Summary: Resisting temptation is critical if we’re going to find ourselves increasingly faithful to God’s call upon our life. Find out how in this message from Genesis 39 about Joseph’s ability to deal with the pull of evil.
Trusted: Lessons from the Life of Joseph
Week 3: “Trusted with a Prison”
Just off the shore of North Carolina on the island of Cape Hatteras is a village known as Nag’s Head, a small shoreline town where, back in the 1800’s, the “wreckers” lived. These “wreckers” made their living gathering up parts and cargo from ships that had run aground in the night. But these ships didn’t run aground accidentally. No, they were lured into the rocks by these “wreckers” – deceitful men who had fastened a lighted lantern onto the head of an old nag – a horse (thus the name Nag’ Head) – and would then lead the old horse up and down and back and forth on the edge of Diamond Shoals beach. Ships out at sea would mistake the bobbing lantern for the stern light of a ship that they supposed had found safe passage through the mid-Atlantic, and they would, in turn, head in that direction, only to run aground on the rocks. With nowhere to go, the crew and the ship were no contest for the wreckers, who would pillage the ship and all its cargo. In fact, “wrecking” became a thriving business in Nag’s Head, even though it was built on treachery. Even now guests to Nag’s Head can see old homes built and furnished with the material taken from the more than 2,300 ships that were misguided and ultimately destroyed.
TRANSITION: Guess what? There’s a Nag’s Head just off the shore of your life as well!
And as you are sailing through your days, understand this, my friend – there’s a “wrecker” who is doing all he can to destroy your life; he desires to pull you towards the rocks of sin and then plunder you once you find you have no place to go. His name is Satan, and bringing you to ruin is exactly what he is trying to do to those who are pursing of lifestyle of trust – both in God and by God.
There may no better picture of this concept in the Bible than the next adventure in Joseph’s life – his tempting encounter with Potiphar’s wife and the ensuing time in prison. And we find this drama chronicled in Genesis 39:6-23. Turn there, would you?
(6) Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, (7) and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, "Come to bed with me!" (8) But he refused. "With me in charge," he told her, "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. (9) No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" (10) And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her (11) One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. (12) She caught him by his cloak and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. (13) When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, (14) she called her household servants. "Look," she said to them, "this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. (15) When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house." (16) She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. (17) Then she told him this story: "That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. (18) But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house." (19) When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, "This is how your slave treated me," he burned with anger. (20) Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, (21) the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. (22) So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. (23) The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
Essentially, Satan realized that he was going to have to increase the pressure on Joseph. Joseph had been truthful and tested – so far he was enduring. But the stakes were now higher, and so to throw him off course, Satan brings the heat of sexual temptation his way, an enticement no doubt attractive but ultimately damning. But when the heat was on, Joseph found the strength to resist in his: