of precious friends as they pray for their own battles. It’s what binds us together. 

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.’ And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD is My Banner” Exodus 17:14-15

The KJV says it this way: 

“And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi” Exodus 17:15

The next thing Moses did was record what the Lord had done for them. When we win the battles that we have prayed for, this is when He becomes our Jehovah-nissi! Do you journal? Do you record what the Lord has done for you? The Lord has been my banner over and over again. He has fought my battles and He has sent me into battle to fight all the while He was with me. But every victory has come because of Him, He is my Banner! 

Jehovah-Nissi ~ The twelve tribes of Israel

Our history lesson continues today. We learned yesterday the back story of Jacob and his family prior to his night of wrestling with God. There are a couple of things to note further about this night. First we know that as the author of the book says that God rewarded Jacob’s persistence. Jacob was in line to have the covenant, the promise that God had given Abraham fulfilled through him. Up until this time however when Jacob refers to God, he refers to him as the God of my father Abraham and my father Isaac. 

“And Jacob said ‘O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac,’” Genesis 32:9

Up until Jacob had an encounter with God himself, God was not personal to him. He knew who God was, and he attempted to walk in light of the promise to some extent but his heart was not fully God’s until this point. After Jacob had the night of wrestling and had seen God face to face and received the blessing from God, he began to call God the God of Israel. 

“There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.” Genesis 33:20

This was after he had actually met up with Esau and they had reconciled, Jacob had erected the altar and given this name which means the mighty God of Israel. (Yes, I know we are supposed to be studying Jehovah-Nissi, but we have another name that slipped in here on us.) God had become his God. God was finally personal to Jacob. Sometimes it takes a wrestling match for God to become personal to us. We can learn and get all the head knowledge about who God is, but it’s not until we actually learn His heart and it touches our heart that God becomes personal to us. 

God made this covenant with Abraham. But it was Abrahams obedience that had to keep it going. Isaac walked with God and carried the covenant and blessed his son, Jacob. But God had to become personal to Jacob in order for Jacob to fulfill his side of the covenant. 

“God required a long walk of obedience to receive what He had promised.” Wendy Blight ~ I Know His Name

We are going to fast forward just a bit in our story. This is bringing us to the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve tribes of Israel are named after Jacob’s sons. With the exception, Jacob’s son Levi would not be a tribe, as they would be set apart as ministers in the tabernacle and Jacob’s son Joseph would receive a double portion as his sons Manasseh and Ephraim. When Moses led the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob (Israel) out of Egypt, they were divided into these twelve tribes. As the Israelites traveled in the wilderness they did everything as these twelve tribes, they traveled as tribes, they camped as tribes, they worked as tribes and eventually they would settle as tribes. Each tribal family also had a tribal banner that they would set up to designate their tribes. 

“The people of Israel shall camp each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ houses. They shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side.” Numbers 2:2

Even though the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, it was not without order. God is a God of order not chaos and He was impressing upon the Israelites to follow the details. God led the Israelites through the wilderness by cloud by day and fire by night. When the cloud lifted off of the tabernacle, or the tent of meeting, the Israelites would break camp and would follow the cloud to the next stop and as they set up camp again, the cloud would settle over the tent of meeting again until it was time to break camp and move again. 

I don’t know how many times in my lifetime I have prayed for a cloud or a pillar of fire, or a burning bush so that I would know what to do next. Sometimes finding our direction in life can be hard, can’t it? God does still lead us today but not by a cloud or a fire, God leads us these days through His word, and through the Holy Spirit living inside of us. When I stay close to Him I can feel His leading and His guidance, He is personal to me. When I can’t feel His leading and His presence, it’s always me that moved and is not leaning into Him. It took me a long time, to know this, but I think I would rather have His presence in my heart all the time as the Holy Spirit living inside of me than to have to follow a cloud all the time. Wouldn’t you? 

Jehovah Nissi ~ The Lord is my Banner

Before we actually get to the story where this name for God appears we are going to take a little history lesson for a couple of days. Today we are going to talk about Jacob.  Jacob was the grandson of Abraham and Sarah and the son of Isaac.

