Real Success! – Genesis 39

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Real Success Genesis 39 11/10/19
Genesis 39 is the tremendous text before us. So please turn there in preparation.
Most right-thinking people want to have real success in life. I did a quick google search of what the world says about how to be successful. And up popped the following:
How to be a successful You tuber.
How to be a successful blogger.
How to be a successful college student.
How to be a successful entrepreneur
How to be a successful real estate agent.
How to be a successful business owner.
Well, these may give interesting opinions and ideas. But at the core, the world lies to us about how to have a successful life.
In fact, let me give you 6 untruths the world tells us about the path to success. And try these on for size.
Lie #1: God helps those who help themselves. That ranks as one of the most quoted verses that isn’t in the Bible. Because it’s a lie. No, God helps those who cannot help themselves!
2. Believe in yourself. In other words, to be successful you must have a strong self-image, be self-confident, and trust yourself. No, God says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD.” Jer. 17:7
3. Listen to your feelings. No, this is not about doing something wise if you’re feeling sick. The lie here is that you should always follow your feelings and let them guide you. God says, “No, you live according to your fickle feelings and not My truth, and that will be a disaster.
4. Your value comes from what you make of yourself. No, Christian, your value comes from being a child of God for whom Christ gave His life.
5. Suffering is a sign of failure. Well, the lives of Job, and Paul even our Lord show even the righteous who are blessed by God fail.
6. The more you have in this life the happier you will be. In other words, go for the American
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dream. Get all the goodies you can. Follow the GQ or Pinterest trends and you will have a happy life. Yet God says loving stuff and the world’s look will take you far from God.
Well, if the world can’t tell us anything helpful about a successful life, we better take our cues from God’s Word.
For God has made us. And in His love letter to us He’s told us how to live the most successful life on earth.
That’s what Genesis 39 profiles for us in the life of a young man named Joseph.
The chapter unfolds by showing us how Joseph was
Prospered by God 1-6
Prepared for temptation 7-20 and
Prospered by God 21-23
Oh, the first and last points are the same, aren’t they? Well, that’s intentional and reflects the inspired text.
So, let’s now look at this wonderful and inspired story of success: how Joseph’s life spelled success in God’s eyes.
First, he was 1. Prospered by God 1-6
There in the initial verse of chapter 39 we are told, “Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there.”
This chapter begins where chapter 37 left off. Joseph’s brutish brothers sold him for 20 pieces of silver to Ishmaelite traders up in Dothan. They took Joseph and sold him at a higher price to the head bodyguard of Pharaoh.
This would have been during Egypt’s 12th dynasty at the time of the Middle Kingdom.
According to Exodus 12:40 we are told that Joseph went to Egypt 430 years before the Exodus. So, with the Exodus being 1446 B.C., that means Joseph arrived in Egypt around 1876 B.C.
Sesostris II, the Pharaoh who reigned at that time stood out as an influential leader. For he expanded Egypt’s boundaries and accomplished administrative reforms in Egypt.
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His main bodyguard, Potiphar, needed help with his household. So he selects and purchases Joseph from the slave traders.
So picture, 17- year old Joseph taken as a slave to work for this important official, Potiphar.
He’s Jewish, his master with his household are Egyptians.
That means Joseph is living in a foreign culture and he can’t speak their Egyptian language. Talking about challenging! It would have been so easy to feel alone and forsaken.
That’s why it’s so helpful to know from verse 2: “The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian.”
You know how important the word YHWH is in the O.T. It’s God’s personal and promise-keeping name that He loves to use with His people .
Well, the word YHWH shows up 8 times in this chapter. And the reason is for us to really grasp one big reality: God was truly with Joseph.
Joseph was alone yet not really alone. For God was His unseen yet constant companion.
Friends, what made Joseph a successful man?
And first, we need to define success. The word success (also translated as “prosper” in this chapter) is “SALEAH.” The basic idea is to accomplish God’s intended goal for us in life.
So, it’s wasn’t Joseph’s looks, strength, personality, wit or I.Q. that made him successful. The fact that God was with him and he walked with God made his life a true success.
