Wednesday, August 3, 2011


*My favorite Old Testament hero is Joseph. Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City preached a 4-part series in 2003 entitled “The Gospel According to Joseph.” Yesterday and today, I will share the valuable lessons that Keller drew from the life of Joseph. You can purchase the series as an mp3 from the Redeemer website ( If you want to develop true PERSEVERANCE in life, you need to study JOSEPH.**

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“The Lord was with Joseph…” ~Genesis 39:2

“…the Lord was with him…” ~Genesis 39:21 

Yesterday, we talked about the hiddenness of God. Today we talk about two temptations that Joseph faced once in Egypt. 

Today’s text: Genesis 39: 1-23 (click here to read)

Temptation #1: Sexual Temptation 

In this passage, we learn that Joseph was bought by Potiphar from the Ishmaelites who had brought him to Egypt. Once in Potiphar’s house, Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph and blessed all that he did. So, Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his whole house. 

If I put myself in Joseph’s shoes at this point, I would be thinking: “Ohhhhh. I get it now, Lord. You had to sell me into slavery to bring me to Egypt. I get it – thanks for teaching me this lesson!” 

Have you ever done this? Felt like you “understood” God’s lesson in your life and now He will order everything as it should be? We know it most often is not this simple. 

If you keep reading the text, you see that Potiphar’s wife noticed Joseph. She said to Joseph: “Come to bed with me!” (v. 7) 

How did Joseph resist? Keller makes an incredible point about Joseph’s resistance. He said that Joseph’s resistance was not self-control – rather, he was looking outside of himself. Joseph answers her request: “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 

Keller makes the point that self-control is not suppressing – it is re-ordering the priorities of the heart (the loves of the heart) to one over-arching love that overpowers all others. Jesus’ over-arching love was for us – that is why He endured the cross. To the degree that I let this truth sink into my heart, Jesus will become my over-arching love. Read this statement a couple of times because it holds powerful truth. 

We have to think and think and mull over the true wonder of what Jesus did for us. And as we do this, our heart will grow more in love with Jesus. This is the power to overcome temptation. No one can do it by will-power alone. It takes this deep love for Jesus. 

Temptation #2: Temptation to despair when I’m doing everything right, but God allows things to happen to me 

This time (unlike previously), Joseph did everything right by deflecting Potiphar’s wife’s advances toward him. And, yet, Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph and “Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.” (v. 20) 

The advantage to reading stories, as opposed to living them, is that we know the ending. We know that if Joseph had not been thrown into prison that he would not have become the Prince of Egypt.

Think about this truth: Come what may, nothing can derail God’s plan for my life. 

As you read the story of Joseph, you will notice time and again that the Word says, “…and God was with Joseph…” This is an important lesson: 

God helped Joseph through the tragedy. 

What are you facing today that you just don’t understand? God never promised that we will understand why things happen. He does promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. This is a powerful truth. Although we may not understand, God will be with us through the challenge. 

Remember…to the degree that we can sink into our hearts Jesus’ love for us, we will be able to face temptations and withstand with joy those circumstances that we all face. The challenge to you and me today is to walk in complete reliance on Christ knowing that He has a plan for us. 

QUESTION: Who is your favorite Old Testament hero and why?

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