This is actually a story of family struggles. We know that Sarah took matters into her own hands because God had promised her a son and she gave her servant girl to Abraham instead of waiting for the promise of God to be fulfilled. Well, eventually, God did fulfill his promise to Abraham and Sarah and they had Isaac. 

Isaac grew up and married a woman named Rebekah. Rebekah had fertility issues of her own and Isaac pleaded with God to open her womb. Rebekah became pregnant with twins, Esau and Jacob. You often hear stories of twins being so close they can finish each other’s sentences or wear the same or similar clothes even though they are miles apart. Twins are usually thought of as they will grow up in close relationship with each other. However this is not the case with Esau and Jacob. Their battles began in the womb. 

As time went on a jealousy between the brothers ensued. Esau was the oldest of the two and was favored by Isaac and Jacob was favored by his mother Rebekah. Esau should have received the birthright but he sold his birthright to Jacob. Jacob cheated Esau of the blessing from his father. All of this deceit and jealousy continues to build until Esau is plotting to kill Jacob so Jacob has to flee for his own life and safety. Oh and by the way Rebekah helped this along. 

Jacob ran away to his Uncle Laban’s and eventually gets himself into a situation there too. He falls in love with Rachel the younger daughter of Uncle Laban. But he ends up marrying both of his daughters due to the trickery of Uncle Laban. Then more family dynamics because Jacob is married to the two sisters. Leah the one he was tricked into marrying can conceive children but her sister, Rachel, the one he loves cannot. So Rachel gives him her servant girl (sound familiar?). Then Leah gives her servant girl, then eventually Rachel conceives and over time Jacob fathers 12 sons and a daughter between these four women. Talk about some family dynamics. 

I have put all of this history into a nutshell in the interest of time, but what we see here are a lot of jealousy, and comparisons and trickery and deception. Unfortunately, it sounds a lot like life today but it is an awful lot going on in one family. Eventually Jacob desires to reconcile with his brother Esau and he sets out on a journey to do so in chapter 32 of Genesis. On his journey to meet with Esau Jacob has a night of wrestling with God in verses 22 – 32. As morning began to break the “man” that Jacob was wrestling with touched Jacob’s hip socket so that Jacob’s hip was out of joint. 

“Then he said, ‘Let me go for the day has broken.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ And he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then he said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.’ Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said ‘Why is it the you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.’” Genesis 32:26-30

Before I started studying this, it had never quite hit me before that Jacob had finally received what he had been after since he was a young man. Jacob cheated Esau out of the blessing from his earthly father. Yet he still did not feel blessed until he actually came face to face and wrestled with God. How many times are we after the blessing with man and the only thing that would truly fulfill us is the blessing from God. We wrestle with God over our path and direction in life, we wrestle over our finances, we wrestle with Him over relationships and comparisons and jealousy and may find ourselves in trickery and deceptions. Really, we should be  humbling ourselves and laying our stuff at the foot of the cross and asking Him for the blessing on our lives instead of looking to others for acceptance. 

True change came to Jacob only after he wrestled with God. True change comes many times in us after a struggle. I know for me, I have been through some hard things in life that found me clinging to God in new ways. When you come to the end of yourself and you find that God is all you have, that is when you find that God is all you need. 

“God rewarded Jacob’s persistence. When Jacob finally acknowledged that the blessing he had stolen must ultimately come from God, he was able to fully receive it.” Wendy Blight “I Know His Name”  

El Roi ~ Jesus

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatter them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Fathers knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:11-15

When we began this study on El Roi at the beginning of the week, we discovered that the Angel of the LORD that Hagar met with in the wilderness was the pre-incarnate Jesus. We have come full circle and in this passage Jesus himself is teaching about being our good shepherd. The first thing he says here is the shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. This would have had significance to the Jewish people of the day. They knew what a shepherd did and they knew the many ways that a good shepherd laid down his life for his sheep. What they didn’t know yet was the way Jesus would lay down His life for us. 