Christian, this is a timely reminder for us. You might feel alone. But God assures you of His ever-abiding presence in You.
The angel of the Lord told Joseph what would take place with Mary: “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” Mat. 1:23
And that Immanuel, some 30 years later, following His resurrection told His disciples: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mat. 28:20
The Apostle John in Revelation 21:3 describes the glory of the New Jerusalem saying, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne,
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saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.”
Here’s the upshot of God’s being with us. As we live in light of God dwelling is us, He will make our lives a success in His eyes.
The first sign of God prospering Joseph is in his being chosen not to work as a slave in the field but in the house of this Egyptian official.
Very interesting, a piece of Egyptian papyrus that dates back to around 1800 B.C. was discovered.
That’s less than a hundred years from Joseph’s time. On that piece of papyrus there are detailed names and occupations of nearly 80 slaves in an Egyptian household.
Here’s what’s fascinating. Asian slaves and those imported from other lands were given better status and skilled jobs over the Egyptian slaves who were usually assigned to work in the fields!
Now watch how God further prospers Joseph while serving as a slave.
Verse 3: Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand.
This is more than amazing. It’s astounding that God made clear to Joseph’s master that His divine presence was with Joseph.
How? By causing everything Joseph did in that home to be successful!
No doubt about it, that master, Potiphar, had never owned such a slave as Joseph.
If Joseph was put in charge of fixing projects in that house, watching the master’s children, buying produce in the open market, Joseph did it in an exceptional manner! He stood out.
With the impact we are told Joseph made on Potiphar, he couldn’t have gone around moping, complaining, and refusing to work.
And he certainly wasn’t spending his time trying to figure out how he could escape as a slave and head back to his family. He was confident God had him there for a purpose.
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And I’m convinced here’s the attitude Joseph embraced: ““If God wants me to be a slave, why then I’ll seek to be the best slave in Egypt!”
Honesty, loyalty, hard work, enthusiasm and wisdom would have marked Joseph’s life. That made a deep impression on his incredulous master. And look what followed. 4th verse:
So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.
God causes that master to think the world of Joseph.
He came to trust Joseph so much that he put him in charge of running his household. That meant when it came to the master’s possessions, Joseph called the shots.
He proved to be such a competent administrative assistant that his master let him care for his entire estate.
Now, that was win, win. Joseph was blessed in being elevated. And the master’s household was blessed SO supernaturally:
Verses 5 and 6 report: It came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that he owned, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the LORD’S blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field. 6 So he left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate.”
Wow! Young Joseph ran the day-to-day affairs of Potiphar’s house.
Now what are the odds of a foreign slave who is not even 20 years old being put in charge of virtually everything in an Egyptian official’s estate?
Why most homeowners wouldn’t dare entrust the running of their house to their own teenage sons let alone to someone who’s a stranger’s!
Just take in the breadth of God’s blessing the Egyptian master because of Joseph. God blessed “all that he owned, in the house and in the field.”
Here’s what’s so exciting about this. Even before God’s people have settled in the Promised Land, God is fulfilling His promise made to Abraham.
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For God has told Abraham in Genesis 12:3- “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
And this Egyptian family so wonderfully illustrates how God blessed them through Abraham’s descendant, Joseph.
Now maybe you wonder why the only thing the master concerned himself with (that Joseph didn’t oversee) was the food he ate. Why?
Well, it’s possible Joseph was a lousy cook. And perhaps Potiphar’s wife was complaining, “That slave keeps burning the fish. And he doesn’t know how to season with garlic, onions and leeks. Tell him to stay out of the kitchen!”
But more likely is the fact that the menu Joseph was accustomed to eating in Canaan was much different that what the Egyptians ate. And the master may have preferred for another slave or his wife to take care of his cuisine concerns.
Here’s what’s unmistakable. God’s hand on Joseph’s life made him and that family flourish in every way.
His master must have thought, “What a great deal I got in this Jewish slave- it’s like everything he does for me and touches turns to gold!”
Church, I think of you in the workforce rubbing shoulders with unbelievers every week.
