Joseph was a teenager, seventeen years old when the Lord began to speak to him through dreams. He was so excited about those dreams and probably a bit naïve because he told his brothers about the dream since it involved them. "Hey guys the Lord spoke to me last night in a dream and I dreamed that we were all like a bunch of sheaves out on the field and your sheaves rose up and bowed down to my sheave. Isn't that cool?" And they didn't think it was that cool. They hated him because of it. His dad was willing to dismiss it but something got his attention. It was the next dream that the Lord gave him. It involved the sun and the moon and the stars all bowing down and doing obeisance to Josephs star. And at this his, dad Jacob gets a little myth and says, "What? You think your mother and I and all your brothers are going to bow down to you?" And the answer to that would be "Uh-huh, you will". For the Lord will take Joseph, though a seventeen-year-old boy now and raise him up to become the second in command under pharaoh of Egypt. He will be in charge of the food distribution for the entire world. And Jacob's brothers first or Joseph's brothers first and then Jacob, his father himself last will all be bowing down to this young man.
But in Chapter 37, we also saw that Joseph was sold by his brothers to some Midianite traders who are going down to Egypt. And then we started last week with Chapter 38 and we saw that Chapter 38 was like a contrast, a departure, a huge parenthetical statement in the story about Joseph. In reading Chapter 37 and coming to Chapter 38 we go, "What's this all about?" Because it seems not to fit, the story is all about Joseph and then suddenly the camera shifts and we're reading about Judah, his older brother. The camera does shift because while Joseph is down in Egypt for about twenty years, Chapter 38 takes place. It's about a 20-year span of time where we are able to see what's going on in the family of Jacob through his son Judah in particular, to give us a contrast with what is happening with Joseph. Before we pick up where we left off, just a word to those who are younger, I say that, I think it's always better to younger than young, because people would say, "Well, what does young mean?" Just younger people. The Lord, very often, gets a hold of those who are young to do his work. Joseph was a young man.
Okay, naive perhaps, impressionable yes, but maybe better because of that. Because when a person is young and impressionable, then God is able to make an impression. At a tender age when that person is responsive and receptive and not said in his or her ways, and I find this often as a pattern in the Bible and I'm encouraged by it. That's why I always get excited when somebody young, I don't care how naïve they might sound, says, "I just want to server the lord and I believe God's going to use me to change the word." I say, "Great. How can I help?"
Samuel was just a kid, younger than Joseph when the lord spoke to him. He had that heart to serve the Lord, his mother and father had dedicated him to the Lord. And when I say dedicated, I mean, dedicated. They dropped him off at the tabernacle when he was just a tyke. And year-by-year, mom and dad will go up to the tabernacle and give little Samuel a little coat, priestly intern coat to wear. And it says that he ministered before the Lord wearing a linen ephod, just a little kid. And the Lord spoke to him, "Samuel, Samuel," in the middle of the night and finally he said, "Here I am, Lord. Your servant is listening."
Then there was Jeremiah, the prophet. Before he was a prophet, he was a kid and the Lord spoke to him and said, "I'm going to use you to speak to the nations." And being a kid, Jeremiah said, "Lord, I'm just a kid." That was his excuse. "I'm too young. They're not going to listen to me." And God said, "Jeremiah, quit saying I'm just a kid. I'm speaking to you, I will speak through you. Don't be afraid of the people's faces, just go." Young, impressionable. Daniel was a kid when taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, 605 B.C. just a teenager. But God used him so powerfully. Timothy was obviously young because Paul had to write and say, "Let no man despise your youth or your youthful age."
When a person is young, as I mentioned, they're impressionable, and I say that's good, because when God gets a hold of somebody in those tender years, that means that person is able to give the Lord the very best pf their life before they've wasted their life or half of it on themselves. Once God gets a hold of a person at a young age, the rest of that person's life can be used for God's glory. Dwight L. Moody who came home from a crusade one night, as the story goes, walked in the door and his wife said, "Well, how many came to the Lord tonight, sweetheart?" He said, "two and a half." She said, "Oh, you mean two adults and a child?" He goes "No, I mean two kids and one adult." Because, he said, "The adult has already wasted half of his life in the devil's kingdom and now the rest of his life to the Lord." But these little kids, their whole life is ahead of them. It is shown that most people come to know the Lord when they're younger in their teenage years. I'd be interested and you might be interested just to sort of see how this works. How many of you here tonight came to the Lord after age 25? Raise your hands. Okay, hands down. How many of you came to know Jesus Christ before age 25? Raise your hands.
