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Genesis 39:14, 6b15, 1920comment (0)

April 10, 2008

By Jay T. Robertson

Related Scripture: Genesis 39:14, 6b15, 1920

Genesis 39:1–4, 6b–15, 19–20

Joseph had been stripped of his clothing by his own brothers and thrown into a pit to die. Only the appearance of an Ishmaelite caravan bound for Egypt led to the sparing of his life. Joseph had been a naïve, godly young man with a bright future. But from all appearances, he had now been abandoned by God and man. He had every reason for distrust, bitterness and revenge. But Joseph made a different choice as he headed toward Egypt; he chose to trust God and to forgive his brothers.

The journey completed, Joseph descended to the Nile Valley and the pyramids. In its 15th dynasty, Egypt was prospering under the Hyksos rulers. Every morning, the rising sun was greeted with the chants of cultic hymns to awaken the gods, after which the idols were ritually bathed and then worshiped through the morning sacrifices. Surrounded by pagan, polytheistic worship, Joseph must have been shocked. How would he survive?

Be Spiritually Sensitive (1–4)
The story of Joseph’s temptation by Potiphar’s wife does not leave us wondering as to the outcome. Four times in Genesis 39, it says "the Lord was with Joseph" (vv. 2, 3, 21, 23). Joseph was successful because the Lord was with him. Even in this spiritual darkness, the Lord was Joseph’s refuge and strength.

The God who was with Joseph is none other than "the Lord" — Yahweh, the faithful, eternal, covenant-keeping God. This personal covenant name of God is found seven times in the text. At the most uncertain time of Joseph’s life, when he could not see God, the God of Israel was at work in his life. Joseph was not alone in the idolatrous land of Egypt. Yahweh was with him to work mightily for His people and the blessing of the world.

In the midst of a bad situation, Joseph’s sensitivity to the Lord enabled him to maintain an attitude and approach to life that brought success. He advanced to Potiphar’s personal attendant and then to overseer. In promoting Joseph, Potiphar became the beneficiary of the promise made to Abraham — "I will bless those who bless you" (Gen. 12:3). Potiphar’s favor to Joseph, in turn, brought blessing on everything he had. We, too, should be sensitive to God’s presence and our responsibility to glorify Him in all that we do.

Be Spiritually Oriented (6b–9)
For a slave, Joseph was doing well. God certainly was with him. Our text calls attention to the fact that Joseph was extremely handsome. It was in his genes. The same was said about his mother, Rachel (Gen. 29:17). After a time of lusting for Joseph, Potiphar’s wife approached him and commanded him to "sleep with her." What a temptation for the 17- or 18-year-old Joseph to endure. His hormones were at full force. No one would ever know. His family certainly would never find out. And after all, he was a slave. His life was not his own. Promiscuity was a common occurrence among slaveholding households.

The rationalizations may have been easy and logical; however, Joseph did not give in. He refused to sin against the trust Potiphar had given him, against Potiphar himself and against God. Joseph’s greatest deterrent that kept him from falling prey to the sexual advances was his awareness that God was with him. Joseph knew that God sees all and that secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven.

Be Spiritually Determined (10–15,19–20)
Joseph delivered a great speech, but Potiphar’s wife was not giving up easily. She tempted him daily. One day, while no one else was in the house, she ambushed Joseph. He resisted and fled the scene (1 Cor. 6:18; 2 Tim. 2:22). Men, God is looking for a few good cowards. More men need to fear for their sexual purity and personal holiness. We must be determined to live for Christ faithfully and resist temptation no matter the cost.

The scorned woman turned on Joseph. She lied about him to her servants and to her husband. Her lies worked — to some extent. Potiphar had Joseph thrown into prison but not executed. Apparently he was not entirely convinced by his wife; he left Joseph imprisoned should more information come to light.

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