JOSEPH WORKS FOR POTIPHAR
Matthew 28:20B, ESV
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
GENESIS 39:1-2, NIrV
1 Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. An Egyptian named Potiphar had bought him from the Ishmaelite traders who had taken him there. Potiphar was one of Pharaoh’s officials. He was the captain of the palace guard.
2 The Lord was with Joseph. He gave him great success. Joseph lived in Potiphar’s house.
Can you imagine what would have been like to walk in Joseph’s sandals? His own brothers roughed him up, threw him in a pit, then sold him to traders. After dragging Joseph to the faraway country of Egypt, the traders then re-sold him to serve as a slave! Hundreds of miles away from his home and the people he loved, surrounded by people who spoke in a strange language, I’m sure Joseph felt homesick and all alone. But Joseph wasn’t alone. There was someone with him every step of the way, someone he couldn’t see. Who was it? Verse two tells us the answer: the Lord God himself!
+ What country was Joseph taken to? Who did he serve? (vs. 1)
+ Because God was with Joseph, what happened? (vs. 2)
GENESIS 39:3-6, NIrV
3 Joseph’s master saw that the Lord was with him. He saw that the Lord made Joseph successful in everything he did. 4 So Potiphar was pleased with Joseph and made him his attendant. He put Joseph in charge of his house. He trusted Joseph to take care of everything he owned. 5 From that time on, the Lord blessed Potiphar’s family and servants because of Joseph. He blessed everything Potiphar had in his house and field. 6 So Joseph took good care of everything Potiphar owned. With Joseph in charge, Potiphar didn’t have to worry about anything except the food he ate.
Joseph was strong and handsome.
When you are a slave, you have no choice but to do whatever your master orders you to do. Joseph was sold to serve as a slave to Potiphar, a man with an important job. He was in charge of protecting the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt! I’m sure Joseph didn’t want to be there, but he still worked hard for Potiphar. And with God on his side, every single thing Joseph did turned out perfectly! He was so good at his job, Potiphar put him in charge of his whole house. With Joseph running the show, the only thing Potiphar had to worry about was, “Hmm? What should I have for breakfast?”
+ Why did Potiphar put Joseph in charge of everything? (vs. 3-4)
+ Because God was with Joseph, what happened to Potiphar? (vs. 5)
GENESIS 39:6-10, NIrV
6 So Joseph took good care of everything Potiphar owned. With Joseph in charge, Potiphar didn’t have to worry about anything except the food he ate.
Joseph was strong and handsome. 7 After a while, his master’s wife noticed Joseph. She said to him, “Come to bed with me!”
8 But he refused. “My master has put me in charge,” he told her. “Now he doesn’t have to worry about anything in the house. He trusts me to take care of everything he owns. 9 No one in this house is in a higher position than I am. My master hasn’t held anything back from me, except you. You are his wife. So how could I do an evil thing like that? How could I sin against God?” 10 She spoke to Joseph day after day. But he told her he wouldn’t go to bed with her. He didn’t even want to be with her.
Though he was a lowly slave in a faraway country, things were looking up for Joseph. With God on his side, everything Joseph touched turned to gold (not literally, of course)! Sadly, more trouble was waiting just around the corner. And that trouble was named Mrs. Potiphar! Joseph was a good-looking guy and Potiphar’s wife definitely noticed. Day after day, she secretly begged Joseph for hugs, kisses, and other things that a wife is only supposed to share with her husband. Joseph kept telling her no, saying, “Neither your husband nor my God would want me to say ‘Yes’ to your request!”
+ Why wouldn’t Joseph do what Mrs. Potiphar asked him to do? (vs. 9)
+ What did Joseph do when Mrs. Potiphar kept pestering him? (vs. 10)
GENESIS 39:11-12, NIRV
11 One day Joseph went into the house to take care of his duties. None of the family servants was inside. 12 Potiphar’s wife grabbed him by his coat. “Come to bed with me!” she said. But he left his coat in her hand. And he ran out of the house.