You can see exactly what I'm talking about. One person years ago released some statistics in trying to study this mathematically and said, "The odds of a person at age 25 coming to know Christ is one in five thousand. The odds of somebody at age 35 coming to know Christ is one in 25,000. At 45, it's one in 60,000. At age 55, it's one in a 125,000 and then exponentially decreases as the person gets older. So that if you come to know Christ at age 75, it's like a sheer miracle, it defies all odds.
It doesn't matter what age you come to know the Lord, it's most important that you come to know him. But Joseph, 17and so tender wanting to serve the Lord, you'll see it in this story tonight if we ever get to the next chapter after Chapter 38. But as I mentioned, Chapter 38 is here for two reasons. Number one, to give us a contrast, a contrast between Joseph who's introduce in the previous chapter and his story continues to the end, contrast between Joseph and the rest of his family, his brothers, Judah especially. It's the difference between black and white, light and dark.
Number two, not just for contrast, but to show us a continuance, to give us the genealogical background to show the continuation of the lineage through Judah all the way to Jesus Christ. And that will show up at a couple of different places. One is at the end of the Book of Ruth. The genealogical record is given of King David. And then those same names will appear in Matthew Chapter 1 in the genealogical table of Jesus Christ himself. So for the sake of contrast and for the sake of continuation, we have this story. Now, I mentioned something, just a few moments ago. If you're reading the Bible for the very first time, no doubt by now, you're a bit stunned, in fact shocked, if just reading through it you discover, "Men, there's just a lot of junk in this book." Junk, meaning sinfulness, wicked people and yet, these are the people in the Bible. Judah who will become the leader of the tribe of Judah, the kingly tribe from who the messiah will come. "My goodness, this guy was a loser. He made bad choices." Just Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Bible shows plainly their failures.
So you might be shocked on one and I would say great if you are. Because if you have the idea that everybody in the Bible woke up every morning and polished his or her halo before they started the day and then to live the perfect life, you would be mistaken. These are real people and some of them are real bad. Joseph wasn't. He is the contrast to the rest, not one bad thing is ever said of Joseph in the Bible and the only other human being that that's true of is Daniel. Doesn't mean he was perfect, doesn't mean he was sinless, it's just that there's nothing notable, like there is with the other people.
Well, we attempted to go to Chapter 38 and ended in an odd place and so, we'll pick it up at the same odd place. We'll pick it up in Verse 6. Now, let me give you the background so we don't have to read it all again. Judah was out one day and he saw this gal, cute he though. She was Canaanite, it was his Canaanite cutely. Her name was Shua. So he married this Canaanite cutely and they had three boys. One was named Er, the other was named Onan, and the other was named Shelah or as we should pronounce it 'Sheylah' because no boy wants it pronounced Shelah. So these three boys, my three sons, they had. Now, the first one died and we're not told why. It simply says in Verse 6, "Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord killed him." We saw that last week, doesn't say why the Lord killed him. I kind like that God is in the gossip. It just says killed him. Got my reasons, he's dead, move on. And Judah said to Onan, this is son number two, "Go into your brother's wife and marry her and raise up an heir to your brother." But Onan knew that the heir would not be his, and it came to pass when he went in to his brother's wife that he admitted on the ground lest he should give an heir to his brother and the thing which he did displeased the Lord, therefore, he killed him also.
Now, in reading this, some have misinterpreted this to mean, or have taken this to mean, misapplied this to refer to birth control, showing, they think, that any form of family planning, birth control must be unbiblical because of this. Well, that is so foreign to the meaning of the context. The issue here isn't family planning. The issue here is family plotting. You've got a boy who marries his brother's wife which was a custom that started in Mesopotamia. It was practiced in Asia and Africa and even later on made its way into the Mosaic Law of Ancient Israel. So that the inheritance of a family and the name of a family would be preserved, the brother would go have a child, the child would be named after the dead brother and the family name and the inheritance would live on.
