Summary: The fourth message in a series on the life of Joseph. This deals with Joseph’s continued faithfulness and good response, recognizing that God was behind his sudden and high elevation.
Trinity Baptist Church July 9, 2006
Character on Display
From the Pit to the Palace
If you’re a Christian, we know two things about what God has planned to happen in your life. Before you depart the planet, He has two key objectives for you:
One is your maturity. God is intent on -- and He is steadily engaged in -- growing and developing you. We try to wiggle and worm our way out of most of the methods He employs, but that is His clear objective. We’ve seen in our study of Joseph that character, faithfulness and integrity are central features in how He shapes and chisels on us. Our Father is out to make us like His Son, men and women whose hearts and character closely resemble Christ’s!
His second objective engages your usefulness to Him. A supernatural movement pervades human history. The culture doesn‘t know it, Christians not walking with God don‘t see it.
But God’s reality is this: Christ stepped into space and time and transformed everything forever. God is now working His will and His plan among the peoples of the Earth. And He seeks and employs useful people for that massive endeavor. Eternity will testify to God’s remarkable work both through His Son and through useful people.
Now -- we read a story like Joseph’s -- a gripping tale of how God grows one of his own, and then elevates Him to be Prime Minister of Egypt -- and we think -- “that’s never going to happen to me.” That attitude so misses the point. The issue is never the magnitude of God’s task, God’s issue is how useful is His woman or man in every place He plants us.
See, there’s not one of us here today, who is not positioned in a unique sphere of influence,
a key role -- a circle of impact, where we are to be God’s agent. The question is always our usefulness to God in that place. Usefulness to God, as we’ve already seen these weeks, always requires character development.
We’ve talked a bunch about character. We observed God growing him in affliction -- there was loneliness, separation -- servitude, false accusation, then finally, prison. Someone said Joseph makes a great illustration of Murphy’s Law: “If anything can go wrong it will!!”
Beyond all the rotten circumstances and the raunchy people, Joseph’s sat in God’s waiting room, forgotten and unknown in a prison, for upwards of 12 or 13 years. Suddenly, without warning, in chapter 41, he is elevated. Overnight, he has power, position and prestige placed in his hands.
We’ve seen that God develops people before He uses them. And that God not only builds character, He tests it. Joseph’s been through the fire: adversity, abuse, affliction, accusation; he stood strong during the tests of temptation and of waiting. Now comes another test: this time with the headiness of power and prosperity.
His character has shone through every test -- for good reason: over and over the text has said, God was with him; God never left him, and He never stopped working in his life while he was in the pits. And God won’t be far from Joseph’s heart and mind now that he’s in the palace. He responded well during the hard times -- He trusted God and He trusted in God’s character. The pattern will continue.
Let’s remember: God separated Joseph from a doting father, and brothers who hated him. They had plotted his murder, then decided instead to send him off to Egypt, compliments of some Midianite traders whose caravan passed nearby.
In Egypt, Joseph was sold as a slave to Potiphar. Even in slavery, Joseph displayed the character of a man who knew God’s promises and His presence; instead of grumbling and whining and growing, he worked hard and faithfully -- so much so that Potiphar decided this faithful young man should be elevated. He became the manager over Potiphar’s entire estate.
Potiphar’s wife liked Joseph too -- she repeatedly propositioned him. When he refused her again and again, she leveled charges of attempted rape against him. Her husband listened to his unfaithful wife and threw his faithful servant into Pharaoh’s dungeon. It was in that dungeon -- we saw, 2 weeks ago -- that God again gave Joseph the gift of His presence and His blessing; it was there that God dropped two of Pharaoh’s servants into Joseph’s care.
He took care of them and managed part of the prison, because, the chief jailer also recognized that Joseph’s character was unusual and good. So, once again, our man Joseph faithfully managed responsibility like he had under Potiphar.
Pharaoh’s two servants, the cupbearer and the baker, came and went. The baker went off to be executed. The cupbearer returned to serve in Pharaoh’s close presence. But, again, Joseph had to wait -- because the cupbearer, chapter 40, verse 23, records, forgot all about Joseph, the man who had given him God’s interpretation of his dream.