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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

GENESIS – An Expositional Overview of the Beginning of God’s Revelation: Chapter THIRTY NINE



Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire
Chuck Missler Bible Commentary - Genesis 37-40

GENESIS 39 – by James Fire - for the Facebook video, go here.

Introduction:
Injustice – it’s an experience we’ve all had, and there is something in us that revolts against it, understanding that it’s wrong, when the innocent is condemned and the guilty are free. When people suffer such things, even if they don’t believe in GOD, they’ll shake their fist at Him and accuse Him because He failed to prevent their personal calamity.
And as Christians, when we hear injustice knocking at our front door, we bar it and lock it, and it blows down the door and devastates us with its doings.

As with all kinds of suffering, we can question GOD, asking Him, “Where are you? Why did You allow this to happen to me? You could have stopped this!”

This no doubt was in Joseph’s thoughts when we see what happens to him in this chapter. It’s one thing to be a slave in a foreign land, but he’s going to be falsely accused, his side of the story won’t be taken into account, and he’s sentenced to prison, indefinitely. For all that Joseph knew in the natural – apart from the Word of the LORD that was granted to him in visions, he would grow old and rot away in that prison and finally die.

Where now are the dreams that he had concerning his authority over his brothers and even over his parents? How is the Word of the LORD, His promise, to come true in this situation now that he’s a prisoner in far-away Egypt?

We are often challenged in our Christian walks, in our faith in the Word of GOD in the face of our situation; when we have been believing the good Word of the LORD and yet bad things are happening, and they continue to happen – things that would seem to contradict and negate GOD’s promises to us.

The fact of the matter is, that we walk by faith and not by sight (2 COR 5:7). Situations and circumstances are those things “by sight” whereas believing that the Word of GOD is truth, despite these things, is “by faith”.

We know how this story ends; we know that the Word of the LORD to Joseph will be realized and come to pass, but he didn’t know it at this time. GOD sees all that He intends to fulfill in our lives just as He saw everything He intended and fulfilled in Joseph’s life, and just as this young man didn’t know the final outcome of this severe trial, neither do we – until GOD moves and makes good on His promises.

What GOD intends in your life, He will see to it, according to His promises; walk by faith and not by sight! May that sight have its eye fixed on eternity, where some of these promises will surely be fulfilled, if not in the here and now in this world!

GENESIS 39:1
1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither
.

Joseph has been bought and sold in Egypt, to the Captain of Pharaoh’s Guard, Potiphar. This young Hebrew man is now property, a piece of meat that Potiphar could do with as he pleased. Slaves that disappointed, much less disobeyed their masters could be put to death, without a second thought; slaves that became mortality sick would simply be cast out in the street and forsaken – and with little worry: there were always more slaves and they were cheap.

We don’t hear a word of protest from Joseph; at least nothing is recorded for us to read. He is apparently, silent, like a lamb before her shearers so Joseph doesn’t open his mouth.
Our LORD Jesus was also falsely accused, and He could have testified of His own innocence during His six illegal trials before Jew and Gentile – but He didn’t. In humility, our LORD spoke not a word, leaving to the Father, the welfare of His own Holy Soul. 

Are we not as Christians called to humility? To not seek out vengeance on those who wrong us, but leave it with the LORD Who will measure out justice in His own time?
Doubtless Joseph prayed, reminding GOD of the dreams that He gave him, and was without question perplexed as to how the LORD would bring those dreams to pass. 

In times of prayer, when we seek answers of the LORD for the problems and dilemmas that we face – do we try to understand the problem, and advise GOD on how He should solve these matters? Or do we try to figure out how GOD is going to get us out of these troublesome circumstances?

We need not do such things – we surrender our intellect, our understanding, and like a child, place our trust in our Father Who is infinite in wisdom and power and love!

GENESIS 39:2-4
2
 And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand
.

Joseph was never alone in his trials; the LORD was with him, every step of the way, having already gone ahead and prepared the way for his deliverance.
The three friends of Daniel’s: Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (more commonly known as Mischach, Shadrach and Abednego) were likewise accompanied by the LORD in their fiery trial, in the furnace of Nebuchadnessar. These three saints were prepared to die for GOD, keeping their allegiance to the LORD, and not bow down to any idol god of the pagans! They had no idea how things would turn out, but GOD had already gone ahead and prepared the way for their deliverance (DAN 3). 