The next line of this passage could be kind of confusing if you don’t remember that Jesus spoke to them always in parables. Here he is talking about the thief, Satan, anything that tries to disguise himself as good and giving good gifts to us. In John 10:10 Jesus had already told them “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.” One thing to note here, Satan will entice you, tempt you, lead you down wrong paths and he will leave you there. There are times that we feel led into hard things with Jesus, but even though they are hard, he will never leave us. I have gone through seasons that I have questioned at the time God’s presence and why he would allow the circumstance in my life, but when I look back I can always see God’s hand. And many times during a hard season of life, I will just pray “God, I need to see you”. And He always shows Himself to me, if I will just look. It may not be the end or the answer I want but He will show Himself and give me assurance He is walking with me. 

Jesus says here “I know my own and my own know me.” I am not sure exactly how shepherds shepherd sheep today. But I know I have done a couple of studies on shepherds back in the days of Jesus. The people of the day would have known this too when Jesus spoke these words. It was not uncommon for shepherds to name each and every one of his sheep. He knew them all by name and in turn the sheep would know the voice of their shepherd. When shepherds might be taking their flocks through a town there would be communal sheep pens where they could store their sheep overnight. In the morning the shepherd would come to the gate of the pen and would call their sheep. While there may be several flocks of sheep only the ones who knew his shepherds voice would come. But how did they know his voice?  From being with their shepherd over time. 

You see friends the way we will know our shepherd, our El Roi is by spending time with him. The shepherd will call us by name and he will seek us out but it is the time we spend with Him that will cultivate our ear to know His voice. In verse 15 of this passage it says ~ “Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep.” Knowing Jesus is knowing the Father. Just as God found Hagar in the wilderness and just as He led Elijah into the wilderness and then stood with him on Mount Carmel, our Jesus will seek and search for us, He will lead and guide us. He has already laid down His life for us. He sees us! 

El Roi ~ Sometimes He whispers

In the book of 1 Kings in chapters 17-19 there is a story of a prophet Elijah. Elijah was very bold in his faith at a time when Israel was under great oppression by a king Ahab and his queen Jezebel. Jezebel was one of the most hateful women that ever lived. 

“And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of  Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. He erected and altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.” 1 Kings 16:31-33

Ahab and Jezebel were wreaking havoc on Israel. They had set up these altars to Baal. Don’t miss verse 33 of the passage before that says “Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel before him.” He was one bad guy and he was angering God. 

But our story is about Elijah. Elijah was a prophet that the Lord spoke through to predict a drought. 

“Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.’” 1 Kings 17:1

We see Elijah in this story being bold in his faith and speaking out to Ahab. 

Then we see the Lord drawing him away to “hide” but what He was really doing was drawing him to Himself. 

“And the word of the Lord came to him: ‘Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Chrith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.’” 1 Kings 17:2-4

In these chapters Elijah was very in tune with God. When God said go hide yourself by a brook, he did and the Lord sustained him there. Later, when God sent him to Zarephath, and dwell there, he did and God worked through him. After three years, God sends him back to Ahab to confront him and God does a mighty work through Elijah on Mount Carmel. Elijah during all of this time kept his eyes on the Lord and even though every circumstance that came his way wasn’t perfect, he had great faith and God used him in a mighty way to show himself to Israel to turn the hearts of the people back to him. But in all of this Ahab and Jezebel were still evil and they were still doing all they could to hunt Elijah down to kill him. 

I paraphrase this story because of time, there is much more to it. It is a very interesting read and I suggest you go read these chapters yourself, but this brings us to a point in chapter 19 where Elijah is fleeing Jezebel and Ahab. This man who had stood so boldly for the Lord is now fleeing in fear for his life. He was weary from his ministry and speaking boldly for the Lord and now here he was in hiding and asking the Lord to just take his life. 

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying ‘it is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.’” 1 Kings 19:4

Elijah had hit a low point. After years of following the Lord and doing ministry and seeing the Lord answer many prayers for him, he was tired and ready to just give up. But the Lord came and found him there. 

“And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, ‘Arise and eat.’ And he looked, and behold there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again.” 1 Kings 19:5

Elijah was in a low place yet the Lord found him there and he fed him and he gave him drink and he gave him rest. And this happened again. And the Lord sustained him for forty day and forty nights. Elijah had come to a cave to lodge in it and the Lord came to him again and asked him what he was doing? 

“He said, ‘I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 1 Kings 19:10

Elijah was down and depressed but this brings me to my favorite part of this story. 

