Today we are looking at Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, a married woman who wanted to commit adultery with the young, attractive Joseph.
1. The first 37 chapters of Genesis cover 2,000 years of history. And then the last 12 chapters cover his life. Everything focuses on this one man.
2. Joseph was his father’s favourite, which was Jacob’s sin, God blessed him, which was grace. Because of that, his brothers were very jealous.
3. He’s a rural country boy taken off to the big city. The ruler there, Pharaoh, thinks he’s God. There’s a lot of demonology and false gods and religions and sin, and it’s a mess. And he’s all by himself.
1. The question is: will he be a faithful man? (v1-6)
The question is not will God faithful to Joseph? The question instead is will Joseph be faithful to God? Will he be a man of integrity in a hostile, difficult, tempting environment, or will he be a man who is unfaithful and sins against God?
Verse 2. “The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered.”
This is the theme of Joseph’s life. He is an outsider, but the truth is that God goes with him because God loves him. The New Testament says that God, the Holy Spirit, has taken up residence in us. We are never apart from God. And that God will never leave us or forsake us or abandon us. And it doesn’t matter if we’re alone. We’re by ourselves. We’re abandoned. We have no one to support us. God is still there.
He works well. And because of that, he will – throughout the course of his life, on multiple occasions, continually rise up. The word here for us is this. You may be in a bad job, but if you serve well, you may escalate out of that position into something much better.
“When his master saw that the LORD was with him”.
The master sees that God blesses Joseph and he honours Joseph, but he still isn’t interested in God. Some people see that God is alive and real and good, and they still don’t want anything to do with him. Potiphar is that kind of man.
There’s the Pharaoh, whose right-hand man is Potiphar. And now there’s Joseph, who is the right-hand man to Potiphar. So, he is literally one man removed from the most powerful man in that nation at the time. They have a lot of responsibility, a lot of stress, a lot of pressure. The reason they can’t distribute that responsibility is because there’s not a lot of people in the world that they find trustworthy
The question is then who is going to come alongside those powerful people and be trustworthy enough that those people can entrust them with very important responsibilities? The answer is that it should be God’s people. It should be God’s people. It should be us who say, “You know what? I don’t steal because I love God. And I don’t lie because I love God. And I don’t take advantage of opportunities and undermine my employer because I love God. I don’t call in sick when I’m not cause that’s a lie, and I love God.” And though Joseph is a slave, he’s a man of such integrity that Potiphar elevates him to this prestigious position of his right-hand man.
2. The question is: What will he do about his boss’ wife? (v6-9)
Joseph was well built and handsome. This is the only guy in the Bible that we are told was handsome and well built.
“And after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”
Here’s the dilemma. This is his boss. He can’t sue for sexual harassment. He’s a slave. He can’t quit. Additionally, slaves were supposed to perform sexual favours for their owners. It was just part of the job description. And the woman looks at him and says, “You’re going to bed with me.”
1. Dinah (Gen 34) was a young woman who was raped. She was a victim of an evil, perverted man. When it comes to this story, the woman is the pervert and evil doer. We live in such a culture that the ideology is continually put out there that men are bad, and women are good. Which is true. It’s also true that women are bad and evil and perverted too. Sometimes women can be as brazen and as bold and as dirty as the men. Just like Potiphar’s wife. There are women who dress provocatively, who flirt, who initiate, who kiss the man, who want to take him to bed, who are very, very, very aggressive in word and deed.
2. For men this is a very real temptation. Well kept, attractive, affluent, bored wife. Husband busy – gone a lot. You’re home with her all the time, and she says, “You need to go to bed with me.” This will be the defining moment of Joseph’s life – of his manhood, and his walk with God. He is literally, as it were, at a fork in the road. “Am I’m go to bed with her, and live a secret life of sin, or I’m not going to go to bed with her, and suffer whatever consequences may come.”
Some decisions have profound implications for the rest of your life. Joseph is a man who has complete anonymity, perfect opportunity. Young, unmarried, good looking, virgin man with an aggressive, experienced woman who would be a great time. He makes his decision – most important decision of his life. He refused.
