Loyal, Strong, and Faithful
“Here are ten ways you can tell it’s going to be a rotten day:
You start brushing your teeth with muscle relaxant cream.
You see the 60 Minutes news team in your office.
You realize the hair spray you just used was really your new can of hair-removal spray.
You turn on the news and they’re showing emergency routes out of the city.
You come out to find your car parked right where you left it, but there are no tires on it.
Your car horn goes off accidentally and remains stuck as you follow a group of Hell’s Angels on the freeway.
Your boss tells you not to bother to take off your coat.
Your income tax refund check bounces.
You get passed on your morning jog by a little old lady with a cane.
You look down to see you have on one black shoe and one brown shoe and you remember seeing another pair just like them in your closet before you left home.
[Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 321].
I worked for Child Evangelism Fellowship for ten years
I probably would have worked their longer, but I got laid off
I was very loyal to that ministry and I am grateful for everything the Lord taught me through ministering with them
The Lord has been developing this character quality in my life
I wasn’t always strong, especially when it came to certain things
I had to have accountability in order to overcome a weakness
Through all of the difficulties in my life, I have remained faithful to the Lord
I know He is the One who will carry me through
He will never leave me or forsake me, so I can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper!” (Heb. 13:5-6)
How many of us have been loyal (brand, employer, person, team, school, etc.)?
All of us are strong in certain areas and weak in others. How has God developed strength in us?
When we experience hardship and difficulties, have we remained faithful to the Lord?
Joseph experienced the Lord being with him and enabling him to prosper and be successful in everything he did. Because he knew God and His character, Joseph was able to remain loyal to his master, strong in the face of temptation, and faithful to Him when things appeared bleak. Joseph is a great example and model of how . . .
BIG IDEA – Our character should reflect loyalty, strength, and faithfulness. [Gangel & Bramer, 326]
GOD (Genesis 39:1-23)
Loyalty (vv. 1-6a)
The narrator reminds us of what happened to Joseph
He was sold to the Ishmaelites who took him to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar one of Pharaoh’s officials who was captain of the guard
It is close to what the narrator said in Genesis 37:36
There was this little vignette about Judah, sandwiched in between
Now the narrator is ready to continue the Joseph story
The Lord was with Joseph
This statement is also found in verses 3, 21, and 23
I am certain that Joseph already knew the Lord was with him, because He had rescued him from his blood thirsty brothers
The same is true of us as followers of Jesus Christ
PRINCIPLE #1 – The Lord is always with us.
Isaiah 41:10, So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Deuteronomy 31:6, Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Matthew 28:20, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Hebrews 13:5b-6, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
The Lord is always with you
When you are feeling alone, anxious, and depressed – the Lord is with you
When you are feeling angry and frustrated about a relationship – the Lord is with you
When you are struggling with finances and wondering where the money is going to come from – the Lord is with you
When you are scared about the future – the Lord is with you
When you don’t know or understand what is happening to you physically – the Lord is with you
In every circumstance that you face, as a follower of Jesus Christ, you can have confidence that the Lord is with you
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Claim the truth from God’s Word that the Lord is always with me.
Some pretty amazing things happened for Joseph as a result of the Lord being with him
What happened because the Lord was with Joseph
The Lord gave him success in everything he did
He got promoted
I want to caution us today that what happened with Joseph is not universal for all people at all times
God was accomplishing his perfect plan and purpose through Joseph
He was going to use Joseph in Pharaoh’s household in order to save the Egyptians, other nations, and even Joseph’s family
The Lord is always with us, but that does not mean we will always prosper, be successful, or get promoted
He is with us even when we are struggling and having difficulties
It is amazing that Potiphar recognized that the Lord was with Joseph
Potiphar’s recognition of the Lord being with Joseph
When Potiphar recognized that the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in everything he did, he promoted him to his personal attendant – second in command in his household
Potiphar’s smart move of placing Joseph in charge of everything paid off
The Lord blessed his household
The Lord’s blessing wasn’t reserved for just part of Potiphar’s holdings, it was for all of his holdings, both in the house and in the field
“In the house and in the field” is a merism to explain everything (it is two contrasting parts of the whole that refer to the whole)
It was because of Joseph that Potiphar’s household was blessed
PRINCIPLE #2 – God keeps His promises!
Genesis 12:2-3, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Genesis 22:17-18, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Genesis 30:27, 30b, But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.”… The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I have been.
As part of the line of Abraham, Joseph’s presence, in Potiphar’s household enabled his household to be blessed
God still keeps his promises today, so we can trust Him no matter what
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Thank God for keeping His promises.
