Summary: Third in a series from Joseph’s life, dealing with the wrong and right responses when God puts us "on hold".
Trinity Baptist Church
June 25, 2006
Series: Character on display
Title: In God’s waiting room
I think I’m a pretty patient guy -- that is, until I have to wait for something! For instance, when I have a doctor’s appointment at 10:00 and it’s 11:00 before I actually see the doctor. Or I’m meeting someone and they’re 20 minutes late.
Sitting in traffic will do it. Lincoln doesn’t much traffic congestion, but when we lived in Germany, we’d often be flying down the Autobahn at 90-100 miles an hour, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere everything came to a dead stop. 2 or 3 lanes of bumper-to-bumper cars would stretch out in front of us as far as the eye could see.
Maybe there had been an accident miles ahead, but the bottleneck would grow quickly and there was gridlock for a long time. Drivers would shut off their motors, some people even had time to spread out lunch on the side of the road and eat it before we’d finally get moving again! I didn’t like that.
There are other kinds of waiting. Waiting for the right job. Waiting for the right spouse. Here’s one: waiting for your spouse to finally become the person you want them to be.
Or, you might be waiting and wondering if you’re stuck in life and -- it (whatever “it” is) might never happen.
Have you ever realized that many of these situations are God’s waiting rooms. They’re places along our trek through life where God says, "Wait here." And what looks like 10 minutes turns out to be 10 months, or even 10 years.
The Bible provides several instances of people who waited -- and waited --- for God’s next move. Moses is a classic illustration. He herded sheep on the backside of the desert for 40 years before God returned him to leadership. The apostle Paul cooled his heels seven years before his ministry began.
And today we see that our man Joseph got parked by God as well. If you’ve been here the last couple of weeks, you know we’re studying character and integrity by examining Joseph’s life through the lens of Scripture.
And, if you’ve been here, you also know why Joseph has suffered and then now is put
on “hold” by God. Because God has at least two objectives in Joseph’s life. His objectives for our lives are no different. One, He’s building Joseph’s character, and two, He’s testing Joseph’s character.
That’s the normal process God utilizes with the woman or man He wants to use.
The greater God’s desired use, the more He invests in His character building curriculum. Most often, it involves pain or affliction -- or waiting. God is more interested in what He can do in us, that what He can do through us. The question that accompanies these periods is: “How will I respond?” Will He grow me through this, or will I look for an alternate route?
We’ve watched God’s approach in this young man’s life. He removed him from a scheming father who favored him and from brothers who hated him. God sent Joseph on a special assignment to Egypt. When he arrived, he was dropped into the slave market.
From there, he was bought by and made the servant of Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s leaders. Amazingly, Joseph rose to prominence in Pharaoh’s house -- from a lowly slave to manager of the man’s whole estate -- why? Because God was with him, and because God built into him the kind of faithfulness and character any employer would prize in a worker.
But as Joseph succeeded, God allowed another circumstance to intersect his path. Mrs. Potiphar, the shameless “lady” of the house -- laid eyes on Joseph and tried to seduce him. Over and over she spoke to him, we read in chapter 39. And over and over, every single time, Joseph responded from rock-solid faithfulness. Without blinking, he declared that
he would stay faithful to her husband and his God. His integrity never budged. He passed another character test. His character went through the fire and was displayed, not destroyed.
But, Potiphar didn’t think so. We left Joseph last time in the place of his new assignment from God. Prison. The one, 39:20 tells us, where Pharaoh’s prisoners were kept. That reference should not lead us to conclude this was a country club prison.
The favored son had become a slave. The betrayed, abandoned brother was thrown into a totally foreign culture and condition. He rose in prominence, only to be falsely accused. He lands here. For years and years. We don’t know precisely how long, but between the time Joseph arrived in Egypt at about 17, and the time he gets out of the prison was about 13 years. He’ll be 30 before he comes into Pharaoh’s court, with the character and maturity God’s task will require. So, he waits. Sitting and contemplating what he believed to be God’s future and God’s desire for his life. But one which wasn’t coming about!