Lesson 3 | Sabbath, 18 January 2020
“Arriving in Egypt, Joseph was sold to Potiphar, captain of the king’s guard, in whose service he remained for ten years. He was here exposed to temptations of no ordinary character…. Yet Joseph preserved his simplicity and his fidelity to God. The sights and sounds of vice were all about him, but he was as one who saw and heard not. His thoughts were not permitted to linger upon forbidden subjects. The desire to gain the favor of the Egyptians could not cause him to conceal his princi- ples. Had he attempted to do this, he would have been overcome by temptation; but he was not ashamed of the religion of his fathers, and he made no effort to hide the fact that he was a worshiper of Jehovah.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p.214.
“Joseph was a light bearer in Egypt. In his purity and benevolence and filial love he represented Christ in the midst of a nation of idolaters.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 41.
- Although in a strange land among strange people, what made it possible for Joseph to bless others and to be blessed by God?
Genesis 39:1, 2 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. 2And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
“The marked prosperity which attended everything placed under Joseph’s care was not the result of a direct miracle; but his industry, care, and energy were crowned with the divine blessing. Joseph attributed his success to the favor of God, and even his idolatrous master accepted this as the secret of his unparalleled prosperity. Without steadfast, well-directed effort, however, success could never have been attained. God was glorified by the faithfulness of His servant. It was His purpose that in purity and uprightness the believer in God should appear in marked contrast to the worshipers of idols–that thus the light of heavenly grace might shine forth amid the darkness of heathenism.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 214-217.
- Observing Joseph and his service, what did the captain of Pharaoh’s guard realize? Therefore, what did he do?
Genesis 39:3-6 And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. 5And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. 6And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.
“Joseph was greatly afflicted to be separated from his father, and his bitterest sorrow was in reflecting upon his father’s grief. But God did not leave Joseph to go into Egypt alone. Angels prepared the way for his reception. Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, bought him of the Ishmaelites. And the Lord was with Joseph, and he prospered him, and gave him favor with his master, so that all that he possessed he intrusted to Joseph’s care. ‘And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat.’ It was considered an abomination for a Hebrew to prepare food for an Egyptian.” –Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 143.
Tested by severe trials
- Into what terrible situation was Joseph thrust by his master’s wife? What did he say to her? How clearly was he aware of what he was going through and why?
Genesis 39:7-9 And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 8But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; 9There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
“But Joseph’s faith and integrity were to be tested by fiery trials. His master’s wife endeavored to entice the young man to transgress the law of God. Heretofore he had remained untainted by the corruption teeming in that heathen land; but this temptation, so sudden, so strong, so seductive–how should it be met? Joseph knew well what would be the consequence of resistance. On the one hand were concealment, favor, and rewards; on the other, disgrace, imprisonment, perhaps death. His whole future life depended upon the decision of the moment. Would principle triumph? Would Joseph still be true to God? With inexpressible anxiety, angels looked upon the scene.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 217.
- What made the woman’s attempted seduction all the more terrible? On whom did Joseph depend to save him from Satan’s snare?
Genesis 39:10; 4:7 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her…. 4:7If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
“The lessons given Joseph in his youth by Jacob in expressing his firm trust in God and relating to him again and again the precious evidences of His loving-kind- ness and unceasing care were the very lessons he needed in his exile among an idolatrous people. In the testing time he put these lessons to a practical use. When under the severest trial, he looked to his heavenly Father, whom he had learned to trust. Had the precepts and example of the father of Joseph been of an oppo- site character, the pen of inspiration would never have traced upon the pages of sacred history the story of integrity and virtue that shines forth in the character of Joseph. The early impressions made upon his mind garrisoned his heart in the hour of fierce temptation and led him to exclaim, ‘How can I do this great wicked- ness, and sin against God?’” –Child Guidance, p. 197.
