After discussing Judah and his family last week, this morning we will return our attention to Joseph. As you may recall, Joseph was his father Jacob’s favorite son. Jacob even made Joseph a coat of many colors which he proudly showed off to his brothers. Joseph sometimes snitched on his brothers and caused them to get in trouble. He openly shared his dreams of ruling over them someday. The brothers hated him for these things and conspired to kill him. Instead, they decided to sell him to a band of foreign merchants.
In today’s message, we resume our discussion of Joseph’s incredible life. I have titled this sermon “Falsely Accused”. It is the 24th message of “The Chosen Church: Getting To Know the Patriarchs” series.
I. ELEVATED (v1-6b)
After being sold to the Ishmaelite traders, Joseph was taken from Canaan to Egypt. Upon arrival, they sold him as a slave to Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh. Potiphar was the captain of the bodyguard. Joseph became a servant in Potiphar’s house and the LORD blessed him. Over time, Joseph’s success became evident and his master recognized that everything he did prospered. Therefore, Potiphar made Joseph his personal assistant and put him in charge of overseeing and managing his household.
God began to bless Potiphar’s house and property because he’d placed Joseph in charge of it. Everything that Joseph was given responsibility over flourished and thrived. Increasingly, Potiphar gave Joseph more and more control. Eventually the only thing that Potiphar had left to be concerned about was the food that he ate. Joseph took care of everything else for him.
Prior to his arrival in Egypt, the Bible presents Joseph as a somewhat snooty, spoiled, and unlikable teenager. However, while he lived with Potiphar, Joseph worked hard, earned the respect and admiration of his master, and enjoyed remarkable success (especially due to God’s blessing). His attitude and demeanor seemed better, and he’d definitely matured as a person. Sometimes going through a traumatic experience, like being sold into slavery, changes your perspective and forces you to grow up quickly. Whatsmore, sometimes people just need a fresh start in a new place somewhere far away from their past.
II. BLAMED (v6c-18)
Joseph was a handsome young man and Potiphar’s wife was strongly attracted to him. She began making sexual advances towards him and sought to entice Joseph into sleeping with her. But Joseph did not want to betray his master nor sin against God, so he repeatedly refused her propositions. She continued trying to seduce him day after day, but he always resisted.
One day Joseph was working alone in the house and no other people were around. Potiphar’s wife approached him, grabbed his garment, and demanded that he sleep with her. Joseph quickly fled from her presence, leaving his garment behind in her hand. Frustrated and angry, she gathered the men of the house and falsely accused Joseph of trying to sexually assault her. She showed them his garment and claimed that he’d tried to force himself on her, but ran away when she screamed. She later repeated this same lie to her husband, Potiphar, when he returned home.
There are many examples men who commit acts of sexual harassment and/or assault against women. Those who are guilty of this behavior should be held accountable. In no way do I or should we ever condone such conduct. On the other hand, there are also numerous instances in which innocent men are falsely accused of such things. Often in these cases, untrue and slanderous allegations impede or even destroy the young man’s life. Serious charges like these should be thoroughly investigated to determine the truth, not merely accepted at face value.
III. IMPRISONED (v19-23)
Though he was completely innocent, Joseph was placed in prison for attempting to rape Potiphar’s wife. The jail where he was confined housed only the king’s prisoners - those incarcerated by the king’s decree. While there, God’s favor was upon Joseph once again and he caught the attention of the chief jailer. As time went by, the chief jailer began giving him management and oversight responsibilities so that eventually Joseph was in charge of all the prisoners. The chief jailer trusted him completely.
Though he was in prison, Joseph made the best of his circumstances and rose to a position of leadership. He had done the same thing while serving as a slave in Potiphar’s house. In both instances, Joseph succeeded in spite of his challenging environment. There is no doubt that some people have an easier path than others, but Joseph’s story clearly demonstrates that one’s surroundings should not limit their achievements.
With God’s help, anyone can rise above their circumstances and find success. Doing so requires a positive attitude, a willingness to work hard, and a healthy reliance of the LORD. Joseph could have easily cursed God for his many misfortunes, wallowed in self-pity, and given up on himself - but he didn’t. Instead he faced every new day with a passionate desire to become the best he could be where he was. Success shouldn’t be measured in comparison to others and their situations, but rather in the achieving of one’s own potential.
As we observed earlier in this series, there are several noticeable similarities to be seen between Joseph’s life and that of Jesus Christ. We’ve already seen images that foreshadowed His betrayal, death, and resurrection. Let’s elaborate on a couple more commonalities as we wrap things up this morning.
First, while serving as a slave Joseph was faced with constant temptation. Can you imagine the challenging nature of his work environment? Yet, though he was a sinner in numerous other ways, Joseph successfully resisted the ongoing attempts of seduction made by Potiphar’s wife. In comparison, Jesus left His heavenly home, took on flesh, and came to live in the fallen world where sin abounds. He faced all sorts of temptations, just as we do each day, yet He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15).
Second, Joseph was condemned on the basis of false testimony. Potiphar’s wife accused him of doing something that he didn’t do, and he was subsequently put in prison for it. Jesus was also convicted based on contrived and even conflicting evidence (Matthew 26:59, Mark 14:56). Ultimately, Jesus was sentenced to death for inciting rebellion against Rome (treason or sedition) - a bogus charge that was totally false.