“And he said, ‘Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold there came a voice to him.” 1 Kings 19:11-13

How many times do we look for God only in the big things? Elijah looked for Him in the wind, in the earthquake and in the fire but he found Him in the sound of a low whisper. Our God, our El Roi is personal to each of us and sometimes, He just wants to speak to us. He wants to come to us in the sound of a whisper. Elijah had to get alone and had to quiet the noise and had to nourish himself and had to rest to really hear the whisper of the Lord. I know I have to do that sometimes too.  

El Roi ~ Our Good Shepherd

“He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, 

I will fear no evil, for you are with me; you rod and your staff, they comfort me. 

  Psalm 23:3b-4

We will continue with the 23d Psalm and looking at El Roi, our Good Shepherd. Yesterday we noted that the shepherd leads the sheep to food, water and rest and that when the sheep have all of those things that they experience safety, security and restoration. Today we will talk about the ways the shepherd guides the sheep. I used the NIV here because I like the way it states “He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” Other translations say “He leads me in paths of righteousness” which is also correct, but I think sometimes we have a hard time with looking at ourselves or our paths as righteous, when righteous only means right living. But the world skews our thinking so much that to us that may sound haughty. When the shepherd is out in the wilderness with their sheep, the shepherd has learned the right paths and the wrong paths to take. He is going to guide his sheep along the path that is right for them. One path may look right at the beginning, but the shepherd may know that right around the corner is a big drop off and it would be dangerous for the sheep. When we look to our shepherd, our El Roi, He also will lead us down the right paths. Some job, some school, some path in life may look good to us, but our Shepherd has the benefit of knowing all and if we will allow it, He will guide us down the right path, if for no other reason “for his name’s sake.” When we allow our lives to give God the glory then He will guide us down those right paths simply because it’s His name on the line. I can remember a time when our family was looking to make a move. Things were falling into place so perfectly, we were praying all the while though that the LORD would only allow it if it is what was best for our family. Soon after we prayed those prayers, the job went off the table. We were at first very confused, the job was perfect, there was talk that the company would buy our house and that they would provide us a place to live until we found another. How quickly we forgot our prayer LORD only allow it if it is good for us. Six months later the company had to pull out of the location they would have taken us to and many people lost their jobs. How grateful we were then that the LORD had not allowed us to go. I truly feel that the LORD led us down the right path by not allowing it. 

That brings us to “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil.” The time that the job didn’t go through was a dark valley. I wish I could tell you I held on and had no fear at all. I have walked through some other dark valleys. Other translations of this verse say “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” A few years ago when I lost my Daddy and my sister within 6 months of each other and a few weeks later learned that one of my best friends had an illness that was terminal, I felt like I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I have said it before, grief is hard, grief upon grief is almost unbearable. Looking back though at that time, I found myself in a position that I was having to walk so closely to the shepherd. And in that I found comfort by His leading and His guiding me. I knew that my walking with Him was not going to bring my people back. I knew I may not get answers as to why this was happening to them but I needed His comfort and His grace on my heart. It was one of the darkest times of my life, because of the loss my heart experienced as well as some other life experiences that happened soon after that, but as long as I stayed close to the shepherd, He was seeing me through. I wish I could tell you I never feared, I can’t. But I can tell you there is a direct relationship to the time I spent with the Shepherd and if there was fear in my heart. If I drifted away from the path, my heart would get anxious and fearful, if I stayed the course and spent time with Him daily, He sustained me, He would guide me and He comforted me. I felt seen by Him, even in the hard valleys of life. 

I’ve known this Psalm for years. I am sure many of you can say the same. But there is a difference in knowing the Psalm and knowing the main character of the Psalm. The LORD is MY Shepherd, I lack nothing, because I know Him and He knows me! I hope you feel seen by Him today too, you can, just spend some time sitting at His feet. Let Him lead you along the right paths. He will surely do it for His name’s sake!  

El Roi – The Good Shepherd 

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 

He makes me lie down in green pastures. 

He leads me beside still waters. 

He restores my soul.” 

