In our last post on Genesis, we saw, though Joseph began as a lowly seventeen year old slave boy, he rose rapidly to prominence in Potiphar’s household. And we explored the four steps Joseph took to get there. (see previous post: Joseph’s 4 Steps to Success: Genesis 39:1-6)
In today’s post on Genesis 39:6-23 we’ll see Joseph tested with seduction and temptation, then we’ll explore the question: Who’s seducing you?
I don’t know what Joseph’s early responsibilities were when he first began at Potiphar’s house, but they may have been intensely physical, because Joseph was ripped (“well built” verse six tells us). He was also a good looking guy. And because of this, Joseph’s master’s wife notices him, and begins to proposition him, without much in the way of subtlety either.
“Come to bed with me!” she says to him.
But Joseph consistently refuses her. He says, Hey look, my master has such trust in me, he doesn’t concern himself with anything in the house; he’s put everything he owns in my care. I’m the top guy here. He’s kept nothing of his from me, except for you, because you’re his wife. So, with all that in mind, how could I possibly do such a terrible thing, and sin against God.
But in spite of his refusals, she persists. Day, after day, after day she continues to proposition him. But Joseph continues to refuse to go to bed with her, or even to be with her.
One day though, he goes into the house to do his work, and the place is empty. None of the other servants are around. Potiphar’s wife is the only one there. She grabs him by his cloak and says (for the one thousandth time), “Come to bed with me!” But he escapes out of his cloak, leaving it in her hand, and runs out of the house.
When she realizes Joseph left his cloak in her hand when he fled, she calls in her servants and says, Look! This Hebrew is making a joke of us! He came in here to have his way with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream, he left his cloak laying here beside me and ran.
She keeps his cloak next to her until Potiphar comes home, and she tells him her story: That Hebrew slave guy you brought us came into my room to force himself on me. But fortunately, I screamed, and as soon as I did he left his cloak beside me and ran. This is how your slave has treated me!
After Potiphar hears the story he’s outraged. He takes Joseph and has him locked up in the prison where the king’s prisoners are kept.
But, while Joseph’s in the king’s prison, the Lord is with him again! God shows him kindness and grants Joseph favor with the warden. Eventually his situation is the same or similar to when he was with Potiphar. The warden puts Joseph in charge of all the prisoners and gives him the job of running the place. And like Potiphar, the warden trusts him completely, he pays no attention to anything Joseph’s responsible for, because the Lord is with Joseph, and gives him success in everything he puts his hand to.
Who’s Seducing You?
Potiphar’s wife was relentless in her efforts to seduce Joseph. But the question for you today is, who’s seducing you? Or more accurately, who or what is seducing you?
I think it’s important to see we can learn from Joseph’s example concerning relationships with the opposite sex, and we’ll explore that in the next post on Genesis. But there’s something even more important to learn here. I think the key words in this passage of scripture are Joseph’s words about God. (39:9) What’s most important here is the issue of fidelity, but not Joseph’s fidelity to Potiphar, or Potiphar’s wife’s infidelity, but Joseph’s fidelity to his God.
Through the incessant relentless daily seduction, Joseph maintained God as the ultimate in his life.
Which brings us back to the question.
Who or what is seducing you?
Who or what is tempting you to make them first in your life?
Who or what desires to take God’s place as the ultimate in your life?
It could be a person of the opposite sex, trying to seduce you, as Potiphar’s wife did to Joseph. Or it could be your career, or sports, or video games, or a hobby, or social networks, or TV, or food, or shopping.
You know it’s interesting, Potiphar’s wife wasn’t faithful to Potiphar, nor was she faithful to the truth when she falsely accused Joseph. It’s the same with whoever, or whatever from that list in the last paragraph, is seducing you. It promises fulfillment but, like Potiphar’s wife, it’s absent of fidelity to the truth. In the end fulfillment comes only when you devote yourself to God. Fulfillment only comes when He’s first in your life.
The ultimate, the most important, the top person or activity — who or what is it? What consumes your thinking? Where do you invest your time? Where do you invest your money?
Who or what has your heart?
Is it God?
Or someone, or something else?
Joseph kept God foremost in his life, through rejection by his family, through his being sold into slavery, through Potiphar’s wife’s attempts at seduction, through wrong accusation, and through imprisonment.
Joseph kept God as his ultimate.
Who or what is yours?