(watch here: https://youtu.be/tgk5jqL7fQs)
1Now Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man; he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hands. 4So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him; he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. 6So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge; and, with him there, he had no concern for anything but the food that he ate.
Now Joseph was handsome and good-looking. 7And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, ‘Lie with me.’ 8But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Look, with me here, my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my hand. 9He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ 10And although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not consent to lie beside her or to be with her. 11One day, however, when he went into the house to do his work, and while no one else was in the house, 12she caught hold of his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me!’ But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. 13When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, 14she called out to the members of her household and said to them, ‘See, my husband has brought among us a Hebrew to insult us! He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice; 15and when he heard me raise my voice and cry out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.’ 16Then she kept his garment by her until his master came home, 17and she told him the same story, saying, ‘The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to insult me; 18but as soon as I raised my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.’
19When his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, saying, ‘This is the way your servant treated me’, he became enraged. 20And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison. 21But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love; he gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. 22The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s care all the prisoners who were in the prison, and whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.
All the injustices that poor Joseph had to endure, from his brothers throwing him in a pit to his being sold into slavery and now this, his master’s wife falsely accusing him of insulting her and being thrown into prison! Reminds me of some statistics I once heard to help us stay safe. They say that 20% of all fatal accidents occur while riding in cars so we should try to avoid them if we want to stay safe. At the same time, another 17% of accidents occur in the home so we should stay away from there too. 14% of accidents occur while walking on streets or sidewalks so we should steer clear of those too. 16% occur while traveling by air, rail, or water so basically just don’t go anywhere. Of the remaining 33%, 32% occur in hospitals so definitely avoid those! Yet, interestingly, only 0.001% of all deaths occur in worship services in church, and these are usually related to previous physical disorders. Therefore, logic tells us that the safest place for you to be at any given time is at church! Oh, and bible studies are pretty safe too…the percentage of deaths during bible study is even less. If only we could safe and secure in our worship services and bible studies…
Alas, we cannot. We are called out into the world to fulfill Jesus’ great commission, “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” If we can’t do that, we are called as Christians to live as faithfully and with as much integrity as possible. Very few of us can live in worship or bible study all the time, every minute of every day. We must attend to our bodily needs or the needs of others. We must protect and guide our children, tend to our work and our homes, build and sustain relationships with each other. In short, we must live. And living in this world is dangerous no matter how faithful we are. Just look at poor Joseph. He wasn’t looking for any trouble with anyone. He was just trying to live faithfully and with integrity. God came to him in dreams, gave him visions of a prosperous future, and the world tried to condemn him. Over and over again, Joseph tried to lead a hard-working, virtuous life only to be thwarted by evil people around him. First it was his brothers, now it was his master’s wife. But Joseph didn’t let them win. He kept his integrity and faithfully served his masters, both heavenly and earthly.
We look to this story of Joseph and all the injustices he had to endure and focus on his perseverance and faithfulness. But I want us to reflect on a different aspect of the story, an aspect we’ve already been reflecting on these last few weeks. Instead of lifting up the faithfulness and perseverance of Joseph, I’d instead like to shift our attention to the faithfulness of God. All throughout the story we are reminded of God’s faithfulness:
vs. 2 “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man…”
vs. 5 “…the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on
all that he had, in house and field.”
vs. 21 “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love…”
vs. 23 “The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph’s care, because the Lord was
with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.”
God was with Joseph throughout it all, continuously blessing him and blessing those around him. Potiphar was blessed through Joseph, the jailer was blessed though Joseph, his fellow inmates were blessed through Joseph…I’d even go so far as to say that Potiphar’s wife was blessed through Joseph. In denying her lustful advances and honoring Potiphar, Joseph gave witness to God’s order and righteousness. Lustfulness and temptation are no match to the power and glory of God. Joseph remains faithful to his masters because they remain faithful to him. Potiphar, the jailer, even God himself stay true to Joseph and reward him for his faithfulness. Sin’s power, as strong as it is, is pale in comparison to the power of God.
God offers each of us a promise…a promise for new and everlasting life. Just as God promised Noah and Abraham, God promises to never leave us or forsake us. God promises to walk right alongside us through the dangers of this world. God walked with Joseph through his trials and managed to transform them into tribulations. Recall what Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (8:28) God worked good through Joseph’s woeful injustices! Joseph was surrounded by temptation…temptation to lash out at his jealous brothers…temptation to commit adultery with Potiphar’s lustful wife…temptation to wallow in despair and self-pity in that jail cell. Joseph stayed true to God and God stayed true to Joseph. Paul writes in his 2nd letter to the Thessalonians, “But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.” (3:3) The evil one was continuously at work in those around Joseph, just as he is continuously at work in those around us. The evil one is all around us; in the people we meet, in the places we go, in the situations we find ourselves. Make no mistake about it, the evil one is alive and well in the world around us! But as David sang in Psalm 91, “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” (vs. 3) Just as the evil one is around us, so, too, is God all around us hard at work protecting us and guiding us. We can be assured of this! We can place our hope in this! Hebrews 10:23 reads, “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.” God promises to be with each one of us and we can rely on that promise. God is true to his word!
I love reflecting on and preaching about God’s faithfulness! I love witnessing God’s faithfulness in people like Joseph! Lamentations 3:22-23 boldly proclaims, “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.” Let us rejoice in such truth. Our God is a faithful God. Our God is a loving God. Our God is a blessing God. What a joy to be in relationship with such a God! I’ll leave you with a poem by Annie Johnson Flint entitled, “New Every Morning,” that echoes the sentiments of that passage from Lamentations:
Yea, “new every morning,” though we may awake,
Our hearts with old sorrow beginning to ache;
With old work unfinished when night stayed our hand
With new duties waiting, unknown and unplanned;
With old care still pressing, to fret and to vex,
With new problems rising, our minds to perplex
In ways long familiar, in paths yet untrod,
Oh, new every morning the mercies of God!
His faithfulness fails not; it meets each new day
New guidance for every new step of the way;
New grace for new trials, new trust for old fears,
New patience for bearing the wrongs of the years,
New strength for new burdens, new courage for old,
New faith for whatever the day may unfold;
As fresh for each need as the dew on the sod;
Oh, new every morning the mercies of God!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.