So what's up with Onan? Well notice the word 'when' in that verse. When he went in, a better translation would be 'whenever he went in'. The idea is that he did it frequently. It was a regular practice. And the regular practice for him would fall under the medical term 'coitus interruptus'. That is, he wanted sexual gratification without parental responsibility. He hated his brother. He didn't want to give a seed in his brother's name. He didn't want his brother to have an heir because his brother, the first born, would pass on the family birth right to the son that he would produce. He wants to produce the heir. He wants the right or the first born. He wants to be in charge. If he has an heir, he'll be richer and better, because he is Er, by the way, so everything is going to be just more than him. So he doesn't want to pass on the genealogy of his brother because he's filled with self love instead of brotherly love and so, we noticed that the Lord kills him. The thing which he did displeased the Lord. Therefore, he killed him also.
So now watch this. Two of Judah's sons are dead. It doesn't say anything about him morning, though I'm sure he was sorrowful for it. I can't prove that though. But notice now in Verse 11, his got a heads up now for this gal. Judah said to Tamar, his daughter in-law, "Remain a widow in your father's house until my son Shelah is grown," he was young, "For he said lest he also die like his brothers," and Tamar went and dwelt in her father's house. So here's the deal. He said "You know, sweetheart, just go home and live with your dad." Now, he's thinking in his mind, "No way is she going to get my third son." Because there is two down, there is only one to go. Number one died with her, number two died with her. Maybe he didn't know the whole situation at that time. If number three gets married to her, that could be the end of my family line. So just go home and live with dad, but he uses as an excuse while when my son gets older then that's another story. He had no intention of fulfilling that vow.
Now, it says "Tamar went down and dwelt in her father's house." Now, in the process of time the daughter of Shua, Judah's wife died and Judah was comforted that as human to the process of grieving and coming out the other end comforted after that. And so he went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah and his friend Hirah, the Adullamite. We remember him at the beginning of the chapter. His pagan friend, the Adullamite. She goes, "You know what, my wife's dead, it was a tough go. I feel better now. I'm going to visit my pagan friend, the Adullamite Hirah." And it was told, Tamar saying, "Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timna to shear sheep." So she took off her widows garment, covered herself with a veil, wrapped herself and sat in an open place which was on the way to Timna for she saw that Shelah was grown and she was not given to him as a wife.
When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot. That's how she dressed. She disguised herself. She took off the mourning garments that she had been wearing because she had covered her face. It seems that she dressed as if she were a temple prostitute knowing the kind of character that her father-in-law had. Now, a temple prostitute is, I'll mention this in a few verses, was a common Canaanite form of worship. The way that many of the Canaanite temples got converts was through their prostitutes. So it was said to worship, you will be a worshiper if you join yourself to a prostitute. Well, young men who are out on the fields are thinking, "Boy, I like this church. I'll join that one." "Sure, no problem." And they got a lot of their converts that way through these gals. She covered her face. Verse 16, then he turned to her by the way and said, "Please let me come in to you." In another words, I seek your sexual favors for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And so, she said, "Well, what will you give me that you may come in to me?"
So here she is dressed up, her intention is to maintain the family inheritance. She's thinking, "I'll be out of this family. I have no children." So to keep the lineage of that family, she disguises herself so that Judah himself will impregnate her. It's warped, I know, but follow the story. So she says, "What do you give me? You're asking for this favor. What will you give me? How much will you give me?" He says, "I'll send you a goat from the flock." And so, she said, "Will you give me a pledge until you send it?" So she's going to get this goat but until she does, she doesn't want the wool pulled over her eyes. So they strike a deal, "I'll give you a goat." "Okay, great. Well, you don't have a goat with you. You're here, but what will you give me as a promise until I get your goat?" And he said, "What pledge shall I'll give you?" And so she said, "Your signet and chord and your staff that is in your hand." And then he gave them to her and went into her and she conceived by him.
A signet is a ring and the ring was used to stamp within wax or clay. Let's say you were to buy something and you wanted to give your signature, so to speak, you would take your ring and you would impress it in wax or you would impress it in clay and that was used for letter correspondence. That was used for transactions. And the ring, that signet, was often worn around the neck with a cord. So he takes the ring off which is on the chord gives it to her and the staff that's in her hand. So it's sort of like giving his credit card, his visa card to her. "What shall I give you? I don't have nay cash. Do you take visa?" "Well, no. Tell you what, give me your signet because really, that is effectively like your personal credit card, your signature, your ability to buy." So he goes, "Good, no problem." Gives it to her and she conceives, Verse 19. So she arose and went away and laid aside her veil and put on the garments of her widow hood, and Judah sent the young goat by the hand of his friend, the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman's hand but he did not find her.
