3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.”
In Genesis 20, we see Abraham have a repeat performance of an old sin. Amazing, isn’t it, that after so many years of faith and bold following of God, Abraham would again play the “She’s my sister” card?
What has my attention this morning, though, is the conversation between God and Abimelech. Abimelech took Sara into his harem as another wife, though he did not “approach” her. God came to Abimelech and told him that he was in big trouble for taking another man’s wife. Abimelech, of course, pleads his innocence.
Here is where my interest is peaked. God then tells Abimelech that it was God who prevented Abimelech from acting out his desires toward Sara. It was God who intervened and kept Abimelech from doing what he would have normally done. God sovereignly moved, and Abimelech did not sleep with Sarah.
Note that Abimelech had no idea that God was the one behind what had happened. He could only know that his free decision was really the sovereign working of God after God told him. To all appearances, Abimelech was in charge of his own life. In reality, the sovereign God of the universe worked behind the scenes, molding circumstances and shaping Abimelech’s desires so as to have done exactly what he determined would happen.
God is in control. God is not limited in his power. In fact, God is not limited by man’s freedom. Were it a standard of God’s that he would never touch the free decisions of men, God could not have said that it was He and not Abimelech who kept the king from sinning with Sarah. God gives himself the credit. God acted. God moved a free man in such a way as to get the free man to act according to God’s plan. God moved a free man in such a way so as to make sure that the man could not take credit for his actions, even when his actions were right. Yes, Abimelech acted in accord with his free will, yet God says in no uncertain terms, “It was I who kept you from sinning against me.”
We serve a mighty, sovereign, glorious God. We serve a God who is bigger than we could ever imagine. He is in control. He accomplishes his will. No man can thwart God’s plan.
Does this concept bother us? For some it is troubling. For some, the freedom of man is the highest good and the factor that must limit the freedom of God. However, Scripture does not speak this way. It is the freedom of God that is of highest priority, and God’s freedom shall not be limited by the freedom of man. This is good, because it is the revelation of the One who is truly good, glorious, and holy. Let us learn to rejoice in the fact that our God is sovereign.