Sunday, September 25, 2011

Genesis 39:11-23

If you and I are going to be victorious under tidal wave temptation, we are wise to rehearse in advance our reasons for standing firm. (Beth Moore, The Patriarchs, P. 180).

In yesterday’s passage we saw that Joseph gave Potiphar’s wife a strong explanation of why he was refusing her advances (vs. 8-10). Joseph had been bombarded daily with her proposals, but he had resolved to be faithful to God. He didn’t make that decision in the moment - he had long before determined what was righteous and that he would stand firm. When he finally ran from Mrs. Potiphar, she was left humiliated and angry, and she wanted vengeance. She quickly hatched a plot to frame him:

When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” (Gen 39:13-18)

Beth Moore points out that, by calling in the servants, Potiphar’s wife put pressure on Potiphar to act on the charges. She played the race card in calling him that Hebrew, and she even shifted blame to Potiphar in the same way Adam did to God in the Garden: “that Hebrew slave you brought us. . .”

When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. (vs.19-20)

Potiphar burned with anger, but my bet is that it was not at Joseph, but his wife! I’m sure he knew her character - even as he knew Joseph’s - but he was forced to respond with firmness, because the other servants were watching. By rights he could have had Joseph executed on the spot, but instead threw him into prison. Even as Pilate could find nothing against Jesus, but responded to the crowd, Potiphar chose not to do the right thing, but the expedient thing. Once again, Joseph was seemingly abandoned.

However, we read the following in verses 20b-23:

But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Once again, the LORD was with Joseph in everything and everywhere! “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

We will see that God was absolutely sovereign in the life of Joseph. Joseph was being trained and used by God for the salvation of His chosen people. Joseph would need to practice being continually conscious of the presence of God - even when he didn’t see Him or feel Him. He would need to learn to lean on God for everything - including wisdom. He learned that when God was all he had, God was all he needed!

Are you feeling abandoned, betrayed, falsely accused? Are you questioning God and wondering if He’s gone on a break and doesn’t see what’s happening, because He just isn’t answering your prayers on your timetable? Stay tuned! The LORD is not finished refining Joseph (or you) - even though no one else is faithful to Joseph - God IS! The next chapter is a good one!

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