The secret of victory
- What did Potiphar’s wife do when she could not persuade Joseph with her words? What holy principles made victory possible for him and also for all of God’s children even to this day?
Genesis 39:11, 12 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. 12And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
Psalm 34:17-19 The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. 18The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. 19Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.
“Joseph bore the test of character in adversity, and the gold was undimmed by prosperity. He showed the same sacred regard for God’s will when he stood next the throne as when in a prisoner’s cell. Joseph carried his religion everywhere, and this was the secret of his unwavering fidelity. As representative men you must have the all-pervading power of true godliness. I tell you, in the fear of God, your path is beset by dangers which you do not see and do not realize. You must hide in Jesus. You are unsafe unless you hold the hand of Christ…. No victory you can gain will be so precious as that gained over self.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 544.
“Joseph’s answer reveals the power of religious principle. He would not betray the confidence of his master on earth, and, whatever the consequences, he would be true to his Master in heaven. Under the inspecting eye of God and holy angels many take liberties of which they would not be guilty in the presence of their fellow men, but Joseph’s first thought was of God. ‘How … can I do this great wick- edness, and sin against God?’ he said.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 217.
- Unable to get what she wanted, what did the woman do? What kind of a person would seek to destroy an innocent person in this way?
Genesis 39:13-18 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, 14That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: 15And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out. 16And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. 17And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: 18And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
“Joseph suffered for his integrity, for his tempter revenged herself by accusing him of a foul crime, and causing him to be thrust into prison. Had Potiphar be- lieved his wife’s charge against Joseph, the young Hebrew would have lost his life; but the modesty and uprightness that had uniformly characterized his conduct were proof of his innocence; and yet, to save the reputation of his master’s house, he was abandoned to disgrace and bondage.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 218.
- How did the captain react to his wife’s lies about Joseph? Who comforted and blessed the young man of God in prison? What does the Lord promise those who love Him and are faithful to Him?
Genesis 39:19-23 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. 20And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the pris- on. 21But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. 23The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.
2 Timothy 3:11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconi- um, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
“At the first Joseph was treated with great severity by his jailers. The psalmist says, ‘His feet they hurt with fetters; he was laid in chains of iron: until the time that his word came to pass; the word of the Lord tried him.’ Psalm 105:18, 19, R.V.
But Joseph’s real character shines out, even in the darkness of the dungeon. He held fast his faith and patience; his years of faithful service had been most cruelly repaid, yet this did not render him morose or distrustful. He had the peace that comes from conscious innocence, and he trusted his case with God. He did not brood upon his own wrongs, but forgot his sorrow in trying to lighten the sorrows of others. He found a work to do, even in the prison. God was preparing him in the school of affliction for greater usefulness, and he did not refuse the needful discipline. In the prison, witnessing the results of oppression and tyranny and the effects of crime, he learned lessons of justice, sympathy, and mercy, that prepared him to exercise power with wisdom and compassion.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 218.
For additional study
“God calls for complete and entire consecration, and anything short of this He will not accept. The more difficult your position the more you need Jesus. The love and fear of God kept Joseph pure and untarnished in the king’s court. He was exalt- ed to great wealth, to the high honor of being next to the king; and this elevation was as sudden as it was great. It is impossible to stand upon a lofty height without danger. The tempest leaves unharmed the modest flower of the valley, while it wrestles with the lofty tree upon the mountaintop. There are many men whom God could have used with wonderful success when pressed with poverty–He could have made them useful here, and crowned them with glory hereafter–but pros- perity ruined them; they were dragged down to the pit because they forgot to be humble, forgot that God was their strength, and became independent and self-suf- ficient.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 544.
“Joseph’s gentleness and fidelity won the heart of the chief captain, who came to regard him as a son rather than a slave. The youth was brought in contact with men of rank and learning, and he acquired a knowledge of science, of languages, and of affairs–an education needful to the future prime minister of Egypt.” –Patri- archs and Prophets, p. 217.