So let me just fill in this blank. We're dealing with a Canaanite culture and the Canaanite culture has many of its worship practices from the Mesopotamians, where Mesopotamians, where Abraham came from. And over there, the whole idea of temple cult prostitutes developed and they were all about fertility. So this is how it worked. the idea was that the prostitute was emblematic of the goddess Ishtar, the goddess of fertility, the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. She represented Ishtar. And so before somebody would plant their fields with seed or have their flocks mate, before that time, they would often go to this temples and seek the women, the prostitute who would be emblematic of Ishtar. And the idea was the recreation of the divine marriage of the Gods. And with that, it was believe that once livestock, crops would come out in abundance.
And so it was common to see these cult prostitutes scattered throughout the land. But notice, we're dealing with Judah. The linage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, different world view, different God called out from that stuff and yet, Judah looks so much like the Canaanite in this practice. In his marriage to Shua the Canaanite, in his false worship utilizing prostitutions, so he has become very much like them.
So anyway, he's going to keep his end of the bargain, look for the gal to give his goat to. And so Verse 21, he asked the man of that place saying, "Where is the harlot who is openly by the road side?" And they said, "There was no harlot on this place. We don't know what you're talking about. We can't remember any harlot." So he returned to Judah and said, "I can't find her." Also, the man of that place said there was no Harlot in that place. And the Judah said, "Let her take them for herself. Less we be shamed for I sent this young goat and you haven't found her. I'll let her just keep it. It doesn't need to be exchanged at this point. I don't want to make it public because of the shame that will happen." It came to pass, about three months after that, now, watch how the chicken come home to roast. That Judah was told saying, "Tamar, your daughter-in-law has played the harlot. Furthermore, she is pregnant. She is with child by harlotry." So Judah said, "Bring her out and let her be burned." Wow! It's amazing how bad our sin looks on someone else. It's amazing to this guy. He's the guy that gets her pregnant and then somebody says, "Your daughter-in-law is pregnant.: "I can't believe it, Burn her." Burne her? You turkey!
You know what this reminds me? It reminds of somebody else who saw his sin on somebody else named David. David gets a girl pregnant that he lust after, kills her husband. Nathan the profit finds out about it and goes to King David and goes, "David, I've got a problem." "Well, what is it? I can solve problems." "Well, there were two men that live in one city. One was rich and one was poor." David's going, "Okay, go on." "Well, the rich man owned exceedingly many flocks and herds," but the poor man only owned one small little lamb, a yule lamb. This cuddly sweet little lamb that was a family pet, in fact, this lamb slept in his bed, drank from his cup and ate of his own food. It was like a daughter to him. Well, that's interesting. So what's the story?
Nathan goes, "Okay, so this is what happened. The rich guy had a friend come and visit him and instead of taking one of his many flocks and killing it and preparing it for a meal, he finds that one little yule lamb that that one poor man in that town own, stole it, killed it and prepared it as a meal." Now, David gets totally bombed out, livid, angry, incensed, and he said, "That man will surely die, over a lamb. He's going to die. Kill him." And then Nathan points his prophetic finger at David and says, "You are that man." Thus say at the Lord, David. God has given you so much. He's given you wife. He's given you a kingdom and if that weren't enough, he'd given you so much more. But you sinned against the Lord, in taking the wife of another man like that yule lamb when you had so much and so many others and you took that man's wife and you killed that man. And then finally, David feast up, but boy, did his sin look bad on somebody else in that little story that Nathan told him. And so here with Judah, his sin looks really bad on his daughter-in-law.
Well, notice what happens, Verse 25. When she was brought out, she was sent to her father-in-law saying, "By the man to him this belong, I'm with child." And she said, "Please, determined whose they are, the signet, the chord and the staff". "Burn her." And so she comes before him. You know, obviously, I guess to get her sentenced, I guess her burning. And so she goes, "You know, before you sentence me to death, you aught to know that the father of this child is the one who owns the staff. Maybe you can figure out whose ring this is. You know, this one with the hunk and J on it."
