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Year 1, Week 7, Day 1

I have a brief observation for today’s reading of Genesis 39-40.

Today’s reading records events in the life of Joseph. Genesis 39 describes Joseph’s time as a successful servant in the house of Potiphar, who is a high-ranking officer in the Egyptian government. But the time in Potiphar’s house comes to an abrupt end as Joseph, who is unjustly charged with assault, ends up in an Egyptian prison. Genesis 40 recounts the start of Joseph’s time in an Egyptian prison as it focuses on Joseph’s success in prison in general, but also his particular success in interpreting the dreams of two fellow inmates. Today’s reading ends with Joseph still in prison.

What struck me from today’s reading is what it reveals about the LORD’s presence with His people. In back to back chapters, the circumstantial troubles for Joseph continue. Joseph’s descending affliction in Egypt is cataloged: “Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt” (Genesis 39:1). And yet, in spite of Joseph’s unfair treatment, the LORD was with Him: “The LORD was with Joseph” (Genesis 39:2); "But the LORD was with Joseph” (Genesis 39:21); and “the LORD was with him” (Genesis 39:23). The LORD is always with His people and the LORD desires that His people know of this constant reality: “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10).  The LORD is with His people even in the dreariest days of the darkest prisons.

The presence of the LORD was evident in Joseph’s life. Joseph’s awareness of the presence of the LORD in His life shaped the way that he acted and responded to the situations of life. The awareness of the presence of the LORD shaped Joseph morally. As he was seduced or pressured by the advances of Potiphar’s wife, Joseph acknowledges the LORD: "How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). Joseph’s morality was not constructed on a foundation of mere human consent, but upon what God had said. Not even private actions of two consenting adults escape the moral parameters of God’s Law. Joseph was also aware of the LORD’s presence as he assisted his prison mates with understanding their dreams: “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.” (Genesis 40:8). Joseph proceeded to interpret the dreams of his fellow inmates, but he was explicitly clear that the ability to do so was from the LORD. Joseph’s awareness of the LORD’s presence in his life shaped how he responded to temptation, as well as how he served the needs of others.

But the presence of the LORD in Joseph’s life profoundly shaped the lives of those around Joseph. Joseph was blessed by the LORD and such blessing accounted for the success that unfolding in his life. This was the case while in Potiphar’s house: “The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands” (Genesis 39:2-3); and “From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had, in house and field.” (Genesis 39:5). This was also the case while in prison: “But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph's charge, because the LORD was with him. And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed.” (Genesis 39:21-23).

Joseph winds up in prison. But the LORD’s presence with Joseph was evident to Joseph himself, but also to those around him. An important purpose of the LORD’s blessing in Joseph’s life was that he was to be a blessing to those around him. Thus, Joseph is showing us a measure of the fulfillment of what the LORD had promised in the Abrahamic Covenant: “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3). Joseph’s life will continue modeling the role that the LORD’s presence in our life is to enable us to be a blessing to others. This reality will ultimately be fulfilled in Jesus’ life: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!” (Psalm 67:1-3).

What struck you in today’s reading? What questions were prompted from today’s reading?

Pastor Joe