In Genesis 37 we are first introduced to Jospeh, Jacob’s second youngest son and the first born of the two children born to Jacob’s favorite wife Rachel. In chapter 37 we see that Joseph has had two dreams in which his brothers, father and mother all bow down to him. In other words Joseph had a series of dreams that showed him that he would one day rule over his family. Joseph tells his family about these dreams and naturally his older brothers do no take too kindly to being told that their younger teenage brother, who is clearly Jacob’s favorite son, would one day rule over them. So they at first decide that they are going to kill Joseph, but eventually change their mind and instead decide to sell him to slave traders and then tell their father that he was killed by a wild animal. The slave traders that Joseph’s brothers sold him to turned around and sold him to an Egyptian named Potiphar was captain of the guard. And this is where we pick up today in Chapter 37 and going through Chapter 41:16.
Joseph was taken to Egypt close to year 1900 B.C., when he was between 17 and 18 years old. He would spend between 12 and 13 years in slavery while in Egypt, with between 10 and 11 of these years having been spent in Potiphar’s house. And to put these events into a little bit more perspective they occurred about two hundred years after God first called Abraham. While Jospeh was in Egypt God used the humbling circumstances that he found himself in to test him with spiritual tests: (1) the test of personal purity, which often confronts young people when they are away from home; (2) the test of the opportunity for revenge, which often faces people who have been mistreated; and (3) the test of facing death. In each case, Joseph passed the test by trusting God and his promises. And we are going to see how Joseph dealt with the test of perusal purity and the test of facing death today and starting tomorrow and then over the next several days we are going to see how Joseph dealt with the opportunity for revenge.
The first test that we see Joseph faced with today is the test of personal purity. Jospeh had been bought by a man named Potiphar and as we have already stated was in house for between 10 and 11 years. And during that entire time that Joseph was in Potiphar’s house his house prospered, because God was with Joseph. However, there was one small problem and that was Joseph was apparently good looking and Potiphar’s wife just happen to take notice. Genesis 39:6-7 says this, “Now Joseph was well-built and handsome. After some time his master’s wife looked longingly at Joseph and said, ‘Sleep with me.’” Joseph refused because it was wrong in the eyes of God and it would have betrayed the trust that Potiphar had placed in Joseph. However, Potiphar’s wife kept pushing this issue and eventually she caught Joseph when he was alone and grabbed hold of his clothes, and it is at this point in time that Jospeh ran.
What do we see here? We see that Joseph out of faithfulness to God and loyalty to Potiphar continued to resist temptation. He was successful because he had already made up his mind to obey God and avoid sin. And we as Christ’s followers today can overcome temptation in the same way, by depending on God and making a firm decision not to compromise our faith, our purity and our integrity. However, like Joseph this decision does not always seem to turn out for the best.
It was because of Joseph’s refusal to compromise his beliefs that led him to be thrown into prison, for the simple reason that Potiphar’s wife basically accused Joseph of trying to rape her and Potiphar had to make the tough decision of whom to believe, the man in charge of his household or his wife and unfortunately he chose his wife. But once again God looked with favor on Joseph and he became the warden’s head man inside the prison and it was through this position that Joseph was able to meet Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and Pharaoh’s chief baker. And because he met these two men he was able to interpret both of their dreams. And it was because of this that when Pharaoh had his now famous dreams his chief cupbearer was able to finally remember Joseph. It is important to remember that all of these events took place over a period of between 2 and 3 years. Which would make Joseph about 30 years old when he is finally called before Pharaoh.
When Pharaoh called Joseph before him this is what he said to him, “I have had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said about you that you can hear a dream and interpret it” (Genesis 41:15). And this is Joseph’s reply, “I am not able to. It is God who will give Pharaoh a favorable answer” (Genesis 41:16). Joseph insisted that his God would give the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream. Jospeh’s bold faith in God could have cost him his life since Egyptian kings were also regarded as gods. Which is the final test that we are going to talk about today, and that is the test of facing death. Joseph’s bold statement of faith to man who had the power to have him killed right there on the spot showed that no matter what he was not going to compromise his beliefs and it is for that reason we will see that God greatly used Joseph, and it is this same boldness that we must have if we are going to be greatly used by God.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Genesis 41:17-42:17, Matthew 13:24-46, Psalm 18:1-15 and Proverbs 4:1-6