Shows it is to him, Judah. So Judah acknowledges them and said, "She has been more righteous than I." What a statement? "Because I did not give her to Shelah, my son, and he knew her again." And it came to pass, at the time for giving birth that behold twins were in her womb. And so it was, when she was giving birth, the one put out his hand and the midwife took a scarlet thread and bound it on his hands saying, "This one came out first." Then it happened as he drew back his hand, that his brother came out unexpectedly. And she said, "How did you breakthrough? This breech be upon you." Therefore, his named was called Perez, breech or breakthrough. Afterward, his brother came out who had a scarlet thread on his hand and his name was called Zerah.
So here's the story of Judah and his family and his sinful legacy, marries the Canaanite cuttie, has three boys, two of them died. He gets a harlot pregnant which happens to be his daughter-in-law and with every turn of the phrase, he becomes more and more like the Canaanites around him rather than different from them, not standing out from them like Joseph did but like them. Socially and spiritually compromised, synchronistic, taking on the form of the culture around it. In contrast to that, we have Joseph where his story resumes in the very next chapter. Now, before we get into that chapter, I mentioned the genealogy of Jesus Christ and Judah being in it. It probably is good to briefly look or I'll read to you just a few versus in Matthew Chapter 1.
Verse 1, the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Now, we have the genealogy. That's how Matthew opens. Why? Because to the Jew, genealogies were high priority, especially if your dealing with a messiah. You better prove the messiah's pedigree goes all the way back not just to Abraham but to King David himself. And so the genealogy is given, but notice the listing. Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob, Jacob begat Judah and his brothers, Judah begat Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begat Hezron, Hezron begat Ram. So we have in the genealogy of the messiah, the son of God, someone who is born by in sensual birth, in sensual relations within a family and it's recorded in the genealogy of Christ. Ram begat Abinadab, Abinadab begat Nahshon, Nahshon begat Salmon, Salmon begat Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begat Obed by Ruth, Obed begat Jesse, Jesse begat David the King.
Now, you have interestingly enough in a Jewish genealogy not just this illegitimate birth but you have women named, very taboo for Jewish genealogies. Women had no legal rights. They were kept out of genealogical records. In fact, a prayer was discovered in ancient literature, prayed by some narrow-minded ancient Jewish people, Jewish men who would wake up and part of their morning prayer, regimen was, "Oh God, I thank you that I'm not a slave, a gentile or a woman."
But notice the kind of people that are in the genealogical record of Christ. It's as if somebody skewered through the Old Testament to find the most unlikely people and said, "Lets put them in there." Of course it was God, the Holy Spirit orchestrating it all. Here's my point. If you think that because you have failed, and maybe you have, we all have, and you think, "Boy, I squandered my life. Boy, I've wasted my life. Boy, I made bad decisions." It's good that you're honest, it's just good that you confess it, but can I just say that you are probably in good company. The Bible's field with characters like that, the God graciously, God hold up and used, sometimes in spite of who they were.
They are in the genealogical record of Christ and that's the importance of Chapter 38 of Genesis. Now, to Chapter 39 back to the story of Joseph in Egypt. Okay, while Chapter 38 is going on, Chapter 39 is going on in Egypt. Now, by reading Chapter 38, we have years going by and Joseph isn't around. And so, during that time, during this Chapter 38, you're wondering, so what's going on with Joe? What's the Lord doing in Joseph's life? Here's the short answer.
What the Lord is doing in Joseph life is developing Joseph's faith. Joseph had faith, he trusted in the Lord. But remember, he was quiet naïve. He had faith in God but in its very nascent primitive beginning stages, like a seed that needed to grow. And the way often the Lord develops our faith, you're not going to like this, is by pain. If your boss gives you a race tomorrow and make sure the vice president of the company, you're response is probably going to be, "Thank you, Lord. Lord, I just want you to know I love you and I sure trust you." If tomorrow, however, your boss says, "We don't need you. We're cutting back on salaries. You're laid off." I wonder if your response is going to be, "Lord, thank you. Lord, I sure do love you and you know I trust you." Now, your faith is really on trial at that moment. Do you really believe God despite the circumstances or do you only trust God when life is good? 17-year-old boy who loves God intently now needs to go through some development. His faith needs to get deeper and that comes by pain. Somebody once said, a Christian is like a tea bag, it's not worth much unless he has been through some hot water.
And so now, you're saying the hot water that Joseph is immersed in Chapter 39 and it's a contrast, as I said, to Chapter 38. Chapter 38 highlights the wretched morality of Judah. Chapter 39 highlights the rock solid integrity of Joseph, his younger brother. Now, Joseph had been taken down to Egypt and Potiphar, an officer of pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelite so had taken them down there. And the Lord was with Joseph and he was a successful man and he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian.