O may you follow in Joseph’s footsteps and do your work in such an exemplary and diligent manner that they will see the blessing of God in you and through you.
This past Thursday, my friend Codey (some of you know) drove out from Chicago so he could teach the InCourage Bible study Friday night.
He told his boss earlier last week that he had an opportunity to share God’s Word with a group in Michigan. But to get here in time, he asked if he could get off work early.
Well, that unsaved boss knows Codey’s puts in more time and is more productive than the other engineers in his office. And he knows Codey does his work with joy even though he’s far overdue for a pay raise.
So his boss tells him he can take the whole day off as long as he gets his work done. You see, God has granted Codey favor in the eyes of that
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unsaved manager. And his hard work and great attitude are a testimony for the gospel.
Well, Joseph proved to be a trustworthy slave greatly blessed by God. And he was a conduit of God’s blessing to others. For he was a man of proven character.
But notice a personal side note about Joseph, end of verse 6: “Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.”
That tells us Joseph was well-built and good looking. No, he didn’t have a membership at Gold’s Gym or Planet Fitness. But he had some measure of physical discipline and a noticeably manly physique.
There’s only one other person in biblical history who is said to have a lovely figure and face. That’s Joseph’s mom Rachel in Genesis 29:17.
Well, good looks and a strong body can be a blessing if credit is humbly given to the Lord. But that can also make one vulnerable to particular temptation. And that’s what happens to Joseph.
Joseph was not only prospered by God but also
2. Prepared for Temptation 7-20
Life is looking good for Joseph. He’s been promoted to a place of great importance in his master’s home.
Yet danger lurks just ahead. For strong temptation often follows season of great victory.
Continuing in verse 7, we see what temptation hits Joseph.
It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.”
It wouldn’t have been long before hardworking and good-looking young Joseph caught the eye of Potiphar’s wife.
Pastor Bob Russel at the recent Expositor’s Conference in Louisville put it this way: Joseph was everyone’s favorite- his father’s favorite, Potiphar’s favorite, and Potiphar’s wife’s favorite!
That loose lady is lusting after Joseph. She has the eyes and ploys of an adulteress.
Though she’s the woman of the house, she’s a slave to her lust for her husband’s slave (Sarna).
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She’s bold, aggressive and makes advances at him.
Now think how vulnerable Joseph is:
– He had been pampered as a child favorite.
– He’s now living under the same roof as this woman (though not by choice).
– He was a normal young man with all the strong God-given passions that go with that.
– And there was the availability of immediate gratification.
– And no one else was around. No one once watching.
Well, this reminds us of the sober account from Solomon of a man who succumbs to such sexual temptation.
Proverbs 7:6–27 For at the window of my house I looked out through my lattice, 7 And I saw among the naive, And discerned among the youths A young man lacking sense, 8 Passing through the street near her corner; And he takes the way to her house, 9 In the twilight, in the evening, In the middle of the night and in the darkness. 10 And behold, a woman comes to meet him, Dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart. 11 She is boisterous and rebellious, her feet do not remain at home; 12 She is now in the streets, now in the squares, And lurks by every corner. 13 So she seizes him and kisses him and with a brazen face she says to him: 14 “I was due to offer peace offerings; Today I have paid my vows. 15 “Therefore I have come out to meet you, to seek your presence earnestly, and I have found you. 16 “I have spread my couch with coverings, With colored linens of Egypt. 17 “I have sprinkled my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. 18 “Come, let us drink our fill of love until morning; Let us delight ourselves with caresses. 19 “For my husband is not at home, He has gone on a long journey; 20 He has taken a bag of money with him, At the full moon he will come home.” 21 With her many persuasions she entices him; With her flattering lips she seduces him. 22 Suddenly he follows her As an ox goes to the slaughter, or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool, 23 until an arrow pierces through his liver; As a bird hastens to the snare, So he does not know that it will cost him his life. 24 Now therefore, my sons, listen to me, and pay attention to the words of my mouth. 25 Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not
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stray into her paths. 26 For many are the victims she has cast down, And numerous are all her slain. 27 Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death.
Well, that man caved into temptation. But not so with Joseph. Verse 8 tells us: But he refused.”
