Genesis 39-40: The Lord Is with You
January 18, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Genesis 39-40, Psalm 18:1-24, Matthew 7:15-29, Acts 10:24-48
Joseph is now having his character tested, and in the midst of all this, it is being shown to Joseph and to us by the skill of the narrator that the Lord is with Joseph (39:2-3, 21, 23). He is a slave in Potiphar’s house (39:1), and yet the Lord is so blessing his work that everything he touches thrives and Potiphar lets him run everything so that all the stress of the large estate and wealth is taken off his back (39:3-6). But Potiphar’s wife notices the young, handsome, Joseph and starts to scheme to get him. She wants him and she keeps pestering him, until one day she corners him. Joseph, wisely, bravely, courageously, simply flees from her advances (39:7-12). Hell has no fury like a woman scorned, it is said, and whether true or not, the fury of Potiphar’s wife looked like it was going to ruin Joseph (39:13-19). He is thrown in jail (39:20), accused of attempting to rape this woman whose advances he had rejected.
Injustice after injustice is piling up on Joseph, and yet, we are told, the Lord is with Joseph still (39:21). The same pattern as in Potiphar’s household appears in the jail (39:21-23). The keeper of the prison puts Joseph in charge of the prisoners, and Joseph again is supervising and prospering.
Joseph hears that two high-end prisoners, servants of Pharaoh no less, are troubled by their dreams (40:5-8). And, showing his faith even through the middle of these great difficulties, Joseph asks them to tell him their dreams, saying, “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (40:8).
The chief cupbearer tells Joseph his dream (40:9-11). It has a happy ending and a favorable interpretation (40:12-13). Emboldened by that first man’s good fortune, the chief baker tells his dream, but his dream means something far worse (40:16-20). Both dreams come true exactly as (God through) Joseph had foretold (40:20-22). But the cupbearer, whose dream had turned out well, does not remember Joseph, as Joseph had asked (40:14-15), but forgot him (40:23).
Immediately, a sensitive reader would sense what is unsaid: Someone though did not forget Joseph. The Lord is still with him.
Obviously, this story is intended to teach us the importance of fleeing sexual immorality. But how are we to do it? How are we to find the strength of a Joseph to say no even when being pressured into saying yes? To trust that God has a plan beyond our desires for a different marriage, to avoid a simple, more earthy kind of lust—where does the power come from to live purely in this world?
The Bible says it comes from hiding God’s Word in our heart (Psalm 119:9-11). Simple memorization is good, but even that can sometimes feel like rote rather than transformative power. The answer is that we can do it because the Real, True Joseph has done it. When we sin we are believing a lie—some lie about how that sin can provide us with what we really need or the salvation we are really looking for. Instead, look at Joseph, the Real Joseph, whose life was completely pure and priceless and without blemish. He is your Savior, and he is worth more than any fleeting pleasure. He will accept you, love you, and be yours forever. In his eyes, and in the light of his beauty, no other temporary pleasure can advance to the level of joy and fulfillment that we can find in him.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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