It’s easier to do something about what you can see coming. For instance, if I’m walking around in my house and there’s light, I can see the evil cat trying to trip me up. I may not be able to do much to stop her, like when she does her darting runs right into my feet, but I at least can prepare to catch myself for the coming fall. When it’s dark, it’s over. She can see, but I can’t. I can’t avoid her, much less prepare myself for the impact, if I can’t see her. Life is full of situations where we can see what’s coming but plenty more where we can’t. We can prepare somewhat for the situations we can see. However, how do you prepare for the ones where you had no vision of until they were on top of you? You don’t. That means you have to hope you can react well enough. Don’t feel so confident? Neither do I. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some way someone could lend a hand? God can. And God will, if we’re faithful and we trust Him.
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.” Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 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.” 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. Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.” – Genesis 20:3-7, ESV
Abimelech had taken Sarah to be his wife. As far as he knew, she was just Abraham’s sister. He didn’t know they were married. God, of course, got Abimelech’s attention right away, “Hey! You’re a dead man because you took another man’s wife as your own!” Abimelech, naturally, is shocked and professed his innocence. He had no way of knowing the truth. Note how God responded. God had kept Abimelech from sinning. God had preserved Abimelech despite his ignorance of the real situation. Abimelech didn’t sin because God intervened.
So let’s consider the why. God directly gives us one reason: because Abimelech did it with the purest of hearts. He had no knowledge of Abraham and Sarah’s marriage. But if we look at verse 11, we get another reason. Abraham lied because he though that there was no fear of God in Abimelech’s kingdom. He felt that if he didn’t lie, they would kill him and take Sarah anyway. But Abimelech’s response in the dream and the way he talks to Abraham reveals that there was a fear of God in this ruler. There was also an understanding of right and wrong that was founded in God’s laws. We see that when Abimelech addressed Abraham. And through this fear of God there was a relationship. It might have started with the dream, but God and Abimelech were on speaking terms.
Do you want protection from what you can’t see coming? Spend time with God. Allow Him to guide you, to preserve you, to protect you. Often times we get a sense of what we should be doing, but we may not understand the whys about it. This was the case with Abimelech. In Abimelech’s case, God was guiding his actions. God was protecting Abimelech, keeping him from committing a sin in ignorance. God can do the same for us, but we have to trust Him. We have to fear Him. And we have to talk to Him, both through prayer and His Word. You and I can’t see everything. I rather doubt we see most things. But God sees all, knows all, and has power over all. So let us give up the illusion of control and just rely on what God can do. But to do that, we have to take a walk with Him, as often as we can.