Joseph sold as a slave, bought by a slave owner named Potiphar. God blesses him, he's successful. He does his job obviously with all of his heart, obviously not complaining, obviously with joy because everything he does people notice, "Boy, God--" it seems like there's something different about him and they discovered after he testifies, it's the Lord that he believes in, that is blessing him and prospering him.
You know I wonder, if I had an experience like Joseph, I'm taken down as a slave to Egypt through no fault of my own. I wonder if my response would be and I bet it would be something like this, "This is a bomber! This is the devil. The devil's trying to ruin my life!" Or, "How could God allow this to happen?" Or, "God what's up? I've got so much talent. It's so wasted here. Why would you allow my talent, my creativity to be wasted here?" I wonder if that would be my response or if I would say like Joseph obviously said, "Okay, I'm a slave in Egypt, so I'm going to be the very best slave that Egypt has ever seen. They ain't seen no slave like me."
And he gave his heart to it. I want to make this point, wherever you find yourself tonight, you could chafe against it and you could focus on your vulnerability or you could focus on God's sovereignty. And you could look at the test, look at the place you are in life and say, "I am going to take this as the will of God and I'm going to do what I do to my very best." Oh but skip, you don't know. All I do is I push a broom where I work. I couldn't get a job doing anything so they hired me as the janitor. I just push a broom all day. Then why not say, "I'm going to be the best broom pusher this company has ever seen." How about that?
Joseph a slave, God was with him. He was a successful 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 he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and then he made him, we don't know how long the time this is, but eventually, he, Potifar made him Joseph overseer of his house. And all that he had, he put under his authority, so it was from the time that he made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake because Joseph was in it. And the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in his house and in the field.
So Joseph has like the mightiest touch. Whatever he does, whatever he touches, the Lord touches and when the Lord touches it, it's blessed. Not only does he have the mightiest touch but he has the determination to be faithful and to give a faithful testimony to the glory of God where he's at. It's amazing. Faithful testimony, whatever he does is successful and he wants God to get to glory. Now, if you live like that, you can expect a friendly visit from your friendly neighborhood tempter, the devil. If you'll live like that with this kind of integrity and that kind of desire to see God glorified, don't you think you're going to raise the interest in the ire of your adversary the devil? Do you think the devil and all of his minions would look at the life dedicated to Christ, sold out to Christ and go, "Oh how nice. Let's give him a standing ovation, hell come on, demons, clap for that young man!" No, devising a scheme with which to get a hold of him. He's young, he's single, he's good looking and so something crafted just for that is coming his way.
If you think about it, so far, Joseph was successful. I just want to sort like see as Louise enter into the mind of Satan for a moment like he did in his book screw tape letters. It probably went something like this, "Okay Joseph, you did pretty good. You pass the temptation to a bitterness that you could have been toward you brothers. You didn't get bitter toward them when they sold you as a slave. You passed the test of discouragement, you didn't get discouraged, you just sort of dug your whole self into your job and God touch it and you became successful. Great. You passed those tests. But I'm not done with you yet. I've got something that's going to come from out of nowhere that's going to get your attention."
Now, you have to know that enemy of your soul, the devil and demons have studied you, they know you. They know your strengths, they know your weaknesses, they know when you're vulnerable, they know what things might be in your path that would trip you up. You have to be ready for that. It comes with the territory. There is this hunting scripture in the gospel of Luke the temptation of Jesus, you know, the story, and it says, "When Satan was done tempting Jesus that he left him until he had an opportune time." It's a hunting verse. You might leave a temptation, "Man I was great, I did really good. I withstood the attack of the enemy." He's waiting for the right time, the opportune time, and let's watches what would happens with Joseph.
Verse 6, he left all that he had in Joseph's hand, and this is interesting, and he did not know what he had, except for the bread which he ate. He trusted Joseph, in other words, so much. He didn't know what was in the bank account. He didn't know about the prophet from his business dealings. He left everything to Joseph. He was that good. Overtime he just studied this young man and thought, "This guy is faithful. He is loyal. He's trustworthy. You know, I'm giving it all to him." So he didn't even know what was going on except, "I've got food." The bread that was right in front of him, his own meal, that's all he knew.
