El Roi (The God who sees) Genesis 16:13-14
El Elyon (The God most High) Genesis 14:17-20
El Shaddai (The All-Sufficient One) Genesis 17:1-8
Every Friday morning at this point in my life began the same way. I would meet a friend from 6AM to 7AM in the church parking lot. We spent this time sharing scripture and praying together. At 7AM, we would join a group of another four men for a Bible study the following hour in the church library. This particular Friday morning he was late, so I walked on into the library. While I waited for him to come, I saw a book with an interesting title and started reading. At 7AM, he still had not arrived, and I made preparations for the Bible study group which were soon to arrive. I then went back to reading. At 7:30 AM, to my surprise, no one came and I continued to read until 8AM. This was quite unusual for me not to connect with my friend, and the group was faithful in attendance as well. (I later discovered that each had some development that prevented their attendance.)
The book that I had an uninterrupted opportunity to read for two hours was entitled “To Know Him by Name,” by Kay Arthur. I was impressed with the significance of one of the first verses she used in her book which was from Proverbs 18:10. “The name of the LORD is a strong tower, the righteous runs into it and is safe.” The Lord gave me a desire to pursue His name; to understand that it is a strong tower; to run into it; and experience His safety. The three names that captivated my interest most were El Roi, El Elyon, and El Shaddai. In the Bible, El Elyon is usually translated as Most High or God Most High; and El Shaddai as Almighty, or God Almighty.
The first of these names was El Roi, the God who sees. Nothing in all creation escapes His eyes. He is the one who knows where I am, and how I came to be there. He knows where I am going. Psalm 139 states that He goes before and behind and lays His hand of blessing on my head. He is my designer, creator and sustainer. He numbers the hairs on my head, not just counts them, but each one has a number! He sees each cell in my body.
El Elyon is the name God gives us so that we may know Him as the Sovereign ruler over all of creation. It was Abraham who first encountered El Elyon as the One who enabled his band of followers (318 men) to defeat four armies. Nebuchadnezzar declared El Elyon to be the One who does according to His will in heaven and on earth. He is the One who has absolute authority over everything that affects my life. As Kay Arthur states in her book, “Although we have been given a free will, God so rules and overrules in this universe of His that no person, angel, demon, or devil – nor any circumstance of life – can thwart His plan. You will know that nothing in the universe can touch your life except by His permission and filtered through His fingers of love. Bend your knee before God Most High, and learn that His sovereign power toward you means nothing less than perfect love.”
El Shaddai (God Almighty) is the all Sufficient One; the One with unlimited power to pour forth His blessings, both temporal and spiritual. He is the One into whose arms we can come for comfort and protection. When in our lives we seem to hit bottom, we find that “the eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deut 33:27) We will never sink deep enough into any spiritual or physical problem that we do not find the everlasting arms of El Shaddai underneath us.
After seeing patients at the hospital that morning, I arrived at my office at 10 AM to find a letter addressed to me from the hospital laboratory. As the contents of the letter began soaking in, I began to be overwhelmed with the significance of the names of God that I had studied earlier that morning. The Lord, who was revealed in the pages of the Old Testament as El Roi, El Elyon, and El Shaddai, was now writing in the pages of my life. What was intellectual knowledge about Him was becoming personal experience of Him. The Lord who saw Hagar had also seen me; the God who controlled Abraham’s battle was controlling my life and the God who appeared as the All-Sufficient One of comfort and sustenance to Abraham was now comforting me. The God of the past was making His reality visible in the present and giving me hope for the future. I found each of these names to be a strong tower. I ran into each of them and found myself to be safe.
El Roi (The God who sees) saw each cell of my body and knew that there was a small area of cancer in the prostate. He also knew its exact location at the edge of the prostate and that it would soon break through the wall and spread throughout my body. This explained the repeated strong impression to obtain blood tests earlier in the week. Although the letter mentioned only a slight degree of elevation of the PSA it was sufficient to need a biopsy. Again, as El Roi, He was able to guide one of the biopsy needles the following week to the exact location to establish a diagnosis.
As El Elyon, He had arranged my schedule that morning to provide time to learn of Him. He had rearranged the schedule of five other men, led me to the book I had read and provided me uninterrupted time for two hours to study His name. I later experienced El Elyon as the One who would control the spread of the cancer, allowing its complete removal.
As El Shaddai, He had wrapped His arms around me with His comfort and presence, preparing me for the news I was to receive in the letter
As of this writing, it has been eight years since the diagnosis of prostate cancer and its subsequent removal at surgery. I am, to my knowledge, free from any recurrence. A number of my friends (who were more diligent than I was at checking PSA levels) are now dead of this disease. Why was I permitted to survive and they were not? Why was I allowed this disease at all with its attendant complications? These are questions for which I have no answer. As our pastor, David McKechnie, related in a recent sermon, “we must learn to move beyond the questions that cannot be answered to the answers that cannot be questioned.” In the scriptures I find the answers of God that cannot be questioned. One of these answers relates to His ultimate purpose for my life, which is simply to know Him. (Titus 1:2, John 17:3) During these last eight years I have come to realize that the chief benefit of this experience was not the healing of cancer, but the opportunity to know and experience God more deeply. I have also realized that He desires to use each person, each event, and each illness in our lives to increase our understanding and worship of Him. This knowledge which begins now will grow and increase throughout all eternity, and is indeed, the eternal life for which we were created.
Following the initial finding of the elevated PSA, consultation was made with the urologist and a biopsy was performed. The night before we were to receive the report of the biopsy, Beverly and I attended a retirement dinner for a local pastor. The first part of the evening featured a soloist who sang the Hymn “Because He Lives.” The refrain is as follows:
Because He lives I can face tomorrow;
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.
The moment she began singing I knew that the biopsy results would be positive the next day. I also knew that the song was selected not only because it was a favorite of the retiring pastor, but because it was what El Shaddai knew I needed to hear.
In your life, as well as mine, we need to know the closeness of the One who reveals Himself as El Roi, as El Elyon, and as El Shaddai. He desires us to know Him by name and to experience Him as a strong tower. Our journey to know Him is not only a life-long pursuit, it will be a principal occupation of eternity. I would encourage you to be attentive to how God is revealing Himself to you. His desire is that we may love Him more deeply, worship Him more completely, and serve Him more effectively. These all come from our deepening knowledge of Him. It is my prayer that this deepening knowledge of Him will accomplish His work in your lives for His glory.
In Christ , Richard Spann