Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Life of Integrity

We are beginning the new year 2012 by focusing on our second Unit of the Winter series entitled "God's Protection". Joseph was the oldest son of Jacob's favorite wife, Rachel. See Genesis 37. He was also the favorite of his twelve sons. Jealousy among the brothers grew and Joseph made it no better by telling the family of two of his dreams wherein they would serve him one day. The brothers animosity toward Joseph led them to plot to kill him, but it ended up setting the stage for Joseph to be sold to Midianite merchants. He was then sold to Potiphar, an Egyptian official and captain of the guard (Genesis 39:1). Today's lesson reviews Genesis 39:7-21a.

Although Joseph had been sold, God never left him. He upheld God and he prospered. Potiphar noticed how the Lord blessed Joseph causing everything to prosper in his hand. Before long, Joseph was blessed to become the overseer of all the servants and Potiphar did not have to worry about anything. Gen 39:1-5 '...he (Potiphar) knew not aught he had, save, the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly, person, and well favored.' Gen 39:6b Because Joseph brought blessings into his household, Potiphar had made a good bargain when he paid the Midianites (Ishmaelites) for Joseph and received a season of blessings for his household.

'And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.' Gen 39:7 Unfortunately, Potiphar's season of blessings would soon end. His wife had a wandering eye for young Joseph. She had sexual desires for him. We are not made privy of her motivations for her wanting Joseph to sleep with her. We do know they were not of God. 'For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.' 1 John 2:16

'But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master knoweth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; 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?' Gen 39:8-9 Joseph refused the temptation to sin from his master's wife. He put forth two arguments. First, how could he betray the confidence of his master who had been so good to him by having a sexual relationship with his wife? It would not matter if his master ever found out. Joseph was thankful for the relationship he had with his master and did not wish to dishonor him in any manner. Second, but more importantly, Joseph had God in his life. He was not going to do anything that stenched in God's nostrils. Joseph rebuked his master's wife for offering him a sexual encounter with her. He called it a '...great wickedness...' as it was outside of marriage, i.e. adultery. Therefore, it was outside of God's will and way.

'And it came to pass, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.' Gen 39:10 The master's wife was persistent in her plea for sexual gratification. She targeted Joseph and spoke to him "day by day". Joseph was wise in the Lord. He resisted her satanic advances.

'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. 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.' Gen 39:11-12 As Joseph went about his daily chores, it so happened that no one was present in the house except the master's wife. Once again she placed her temptations before him. No one would ever had suspected anything for they were alone, and a sexual fulfillment would have been their secret. She felt it was an ideal situation. Joseph had greater integrity. He fled so quickly that he left his outer garment in her hand. It was better to leave the garment behind with the temptress than to lose his life of integrity with God. This was not the only time Joseph was not covered by clothing. His brothers had stripped him of his coat of many colors when they sold him. Each time, however, Joseph remained covered by God's protection.

'And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, That she called unto the men of her house, and spoke unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in a Hebrew, unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: 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.' Gen 39:13-15 The temptress was beyond angry. She had done everything she could to seduce this young Hebrew boy. Since he had run away and left evidence of his presence, she decided to accuse him to his fellow servants and cause hatred among them. All the men, Egyptians, were called into the house and told how Joseph, their overseer and a Hebrew, had mocked them. She was alone and he had come in and attempted to lie with her. She told them of her cry for assistance in a loud voice and Joseph's quick departure. At that point, she showed them Joseph's garment as evidence of his presence in the house. No one questioned the truth of what the master's wife told them.

Walking in God's will and way makes us targets for Satan's schemes. The temptress seemed successful in turning the men of her house against Joseph. Now she had to successfully lie to her husband. 'And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. And she spoke unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.' Gen 39:16-18 Joseph's brothers were successful in deceiving his father regarding the coat of many colors they took from him. Would the temptress be successful in deceiving Potiphar by showing him Joseph's garment left in the house without his demanding a hearing from Joseph to speak on his behalf? Would Potiphar remember the blessings bestowed upon his household?

'And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. 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.' Gen 39:19-20 Potiphar did not remember the blessings his household had received and Joseph's excellent job performance. Potiphar had Joseph placed in the king's prison where the prisoners were bound. He only saw what he perceived to be a violation of trust by a house slave. Joseph was wronged by his master and, for whatever reason, did not defend himself with the truth. He knew that God would fight his battle.

'...the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.' Gen 39:21 Joseph reasoned that it was all in God's plan for his life. He knew that God would never leave him nor forsake him. Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5

Joseph was tested by temptation and rewarded by God when he focused on God. His suffering was minor as the Lord elevated him even in the prison. The general public watches to see those who profess to be Christians. Do they maintain lives of integrity? What are their reactions when they suffer? Do they have a real relationship with Christ? The Spirit of the Lord can never be bound. A Christian's goodness shall shine bright wherever they are and under whatever circumstances.

Happy New Year...and may your light so shine in the goodness of the Lord!

Written by Deborah C. Davis

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