Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. (Genesis 39:1-4)
Finding Faith When Things Go Terribly Wrong
There are few stories in the Bible that are more riveting than Joseph and his brothers and the outcome of their relationship with one another. Jacob had twelve sons and in a fateful twist of a father’s love for his son, he would lose his beloved son for more than twenty years. Joseph was the child of Rachel and Jacob bestowed on him many more gifts than his other sons. Notably the coat of many colors became a symbol of Jacob’s preference of his young son over the others. In time Joseph had some unusual dreams that angered his brothers with his perceived pertinence and haughty character. On a day when Joseph was looking for his brothers, a decision was reached to kill him. Delayed by Reuben, Joseph was spared murder by being thrown into a pit. As Reuben was away from the group, the brothers sold Joseph to some passing slave traders going to Egypt. To cover their deed they took Joseph’s coat and sprinkled the blood of a goat on it leading Jacob to believe his son was killed by a wild beast. Meanwhile, Joseph was taken as a slave on the long journey to Egypt.
For a young man of seventeen years and pampered by his father, Joseph’s life seemed to be going in a terribly tragic way. He was put on a slave block and sold to the highest bidder. In this world no one cared who he was and where he came from. Everything he knew was turned upside down. As a slave in a foreign land he did the menial and dirty jobs no one else would do. His food was meager. The outlook looked dim. There would be no coat of many colors and there would be no loving embrace by his father. His first night under Potiphar’s roof must have been a watershed moment in his life. Where was God in all of this? Why had the Lord allowed this to happen to him and where was he to go? There was a lot of blame that could be passed around. The remarkable story of Joseph is he did not dwell on the horrible things that had happened to him but his abiding faith that God had never abandoned him assured his heart daily.
Joseph found favor in the sight of Potiphar because Joseph never lost sight of the love he had for God. He did not understand why these terrible things were happening to him but he believed firmly that God would care for him whether times were good or bad. His view of life was not measured by the successes and happiness of his circumstances but the contentment he found in serving the Lord in full assurance of God’s love. The success he had in the house of Potiphar was from a heart devoted to the cause of the Lord. Faith was the rock Joseph built his life upon. He knew that God would not leave him trusting that God’s will would be carried out in his life. Joseph rose to prominence in the house of Potiphar through the blessings of the Lord. His life had turned around to be a better circumstance but still unknowing what the future would hold. Things went tragically bad again when the wife Potiphar accused Joseph of attempting to rape her. Cast into prison the spirit of Joseph could have been broken and shattered because of how things turned out. Once again the son of Jacob trusted in his God. Blessed by his faith, Joseph continued to be a servant of God and was given authority in the prison because the Lord was with him. Whatever Joseph put his hand to do in the prison, it prospered. A day came when the kings butler and baker was thrown into prison where Joseph was confined. Before they were released they had dreams that Joseph interpreted. As in the dream, the baker was executed and the butler restored to his place. When the butler was preparing to leave, Joseph begged him to remember him to the king and seek a pardon for his incarceration. Two more years Joseph languished in prison forgotten by the kings butler. It was not until Pharaoh himself had a dream the butler remembered what Joseph’s had done. Explaining the king’s dream, Joseph was finally released from prison and given authority over all Egypt second only to the king himself. In all of his trials, defeats, calamities and blessings Joseph never lost his faith in God.
The story of Joseph is a testament to the fortitude of the human spirit to devote completely the trust and confidence that God will never leave His people. So many terrible and tragic things happened to Joseph giving most men cause to deny their faith in God. He never wavered but simply trusted in the will of the Lord working in his life. His view of slavery could have made him a bitter man but it did not. It would be interesting to know what Potiphar’s wife thought when she heard the man she accused of rape was now in charge of Egypt. Joseph was not a man of vengeance or holding grudges. After his father died the brothers feared Joseph would reap reprisals upon them for what they did. In one of the most remarkable statements in scripture Joseph tells his brothers that what happened to him was for the purpose and glory of God. He knew his life was forfeit for the cause of the Lord and he basked in the glow of the love shown to him all his life by the God he served. The traits of Jacob’s son are the building blocks of the Christian who is redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Faith can be tested and tried but with the example of Joseph, there can be no excuse but to remain faithful, live righteous and trust in God.