Now, it says at the end of the verse, "Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance." Young man, good looking, single, in Pagan territory where there is no other believers around to see what he is up too. I wonder what he'll do. We'll let's see. He came to pass after these things that his master's wife cast longing eyes on Joseph. So evidently, Potiphar was not the only one impressed with Joseph. Mrs. Potiphar was as well, but for different reasons. And notice how subtle she is. And she said to Joseph, "Lie with me." Just sort of so subtle, "Talk about it, come on. Come to bed with me." We're not told what's up. What's up with Potiphar and Mrs. Potiphar? Is this the typical Potiphar's busy, gives no attention to his wife, his wife's jealous or could it be that in that culture in Egypt he was familiar with other woman and so in revenge, she's trying to get back--we're not too old, but she is a desperate housewife and she's got her eyes fixed on a young man named Joseph.
Verse 8, "But he refused." Notice that he refused. He said no He said no way. He refused and said to his master's wife, "Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I nor has he kept back anything from me but you because you are his wife. Number one--let me tell you what Joseph did to counteract this temptation. Number one, ethical conviction. You see what he is saying is, "Look, your master, your husband, my boss trust me. He's given everything into my hands. He's given me his trust. I will not betray his trust." Do you realize that you have people in your life that are trusting you not succumb to temptation. They put their trust in you. Your spouse has entrusted you not to fall to temptation. Your children have trusted that you will be loyal to your vows, your family, your friends, the body of Christ all trusting like Joseph knows that his own master Potiphar trust him, ethical conviction. But notice what else he says. How then--Verse 9, the end of Verse 9, "How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" This is number two, way he fought it. Not just ethical conviction, spiritual devotion, he's devoted to God. Notice he doesn't say, "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against you, Mrs. Potiphar?" Or, "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against Mr. Potiphar?" More than them, more than her was God. The greatest consideration in Joseph's life, it's called in the Bible, the 'Fear of God', the 'Fear of the Lord', have you heard that term? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
Proverbs 8, "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." The idea, what does that mean the fear of the Lord? It means an awesome reverence for God. It's an awareness of the dearness of God. I know God is here, I know God is there, I know God is watching. And that was what motivated Joseph when no one else was looking. He had no believers, he had no godly people who saw what he was--this is Paganville, he could do what he wanted. No one was in the house, nobody saw this, just her and him, but he knew that God saw.
Do you remember the story when Moses killed that Egyptian? We'll get to it in the book of Exodus. I'd said you remember. I'm taking for granted that you've already read that story in the Bible. When Joseph was going to kill the Egyptian, the Bible says, he looked at this way and he looked that way. His problem is he didn't look that way. He only looked this way and that way looking for what on the horizontal level could be watching him not knowing God is watching always, Joseph knew that. That was this young man's conviction, spiritual devotion, fear of the Lord. How could I do this great wickedness and sin against God or sin. So it was as she spoke to Joseph day-by-day, that he did not hid her to lie with her or to be with her.
Tip number three in Joseph's victory, continual--let's call it continual reputation so we can stick with the rhyming. He refused everyday. Everyday she comes on to him. Everyday continually he said "No, no, no, no." It became the pattern of his life to say no. How about if you start looking at your life like a city, like an ancient city that has walls around it and gates. The walls protect invaders. The gates let people in and out. If you don't want garbage in the city, you close the gate. If you don't want bad stuff in the city or bad people, you close the gate. Let's say you're looking out down the road and you see a bit up old jalopy, a truck coming at you. I'm modernizing it a little bit. And it's bellowing smoke and it's highly pollutant vehicle and it's coming right toward the city gate. You don't want the pollution in, so what do you do? What do you do? You close the gate.
These here, the eyes, these are the gates of the city. These ears, these are the gates of the city. You and I let in oral and visual stimuli every single day and we live in a filthy world seeking to pour into you all its pollution and all of its filth. You need to, I need to learn to close the gates, learn to go. Don't want to see that, don't want to hear that, don't want to be here. Everyday, lie with me, lie with me, lie with me. No, no, no, no. A continual pattern and not only to lie with her. Did you notice the end of Verse 10? Or to be with her. I'm not going to even be around her. There's a secret. I'm not going to be around her. He didn't say, "You know Mrs. Potiphar, let's just have coffee sometime, you and I, and I really want to minister to you. I want to find out why you have this angst against your husband and love for other man. Maybe I can forget you. I don't want to be around you! Get away from me." And yet, how many people they get involve in affair sort of, "Well, I just can't cut it off. That would be a bad wit--" a bad witness. What have you been doing the last few months? Cut it off, say no. Don't even be with that person.
