God Proves Joseph
Text: Genesis 39;40 Our Focus: Genesis 39:1-4, 7-12, 20-23; 40:14, 15, 23.
We know Joseph as the eleventh son of Jacob, the first born of Rachel. We have met Joseph the dreamer. We will now meet Joseph the slave.
A whole new world opened for Joseph. Instead of being the favored son in the house of his father, he was a slave in the house of a foreigner. Here Joseph would prove himself to be a person of ability and integrity. We will see him show moral uprightness and mature responsibility. You see God helped Joseph and he was successful in doing the things that were assigned to him.
The Bible says:
Pro 3:1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
Pro 3:2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
Pro 3:3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
Pro 3:4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
Pro 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Pro 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Pro 3:7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
Pro 3:8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
Joseph had no Bible to read, what Joseph did came from the heart. How many of us would just have given up under such circumstances. Remember Joseph was also a very young man at this time and he was in the middle of a pagan nation that not only worshipped their king but many other foolish things. Joseph was not in the line to the Messiah so if God gives this much space in His book to one individual then it must be important to us. Joseph is also a type of Christian, an example for us all.
God always allows trials in our lives. There will be times of testing but God will always prove faithful through them.
Let’s take a brief look at ancient Egyptian religion:
Ancient Egyptian religion was a complex system of beliefs and rituals which were an integral part of ancient Egyptian society. It centered on the Egyptians’ interaction with a multitude of deities who were believed to be present in, and in control of, the forces and elements of nature. The myths about these gods were meant to explain the origins and behavior of the forces they represented, and the practices of Egyptian religion were efforts to provide for the gods and gain their favor. We can see that this is a religion of works and not “Grace”.
“Formal” religious practice centered on the pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Although he was a human, the pharaoh was believed to be descended from the gods. He acted as the “intermediary” between his people and the gods, and “was obligated to sustain the gods through rituals and offerings” [so that they could maintain order in the universe]. Therefore, the state dedicated enormous resources to the performance of these rituals and to the construction of the temples where they were carried out. Individuals could also interact with the gods for their own purposes, appealing for their help through prayer or compelling them to act through magic. These popular religious practices were distinct from, but closely linked with, the formal rituals and institutions. [The popular religious tradition grew more prominent in the course of Egyptian history as the status of the pharaoh declined]. Another important aspect of the religion was the belief in the afterlife and funerary practices. The Egyptians made great efforts to ensure the survival of their souls after death, providing tombs, grave goods, and offerings to preserve the bodies and spirits of the deceased.
The religion had its roots in Egypt’s prehistory, and lasted for more than 3,000 years. The details of religious belief changed over time as the importance of particular gods rose and declined, and their intricate relationships shifted. At various times certain gods became preeminent over the others, including the sun god Ra, the creator god Amun, and the mother goddess Isis. For a brief period, in the aberrant theology promulgated by the pharaoh Akhenaten, a single god, the Aten, replaced the traditional pantheon. Yet the overall system endured, even through several periods of foreign rule, until the coming of Christianity in the early centuries AD. It left behind numerous religious writings and monuments, along with significant influences on cultures both ancient and modern.
We know that the religion of Egypt is now Muslim. According to the constitution of Egypt, any new legislation must at least implicitly agree with Islamic law; however, the constitution bans political parties with a religious agenda. We can still see that any other religion would still be considered an abomination in Egypt.
Gen 39:1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.
Gen 39:2 And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
Gen 39:3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
Gen 39:4 And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.
These Ishmaelite were descendant of Ishmael the son of Abraham through the mistake of Sarah. We can be sure that they knew that Joseph was also a descendant of Abraham but they showed no mercy.
Just so there is no confusion, Ishmael the son of Hagar and Abraham and Midian the son of Keturah and Abraham are essentially brothers. Abraham sent him and his brothers East. The children of the east were of Ishmael. These two groups, the Ishmaelite and the Midians, are interrelated.
We find further proof in the Book of Judges:
Jdg 8:22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.
Jdg 8:23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.
Jdg 8:24 And Gideon said unto them, [I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)]
Jdg 8:25 And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey.
Jdg 8:26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment [that was on the kings of Midian], and beside the chains that were about their camels’ necks.
We can see here that these names are interchanged meaning the same people or at least people who associated very close together. The Bible does not make mistakes.
We now meet Potiphar:
The name “Potiphar” means “belonging to the sun”. This was no child of God.
1.) An officer of Pharaoh.
In other words he was commissioned by Pharaoh to perform public duties.
2.) The Captain of the Guard.
As Captain of the Guard he was responsible for the protection of Pharaoh, his body guard.
3.) He was an Egyptian.
He was not some converted foreigner as some kings would have but a full blooded Egyptian.
We have already seen how the brothers of Joseph acted. How Judah had yielded to the flesh with Tamar. You can search the Bible but you will not find bad things written about Joseph.
“the Lord was with Joseph”
The Bible says:
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
We will see the truth of this verse in the life of Joseph.
We can see that others noticed how God worked in the life of Joseph.
We will see that Joseph is a “type” an example of what a Christian should be.
The Bible says:
Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Php 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
Php 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Php 2:16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
We can see how Joseph reacted:
Col 3:22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:
Col 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Col 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
We can see how God will work in the life of a believer even under bad circumstances. We are never alone, the Lord is always with us no matter where we are at.
