Text: Genesis 39:10-20
In Genesis 39:5-6, Potiphar had made Joseph (son of Jacob, now Potiphar’s slave) the overseer in his house and field. There were no servants in a higher position than Joseph.
The reason Potiphar had raised up Joseph above all the other servants is because, “And Joseph found grace (or favor) in his (Potiphar’s) sight, and he (Joseph) served him…” (Genesis 39:4). Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph, “…and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand” (Genesis 39:3).
It seemed that as a slave (a servant), Joseph’s position, or physical surrounding, could be no better; for Genesis 39:6 relates, “And he (Potiphar) left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat…”
However, Joseph was a strong young man, and a handsome man, “And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured” (Genesis 39: 6c). So, not only had God blessed Joseph’s hand and made him to prosper; Joseph was also blessed of God in his outward appearance.
The stage for the test was set:
1) First, we see Joseph, God’s man, God’s witness in the midst of Egypt (or the evil world system).
2) Second, we have Potiphar’s adulterous-minded wife; Joseph’s test. Joseph was overseer over all Potiphar had, except his wife (Genesis 39:9). She was not a true and faithful wife to Potiphar; and therefore she “…cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me” (Genesis 39:7b).
3) Third, look at Joseph’s answer to Potiphar’s wife, “But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife…”
a) I have charge over all things (except his wife) (Genesis 39:8-9a).
b) Being with another man’s wife, and fornication is a sin unto God. Joseph stood for truth and replied to her, “…how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9b).
And so, the plan was devised by Potiphar’s wife and then implemented (in Genesis 39:10-20); wherein she tempted Joseph when they were all alone – no one would have known (but God). Joseph refused and fled; but he left his garment in her hand. In her anger and embarrassment, she lied on Joseph to the other servants, and blamed him for attempted rape. She also lied to Potiphar when he came home.
When Potiphar was told these lies by his wife, his wrath was kindled against Joseph. He then took Joseph and placed him in prison, “a place where the king’s prisoners were bound” (Genesis 39:20). (This was a place where the worst of the worst criminals were held.)
Question? What has just happened to God’s man? Joseph was in the Center of God’s Will; diligent in his work; following after righteousness – and yet he was lied on; and then had to suffer for his righteous actions.
Has God lost control in Joseph’s life? How could this be right? What is God doing in His Servant Joseph’s life? Is God righteous in punishing Joseph for doing right?
1) The First answer is – God is God and there is none else beside Him (Isaiah 43:5-11; 45:14, 18, 21-22; 46:9). He is Righteous, Holy, and Perfect. All God’s Works are Righteous and are according to His Eternal Purpose (Psalm 147:17; Daniel 9:17).
2) Second, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand” (Proverbs 19:21).
3) Third, nothing happens to God’s Children that He has not purposed. See Job 23:13-14; Romans 8:28; Job 14:5: “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;”
4) Fourth, God has ordained trials, tests, and tribulations to conform His Children, not to condemn His Children.
God, in His infinite wisdom, has ordained tests and trials to bring His servants to fruit-bearing (fruit, more fruit, and much fruit; see John 15:1-16); also to prepare them for His Kingdom’s work. Each of God’s servants is different and unique; and so are His ways to conform each one for the purposed task they were created to perform for His Honor and for their good.
God sees the end from the beginning; which His servants cannot. God knows exactly what each of His servants need, to become One with Him in Preeminence, Perfection, and Power.
It was so for Joseph and it is so for all of God’s Children.
But why would God choose tests and trials to conform His Children?
1) First it is for His Children’s sake – to see if they would keep His Commandments, or no:
“All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.” (Deuteronomy 8:1)
“And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.” (Deuteronomy 8:2)
“And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)
“Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.” (Deuteronomy 8:4)
“Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.” (Deuteronomy 8:5)
“Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.” (Deuteronomy 8:6)
2) Second, tribulation worketh patience:
“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;” (Romans 5:3)
“And patience, experience; and experience, hope:” (Romans 5:4)
“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5)
3) Third, patience brings His Children to perfection:
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;” (James 1:2)
“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:3)
“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:4)
To be used of God, His Servant must:
1) First, know who he is in Christ; know that he is a Child of God, filled with God the Spirit; thus having the Power of God to be an overcomer, in the Victory of Christ (Romans 8:1-17; 1 John 5:4). Without this knowledge and the Power of Christ living in a person, he cannot be God’s witness, or a light, in this world of sin. This knowledge comes from Regeneration; then come tests and trials to prove to the servant who he is.
2) Second, the tried servant must be brought to patience (or endurance in long-suffering). He must see that he can, and will, and does, endure by the Power of Christ. This is called experience – hope not ashamed.
3) Thirdly, the tried, enduring servant must see the fruit of patience; which is “entire, wanting nothing.” God has purposed to bring His Children to perfection (maturity) here in this life; and then to final, full perfection in eternity. (See John 17:21-24.)
Joseph was not hated by God. No, just the opposite – God loved Joseph; and God had great plans for Joseph. But before Joseph could come to the fullness of God’s Plan, he needed testing, trials, and tribulation – slavery and prison. And in these things he was changed and conformed into the Child of God and leader he had to be.
Child of Grace, you may be, at this very moment in time, in a great valley of trial and tribulation. It may seem as if God has forsaken you.
Look up, God has not forsaken you; for He promised He would never forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). God is not condemning you, but conforming you for His Glory and for your good.
One has said, “The deeper the valley, the higher the mountain!” This may seem like only a cliché; but actually it is Biblically based. There are many examples of the depths a servant of God has had to endure to be exalted. See the examples of Moses’ life; Jacob’s life; Joseph’s life; the Apostles’ lives, especially Peter’s and Paul’s lives. But the Supreme Servant, Jesus Christ, suffered the payment for the sin debt of His Sheep; and yet was exalted to His rightful place of King of kings and Lord of lords.
Cheer up, suffering Child of God – this too will pass, and then the Exaltation and Victory. (Hallelujah!)