    Psalm 23:1-3a

We know that El in Hebrew means God. Ro’iy in Hebrew means shepherd or looking, seeing or gazing. We have already discovered that El Roi means the God who sees me. This is such a tender name for God and I don’t know about you but studying this name just makes me feel cared for. Throughout scripture there are comparisons made to the shepherd caring for his sheep and the way God cares for us. Today we will look at the first couple of verses of the 23rd Psalm. It is believed that David was already a king when he wrote this Psalm. However, he knew the life of a shepherd, so David was not writing about something he knew nothing about. He knew the way he had cared for his sheep when he was a shepherd and David was making all the comparisons that God cared for him much the same way he had cared for his sheep. 

The sheep that David had cared for needed nothing when they were under the shepherds care. Some translations of this Psalm say “I lack nothing” instead of “I shall not want”. I must ask myself when I read it that way, what do I think I am lacking? Am I looking on the Lord as my shepherd in such a way that if he never answered another prayer for me I can honestly say I lack nothing. Is he enough for me? Am I coming to God daily with my wants, my desires, my requests, and laying them at His feet just to get something from Him, to get answers. Or when I come to Him is that enough even if I don’t get the answers I desire? Is His care for me enough? When you read this Psalm of David it seems to be it was enough. Of course we can argue that David was a king but scripture is also pretty transparent that even though David was a king, his household was far from perfect. 

When David was a shepherd he knew when his sheep needed rest. He would make them to lie down in green pastures and rest. He knew when they were thirsty and he would lead them to the water so they could drink. He knew that leading his sheep to a green pasture where there was still water nearby would make them feel safe and secure. David was looking to God for his own rest and nourishment so that he would feel safe and secure and the safety and security he would receive from God would restore His soul. I love that David penned this Psalm for us. 

When things get anxious for you as they do for all of us because, well that is just the world we live in, where do you go for safety and security? Do we turn to God to let Him restore our soul or do we turn to the world? Do we binge on television and/or Netflix? Or do we spend time with Him. Our Elohim who created us, who knows us inside out, our El Roi who sees us and knows what nourishment our soul needs. I have to admit that there have been plenty of times in my life I have looked at the wrong things when I was under stress and/or had anxiety building. I have looked to food or friends or other things to fill me up. But on those occasions that I bring my stress and my anxiety and my worries and my hurts to God, I will always walk away feeling rested and restored. No, I can’t promise you that your circumstances will change on a dime. But much like Hagar when she returned to Abraham’s household, El Roi will see you through whatever comes if we just keep looking to Him for restoration. 

El Roi – The God who sees me

Tucked away in Genesis chapter 16 is a story of a slave girl named Hagar. She is not necessarily one of the key players in Genesis that you hear of. You may or may not know her name right off the bat. Hagar was a slave girl to Sarai. You probably know who Sarai is, she became Sarah and was married to Abram who became Abraham. Well Abram and Sarai had already been promised by God that they would have children but years had already passed and nothing had happened so Sarai decided to take matters into her own hands.  

Sarai decided that since she had not conceived she would give her servant girl, Hagar to her husband and that she would have children through her. Boy that sounds like a good plan doesn’t it? And Abram agrees. So Abram goes in to Hagar and she does conceive. Now realize Hagar was in no position to say no. This was a practice that back in that time would have been totally acceptable. Abram could have stood up and been the spiritual leader of His home and said no. He could have recognized this as a bad plan. But he and Sarai had both lost sight of God’s ability to provide the promise. They had become discouraged with the passing of time and this shows it. They were both acting on their own rather than trusting God to fulfill the promise He had already made to them. 

Now even though Hagar was in no position to say no, we have to remember she was human. She became pregnant and when she did she became haughty and looked on Sarai with contempt. Sarai in turn, possibly out of jealousy, maybe out of her own feelings of “what have I done” dealt harshly with Hagar. So Hagar ran away. Then the most incredible thing happens. 

“The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” Genesis 16:7-8

As Hagar was running away, she was found by the angel of the LORD. The assumption is this was a pre-incarnate presence of Jesus. We know from scripture that no one has ever seen God face to face. So when we see places in the Old Testament and we know that Jesus was with God in the beginning it can make sense that this is Jesus. It’s a lot to take in, I know. 

