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Nov.18 Genesis Study

Categories: Genesis Study,News

Genesis 39:1-23

The Lord was with Joseph”

I. Intro.

II. Vs. 1-12 The steps of dealing with temptation

III. Vs. 13-23 Better not bitter

I. Intro.


We now move back to the life of Joseph and look at how he compared to Judah in dealing with temptation. Corrie Ten Boom once said; “If God sends you on stony paths, He will provide strong shoes!” This chapter provides great resources for two of the greatest struggles we Christians face in life:

  • Suffering

  • Temptation

Four times in this chapter we are told that: “The LORD was with Joseph”. Joseph’s character remained true to the Lord as a result of the Lord being with him, though the circumstances changed Joseph’s walk did not. The same qualities that cause him to be advanced into a successful position in Potiphar’s house in the first six verses are the same ones that land him in jail in the final seven verses. The truth is obedience to the Lord does not always bring about prosperity, popularity, or prestige but these are not the clearest indicators of success any way. Many of us wonder about the WHY of the trials that come our way. Moses answers the WHY in Deut. 8:2-3 when he says, “God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.

II. Vs. 1-12 The steps of dealing with temptation

Vs. 1 In verse 37:36 we were told that “the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard.” This then is the story of what transpired in the house of Potiphar, which means “devoted to the sun”. Joseph tells us two interesting pints concerning this man Potiphar:

  1. He was a “officer” of Pharaoh: The word here cam be translated “eunuch” as it was not uncommon to make a leader a eunuch in order to insure their devotion.

  2. He was also the captain of the guard: In other word’s he was the head of the secret police if you will.

Vs. 2-6 Here is the first of the “Lord was with Joseph” phrases in the text and the context of the Lord being with Joseph has to do with his success under Potiphar. What is not immediately apparently is the length of time that has transpired for this success as well as the temptation he was about to face. According to 37:2 Joseph was 17 years old when he was sold into slavery. And according to chapter 41:46 he was 30 when the pharaoh promoted him and in verse 1 of that chapter we are told that he was two years in prison, thus that means that he served Potiphar for 11 years.

It took 11 years for this process of success through God’s blessings to take place. We often think that if God is behind something that it will transpire in 11 days or perhaps 11 months but not 11 years. Further more the reality of Joseph’s temptation takes on a whole new perspective as this temptation lasted for many years not a few days. What then was the secret of Joseph’s success? What was the secret of his saying no to temptation? “The Lord was with Joseph!” There are six things that made Joseph act the way he did. Now not every person who so acts has the Lord but every person who has the Lord will so act.

  1. Vs. 3 The Lord in his life “The Lord was with him”: It is very obvious in the text that the Lord was in his life, it was what powered him and moved him.

  2. Vs. 4 Diligent in small things “Joseph found favor and served him”: He was diligent in the small things. During those 11 years Joseph who was from a different culture and language had to learn to speak and think like an Egyptian. He did not just wait for the Lord to bless him instead he was faithful to do what he needed to be used of the Lord.

  3. Vs. 5a Everything he did was unto the Lord “The Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake”: Whatever Joseph did he did as unto the Lord. Joseph did not work for Potiphar he worked for the Lord; he was diligent in serving with excellence because it was all about the Lord.

  4. Vs. 5b Desired to be a blessing above being blessed “The blessing of the LORD was on all that he had in the house and in the field”: Joseph worked not for advancement, promotion or notoriety but rather for the benefit and blessing of others. The quickest way to be raised up in the Lord is not to care about being noticed or raised up.

  5. Vs. 6a Operated in the gifts and callings of God “Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand”: The Lord was with Joseph but He worked through the natural talents and gifts that He had given Joseph. All Joseph did was operate under the Lords guidance and power while serving in those gifts.

  6. Vs. 9 Gave all glory to the Lord not his abilities “There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” The point I wish to make is that Joseph recognized that all of the success he had was because of the Lord and not his abilities. God must be the sole reason for any good that we accomplish even through our gifts and abilities.

How cool is this as a part of Joseph’s resume, “Hey, hire me and as I work in the gifts and abilities God has given me by his power your company will be prosperous!” Joseph’s testimony as to the Lord being with him was seen on how he conducted his life on the job. Because of this we are told in verse 3 that Potiphar saw that the Lord was with him. Is that not a great motivation to work hard on the job for your none Christian boss? Joseph’s master was not Potiphar it was the Lord God Almighty. So we see the keys to being successful are:

  • The Lord in his life

  • Diligent in small things

  • Everything he did was unto the Lord

  • Desired to be a blessing above being blessed

  • Operated in the gifts and callings of God

  • Gave all glory to the Lord not his abilities

Vs. 7 Now we move the second of the great trials we face in life temptation. Although this temptation specifically deals with sexual temptation the principals of dealing with temptation can apply no matter what it is that is a temptation to us.

In this verse we are given a threefold description of Potiphar’s wife:

  1. His master’s wife”: Interesting that we are never given her name she is just his masters wife. What this suggests is that she was not a woman of character. Perhaps she was quite young and Potiphar was an older eunuch. The code of morality among Egyptian woman was noted as being quite loose.

