Friday, March 22, 2019

Joseph, the Model Servant

"Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned" (Genesis 39:4).

Joseph is put before us in Genesis as a model man. Though we can be sure that Joseph sinned many times, as we all do, no sins are recorded. There are two aspects of his life we shall look at in these studies. Today we consider Joseph as a model servant, and Monday we shall look at Joseph as a suffering servant.

Joseph comes before us first as a faithful son. When he saw his older brothers abusing their responsibilities, he told his father about it. Jacob came to favor Joseph and rewarded him with a special cloak that signified he had a special position in the family. He even became his father’s confidant (Genesis 37:2–3, 14).

His brothers hated him for this and one day they seized him. First, they tore his robe, which as a gift had infuriated them, and then they sold him into slavery. In bondage, however, Joseph soon proved to be a valuable servant. So careful and hardworking was he that his master, Potiphar, put him in charge of his entire household.

Later Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, but he refused her. He told her that it would be a sin against God, and also that her husband had entrusted the household to him and he was not going to abuse that trust. She falsely accused him of rape, but apparently, Potiphar did not really believe her, because instead of putting Joseph to death he simply put him in his prison, where he was shortly elevated to the post of the assistant warden (Genesis 39; compare 39:1 and 40:3–4).

Faithful service meant two things for Joseph. First, it meant understanding and keeping God’s laws; and second, it meant careful and responsible obedience to the desires of the earthly authorities over him. So far, however, such faithful service had landed Joseph in slavery and then in prison. God, however, sees everything. God arranged for two of Pharaoh’s servants to spend time in prison, where they discovered that Joseph was a man of excellent character and intimate acquaintance with God’s Word. It took a while, but eventually, this encounter led Joseph to stand before Pharaoh and to become viceroy of all Egypt (Genesis 40–41).

Joseph trusted that the invisible, good hand of God’s providence would reward his life of modeled integrity. Eventually, although through difficulty and pain, he was honored by the God he honored. Model Joseph’s patience, trust, and integrity to a world which scorns such virtues.