Friday, January 19, 2018

January 19: Genesis 39 – 41:16; Joseph’s Lesson in Slavery – Bitter or Better

             Joseph had every worldly right to be an angry and resentful slave. He was sold by his brothers, of all people! They hated him. The slave traders were distant relatives, the Ishmaelites. So much for growing up in a loving family. Joseph did have a couple of things going for him, he was good looking and had a strong body.
            Those two things are what got him into trouble with his master’s wife. He was too good looking and she wanted him sexually. The other thing that he had going for him is that the Lord was with him and this not only protected him from becoming bitter and angry, but it kept him from letting his good looks, position, and unfair treatment by his brothers give him the “right” to some illicit pleasure.
            But God wasn’t finished with Joseph’s training in being a servant. His integrity cost him his posh job as head of Potiphar’s house. For a slave, Joseph had it made. It could have gone to his head, but he repeatedly refused his mistress’ advances. He even had to run from her leaving his garment behind.
            Now, think about the movies you’ve watched or books you’ve read. How many worldly people would have refused the opportunity she presented? If you have to be honest, you know that when things get tough, especially at home, men and women tend to find their escape in extramarital affairs.
            But Joseph ended up in a prison instead. He continued to be a servant and the Lord was still with him. The Lord used his servant spirit to become the one to minister to two of Pharaoh’s officials who were in prison. He is concerned for them as people, he sees they are downcast. He can tell they are worse off than normal being in a dirty rotten prison. You have to really notice that when he hears about their dreams, he doesn’t put forth his own dream expertise, but give the credit to God. He hopes that when the cupbearer is released he will have someone to plead his case to Pharaoh.
            But here comes the last disappointment. The cupbearer forgets about him. Two more years pass and Joseph is still in prison. Sold by his brothers, imprisoned by his master, forgotten by the cupbearer. Wouldn’t a normal person be angry with God? Wouldn’t he want to be bitter about the life he has lead. He is 32 years old and has spent almost half of his life as a slave and a significant amount of that time as a slave in prison.
            The truth of Joseph’s faith in God is seen not only in giving credit to God when interpreting the dreams of the cupbearer and baker, but even more so when he addresses Pharaoh. Pharaoh directly gives credit to Joseph for interpreting dreams. A worldly person would suck that up and accept it. But not Joseph, he quickly says that it isn’t him but God who will give Pharaoh the answer to his dreams.
            The lesson is to trust God in all times, good and bad. The lesson is to give credit to the Lord for whatever we do. If we really know the Lord, then we know that our abilities, our position in life, everything we have and do is all from the Lord. It isn’t easy to give the Lord glory for it all when someone complements us, but that is what we are called to do (1 Cor 10:31; Col 3:17). If we are in bad times, then we still give him the glory instead of becoming bitter or angry, because we know that he is preparing us for something, just as he prepared Joseph. We may not know what it is until we reach heaven, but if we trust the Lord, then we can live our lives like Joseph did.

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