Actions Of God To Overrule
The Designs And Actions Of Man
God has many attributes and among those attributes is His absolute sovereignty.
This attribute of Almighty God is one that His people seem afraid to admit to with commitment. To admit that God is sovereign is to realize that we must be in complete obedience to His will. It is to realize that He has the power of life and death over us just as the absolute monarchs of old had power over their people.
This attribute is like an ocean that has no bank nor bottom and one may not lightly launch out into it, no matter how strong one feels, without a divine compass, and an anchor in Christ.
We have so far looked at the following landmarks of this wonderful attribute of God: 1) Our God has an absolute power and right of dominion over His creatures, to dispose and determine for them that which seems good to Him; 2) universal providence, or that which sustains His creation and by which all inferior causes are guided to their predestined conclusion; 3) the general acceptance of men, but particularly those who knew Him best ; 4) the evidence of the angels who are "great in power;" who nevertheless, do perfectly own and submit to the absolute sovereignty of God; 5) God's own assertion of His sovereignty; 6) those actions of God for which we can give no answer or reason except that it seemed good to Him.
We come now to number seven: Those actions by which the Lord God overruled the designs and actions of men so that He could bring about complete adherence to His will and His plan.
One of the earliest of these actions was when the people after the flood being all of one language came together and decided to build not only a city but a tower "whose top may reach unto heaven;...." The people, possibly under the leadership of Nimrod, meant this to be a project that would hold them all together but God overruled their will and used this instance "...let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." Gen. 11:7. In this sovereign act of God the people were scattered and so began the nations of the earth.
Let's look again at Jacob's dissimulation. As we said previously, the Bible does not tell us how God intended that Jacob should gain both the blessing and the birthright since it is obvious that Isaac preferred Esau. Jacob bought the birthright and he fooled his blind father to receive the blessing. Was this the way God intended? Certainly, Jacob's character as a deceiver was given him by God, was then the deception he practiced on his father the way that God intended or allowed? The only answer we can have is that it proved to be the means whereby he obtained the blessing.
Whatever we think, God had foreordained that Jacob should have the birthright and the blessing and it was obtained contrary to man's intention. Remember, even Isaac was distrustful of Jacob and questioned him closely and felt of his hands and even after he had blessed him asked him, "And he said, Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am." Gen. 27:24. Isaac intended the blessing for Esau but God intended it for Jacob. God is sovereign and Jacob received the blessing.
Again, considering Jacob, when he went to his uncle Laban's house he was looking for a place where he could temporarily hide-out until he could return home, but Laban put him to work and dealt with him very badly indeed. He deceived and cheated the deceiver for many years but the effectual time came in God's plan when He gave Laban's wealth to Jacob. Laban meant to harm Jacob when he left with his wives and children but God meant to keep Jacob safe and told Laban "...Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad."
Both the men were deceivers and cheats yet God gave the wealth of Laban the Syrian to Jacob for his own reasons. Rachel sent Jacob to her brother for safety. Laban meant to become wealthy by using Jacob but in both instances God had something else in mind. God was building a nation and this is how it was built. Many may not approve but then they cannot see the end from the beginning, they have no knowledge of the plan of God.
Joseph dreamed dreams of greatness where his brother and his mother and father would bow down to him, it made his brothers hate him and so to make sure that those dreams could not come true they first wanted to kill him but then decided to sell him in to slavery. Their intent was to prevent, but God's intent we find in Gen. 45, in verses 4 and 5 we read, "...I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life." and in verse 7, "And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance." What his brothers meant for evil God meant for the good of His chosen people. He overruled the intent of men.
Continuing here with the Children of Israel after they had been a while in Egypt they were used as slaves. Pharaoh gave them hard work to do in building but the more he increased their work the more God increased the people.
The Pharaoh wanted a more pliant people and so he thought that persecution would do the job, but in Ex. 1:12 we read, "But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew."
This is a wonderful statement that tells us an important truth of the future. For consider His churches, the more they were persecuted they more they grew and expanded across the world.
Persecution is meant for evil but God means it for our good.
Moses was a shepherd on the far side of the mountain and a man slow of speech and a man who had no mind to do the work that God had planned for him. Yet he became God's personal ambassador to Pharaoh, a king who was obviously one of the most powerful and most inflexible rulers on the earth. He brought Israel out of bondage with the strength that God gave.
Moses meant to stay in the desert with his sheep but God overruled his desire and sent him on his mission.
And in Judges a woman, a wife, became the judge of Israel and led them to a battle where another woman killed the enemy general. Deborah the prophetess stepped out of her role when God directed and judged Israel, and because Barak would not go to battle without Deborah, the enemy general was killed not by the host of Israel, but by Jael, another woman, a wife of Heber.
God overruled their normal position in the home and used them to accomplish His work for His plan.
Then there's Gideon who said to the Lord, "... my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." Judges 6:15. Yet God used him with 300 men to save Israel from a vast army of Midianites.
God used the poorest and the least to do a mighty work and He still does just that. God overruled the use of a general or a man of riches and accomplished His plan for His people. Man would have tried to use the full twenty-two thousand who showed up to fight but God wanted Israel to know who really won the battle so that in the end He used just three hundred, overruling the wisdom of man with the wisdom of God. He won the battle and saved the people from pride.
How many times in history has one man conquered 600, not very often. Only once that I know of. I'm sure that Shamgar wanted to kill all 600 of those attacking his station but I doubt that he thought that he would be able to accomplish it for all he had to fight with was an ox-goad. God took control of his actions and Shamgar defeated the 600. It was God overruling the strength of a man and giving that man a strength that he had never had before. Read Judges 3:31.
As it was with Shamgar so it was with Samson; he killed a thousand men with the jaw bone of an ass, in Judges 4:15. A man's hair does not make him a strong man unless God overrules the laws of genetics. God is in control and so anything that God desires will be so.
We have simple examples such as the fact that Daniel and the Hebrew children looked better and were healthier when they ate nothing but a vegetarian diet than all of the others who ate of the kings provision.
Other instances are indicated in scriptures when God catches the wise in their own craftiness and causes them to fall by their own devices: Ahab in I Kings 22:20,22, a lying spirit causes him to believe what he wants to believe, that is, that he will win the battle but he loses; then there's Haman who built a gallows to hang the Jew whom he hated, Mordecai, but ended up hanging there himself.
In the New Testament there was a terrible persecution of the Christians in Jerusalem, it was designed to suppress once for all the doctrines of Christ, what it did was cause a dispersion of believers into many countries and cause His followers to grow beyond all the expectations of their persecutors, Acts 8:1,4. What was meant by man for evil was in actuality meant by God for good, God had so predestined.
How many times do we think of imprisonment as a good thing. Never would be my guess, and yet when Paul and Silas were imprisoned they saw a man and his entire household saved because of it. God placed them there for that purpose and again what was meant by men for evil was meant by God for good. God overruled the machinations of man.
Paul testifies of this in Phil. 1:12,14, "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;" and verse 14, "And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear."
We must be careful that we do not believe the worst when those things that the world call "terrible" and "awful" happen to us, for though the world and men may mean them for evil God may mean them for good. God overrules the intentions of men, their designs and actions to accomplish His great and wonderful plan; and it's for His glory and our good. Wherever we are and whatever we're doing let us be content and obedient, let us serve God as He would have us serve, like Christ served the Father.