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Degraded to Be Elevated — Genesis Chapter 39

This blog post will cover the devotionals #163-166 for Genesis Chapter 39.

Please note that this devotional book is for sale as a physical (paperback) &/or digital (PDF) book on my website.

[163] Genesis 39:1

We learned, in devotional #159, that Joseph’s brothers felt an immense amount of guilt for what they did in selling him as a slave. They had much time to process the circumstances that drove them to that point. As Joseph had been sold, and was on his way to Egypt, he too, had much to ponder—and realized what brought him to that point as well. As they distanced further from his home, he had to imagine the anguish his father would go through—which his brothers had to witness for themselves. He wept bitterly at the thought. He recalled the terrible scene of his brothers coming upon him with such rage, despite his earnest pleas for mercy. He compared his past to his future—he was the favored son of a humble shepherd and would become the degraded slave of a proud ruler. He suffered immense grief and terror about what’d happen to him all alone in that strange land. He didn’t realize that God would use this bad for good. Only a few hours were required to teach him something that might have taken a lifetime. Even though his father was such a tender-loving man towards him, he also negatively affected him with his favoritism and indulgence. It made his brothers hate him and get revenge. It also reinforced his own faults of character—he became demanding and self-reliant. Those things were now going to be fixed. Yet, because he was used to his father’s care of him, he feared he was unprepared to handle being a slave. After the things he realized, God then reminded him of how he’d grown up loving God—hearing stories about Jacob’s exile and God’s fulfilled promise to protect and return him home someday. He had provided angels to comfort and protect, and He promised to also provide a Savior for men. Right then and there, Joseph accepted the fact that God would be with him, and he’d do all in his power to prove himself to God and be fully surrendered. His experience from that day was the turning point which changed him from a pampered child to a thoughtful, composed man of courage. His life would be one of integrity and devotion to God—regardless of his circumstances—regardless of what awaited him in Egypt.

[164] Genesis 39:1-6

Joseph didn’t know what awaited him in Egypt, but God already had that taken care of. He didn’t go there alone, and angels set the stage for him to be received by Potiphar—one of Pharaoh’s officers. He was the captain of the guard. God blessed Joseph, and his master realized it—and after daily increasing his trust, Potiphar favored him. He came to view Joseph more as a son than a slave. He was so prosperous that Potiphar ended up leaving all his wealth under the management of Joseph—and God prospered Potiphar as well, because of Joseph. He wasn’t concerned about how things were going, and the only thing he paid mind to was his own food (Egyptians believed it was abominable for a Hebrew to cook for an Egyptian). Their close relationship allowed Joseph to interact with high-up men, and he came to know science, languages, and business. Even then, he didn’t know that God was preparing him to become Egypt’s future prime minister. The prospering of everything Joseph was involved in was neither a direct nor an arbitrary act of God—but rather, a result of Joseph’s hard work, care, and energy—which God merely topped off with blessing. And yet, Joseph credited all of it to God—and even the heathen Egyptian acknowledged the validity of his source of success. God wouldn’t have blessed Joseph without his effort and faithfulness. He intends for His servants to be a peculiar people—to stand in stark contrast with those around them. Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a candle and put it under a container, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light shine thus before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” Through Joseph, the light of Heavenly grace could shine out amid the darkness of idolatry.

[165] Genesis 39:7-20

Despite the blessed presence of God with Joseph, he wasn’t free from trial and temptation. His main source of trouble with Potiphar’s wife. She was greatly attracted to Joseph—who was incredibly handsome. She daily begged him to sleep with her. Joseph had been faithful to God up until that point, and he was now faced with a difficult decision. He was being seduced by a beautiful woman of importance, and could enjoy secrecy, favor, and rewards. However, he also faced terrible consequences, including disgrace, imprisonment, and maybe even death. Once again, a single day’s circumstance would mark the turning point for the rest of his life, and the angels watched with anxiety to see what he’d decide. When she asked, he refused, saying, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all he has to my hand; there is no one greater in this house than I am; nor has he kept anything back from me, except you, because you are his wife. How, then, could I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Joseph knew what was right morally and what his limitations were secularly. He had no intention of dishonoring his Heavenly and earthly masters—even if Potiphar might never find out. One day, later on, Joseph went into the house to do his work, and nobody else was there. Potiphar’s wife took advantage of the opportunity to try again to get him, so she grabbed his robe and said, “Lie with me.” He took off running—his robe still in her grasp. That was the last straw for her, and to get revenge against him for not giving her what she wanted, she decided to accuse him of doing the very thing she tried to do. She called all the people of her house together, claiming that a Hebrew had been brought there to mock them and had tried to sleep with her, but she screamed out and he ran away, leaving his robe behind. She told her story to her husband when he got home, and he was enraged. Despite his complete confidence in Joseph, he chose to put him in the prison of the king. What’s impacting here, though, is that the crime she accused him of would’ve been punishable by death. However, he didn’t have Joseph killed, which shows he didn’t actually believe the accusations. The purity of his character that was shown in his behavior up until then was proof enough—regardless, the reputation of Potiphar’s home needed to be protected, so Joseph took the fall for it and was abandoned in jail—an innocent man. This is an awful lot like what Jesus did for us on the cross. He was innocent of the crimes they charged him with—and they knew it. All He had done until that point was enough evidence of His character. Yet, they still let Him take the fall to protect their reputation.

[166] Genesis 39:21-23

When Joseph was first in prison, they treated him severely. He was in fetters and chains and was tried greatly. Joseph didn’t sink into despair despite being sunk into a dungeon. Even though he’d given years of faithful service, he ended up suffering for his integrity. However, he knew that he was right and innocent, and therefore, he still maintained his trust in God. This experience was just one more God allowed for Joseph to be prepared for his coming high position. He was witnessing oppression, tyranny, and crime in there, which prepared his mind to understand justice, mercy, and sympathy. Because of this, he’d be able to use his future power with wisdom and compassion. This degradation was a stepping-stone for his elevation. His path was taking two steps forward, one step back. Though he was believed wrong, God would maintain his reputation and cause the truth to be made known in the future. Regardless of Joseph’s rollercoaster ride of favor and disgrace, from his father’s love to his slavery to his master’s inner circle to his imprisonment, God was still with Joseph. He again was shown favor after gaining trust, but this time, with the prison keeper. Here, instead of managing wealth and tasks, he was put in charge of all the prisoners and their routines. Once again, the person who gave him that responsibility wasn’t concerned about micro-managing Joseph’s position, and God again blessed all Joseph did. All that Joseph did there was practice the same kindness he’d exercise in the future—and that’s what opened the way for him.

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