Martin Luther once said, "You can't stop birds from flying around your head, but you can stop them from building a nest in your hair." That's what he was doing. He just kept saying no. Verse 11, but it happened about this time when Joseph went into the house to do his work and none of the man were in the house inside that she cut him by his garment and said, "It's always this garment with Joseph, isn't it?" Where was the garment before, the multicolored garment of specialty, now he's got his Egyptian garment, she grabs the garment and she says, "Lie with me." But he left his garment in her hand and fled and run outside or you might say he streaked outside. Why would he do that? Why wouldn't he grab his coat? Better to lose your garment than to lose you character. I'm out of here... took off in the other direction, run away.
If you're going to walk with the Lord, we need to learn to walk toward God on a daily basis. Always walk toward him. Always seek his word, his spirit, his will. Walk toward God and walk away from godlessness. And that means influences that are godless as well.
So it was, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and fled outside that she called to the man spoke to them saying, "See, he has brought to us this Hebrew to mock us. He came to me to lie with me and I cried out with a loud voice and it happened when he heard that I lifted out my voice and cried out that he left his garment with me and fled and went outside." So she kept his garment with her and until his master Potiphar came home, And she spoke to him with words like this saying, "The Hebrew servant whom you brought to us and he came into me to mock me and so what happened, I lifted out my voice and cried that he left his garment with me and fled outside."
So she concocts the story that Joseph was the one that came on to her and tried to rape her. She was this big fat liar to put it mildly. And so, it was when his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him saying, your servant did to me after this manner that his anger was aroused. Who is it aroused at? I'm not so sure it was aroused to Joseph, because you'll notice in the next verse then Joseph master took him and put in into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were confined and he was there in the prison.
In Ancient Egypt, an attempted rape was punishable by death. It was a capital offence and somebody like Potiphar with that kind of a position would no doubt have brought Joseph to immediately be executed, if he believed Joseph really did this. I'm not so sure his anger is aroused to Joseph. I think his anger aroused, the Bible says it's arouses, it didn't say at whom or at what. I think he is angry because he knows his wife's character, he also know knows Joseph's character. He knows that the Lord has blessed him personally because of Joseph and he knows he has to get rid of this guy now and put him in the prison. He's mad but I think he's mad at her because of her character. But the Lord, aren't you glad that you have those phrases scattered throughout the Bible 'but the Lord'.
If you could read a story of your life, I wonder what you'd read. So and so got fired today, but the Lord. Something bad happened to that person, but the Lord. As Joseph's life, but the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy and gave him favor decided to keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all that the prisoner, all the prisoners who are in the prison. Whatever they did, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph's authority. So there again, like in Potiphar's house, he's faithful, he's loyal, he's not mopping around, "How come I'm in jail? This place stinks." God is with him and he is thinking, "Okay, I guess God wants me to have a prison ministry, because I'm in prison."
Again, instead of focusing on human vulnerability, why did this happen to me, he's focused on divine sovereignty. I could minister right here in jail. Because the Lord was with him in whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper. What a journey Joseph is on. From his parents, to the pit, to Potiphar, to the prison and next to the palace and every place is where journey takes him, the Lord is with him. Let me encourage you tonight to do two things, summed up by one word, run. Run, run for your life, run from sin, run to the savior, run away from those things, those people that are dragging you away from God. Cut them off, run from them and run to the savior. If you've never read Pilgrim's Progress, pick it up sometime read the book that Charles Spurgeon said he read twice a year.
In that story, the chief character named Christian is leaving his town, the city of destruction. He sees it smoldering behind him. He goes through a very narrow gate to go escape and as he's escaping through the narrow gate and he hears people crying in the background and they're trying to drag him back in, finally he stuffs his fingers in his ears so he can't hear what's behind him. He can't hear the people and he cries out, you know how you go... he cries out, "Life, life, internal life, internal life." And he runs through the narrow gate towards the celestial city. A great way to live, put your fingers in your ears, life, life, eternal life, eternal life. Run for your life. Run from sin. Run to the savior.