Potiphar left everything in Joseph’s care and didn’t worry about anything, except what he was going to eat
Joseph showed incredible loyalty to Potiphar as he handled all of his affairs
In our work environment and volunteer positions, we should also reflect the character quality of loyalty
Joseph’s loyalty would also be coupled with his strength in resisting temptation
Strength (vv. 6b-19)
Joseph was a good looking guy (some scholars believe he got this attribute from his mother – Gen. 29:17, …but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful)
Potiphar’s wife’s proposition
Potiphar’s wife noticed that Joseph was muscular and handsome
I used to be the same way – most of us were in our 20’s
She asked him to come to bed with her – she wanted to be intimate with him
Joseph gives her three great reasons why he can’t do what she has asked
Proper view of responsibility [Gangel & Bramer, 322] – breaking trust – Potiphar had entrusted everything to Joseph, except his wife
Proper view of marriage [Gangel & Bramer, 322] – violation of marital rights – Potiphar was her husband and therefore he had the marital rights to intimacy, not Joseph
Proper view of sin [Gangel & Bramer, 322] – falling short of God’s expectation – adultery is a sin
Joseph’s refusal did not stop her
Potiphar’s wife’s persistence
She asked him the same question every day
Her persistence does not pay off like she had hoped, because Joseph doesn’t even want to be with her or be around her
So, she probably sets the stage for her next attempt
It is likely that she released the other household servants or told them to leave the house
With the house empty, surely she will be able to seduce Joseph into being intimate with her
She doesn’t just ask Joseph to come to bed with her, but grabs him by his cloak
Perhaps she is directing him towards her bed or a couch
Proverbs warns young men about a wayward wife and her temptations (Read Proverbs 6:20-35 and Proverbs 7:10-20)
Joseph knew exactly what to do, because he had probably determined, in advance, what action he would take if something like this happened
Joseph left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house
PRINCIPLE #3 – “Our ability to overcome temptation depends more on character than on circumstances.” [Gangel & Bramer, 326]
“Temptation is not a part-time experience of the believer. Calvin commented, ‘Holy Joseph, therefore, must have been endowed with extraordinary power of the Spirit, seeing that he stood invincible to the last, against all the allurements of the impious woman.’” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 734-35]
2 Timothy 2:22, Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Galatians 5:24, Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
Joseph knew not to put himself in a position to be tempted – he didn’t even want to be around her – and he knew that if the advances progressed, he would flee
This showed Joseph’s character of strength in resisting temptation
Our character should reflect strength in resisting temptation
There are all kinds of temptations bombarding us today
Adultery and affairs (physical & emotional), pornography, premarital sex, same-sex attraction, etc.
Addictions (smoking, vaping, drugs, alcohol)
Overspending, oversharing, overeating, etc.
Success in resisting temptation comes when we have a plan in place before the temptation comes
What will I do when sexual temptation comes? (flee, put protective software on all of my devices, not be alone with my boyfriend or girlfriend, etc.)
What is my plan when confronted with smoking, vaping, drugs, and alcohol? (flee, say no, don’t attend certain parties, etc.)
How will I avoid overspending, oversharing, and overeating? (don’t go shopping or work with a budget, hold my tongue, walk away from the table, only prepare a regular portion, or don’t buy certain foods)
When we plan ahead for any temptation, then we will be guided by our character instead of the circumstances
“Self-control is an important factor in building character and preparing us for leadership.” [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 147]
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Determine what my plan will be to overcome any temptations I am currently facing. (accountability is one very important key to success)
Potiphar’s wife’s prevarication (lie, deception)
When Potiphar’s wife did not get her own way, she twisted the truth
Her intent was to get Joseph in trouble
She also wanted to take the attention away from her sin
She didn’t keep Joseph’s cloak in her hand, but put it beside her
If she had kept it in her hand it could have incriminated her and shown the truth of what had really happened
She does not use Joseph’s name, but rather is nationality when referring to him – perhaps this was a tactic to create an “us verse him” scenario (she was trying to garner sympathy and support against Joseph)
How she words her report to the household servants also attempts to create division and separation between them and Joseph (Look, this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us?)
