A God who sees is terrifying. Every bitten word, every dark thought festering behind a placid smile, every cruel judgment beneath the pleasant civilities, every spark of bitter frustration and anger, every tinge of doubt and fear, every putrid seed harbored and protected in the mire of our flesh, lies naked before the throne of the all-seeing God. His eye is upon me – me – who struggle so much with my old sin nature, falling to the same temptations over and over again. His eye is upon me, squinting – as Spurgeon said – squinting as if He can see nothing else.
When I was little, it was a great comfort to know that God sees everything. He was there when I was scared at night, when I fell off my bike and scraped my elbow, when those boys teased me afterward for wearing a helmet and arm guards, when I went to the dentist, when I helped my little sister do the dishes. You know, kid stuff. God was there. God saw. Like a benevolent grandfather in the sky, He looked down with a smile and a host of guardian angels and held my hand through the unknown paths of the day.
But as I got older and my knowledge of my own sin increased, I began to look more warily at the God who sees all things. There were corners of myself I hid from everyone else. There were monsters in my heart I was afraid to show others, afraid to be with, afraid to look at alone.
Anger, impatience, bitterness, depression, fears and doubts kept my conscience in constant turmoil, in a heartburn of conviction. Hardened pride would plummet suddenly into valleys of wounded shame. I was almost afraid to pray. And slowly, the God who peered down from the gates of judgment with His all-piercing and all-holy eyes, who saw me better than I see myself, appeared terribly affronted by the rebellious worm at His feet.
A God who sees is terrifying. Only omnipotent love and omnipotent grace can mold salvation beside omniscient holiness.
The Son of Promise
I’m not the first one who trembled at the words, “the God who sees”. Her name was Hagar (Genesis 16:13). She had been shamed and abused by her mistress, and abandoned by all she knew. She found only one refuge – that of escape. She would flee from her shame, her anger, her brokenness, her pain. Now, she was alone with only the child within her, and in this barren wilderness, he would most likely never live to see her face.
No one saw her tears. No one felt her pain. One of the heaviest burdens of grief is its loneliness, but the isolation Hagar felt was not only emotional, it was physical and relational as well. It was utterly complete in its oppression. And that oppression screamed for relief. That’s when she found the spring of water.
David and Samson (2 Samuel 23:8-17; Judges 15), after great victories, both cried that they would die but for a cup of water. They knew, even in their greatness, what it is to thirst. But Hagar was defeated. She was empty. And while she drank at the spring, she found that she would need more than water to make her whole again.
And God saw her there.
The God Who Sees
God came to Hagar at the spring in the wilderness and gave her something better than water. He gave her hope. He overflowed into promises. He asked her to drink of Him and be satisfied. When her master, her mistress, her kinsman and her household had all abandoned her, God had pursued. God had seen her troubles.
He told her that her life was not in vain. He told her that her son was coming – the son of the bondwoman. He told her another son was coming – the son of the free woman. This son would have a greater Son, who would free the children of the bondwoman and bring them to God (Genesis 16:10-12, 21:17-118; Hebrews 4:21-31).
How could God pursue this slave in her sin, in her shame, in her brokenness, with her ugly heart in her ugly circumstances, when He saw everything? How can God pursue us?
Because He sees our sin in light of His Promise.
He sees our sin in light of His Son.
Face to Face
God, in His omniscience and His sovereignty, sees you more scathingly clear than you could ever bear to see yourself. If for one moment, we could see our sin as God sees it, the weight of our transgressions would crush us completely (Exodus 19:21, 23:17-20; Isaiah 6:1-5; Revelation 1:17-18).
When we say we are righteous, He says we are condemned (Romans 3:9-20). When we say we are gods, He says we are sons of the devil (Matthew 13:37-38; John 8:44; 1 John 3:10). When we struggle and writhe and pronounce ourselves free to chase our lusts, He pronounces us dead in our sin (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13; 1 Timothy 5:6). When we curse God, He knows we are cursed already (Galatians 3:10). And when we try to fill ourselves up in the springs of this world, He knows we need more than this water (Jeremiah 2:13; John 4:13-14).
So the God who sees all things, in His omnipotent love and His omnipotent grace, sent His beloved Son to us in our own flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). Christ felt what we felt, suffered as we suffered, saw as we saw, in every way but the way in which sin blinds us (Hebrews 2:14-18). God looked upon His beloved Son, who kept the whole law perfectly, and said that with Him (and Him alone), He is well pleased (Matthew 3:17, 17:5).
And then the God who sees all things closed His eyes and turned away when His perfect Son was nailed to the Cross for the sin which God had abhorred for eternity, until Christ screamed in anguish: My God! My God! Why have you forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:46).
God saw. He saw our sin on His Son and He nailed it to the Cross (1 Peter 2:24). He saw His Son’s righteousness, and He placed it on His people (2 Corinthians 5:21).
When God sees you – you who are in Christ – He sees His Son.
That is the Gospel.
God, who saw you as you were, as a child of darkness naked before His throne of judgment, pronounced your condition worse than you could bear. But He loved you. He loved you so much that in spite of your sin, He sent His Son to live the perfect life of obedience that we despised. God saw His Son and pronounced Him good. Perfect. More perfect than you could ever hope to be. Because of His grace, and the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, God now sees you in Him, and pronounces you good. Perfect. The perfect He promises you will be.
When you are in heaven, the old you – the you that you are afraid God sees, that He put on Christ – will be done away with completely. And the new you – the you that Christ has given you – will become complete (2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Peter 3:13).
This barren wilderness will erupt into the Water of Life. This foreign land will give way to our true home. And you will see with your own eyes, the God who sees.