Joseph is really in the news in today’s Old Testament reading.
Rookie Employee Promoted to CEO of Potiphar Enterprises. Third quarter profits rise (Business Weekly- Genesis 39:3-5). Joseph Jacobson’s picture is soon on the front page of Forbes Magazine, for his business acumen and People Magazine for his good looks. Then suddenly, all papers run the story, “Stellar Business Exec Sentenced to Jail for Attempted Rape” (Genesis 39:23). “Scandal rocks the home of the captain of Pharaoh’s guard”.
The story of Joseph is an emotional roller-coaster of high leaps and low sweeps. How difficult it would be if Joseph lived in his feelings: “My father loves me! I’m up!”; “My brothers hate me! I’m down!”; “I’m successful with trusted assignments! I’m up!”; “My brothers throw me into the pit! I’m down!”; “I’m rescued from the pit! I’m up!”; “I’m sold into slavery; I’m down!”; “I’ve got an interesting job and a boss who recognizes my talent! I’m up!”; “The boss’s wife is testing my limits”, “I’m down”. “I’m victorious over temptation and escape her attempts to seduce me! I’m up!”; “I’m accused of a crime against my Master and jailed! I’m down!” “The chief jailor puts me in charge of all those held in prison and I even get to use my God-given gifts! I’m up!”; “Pharaoh’s cup bearer who promised to remember me as the one who interpreted his dream correctly, forgets me! I’m down!” (Gen 40:23). “The chief cupbearer remembers to recommend me to Pharaoh two years later! I’m finally up! (Gen 41:14). And so, it could continue.
But rather than focusing his attention on his circumstances, Joseph focused on God’s promise. Rather than focusing on himself, Joseph focused on serving God and others faithfully.
Notice that when Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife, Joseph’s mind was set on how his behavior affected others, those whom he loved and served. He refused Potiphar’s wife saying that everything his Master owned was entrusted to his stewardship. He recognized that God had given him the opportunity to serve his Master, and in serving his Master he was serving God. “How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 3:9).
It reminds us of Colossians 3:22-24:
Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
I am sure that even during the long periods of silence that Joseph endured in which he could not hear God’s voice, he was alive to the promise of God’s abiding presence. Although it did not always feel like it emotionally, the fact was to be acknowledged:
Genesis 39:2 (NASB) 2 The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man.
This was true in the good days and on the bad days. The Lord was with him when he enjoyed liberty and the favor of men and when in prison, despised and forsaken.
Genesis 39:21 (NASB) 21 But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.
The Lord was with him. To those who are in ‘the truer and greater Joseph’, God gives us His promise: He will not leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
Joseph was able to see the kindnesses extended to him even while he was in prison under false charges.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB)
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart. And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
NEW TESTAMENT READING: Matthew 12:46-13:23
Jesus’ mother and his half-brothers and sisters ask to speak with him (Matthew 12:46). You get the idea that they had not come to listen to Him. Jesus’ response points to the fact that there is another family with whom the bond will run much deeper than those to whom we are biologically related. We have a special relationship with those with whom we are joined in a faith-union with Christ to do the will of the Father in heaven. This is the church. How wonderful to know that we are in God’s family through our faith in Christ! (Genesis 12:50)
Matthew 13 is the parable of all parables, the foundational parable of “The Sower, the Seed and the Soils”. It unveils the mystery of God’s work in bringing the revelational knowledge of Christ and the miracle of regeneration.
May this reading inspire you to sow the seed of the gospel in faith knowing it has life transforming power! May it also remind you to keep your heart tender towards the word of God, free from the response of familiarity that breeds contempt (the packed ground of the wayside hearer), free from the conditional response of the fair-weather follower who says ,“I will listen, if it makes me feel better”-(the shallow ground hearer), and free from distractions, preoccupations, and worldly cares (the weedy ground hearer).
TODAY’S READING FROM THE PSALMS- Psalm 17:1-15
As we read the Psalms, we find ourselves singing and praying. This verse is one that I like to pray: “Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 17:8). The apple of the eye is the eyeball with the pupil in the center. The eyelids automatically close when there is the least possibility of danger. Think of how often you blink as the eyelid serves to protect and maintain it!
The phrase is also found in Deuteronomy 32:
Deuteronomy 32:10 10 “He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.
TODAY’S READING FROM PROVERBS – Proverbs 3:33-35
Proverbs 3:33-35 33 The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous. 34 Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted. 35 The wise will inherit honor, but fools display dishonor.
PRAYER- Gracious Father, today’s readings remind us of Your covenant love towards the redeemed. Your favor towards Joseph in good times and bad are a type of the steadfastness of Your love towards those who are ‘in Christ Jesus’. Thank You for Your presence with us and in us. We thank You for Emmanuel! You protect us in ways that are beyond our conception. You give grace to the humble, and shield with favor those who trust in the person and work of our Living Lord and Savior. May we acknowledge You as our Sufficiency in all we do and in all our ways! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Best of all, the Lord is with us!