Monday, October 17, 2016
TheLifeOfJoseph : Genesis 39:1-18
So here's what we've got so far in Joseph's Timeline:
- First, he hears from God in a dream that he will be very powerful
- He's thrown down a well because he bragged about it to his brothers
- He's taken into slavery
- He excels in slavery and ends up running Potiphar's house
- He's unjustly accused of raping Potiphar's wife
Is Joseph's life starting to sound like normal life to you, or are his events much more dramatic than what we would ever desire in our TimeLine's? I suppose you could say both.
As said earlier, Joseph's story is one that many have used to not only re-tell his story, but use as a model for how a story should be written. There just seems to be rules attributed to how our lives go and the stories that we are writing; there are always twists and turns, many of which we do not understand, but that is what makes up a good story. At this point in Joseph's life, I'm sure he's wondering what's coming next.
First thrown down a well by his brothers and now he is the most powerful slave (isn't that an oxymoron) in Egypt. A pretty amazing turn of events! There are not many that rise up the corporate ladder this quickly - from mail-room to corner office, as it were. But Joseph did. He impressed Potiphar and became his very own personal servant (Gen. 39:4) but notice the title-change. It reads, 'Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge' (Gen. 39:3, 4). Just like when we are given new identities in Christ, and our old selves pass away and our new-selves begin to blossom (2 Cor. 5:17), the old becomes just that...old. Joseph's original identity as a servant is no longer remembered - his name changed from 'personal servant' to 'overseer'. But there always seems to be someone (or something) that doesn't forget who we were.
With great power comes great responsibility (says the Stan Lee from the Spiderman series). Potiphar's wife notices Joseph. We are told that Joseph was 'handsome in form and appearance' (Gen. 39:6) and Potiphar's wife admires him. Put better, she is filled with lust for Joseph and, every day, tempts him to lie with her (vs.10). It's one thing to be tempted once, as many incorrectly remember this story. Somehow we remember that that it was only one occurrence that Joseph has to contend with, but to be tempted by a very persistent temptation day after day...that's a different story. Finally, Potiphar's wife corners Joseph, raises her voice and say's 'Lie with me!' (vs. 7) but he still refuses, flees her presence and leaves yet another jacket behind. But it's interesting to note that the word 'tempt' never appears in this interaction with she and Joseph. Though we are told that temptation isn't the sin in Scripture, only giving in to that temptation (if it were true that temptation is sin, then Jesus would have sinned in the desert with Satan, and he was perfect in every way), Joseph never even gives temptation time. He places the correct boundaries and communicates to Potiphar's wife: (1) She was another man’s wife, and that man was his master; (2) he was trusted by his master and didn't want to violate that trust; (3) even if nobody else found out about it, God would know it and be dis-pleased. All she asked for was a moment of pleasure, but to Joseph, this was a great wickedness against God (Gen. 39:9). Every moment counted to Joseph. I wonder how our lives would look if we counted every moment like Joseph did - not even giving temptation time to tempt us.
In a story that seems to have no boundaries, Joseph builds them himself. He chooses to not give in to the lustful-pleas of this woman, and is then accused wrongly. Though he risks imprisonment and punishment by his master, he does not back down. This is a model for us today. Flee with outright abandon. Don't even begin to 'stand your ground' as some believe to be the right way to fight against temptation. Flee temptation (as Paul writes to the Church at Corinth; see 1 Cor. 6:18), and reap the consequences, though good or ill. It's always interesting to me that Joseph, when doing the right thing, was put in prison. What would you rather - thrown in prison for doing right, or wrong?
Though there may be accusations to follow, as is often the case, know your LORD and stand on Him as your Rock and Salvation (see Romans 8:31-39). He is where we can stand our ground as He will never be shaken (see Psalm 16).