Day after day after day, Potiphar’s wife asked Joseph for hugs and kisses and other things a wife is only supposed to do with her husband. Each and every time, Joseph gave her the same answer: “No!” But Mrs. Potiphar simply would not give up! One day, when she was home alone with Joseph, she asked yet again. This time, she grabbed him by his clothes and refused to let him go until Joseph gave her exactly what she wanted. When Mrs. Potiphar wouldn’t take no for an answer, Joseph twisted and wiggled his way out of his own clothing, out of her grip, and out of the house!
+ When Mrs. Potiphar grabbed Joseph, how many other men were in the house? (vs. 11)
+ After Joseph ran away, what was Potiphar’s wife holding? (vs. 12)
GENESIS 39:13-18, NIRV
13 She saw that he had left his coat in her hand and had run out of the house. 14 So she called her servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew slave has been brought here to make fun of us! He came in here to force me to have sex with him. But I screamed for help. 15 He heard my scream. So he left his coat beside me and ran out of the house.”
16 She kept Joseph’s coat with her until Potiphar came home. 17 Then she told him her story. She said, “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to rape me. 18 But I screamed for help. So he left his coat beside me and ran out of the house.”
Potiphar’s wife was sick and tired of Joseph telling her no over and over again. She wanted him punished. And Joseph’s left-behind clothes gave her an evil idea! So she gathered her other servants and told them exactly what happened, right? Nope! She fed them a complete pile of lies! In fact, Mrs. Potiphar’s story was the complete opposite of the truth! She told them, “This slave from a faraway land tried to put his filthy paws all over me! But when I screamed, he ran away like a scaredy-cat! If you don’t believe me, I can prove it! He ran off so fast that he left his clothing behind!”
+ What did Mrs. Potiphar show to make them believe her lies? (vs. 16)
+ Who do you think Potiphar would choose to believe: Joseph or his own wife?
GENESIS 39:19-23, NIRV
19 Potiphar’s wife told him, “That’s how your slave treated me.” When Joseph’s master heard her story, he became very angry. 20 So he put Joseph in prison. It was the place where the king’s prisoners were kept.
While Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him. He was kind to him. So the man running the prison was pleased with Joseph. 22 He put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners. He made him responsible for everything done there. 23 The man who ran the prison didn’t pay attention to anything in Joseph’s care. That’s because the Lord was with Joseph. He gave Joseph success in everything he did.
Though Mrs. Potiphar’s story was 100% false, Potiphar believed his wife’s lies. After hearing that his most trusted servant tried to harm his wife, Potiphar blew his stack with anger! He dragged Joseph out of his house and threw his behind into prison!
Sadly, this wasn’t the first time Joseph found himself trapped in a dark place with no hope of escape. Years before, his own brothers had tossed him into a deep pit, then sold him to traders. Nobody enjoys getting into trouble. But being punished when you didn’t do anything wrong? That feels way worse. And for poor Joseph, this was now the second time it had happened to him!
This certainly doesn’t look like a happy ending for Joseph. It’s a good thing that his story wasn’t over! Trapped in a dark and dirty Egyptian prison, Joseph had more company than just his fellow prisoners. God was there with him, too, helping Joseph make the best of a bad situation.
Just as God gave Joseph great success in all his work in Potiphar’s house, God also gave Joseph the golden touch during his time in prison. God caused the chief prison guard to think, “Hey, I really like that guy!” Whenever the jail keeper needed something done, he asked Joseph to do it. And whatever Joseph did was a stupendously smashing success! Joseph was so good at his job, the prison guard could sit back, relax, and let Joseph do his work!
The story of Joseph was far from over. Joseph didn’t know it at the time, but God had big plans to take Joseph out of that dirty Egyptian prison and set him right next to the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt! Joseph’s life was full of ups and downs, but one thing always remained the same: God was with him every step of the way!
This isn’t just something that was true for Joseph; it’s true for everyone who trusts in the God of the Bible! After Jesus died to pay for our sins, then rose from the dead, he gave us a promise. You can read his words in Matthew 28:20. He said, “I will always be with you, to the very end.” No matter what happens to us, Jesus has promised to always be with us. It doesn’t matter if we’ve been tossed into a pit by our brothers or thrown into a prison, God will never leave us! Even better, when the story of our life is over, we’ll spend forever with God in his perfect kingdom!
+ Why was Joseph successful in everything he did? (vs. 23)
+ What promise did Jesus make to us in Matthew 28:20?