And carefully note why he refused that woman’s seductive offer:
We read, “But he refused to give in to and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. 9 “There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?”
Here we see Joseph’s prepared heart.
The first reason he won’t sleep with Potiphar’s wife is because it would dishonor his master. It would be like spitting in his face.
Secondly, Joseph knows such immorality would disrespect his master’s marriage and wife. For he reminds her, “You are his wife!”
Thirdly, Joseph knows sexual sin with her would be awful evil and flagrant sin against whom? Against God!
It’s 500 years before the command of God against such sin is given in Ex. 20:14- “You shall not commit adultery.”
But Joseph knows it’s a grievous sin. How?
And he knows the history of his forefathers how God designed Adam and Eve for one another for life.
And he has certainly heard God’s anger against the kings who tried to take Sarah from Abraham and Rebekah from Isaac.
Joseph grasps how God has set boundaries for sexual purity. And one of those is that it is to be reserved exclusively to marriage between one woman and one man for life.
Now let his final statement resound in your heart, men, women and children: “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?”
Mark this well: the primary motivation that keeps Joseph from giving in to sin is his allegiance to God.
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He savors God’s blessing on his life. And he hated the thought of sinning against God and forfeiting the favor of God on his life.
Here’s the connection that’s clear in Joseph’s mind. Obedience leads to God’s blessing. Disobedience dishonors God and leads to dire consequences.
You see, Joseph carries with him a healthy fear of God.
And friends, your first and last defense against temptation is the fear of God!
Sure, Joseph’s flesh felt the tug of temptation. But his fear of God caused him to make the right choice and refuse.
King David made the wrong choice with Bathsheba. And when God brought him to his senses, he realized the depth of his sin. For he exclaims to God in Psalm 51:4- “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight.”
Beloved, every time sin knocks at your door, remember this. To open that door and give in to temptation is to sin against God- the God who loves you longs to bless you.
Well, that wicked woman won’t take no for an answer. Verse 10: As she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her to lie beside her or be with her.
The pressure of temptation is on. She’s relentless. For she continues trying to woo him to her hoping to wear him down in a moment of weakness.
That was the tactic that Delilah used to bring Samson down. Judges 16:16 reports: It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death.
Puritan pastor John Owen put it this way: “Sin never wavers, sin never ceases, sin never yields.”
Well, Joseph makes no concessions with the temptation. He refuses to compromise by even cozying up next to her. He won’t flirt with her. He won’t give in an inch. There’s a story told of a rich man at a banquet who asks the beautiful young woman next to him, “Would you sleep with me for ten thousand dollars?” After some thought she says, “Yes.” “And would you for two dollars?” “Why, what kind of a woman do you think I am!” “Madam, we’ve
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already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.”
Joseph stands his ground. He stays pure.
By the way, we can better appreciate his refusal to accommodate this seductress in light of what was all-too common among slaves of that time: sexual promiscuity.
Well, the situation for Joseph worsens. We are informed in verse 11, “Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. 12 She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside.
Potiphar’s wife goes into an all-out attack.
Those words “caught him”- they describe an aggressive and violent act against someone.
She’s really after him and is trying to get her claws on him.
Joseph has only one holy option- flee. He does, and what does he leave behind? HIs outer garment, his robe.
Have you noticed with Joseph, he has trouble holding on to his robes!
But he’s so concerned about remaining pure, that he knows he has to get out of there. So he runs for his life.
Paul tells younger Timothy: Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22 .
Too many times we Christians lose the battle against temptation because we overestimate our ability to withstand by remaining rather than running.
A man went on a jungle safari, and the guide warned him of the deadly animals. And so the visitor asks, “If I carry a torch, does that mean the animals won’t get me? The guide answers, “that depends on how fast you run!”
Joseph ran from the attack of temptation. And that shows us we too must take radical steps with sin. We must choose the path of escape that God gives us.
That’s exactly the point of I Corinthians 10:13- “No temptation has overtaken you but such
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as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.“
Christian, nail this down in your thinking. You never have to sin. It’s always a choice. But you will fall prey to sin unless you practice Romans 13:14- “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”
For some, it’s time to cancel subscriptions to magazines or cable T.V.
