The Story of Joseph – of Blessings and Temptation

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This morning, as I read the story of Joseph again, I was struck how he was such a faithful dependable servant to his master, Potiphar that the only thing he had to worry about was the food he wanted to eat.

Joseph was sold by his brothers to the Ishmaelites (Gen. 37) who took him to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, captain of the guards in Pharaoh’s household (Gen. 39:1).

vv. 2-6
2 The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

Five times in 6 verses, the omniscient narrator gave inside information that associated the LORD’s presence and blessings upon Joseph and the whole household of Potiphar:

  • V. 2 the LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered.
  • V. 3 even his master saw the LORD was with him, the LORD gave him success in everything he did.
  • V. 5 Again, it’s mentioned that the LORD’s blessing upon Potiphar on the whole house of Potiphar – inside and out.

In life, good things sometimes bring about temptation. Aside from being such a blessing to Pharaoh, Joseph was handsome (v. 6). So the wife of his master took notice (v.7).

Running away from sex… I have watched many movies and TV dramas where men are tempted and reactive in ‘lust’ rather than proactive in ‘integrity.’ The story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife is a classic example of how to respond proactively with honor. How did he do it?

Genesis 39

8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

1) v. 8a – He refused.
2) v. 8b-9a He explained ‘why’ he would not betray his master. His master trusted him. He gave Joseph authority and put everything in his care.
3) v.9b Most importantly, Joseph knew that having sex with his master’s wife is a wicked thing. Ultimately, it is a sin against God – the Lord who blessed him.
4) v. 10 Joseph stood firm. Even when the mistress persisted, day after day, he refused to be even with her.
5) v. 12 When all else fail, he ‘ran.’

Every day, I face many choices. There are tempting offers – good or bad. How do I choose? Do I say ‘No?’ Saying ‘no’ might not be enough. Temptations sometimes persist even when I refuse. So how do I refuse? Run from it. What is in the heart comes out in word and deed. When I say no, is it just not right for me, wrong for others or a sin against God? How could I do this wicked thing and ‘sin against God?’

Help me Lord to always remember not to do this wicked thing that harm my neighbor and sin against you. By your blood, in your name, Jesus, Amen.

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