We do not see hate for anyone in this young man who trusts in the Lord. God had been known only as Elohim and El Shaddai but we are seeing the actions of Jehovah God in this life of Joseph.
The Bible says:
Mat 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
Mat 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
Mat 23:10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
Mat 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
Gen 39:7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.
Gen 39:8 But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;
Gen 39:9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
Gen 39:10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.
Gen 39:11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.
Gen 39:12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
Temptation. First consider this:
Jas 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
Jas 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
Jas 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Since we have the Word of God, we know the results of Joseph in Egypt. We know this temptation did not come from God. That only leaves one place, Satan.
Why does it seem that women are used a lot by Satan. I can’t answer the question, “are women more suscitable to Satan’s use” but I do know, men are attracted to women. I believe that to be part of the creation of God. Women are used in more advertisements than any other thing because they will get a look and most of the time a second look and more, from men.
Job had the right idea:
Job 31:1 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?
As single people living in this immoral world it will be good to listen to Job and see also this time of Joseph.
Joseph might not have totally understood this one but he understood what God meant:
The Bible says:
1Co 6:18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
Pro 6:24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.
Pro 6:25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.
Pro 6:26 [For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life].
Pro 6:27 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
Pro 6:28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?
Pro 6:29 So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.
Pro 6:30 Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;
Pro 6:31 But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.
Pro 6:32 [But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.
Pro 6:33 A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.
Pro 6:34 For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
Pro 6:35 He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.]
Joseph also would find this truth:
Pro 30:20 [Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness].
Pro 30:21 For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear:
Pro 30:22 For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat;
Pro 30:23 [For an odious woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress.
Christ Jesus warned us about the lustful look:
Mat 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Let’s not forget that Joseph was a slave. To say no to his master “could mean death”. Joseph explained that everything in the house was in his control except Mrs. Potiphar. It would be a sin(wrong) to do what this woman asked but more important it would be a sin in the eyes of God. Joseph resisted knowing that this woman considered this an act of disobedience. Joseph placed his trust in God and hoped to show Potiphar his trustworthiness.
When this woman saw that they were the only two in the house, she exerted her authority, and trapped Joseph in her clutches and he wriggled out of his clothes and ran. How many of us men would have or could have done this. It would take a lot of strength in the Lord. I pray I have such strength as Joseph.
The Bible says:
Pro 2:10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
Pro 2:11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:
Pro 2:12 To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things;
Pro 2:13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;
Pro 2:14 Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked;
Pro 2:15 Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths:
Pro 2:16 To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;
Pro 2:17 Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.
Pro 2:18 For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.
Pro 2:19 None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.
Gen 39:20 And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.
Gen 39:21 But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
Gen 39:22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.
Gen 39:23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.
If we look again into “types”, we can see that in type this wife of Potiphar represents the worldly lust of this world trying to seduce, to entice the Church into the ways of the World. Just as Joseph, the Church must flee from this, but many are falling by the wayside, many are allowing the world inside the Church. The world is now trying to imprison the Church. To take it out of the way and in fact saying that it is the Church that is evil. Saying that it is the Church that is “mocking” all the good things that the World is doing for good.
Just as we will see of Joseph, the true Church will prosper.
The Church must continue in the work God has given us!
The Bible says to the Church:
2Co 1:21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
2Co 1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Isa 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
Isa 61:2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
Isa 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
What we see is that Joseph did not have to go very far to this prison. It was in the same house where he served Potiphar. Probably in the basement or what would be called a dungeon.
Gen 40:3 And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.
Remember Potiphar is the “captain of the guard”.
The next thing we see is ” But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy,”
Heb 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Heb 13:6 So that we may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me”.
What we now see is Joseph was given a prison ministry:
This the first time we see the word “prison” in the Bible. (verse 22).
You know again in “types” before Joseph would be the right hand of Pharaoh, he had to descend into the prison. He told them about God.
The Bible says:
1Pe 3:17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
1Pe 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
1Pe 3:19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
1Pe 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
The Lord Himself went down into Hell to preach to those prisoners before He ascended to the right hand of God.
Rom 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
Rom 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
No matter where we take God’s Word it will prosper!
Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
You know our prison systems could learn from this time of Joseph. When a man of God can have free time with prisoners much good can come from it. This prison Joseph was in just gave him free reign with the prisoners:
“The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.”
Not only that but even Potiphar knew how things were improved:
Gen 40:4 And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward.
But the main thing that was happening was that Joseph was learning from God. Joseph would be reminded of his own dreams through the dreams of others. He now knew only God could interpret dreams.
“Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.”
Gen 40:14 But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house:
Gen 40:15 For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.
Gen 40:23 Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.
Joseph had gently asked this butler of Pharaoh to remember him when his dream came true. What Joseph could not have known was it was just not the right time yet.
The Bible says:
Jas 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
Jas 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Jas 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Jas 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
Jas 1:7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
And to the Church:
Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Rom 15:5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
Rom 15:6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Joseph could not see the hand of God in all the good that was happening to him in his saddest hour. We are also wrong when we can only see the bad things in our lives and not see that God is still with us and sustaining us.
The Bible says:
Psa 3:5 I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.
When we wake up from a nights rest, we should thank the Lord.
Psa 4:8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
We will continue with this time of Joseph in our next lesson.