  2. After these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph”: What this verse suggests is that she was not merely attracted to Joseph’s handsome appearance. It was based upon Joseph’s power and success. He perhaps was not as attractive when he just swept the floors but when he began to rise in power he rose in her eyes as well.

  3. Cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me”: Here we see that her seduction started subtle with long flirtatious looks. Then came attempts to get him to talk to her, which escalated according to verse 10 to her attempting to do this day by day. Verse ten also suggests that Joseph began avoiding her until finally she just became blunt. The fact that he did not respond to her made him all the more attractive and a challenge.

Again let me remind you that this was not a one-time event but rather a daily occurrence that lasted years. Joseph’s dealings with temptation started early and lasted all the way through. How did he handle this constant barrage of temptation? In verses 8-12 I see five things that he did in dealing with the temptation:

  1. Vs. 8a Refused: He simply ignored her advances by way of silence he did not acknowledge her subtle and not so subtle attempts to seduce him.

  2. Vs. 8b-9 Reasoned: Realizing she was not getting the hint Joseph tried to reason with her by stating three truths:

  1. Ethical: “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you.” Joseph’s explains that his position was not only one of power but one of privilege and trust. Thus to sleep with her would be a ethical violation of his masters trust.

  2. Moral: “you are his wife.” Second he reminds her that she is married to Potiphar and such a relationship between them would be immoral, as it would be adultery.

  3. Spiritual: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Lastly, and most importantly he tells her that it would be a sin against God and such a thing would hurt his relationship with the Lord.

  1. Vs. 10a Resisted: Even after he ignored her and reasoned with her she still spoke to him every day and asked him to sleep with her yet we are told he did not “heed her”. Joseph gave off no mixed signals there was no way that she could conclude that he was softening to her advances. None of the “Hey, I’m not going to sleep with you but we can still hang out together!” stuff.

  2. Vs. 10b-11 Refrained: He did not even want to be near her as he sought not to be where she was. He always tried to make sure that someone else was present when she was around.

  3. Vs. 12 Ran: Finally, when she grabbed a hold of him he ran. Obviously he did not stop and pray about it his only coarse of action was to run from temptation. Several things are clearly by this:

  1. She was most likely undressed her self, other wise her charge against him would not have made sense.

  2. She was probable very attractive or else he would have went back in and got his coat.

So we can see how Joseph dealt with temptation:

  • Refused it

  • Reasoned against it:

  • Resisted it

  • Refrained from it

  • Ran away from it

As great as those five things are in dealing with the temptation what do you do with your own heart? Again we can see seven things that Joseph did to protect his own heart against temptation:

  1. He let his faith and relationship with the Lord be known. Potiphar knew about it as we are told in verse 3. He spoke of his relationship to the woman that was trying to seduce him.

  2. He kept busy; he made sure that he did not have idol time. I have found in my own life that an idol mind leads to a troubled heart. There is an old Turkish proverb that says, “Men are often tempted by the devil, but an idle man positively tempts the devil!”

  3. He was never alone with her. Simply put Joseph never allowed himself to be in a place where he would be tempted, he avoided things that would cause him to stumble.

  4. He called sin, sin! He did not justify temptation by calling it something that was more palatable in his eyes it was a “great wickedness”. The truth is until we call our sin by the same things that God does it will continue to control us.

  5. He thought of the consequences of his actions. He realized that his succumbing to temptation would adversely effect others as well as himself.

  6. He realized that giving into this temptation would directly effect his relationship with the Lord who had so blessed him. Thus his sin was going to be against a God that had poured out His blessing upon him.

  7. He had a habit of saying no to temptation and sin. The victory over temptation had been one long before he ran off and left his coat in her arms. He had been practicing saying no to temptation for years if he had not been saying no so for such a long time then the only place he would have been running was into her arms.

It is an issue of the heart and Joseph had settled that along time before so that temptation and sin could not get a foot hold.

III. Vs. 13-23 Better not bitter

Vs. 13-20 “Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned” I’m told and Joseph would soon find that to be true. Joseph left in his underwear but with all of his dignity and relationship with the Lord intact. Joseph must have realized that his stand against temptation and for purity was going to cost him perhaps his life but it was worth the price. The lie she tells must have been very painful as it exactly opposite of what had happened. Yet with that said strangely there is no mention of him saying anything in his defense. The greatest defense against lie is the silence of truth! Potiphar could have executed him by way of torture but he did not, which suggests that he did not fully believe his own wife and that Joseph’s character spoke louder then her words.

Vs. 21-23 The word for jail as well as his advancement in jail seen in verse 40:3,7 indicate that where he was placed was most likely the bottom part of Potiphar’s house. In fact we are told as much as we read in verse 40:7 that he was “in the custody of his lord’s house”. Potiphar was the captain of the guard and it was his house that the prisoners were kept. So Joseph moved from the top floor to the bottom floor but it never impacted the way in which he served. He did not just trust him in the good times but also in the difficult times. How was that possible? Well we are told, “the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.” Obedience was not tied to prosperity it was tied only to the Lord. When we seek to walk with the Lord we will be prosperous no matter what our situation or circumstance.