In the time of great tribulation, when all Israel will go through the furnace of affliction, the LORD will be with His remnant; only a third shall survive (ZECH 13:7-9); for the LORD has already gone ahead and prepared the way for their deliverance. 

These will be ushered into the Millennium during the reign of the Messiah on Earth.
The LORD’s promises to be with Israel are also the promises that the church can hold on to, for the same LORD has the same love for both His Jewish nation and His Gentile church:

ISAIAH 41:13-14
13 For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. 14 Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
ISAIAH 43:2
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee
.
Before we even know that a certain trial is heading our way, when it finally arrives and we are stunned silent, perhaps even paralyzed with panic, the LORD has already gone ahead and prepared the way for our deliverance.

It was so evident that the LORD was with Joseph, that even a pagan officer like Potiphar could tell, because this Hebrew was a prosperous man; though still a slave in Egypt, GOD prospered him.
No matter what station you have in life – I don’t think any of us are in such a humiliated state that we could be considered slaves, but even if that were the case, GOD will honor those whose hearts are His, despite how the world may view them or treat them!

Joseph continued to prove himself a worthy servant, a man of integrity and hard work, because it says here that he found grace in the sight of Potiphar, who promoted him to overseer of his entire household. There was nothing left that Potiphar could give to Joseph as a steward of the house; this Hebrew was entrusted with everything. Potiphar being a Captain of the King’s guard, had to be a shrewd judge of men, someone not easily fooled. If he selected guards who were careless or lacking in good qualities, it could mean his own life! So, I imagine he was an excellent judge of character – and being so, he felt confident in placing absolute trust in Joseph.

GENESIS 39:5
And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field
.

You will notice here that the blessing of the LORD was on all that was in the house, but here it also states, “and in the field”. So, GOD’s blessings are expanding and overflowing.
We saw a similar situation with Jacob remember, when he was with his Uncle Laban; Laban perceived that his flocks and properties were prosperous because the LORD was with Jacob. He didn’t want him to return to his home, to Isaac and Rebekah his parents, because he wanted his prosperity to continue, and he knew that it would so long as Jacob was around.

People at your work place, or your friends, your neighborhood, might not understand why life is better with you around; they might not be able to identify the cause of blessing in their life, but they know it’s got something to do with you – and it’s the Spirit of the LORD that grants you favor; GOD’s graces on your life, so that whatever you do in accordance with GOD’s will, the LORD prospers.

The LORD told us that we, His church, are the salt of the Earth, the Light of the world (MATT 5:13-14); salt is a good thing: it preserves, it sanitizes, it flavors! So is light: it illuminates, it guides, it comforts. The fallen race of Adam may not realize it – usually doesn’t! – but the church is a blessing to this fallen world.

Now up to this point, maybe Joseph might’ve started to think, This life in Egypt, it isn’t really all that bad! It’s not home – and I miss my family fiercely! But I could do a lot worse than this! 

But wait – now things start to go south. You know how it goes when you start experiencing GOD’s blessing; the sun is shining, the birds are singing sweetly, everyone is smiling – no bumps in the road of life. And because we are well and at ease, our prayer life becomes slightly less urgent, our seeking GOD becomes slightly less fervent; we get just a bit too comfortable. . . and then what happens?

GENESIS 39:6-9
And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored. And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master knows 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 anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife:
how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

I’m sure that since Joseph’s Mom, Rachel, was a real beauty to behold, that Joseph was a very handsome young man – not only good natured, but also good looking and well proportioned. Up to this point, Joseph being the head servant of Potiphar’s, his wife probably saw him about the place on a daily basis – but here it says that “she cast her eyes upon Joseph” – rather like an eagle would cast its eyes on a mouse that’s about to become lunch!

She solicits him, attempting to seduce him and how does he react? He doesn’t run away – but he admonishes her:

Look, my master isn’t even concerned about all his property that I’m managing for him, such is his faith in me; he’s committed everything to me, the highest of all his servants, second in authority only to Potiphar himself; he’s not kept back anything from me except for you, because you’re his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

His reasoning seems to dissuade her from pursuing him; his words of righteousness and his appeal to keeping his integrity so that he doesn’t sin against GOD appears to convince her – for a time.

GENESIS 39:10-12
10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. 11 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. 12 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
.

She persists in her pursuit of this young man, and it may be that because he proved faithful and honorable to Potiphar and the LORD, that her admiration for his integrity made him all the more attractive to her Yet he continues to reject her, time and time again turning his back on temptation. While many of us may resist temptation the first time around, maybe even the second time, if that temptation is with you day in and day out, day after day, week after week, and you still manage to resist temptation? THAT is integrity! 