For others, you need to get a filter for your computer or smart phone and refuse to surf the internet alone.
For many, it’s time to be done with being entertained by movies that put into your mind sensual scenes and language that Christ would never be comfortable with.
For all of us, we must refuse to put ourselves in morally compromising situations. In March 2017, The Washington Post reported that Vice President Mike Pence never eats alone with a woman other than his wife, Karen, and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side. Well, the media had a hay day out of his conviction until multiple allegations of sexual harassment surfaced among business executives and film producers. Well, watch now how Potiphar’s wife tries to retaliate.
Verse 13: When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, 14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed. 15 “When he heard that I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled and went outside.”
O the lurid lies of this loose lady! Why is she trying to frame Joseph saying he took off his robe on purpose? Because Joseph wouldn’t give in to her. And that made her fuming mad!
Someone once said, “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.”
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Did you catch that she blames her husband saying, “He brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us” (in other words, to mock us).
Why “us”? Because she’s trying to get her servants to support her cause in destroying Joseph.
Even the way she refers to Joseph as “a Hebrew”- that’s a ethnic slur, a put down.
Well, after lying to her servants, the text indicates Potiphar’s wife remained laying down with Joseph’s robe next to her until her husband got home. For we read (verse 16):
So she left his garment beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she spoke to him with these words, “The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me; 18 and as I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled outside.”
What she says is one big bunch of blatant lies.
Ironically, this marks the second time Joseph’s garment is used in a false report.
How does her husband react? We find out (v. 19): “Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, “This is what your slave did to me,” his anger burned.
Potiphar becomes fuming mad. But we aren’t told against whom he is so angry. We suspect he knows the kind of wife he has and that he may well have trusted Joseph’s character more than his wife’s. But he is pressured and must do something in response.
20th verse: “So Joseph’s master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail.”
No doubt about it, had the master really believed Joseph had assaulted his wife, nothing would have stopped him from killing him.
But instead, he puts Joseph in a jail for royal prisoners. It definitely wasn’t a cushy prison as is common in our day.
Because God tells us in Psalm 105:17–19, “He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. 18 They afflicted his feet with fetters, He himself was laid in irons;
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19 until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him.”
Wow, Joseph did the right thing and ran from sin, and yet he suffers for that. Why? Because God uses that to grow His faith in Him!
Christian, be encouraged to know, that when you honor God in your desires and decisions, there will be a cost. You may suffer for it and be ridiculed by others. Yet in God’s time, He will reward you beyond measure.
And this brings us full circle to see in a greater way how Joseph was
3. Prospered by God 21-22
Take in with me how God causes Joseph to be a success even in that jail.
“But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. 22 The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it. 23 The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph’s charge because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made to prosper.”
It’s so powerfully clear what gave Joseph such success. It’s because “the LORD was with Joseph.
It was the ever present God in Joseph’s life that made everything Joseph did in that prison to prosper.
Here’s the timeless encouragement for you this morning.
Children of God, our prayer should be that of the psalmist in Psalm 118:25- “O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity!
And that’s a prayer God delights in hearing and answering.
Because, through thick and thin, good and bad, gain and loss, joy and trial you can know the blessing and prosperity of God. How? By actively relying on His loving presence in your life.
And that comes down to getting up every morning and going to sleep every day and living with the commitment to walk by faith in Him.
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Charles Spurgeon put it like this, “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.”
Let’s thank God together…
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Real Success! Genesis 39
Hope In Christ Bible Church 11/10/19
1. Prospered by God 1-6
Mat. 1:23
Mat. 28:20
Rev. 21:3
Gen. 12:3
Gen. 29:17
2. Prepared for Temptation 7-20
Prov. 7:6–27
Ex. 20:14
Psalm 51:4
Judges 16:16
II Tim. 2:22
I Cor. 10:13
Rom. 13:14
Psalm 105:17–19
3. Prospered by God 21-22
Psalm 118:25
God, what steps of obedient faith would You have me take to know real success as a doer of Your Word?