Last Sunday we began a four series study on the life of Joseph, Jacob’s eleventh son, the first born son to Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel. We saw God begin to reveal His future plans for Joseph through dreams and we also saw some evil intentions from his own brothers that God will ultimately use to achieve His good purposes. Just as we have seen with Jacob and will see as we study Joseph, the truth of Romans 8:28 is evident in our lives today: “all things work together for the good of those who love God”.
We choose our circumstances ___________. A. always, B. maybe not, C. never, D. sometimes. Maybe we have not have chosen the circumstances but what can we choose about those circumstances? We can choose our attitude and how we react to the circumstances. In our verses last week we see how the truth caused bad blood between Joseph and his brothers. He is sold into slavery and we begin to see God work His will through an evil situation. What different attitudes do you think Joseph could have experienced up to this point? Anger, distrust, loneliness, hate, depression, confusion. We will see how Joseph reacts to his continually changing circumstances and the powerful attitude he displays.
Last Sunday our author ended with Joseph being sold to the Ishmaelites in Genesis 37:25. Today he starts our lesson “Tempted” with Genesis 39:3. So, where is Joseph? If you do not read Genesis 37:36 or Genesis 39:1-2 you have no idea where he is or what he is doing. We will start with Genesis 39:1-2.
Read Genesis 39:1-2 “The Lord Is With Joseph”
Verse 1 gives us the same information as 37:36 and picks up after the Hollywood Soap Opera story in Genesis 38 about Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar. Verse 1 tells us Joseph was bought by Potiphar, an Egyptian and officer of the guard for the Pharaoh of Egypt. Verse 2 tells us the Lord was with Joseph and it is obvious that God cared for, protected, and blessed Joseph. Instead of being forced to do manual labor, perhaps building Egyptian Pyramids in the hot sun, he held a high position for a slave and lived and worked in his master’s house.
Read Genesis 39:3-6a “Successful”
How did Potiphar know he could trust Joseph, a slave, with all he owned? I think Potiphar saw something different in Joseph. I believe he recognized and believed in Joseph’s integrity and appreciated his leadership skills. Haven’t you experienced the same thing in your life? If we follow God, then people will recognize something different in us. What they see is the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. Have you ever had someone tell you, “I want what you have”?
What evidence do we see that both Potiphar and God were pleased with Joseph’s attitude and his efforts? Joseph continued to gain more authority with Potiphar. God was working out His plan in Joseph’s life. The experience Joseph gained while working in Potiphar’s house and managing his property would, one day, be invaluable. We should also recognize that Joseph continued to honor God even though his circumstances were not of his choosing. God blessed Joseph as Joseph honored God. Don’t we see that today? Shouldn’t we remember how God has blessed us in difficult situations because we choose to honor Him with our words and actions?
Things seem to be going pretty good for Joseph. God is blessing him and the people around him but then…
Read Genesis 39:6b-12 “Tempted”
What do you think, are temptations easier to refuse as we experience success? No. We can get over confident in ourselves. Regardless of our station in life, Satan knows that with a little manipulation he can turn our God-given human desires into weapons of temptation.
What steps did Joseph take to resist this temptation? He refused her offer. He explained how his master (her husband) trusted him v.8. Then in v.9 he equates this as a sin against God and I believe shows his faithfulness to God. Remember, we have talked about sinful opportunities many times in our class. It is much easier to turn from sin if you have aIready made up your mind to honor God. I think he had already made up his mind how he would handle such temptations. “Woman, I have a good thing going here and fooling with you is not in my job description. Just leave me alone!”
With the temptation still there, what did Joseph do? He ran! Isn’t this exactly how we should resist the Devil’s temptations? Run, turn away, get away from the sin. Did you notice, this is the second time Joseph has had an issue with his coat.
Does it help us resist temptation when we realize God knows what we are doing and that we are ultimately accountable to Him? Yes. Perhaps there is a conviction to be considered: some things are always right and some things are always wrong.
At this point six verses (13-18) that read like a melodramatic scene from another Soap Opera are skipped. Mrs. Potiphar, undoubtedly feeling scorned, contrived a tall tale accusing Joseph of trying to force himself on her and leaving his coat behind when she screamed for help. She tried this story out on the other household slaves and then told the same story to Potiphar when he returned home.
Read Genesis 39:19-21 “Favored”
How are the circumstances in Joseph’ life changing? Potiphar believes his wife’s story and puts Joseph in prison.
What would you think Joseph’s attitude would be with these new circumstances? Hopeless, bewildered, this isn’t fair, I’m innocent, perhaps he wondered about the dreams he had in the past.
How can we apply verse 21 to our circumstances today? Just as God saw Joseph in prison, God sees us when we’re going through difficult trials, unjust situations, or seemingly hopeless circumstances. James 1:2-4 reminds us that in the same way God was at work in Joseph’s life, He will work through us in our trials if we let him.
Summary: God is honored when we are faithful to Him and His standards.
· As believers, we should seek to honor God in all that we do.
· Believers can resist sin, remembering God’s standards and the joy of honoring Him.
· Believers can be assured that God abides with those who seek to honor Him.