The story of Joseph in Genesis does not even mention God’s name until Genesis 39:2, when we read the powerful words, “The Lord was with Joseph.”
That proclamation echoes down the corridors of time, proclaiming the eternal truth for us today: “The Lord is with you, too.”
ACT I. HOW TO GET JOSEPH DOWN TO EGYPT: Joseph’s brothers thought they were merely acting on their own conniving scheme to get rid of Joseph when they sold him to a caravan owner. They had no idea that God was in charge of the drama in which they were playing crucial but minor roles. God was in charge of the drama titled How to Keep the Covenant I Made with Abraham When the Famine Comes (see Genesis 12:1-3; 17:1-8).
ACT II. HOW TO PREPARE JOSEPH TO SERVE THE PHARAOH: The caravan owner sold Joseph to Potiphar, the Egyptian captain of the guard. Because of his leadership abilities, Joseph was promoted to overseer of Potiphar’s household. Because Potiphar prospered so well under Joseph’s oversight, he entrusted everything that he owned to Joseph, whereby Joseph learned how to manage people and things, skills which would prove invaluable for God’s further plans for him.
ACT III. HOW TO GET PHARAOH TO NOTICE JOSEPH’S ABILITIES: What follows in the biblical story shows how God can use all kinds of circumstances, even evil ones, to accomplish his will.
Because of Joseph’s competency and proficiency, Potiphar didn’t need to be at home to supervise him. Therefore, we can theorize that his wife became lonely, felt neglected and needed intimacy. Joseph was “well built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of him and said, ‘Come to bed with me.’ ”
Joseph refused, but this woman was desperate for companionship. She grabbed his cloak and tried to force Joseph to have sex with her.
Joseph managed to break loose, but he left his cloak in her hands as he ran out of the house.
Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of attempted rape, resulting in his being placed in prison. Once again, God’s providence was at work behind the scenes of this drama and, therefore, Joseph found favor in the prison warden’s eyes.
The stage is now set for Joseph to use his skills to catapult him into Pharaoh’s court.
Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker ended up in prison with Joseph. After Joseph successfully interpreted their dreams, the cupbearer was returned to Pharaoh, who he eventually told of Joseph’s great powers to interpret dreams. Well, we know the rest of the story. Joseph gave God the credit for helping him finally reach the goal of serving in Pharaoh’s court and thereby keeping God’s promise to Abraham (See Genesis 50:19-20).
Note that the intervention of God in human affairs does not excuse us from exercising our responsibility. Joseph’s imagination and faithfulness were what truly made him God’s instrument. Are we exercising our responsibility to affect change in our lives or are we merely waiting for God to do everything?
And remember, as God was with Joseph, so he will be with us, even when God allows evil things to happen to us.
THE REV. GENE NORRIS IS A PRESBYTERIAN PASTOR IN AUGUSTA.