This angel of the LORD finds her, He comforts her and asks her where she is going. Hagar doesn’t know where she is going, she is a slave girl and probably has no where to go when you think about it. Her response is “I am fleeing from my mistress, Sarai.” Now the Angel of the LORD tells her to return to her mistress, to these circumstances and submit to her. Abram and Sarai had sure made a mess of things with all of this. And I am sure that Hagar was not super excited about this advice. But the angel of the LORD also made her a promise. 

“The angel of the LORD also said to her, ‘I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.’” Genesis 16:10

Hagar realizes as she is getting this counsel from the angel of the LORD, actually from Jesus that if He can find her in the wilderness, then He can see her through these difficult circumstances. The next verse records Hagar’s response and it is so sweet and so tender. 

“So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’” Genesis 16:13

Hagar knew this was not just an angel she had had an encounter with. She had just had an encounter with God, with the pre-incarnate Jesus and He saw her. El Roi is Hebrew for “the God who sees me”. This was what Hagar says as she has received this word from Him, this comfort. She knew that God had found her where she was and He saw her. Even in the mess she was in, He saw her.  Also, I found that Ishmael means “God hears”. She was instructed to name her child Ishmael which would be a reminder to her every time she called his name that God had met her in the wilderness and heard her cry. He saw her in her despair, just like He sees you and me when we are in a difficult situation that may be born out of our own impatience and/or poor choices or may be someone elses. We have El Roi who sees us. Oh what a comfort that is! 

ELOHIM – Jesus

“In the beginnning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” John 1:1-3

I had probably been a Christian for a long time before I realized that Jesus was with God in the beginning of creation. Bear with me here. I had a very limited knowledge of the Bible when I became a Christian. I knew the songs Jesus Loves Me and Jesus Loves the Little Children and a few others as well as a few Bible stories but I hadn’t read the Bible other than a few times I visited church on holidays and with extended family and VBS. I knew Jesus was God’s son so the idea that He was there when the world was created didn’t seem possible to me. But yet that is exactly what John is telling us as he opens his writing in the Gospels. If you go back to Genesis there is support to it as well. 

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” Genesis 1:26

This fully supports that God was not alone when He was creating earth and all its inhabitants. And if you look at what John says everything was made with Jesus in mind. “All things were made through him.” My studying of God, Jesus as Creator led me to Colossians. 

“He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17

You can’t study God as creator without thinking of Jesus, the firstborn of all creation. If not for Jesus we would not be here, God’s word says all things were created by him and all things were created through him and for him. God’s purpose in creating us is for Jesus. You know because of Jesus dying on the cross, we can get caught up in thinking of what He did for us. And He did do that for us. But it is really pretty awe-inspiring to realize we were created for Him. Our purposes are for Him, our lives are for  Him, our very existence is for Him.  

God, Elohim is creative. All that we have looked at this week, point to that. Therefore, when you think about it because we were made in his image and in his likeness we are all creative beings. This may be one of my favorite things about God and my relationship with Him. I like to create things. I like to paint, I sew, I like crafting things. And it’s pretty incredible to me that God put that inside of me. I feel closer to God when I am creating. But all of us are creative in one way or another. Even if art or crafting is not your thing, I’ll bet you can stop and think of something that you create. That is one of the ways God set man apart from the other living creatures on the earth. That is one of the ways we were created in His image, to be creative beings as well. You have original thoughts and ideas. Everything that goes through your mind isn’t something you read. No matter your profession, you have to think things through to figure them out. We all have a place, a purpose, and a calling. The calling that God has put inside of you could be any number of things. Whether your calling is to be an accountant or an artist, a lawyer, a singer, a preacher or a teacher, it was put there by God. He created our mind, and He gives us our desires and our hopes and our dreams. He leaves it up to us to choose how we will use the gifts He gives us. Will we use them to glorify the one who created us or ~ not. We get to choose. 


“You are Elohim, who made everything out of nothing, created order out of chaos, gave birth to all of nature, and called it good. Enable me to comprehend the vastness of Your glory and learn to live my life in a way that forever magnifies Your holy name.” 

(taken from a prayer in the book I Know His Name by Wendy Blight)