Summary: Genesis 39:1-23. The familiar story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife is used to teach us how to respond to temptation with godly integrity.
LESSONS FROM THE LIVES OF THE PATRIARCHS
GENESIS PART 2 | PATRIARCHAL HISTORY
JOSEPH: A MAN OF GODLY INTEGRITY
I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interest of America first. America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad. To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home. Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow.
Those words, of course, were spoken by former President Richard Nixon in a speech given on August 8th, 1974. Perhaps we will never know whether or not President Nixon was guilty of all that he was accused of doing, but one thing is very clear from that tragic situation in American history: the President had lost his integrity. Congress did not trust him and had he not resigned he most likely would have been impeached. All integrity was lost.
Most of us have probably heard of what we now call the Great Wall of China. Many of us also recognize that this wall can be seen from space by astronauts using various visual equipment; and it can also be seen in satellite images. It is nearly 4,000 miles of actual wall and is combined with natural defense barriers such as rivers and hills to reach a length of over 5,000 miles. The wall was actually constructed in several parts beginning around the 5th century B.C.
The original reason for building the wall was for military purposes. In Ancient China, the Chinese often struggled with invaders from the north. A powerful nomadic tribe was constantly giving them trouble. So they began to build this fortress, this wall, to protect them from the northern invaders. The idea was that the wall would be impenetrable. It would be so high that no one would be able to climb over it; and so thick that no one could to break through it.
But the wall did not always do what it was intended to do. In fact by one account, the northern area of China was invaded three times in the wall’s first hundred years of existence. And not once did the barbaric tribe to the north climb over the wall or break a section of it down. How did they get in? Each time they bribed the Chinese gatekeepers, and walked right in through the gates.
The invaders did not need military might to accomplish their task. They simply needed military wit. They capitalized on the character weakness of certain gatekeepers. Now what is the character quality that was missing from those gatekeepers who allowed the enemy through the wall? It is the same quality that Richard Nixon had failed to display as President – integrity. Integrity has had many great definitions given to it. It’s been said that integrity is being the same person in private that you are in public. A more dictionary type definition would be that integrity is consistency of moral character.
There is perhaps, aside from Jesus himself, no greater example of integrity in Scripture than Joseph. Joseph was a man who endured the betrayal of family, the shame of slavery, and the injustice of false accusation; and yet still displayed an amazing amount of resolve and integrity. We are going to look to the example of Joseph today as we continue our look at the lives of the patriarchs.
Here is where we are in the biblical storyline. Jacob, whom we saw last time was chosen by God over his brother Esau before birth, has now had his children. He has twelve sons. Joseph is the second youngest of these sons, and one of only two sons born to Jacob by his wife Rachel. Joseph had received visions from God in the form of dreams indicating that he would one day rule over his family. His older siblings, of course, did not like that idea. So, in a moment of opportunity, they sold him to slave traders and tricked their father into thinking he had been mauled by a wild animal.
Joseph was then taken to Egypt and purchased by an officer of the Pharaoh named Potiphar. The story then picks up in Genesis 39. The account is of Joseph in Potiphar’s house.
[READ GENESIS 39:1-23]
Now there is so much that we could glean from this story. Themes such as divine favor, proximal blessing (or being blessed by being near someone who is blessed), obedience looked upon with blessing, and the persecution of the righteous are all found in this passage.