She reversed what actually happened
Joseph did not come in to sleep with her, but to do his work
Perhaps she screamed after Joseph left to help make her case, but Joseph didn’t leave his cloak because she screamed
Blaming her husband
She kept Joseph’s cloak beside her until her husband came home
Then she told her “story” and basically blamed her husband for what happened (he brought the Hebrew slave into their home)
She is desperately trying to shift the attention and blame away from herself
Another cloak incident
If you recall, Jacob gave Joseph an ornamented robe that elevated him above his brothers – it showed that he had authority
His cloak made him an easy target for his brothers when he visited them in Dothan
Now Joseph has another cloak that probably identified him as second in command under Potiphar
Potiphar would have recognized the cloak as being Joseph’s
Burned with anger
At first glance, it seems as though Potiphar is very angry with Joseph for his alleged attempted rape of his wife
Perhaps that is not the case
The normal punishment for Joseph’s offense would have been immediate execution
Potiphar, as captain of the guard, was over the soldiers who carried out executions
So, it would make sense that Joseph should have been killed
“Potiphar responds by ‘burning with anger’ (39:19). Given his wife’s slander of his own motives, the proven trustworthiness of Joseph, the fact that he is going to lose the services of a competent slave, and his knowledge of his wife’s character or lack of it, his anger arguably burns at his wife, not at Joseph. This is further suggested by the fact that Joseph is only put in the king’s prison. … The action he takes against Joseph is as minimal as it can be and still retain his family’s honor.” [Walton, 671-72]
Put Joseph in prison
The prison where Joseph was put is where the king’s prisoners were confined
This wasn’t the same prison that the commoners were confined to
In fact, Genesis 40:3 makes it sound as though the prison Joseph is confined to is attached to Potiphar’s house
Genesis 40:2-3, Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined.
God continued to be with Joseph even when he was falsely accused
PRINCIPLE #4 – “God’s blessings do not insulate our lives from hardships or injustice.” [Gangel & Bramer, 326]
Joseph certainly experienced that in his own life
The same is true for us
Jesus never promised his followers that when they believed in him that everything would be cotton candy, sunshine, and rainbows or prosperity, success, and promotions
He did warn his disciples about a few things:
Read John 15:18-25
James 1:2-3, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Matthew 24:9, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”
Sometimes we experience hardship, because of our own poor decisions
We can rest assured that the Lord is still with us during those times of hardship and injustice
Joseph experienced God’s presence and mercy while in prison
Faithfulness (vv. 20-23)
The Lord was with Joseph
This phrase begins and ends these three verses
Because the Lord was with him, the warden put him in charge of all the prisoners and everything that was done there
The warden did not have to pay attention to anything under Joseph’s care
Joseph’s character reflected faithfulness
Even though he was now in prison, for no fault of his own, Joseph faithfully worked hard and advanced in the prison
We shouldn’t be surprised by this, because this was part of his character when he served as Potiphar’s personal attendant
Our character should reflect faithfulness no matter where we are working
Even when we don’t get the promotion at work that we thought we should have gotten, we need to remain faithful
Even when we are asked to serve in the church in a position that seems below our gifts and abilities, we need to remain faithful
I remember reading in one of Chuck Smith’s books that when he was approached by an enthusiastic person about serving in the church, he would ask them to clean toilets. Depending on how they responded, determined whether he would have them serve in the church in other capacities. If they were willing to serve in a lowly position, he knew their heart was in the right place
Luke 16:10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”
The Lord was merciful to Joseph
The Lord showed Joseph kindness
The Lord granted Joseph favor in the eyes of the prison warden
The Lord is merciful and kind to us also
He does not give us what we deserve
Do you need to claim the truth that God is always with you as His child?
Do you need to thank God for keeping His promises?
Do you need to determine what your plan will be to overcome temptation?
Does your character reflect loyalty, strength, and faithfulness?
The Lord is with us as a body of believers
We can thank God for keeping His promises to us
“When life seems to be going terribly wrong, as it did for Joseph on a few occasions, it is difficult to affirm God’s sovereignty. Joel Sonnenberg is a modern-day illustration of someone who had cause to question God’s sovereignty and love. He was not yet two years old when a tragic chain-reaction car accident changed his life. A truck crashed into the back of a line of cars that was stopped at a toll plaza, and the car Joel was riding in was engulfed in flames. Agonizing minutes went by before he could be rescued. Though he survived, he was faced with excruciating pain, and even then the fifty-plus surgeries have still left him severely disfigured.
Bitterness would have been easy. But instead of rejecting God as powerless or cruel, Joel has allowed God’s love to fill him, and he has had opportunity to testify to what God can do in someone’s life. He has been featured in national news programs such as 48 Hour and Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel. Special reports by Chicago anchor Carol Marin have also followed Joel’s story over the years. He graduated from Taylor University in the spring of 2000. The university’s website listed some of Joel’s achievements and honors: Eagle Scout, Discover Tribute award winner, Western North Carolina Citizen of the Year, and high school student body president, to name just a few.
Like Joseph, Joel could not have known what God would eventually accomplish through the crises and tragedies of his life. We are not in a position to argue with God about why he sovereignly allows the difficult things that come into our lives. As the prophet says in Isaiah 45:9-10:
Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has not hands’? Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What have you begotten?’ or to his mother, ‘What have you brought to birth?’
Unlike Joseph, Joel’s troubles were not caused by someone’s evil intentions. The fact is, however, that even when evil intentions are involved, whatever people intend for evil God can use to bring about good. God does not promise to shield us from all evil. But we can believe that whenever evil comes, God is able to accomplish good through it.”
[Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 697-98].