Summary: In this sermon we learn how Joseph was able to resist the challenging temptation he faced from Potiphar's wife.
A. Let me begin by asking you: “What is it that is most tempting to you?”
1. I think it is funny to watch cats stare at a fish bowl or a bird cage – it is so representative of temptation’s attraction.
2. When I was a kid we had cats and they would sit and stare at the fish and the birds for hours.
B. I read about a 4 year-old boy named Joe, who was very well-behaved except for one little quirk – he didn’t like to wear shoes.
1. When it was time for his first Vacation Bible school, his parents told little Joe he must keep his shoes on at church.
2. Under no conditions was he to take off his shoes.
3. Little Joe nodded in agreement, but they worried about his ability to resist the temptation.
4. On the final night of VBS, their fears were relieved.
5. On display were the crafts the kids had completed during the week.
6. In one section, there were hanging up 11 plaster plaques of children’s feet prints…and one plaque of little Joe’s hand print! Good for Joe, he indeed resist temptation.
C. Today we are going to talk about a different Joe who resisted an even greater temptation than taking off his shoes.
1. Last week we spent some time trying to understand the family into which Joseph, the patriarch, was born.
2. We learned that his family was truly dysfunctional and filled with all kinds of rivalry and jealousy because of the overt favoritism shown by his father, Jacob.
3. When Joseph’s brothers were given the opportunity, they seized Joseph and sold him as a slave to a traveling band of merchants headed for Egypt.
4. They took Joseph’s richly ornamented robe, which was the symbol of his favoritism, dipped it in goat’s blood and took it to their father.
5. Jacob jumped to their desired conclusion and mourned the death of his favorite son.
6. Meanwhile, Joseph was sold as a slave in Egypt.
7. That’s where we left Joseph last week, and today we want to pick up the story right there and see what happens next.
I. The Story
A. Let’s try to imagine Joseph’s situation.
1. He found himself in a country and culture he didn’t know, surrounded by people speaking a language he didn’t understand.
2. This once longed-for child of Rachel and openly favored son of Jacob had been sold as a common slave – what an awful turn of events.
B. As we pick up the story today, there are two important things that we know nothing about.
1. First, we know nothing about how much time has past.
a. We have no idea how long Joseph had been in Potiphar’s house before these events began to unfold.
b. It may have taken a little time for the cream to rise to the top.
2. Second, we know nothing about the adjustments that Joseph has had to make, nor how he managed to make them.
a. The changes and adjustments he must have faced had to have been so difficult.
C. So let’s pick up the story in Genesis 39: Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.
The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So he left in Joseph's care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. (Gen. 39:2-6a).
1. As we pick up the story here in Gen. 39, we notice that Joseph lands on his feet.
2. In Egpyt, he was purchased as a slave by an Egyptian official named Potiphar, who is described as the captain of the guard.
a. Jewish historian, Alfred Edersheim, said that his position was the chief of the executioners.
b. In our country, we might call him the head of the FBI, or the head of the CIA, or Secret Service.
c. Potiphar was no man to fool around with; he was a man of seasoned military experience with position and power over life and death.