This is far, far different than the scandalous sexual sin that we saw in the previous chapter, with the deceitful lust of Judah, the selfish, sensual pleasure-seeking sin of Onan and the plotting conspiracy of Tamar!

In the face of temptation, we can get caught up in the allure of that thing, and start paying more attention to it, than the LORD. Joseph knew where to keep his focus: the question he asks is the one we need to continually ask: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

David, after his fall with Bathsheba understood where he really went wrong; his greatest sin wasn’t against her, or even Uriah who the king had killed – along with his troop of soldiers! No, his greatest sin of all the sins he committed at that time was against GOD! He said so in PSALM 51 – in his great confession before the LORD for all the wickedness he committed with Bathsheba:

PSALM 51:4
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest
.

Potiphar’s wife then steps up her game; she no longer uses words alone to entice him, she gets close enough to him to catch him by his shirt and insists on being intimate with him – and it’s then that he wisely flees away! Joseph would no doubt offer a hearty AMEN to what Solomon wrote in PROVERBS 7, all about the adulterous woman seeking out young men to prey upon:

PROVERBS 7:1-7
My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words. For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding
,

Joseph kept the law of his GOD as the apple of his eye; just as your vision is precious – your eyes are something to be safely guarded and cared for, likewise the law of his GOD. Wisdom and understanding were his spiritual sisters. He had both discernment and understanding so withstand the constant temptation he endured for who knows how many weeks, or even months? The one thing where I think he failed was that he entered Potiphar’s house when it was just him and his master’s wife and no one else!

When facing temptations, they’re always strongest when we are alone with no one looking over our shoulder; but isn’t there really? The LORD sees all – why is it that we are more afraid of succumbing to temptation when others might see us, and not the LORD GOD Who sees us always?! This speaks to a fear of man more than a fear of GOD, doesn’t it?
Now he’s left the house – and I don’t imagine that he’s going to come back anytime soon; probably not until his master gets home!

GENESIS 39:13-16
13 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, 14 That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: 15 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. 16 And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home
.

1 PETER 2:11-12
11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation
.
It’s been said, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” – obviously a gross exaggeration, as there is no comparison between the fury of hell and a woman – but the expression does testify to a certain truth: that the pride of man, or woman is so powerful, that if trampled in the mud, that man or woman will lie, cheat, steal, destroy – even kill to see their pride restored and the offender humiliated.

No doubt, this was Potiphar’s wife’s desire – to see Joseph humiliated, even executed for being a slave that was entrusted with so much, and yet betrayed their benefactor. This wouldn’t have been unreasonable, because after all, Joseph was just a slave, and for such an offense, Potiphar would have been within his right to have the young man executed.

Yet we know that the LORD will defend this young man who was entirely innocent of any wrong-doing; he maintained his integrity, though as any virile young man whose normal, healthy sexual drives were at full potency, this was a war that his soul won! And I think the ‘good works’ he maintained spoke well of him to Potiphar. Look at what he does. . .

GENESIS 39:17-20
17 And she spake unto him [her husband] according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: 18 And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out. 19 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. 20 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.

His master’s wrath was kindled – but did he kill Joseph? If he was so full of wrath, why didn’t he? The text is silent about this, but I have my suspicions. I think it’s probable that Potiphar caught his wife’s wandering eyes when Joseph was around. Further, I think its just as possible that he suspected that his wife was to blame for the entire thing, knowing Joseph to be a God-fearing young man, and a man of highest honor and integrity. Being a sound judge of character, I don’t believe he thought he misjudged Joseph – but Potiphar couldn’t prove his suspicions at all. I think for this reason and another – that Potiphar spared Joseph’s life, and sent him away to prison, instead of execution.

The other reason, I think was the hand of GOD upon Potiphar, for the LORD fully intended on fulfilling His will upon His faithful servant.

GENESIS 39:21-23
21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. 23 The keeper of the prison looked not to anything that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper
.

It seems that where ever Joseph goes, that those over him show him favor, and place him in a position of authority – and we see this once again with the keeper of the prison: everything involving the prison was given to Joseph to manage.
And the LORD GOD was certainly managing things Himself, in the life of His faithful follower! I have no doubt whatsoever that Joseph was a young man that delighted in the Law of the LORD:

PSALM 1:2-4
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper
.

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