Just memorise that. If you’ve never memorised a verse, just memorise that fragment. “But he refused.” He didn’t negotiate. He didn’t talk. He didn’t say, You and I are in a culture that is just saturated with sexual temptation.It’s easy to have a sexual experience in this culture. But we must refuse. Ephesians 5.3 says that, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality,,” – not even a hint, not even a hint. He refused.
Joseph humbles himself; thinks about his master, not himself. And then beautifully he says, “‘How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?'” That’s the issue. When you and I sin against someone, we also sin against God. At this point, who is there to see Joseph? Nobody, except for God. And Joseph knows this. God is here. God sees what I am doing. God knows what I am doing. What I am doing matters to God.
Potiphar may not be here. Friends, family, church may not be here. No one may be here, but God’s here.” He is being very bold in his faith. He’s rebuking a woman who has the capacity to sentence him to death. And he tells her, “I love God.” And for those of us who love God, we don’t do these sorts of things.
3. The question is: What’s the consequence of loving God? (v10-20)
1. She keeps on keeping on.
Paul says to the Romans 13.14, “Do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Proverbs 6.27 says, “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” The rhetorical answer is no. You can’t work with a hot girl who’s attracted to you and you’re attracted to her, and not get in trouble. So, get another job or another person to work with. But we have to be honest about our own heart.
2. She makes false accusation.
“One day he went into the house to attend to his duties,” – he’s doing his job – “and none of the household servants was inside.” I’m reading between the lines. I’m assuming she shoved everybody outside because now she’s moving in for the kill yet again – get rid of all the witnesses. “She caught him by his cloak,” – she literally grabs him by the clothes – “and said, ‘Come to bed with me!'” It’s an order. It’s a command.
“When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants.” You know how many women lie about their sin? Women love to cry, play the victim, talk about their feelings being hurt, so that men will rise up to defend them. We encourage men to rise up and love and defend women and children, but make sure before you rise up to defend a woman that she’s honourable and holy.
She brings everybody together. Everybody get involved. Everybody gather around. I have much to say. “‘He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed.'” He’s a pervert. I’m a good woman. That’s not really an accurate interpretation of events, is it?
There are women like Dinah who are taken advantage of, and they are sinned against. And there are women like Potiphar’s wife. They seek to destroy their character out of their bitterness.
How many of you have been told, “If you love God, if you serve God, if you honour God, life will go well?” You know, that’s not true. I’m supposed to say, “And Joseph lived happily ever after, and, you know, he just got to go straight to heaven like Enoch in a flaming chariot. And now he’s eating fruit and singing worship songs, and it’s all good.” You know what? Life got worse. The more he obeyed God, the worse life got.
Some of you are here today, and you’re looking at your life saying, “I obeyed God. I did what God wanted. I didn’t sin. I resisted temptation, and my life is hard.” It’s Biblical. You’re a Christian. See, this is nothing like Jesus, who got betrayed by a friend and murdered for no reason. Well, as a matter of fact, to be a Christian is to get treated like Christ – injustice, false accusation, betrayal, hardship.
Just because you obey God does not mean that life goes well. It may mean that life goes very hard for a while; that the bad guys win for a while; that the evildoers succeed for a while.
4. The question is: Does God abandon him? (v21-23)
This is an Egyptian prison 4,000 years ago. This is real jail. This is an Egyptian hole in the ground. “But while Joseph was there in the prison,” – here’s the key. Who was with him? “The LORD was with him.” The Lord was with him. See, everything has changed except for his relationship with God. He went from free to slave. He went from power to prison. God’s still with him because he’s a man who has obeyed God. He has obeyed God, and so God is with him.
The story ends. “The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care.” That guy just sat back and had a nap. Why? “Because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”
Here’s the point of the story of Joseph thus far. Our faith is about living – living victorious, successful lives. Our faith is about death. It’s about dying to sin; dying to self; dying to perversion; dying to finances; dying to power.