Genesis 39 – Joseph and the providence of God

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.

2 And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

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.

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.

5 And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.

6 And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.

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.

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;

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?

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.

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.

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.

13 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,

14 That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice:

15 And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out.

16 And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home.

17 And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me:

18 And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.

19 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled.

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.

21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

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.

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.

 

Joseph is one of the many figures in the Bible that I identify with.  Like Moses, I feel inadequate to be used by God, like David, I feel like a constant screw-up, like Isaiah, I feel unworthy, and like Joseph, I feel surrounded by troubles.

But that is how I see things.

When I look at the story of Joseph, I would have three questions that I would be asking through all this:

  1. Why me?

Two times in his life Joseph has lost everything.  He had been sold into slavery by his brothers, essentially left for dead,  and had eventually ended up in the house of Potiphar in Egypt as a slave.

 

I often wonder what was going through Joseph’s mind, but I believe we get a clue from this story.  Joseph is surrounded by prosperity.  He had been a perfect servant for his new master for ten years, having everything that Potiphar owned under his control. Everything that he does and that is placed under him.  This prosperity is something that everyone notices and the text tells us that it comes from God.

Are we the same?

Is the place where we work, or where we are being prospered because of us?

Would you or I work so diligently?

He didn’t focus on his situation but he gave himself completely to God to be used regardless of the circumstances.

  1. Why her?

Potiphar’s wife sees Joseph and desires him.  How easy it would have been to give in to this temptation.  He was about 27 years old with no ties to anyone.

Yet Joseph refuses her advances.  He doesn’t give in to her and avoids her like the plague.

He even tries to flee from her – 2 Timothy 2:22

Notice that he doesn’t say “sin against Potiphar but God.”

He knows that God has prospered him and no one else.

  1. Why now?

Joseph flees her but she grabs his coat and now it is being used against him as evidence against him.  Joseph knew that both he and God knew that he was innocent but everyone else was ready to throw the book at him.  Everyone else who worked for Potiphar was ready to blame this Hebrew who Potiphar had placed over them.

He was serving God in serving Potiphar.  He was doing the right thing.  He had gone from a pit to Potiphar’s house and now he was going to prison!!!

Joe knew that he did not deserve to be where he was.

How could this possibly be something that was a part of God’s plan?

Joseph knew that God was working behind the scenes and he was learning the plans of God as they came along.  What didn’t change was the faithfulness of Joseph.

Sometimes we don’t see God in the small details.  The waves crash around us and we don’t see the end in sight.  Family betrays us and our flesh fights against us as each new wave of trouble comes right after the next.  We lose sight and wonder “Where is God?”

Joseph knew that God was with him and that he had prospered him in all things, even in the reaction of Potiphar.  What he had been accused of was a capital offense and usually ended up in execution, yet Potiphar, who was mad, placed him in the prison, a place that he was in charge of.

He even prospered Joseph in prison.

He prospered Joe regardless of his circumstances or his situation.  He was miles away from home.  He was a slave and now a prisoner for something that he didn’t do.  His brothers had wanted him dead and probably figured that he was dead.

Yet God was still with him and He is with us – Matthew 28:20

Hebrews 13:5-6

Would I be this way?

I would have to say that my reactions would probably not be as faithful as Joseph’s but that is not the way God sees it and like Moses, David, Isaiah, and Joseph, He is not done with me yet

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About Clint Rodgers

I am a father of 2 wonderful children and the husband of a beautiful woman who has taught me more about compassion for goofballs than I could have ever learned. I have know Jesus for many years but about 5 years ago I truly met Him and now I do my best to follow Him as I walk in this world
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