The Power of the Promise Part VIII

Lessons from the Life of Joseph – Part II

Joseph became a born-again new covenant believer on his way to Egypt. He arrived in Egypt as the shining New Covenant light God would have him to be. Meanwhile his brothers back home had time to reflect on their terrible behaviour and on the ever increasing heartache and grief which they caused their father to have to endure every passing day.

The New Covenant Light Reveals The New Covenant God To Egypt

Joseph was a teenager of 17 years of age when he arrived in Egypt. He was sold to Potiphar, cap-tain of the King's guard, in whose service he remained ten (10) years. He was surrounded by the vice and sinful pleasures of idolatry; its music, fetes, sexual immorality and godlessness, but he kept his thoughts on the God of his fathers and openly worshipped Jehovah! By faith in God and by believing God's promises Joseph remained loyal to the Abrahamic Covenant!

Let us read now from the TEV.

“He lived in the house of his Egyptian master who saw that Jehovah was with Jo-seph and had made him successful in everything he did. Potiphar was pleased with him and made him his personal servant; so he put him in charge of his house and everything he owned. From then on, because of Joseph the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian and everything that he had in his house and in his fields. Potiphar turned over everything he had to the care of Joseph and did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.” Gen. 39:2-6.

The shining success of a New Covenant life amidst a satanic stronghold of paganism stirred Satan's anger and he planned an all-out assault on Joseph.

We continue now with the account in the Bible (TEV).

“Joseph was well-built and good-looking and after a while his master's wife began to desire Joseph and asked him to go to bed with her. He refused and said to her ‘look my master does not have to concern himself with anything in the house be-cause I am here. He has put me in charge of everything he has. I have as much au-thority in this house as he has, and he has not kept back anything from me except you. How then could I do such an immoral thing and sin against God!” Although she asked Joseph day after day, he would not go to bed with her.” Gen. 39:6-10.

Joseph's answer reveals the power of new covenant principle. Joseph's first thought was of the love and glory of God and, motivated by God's love and possessing God's righteousness by faith, he submitted his will to God's will. This is the formula for victory over sin!

“Joseph’s answer reveals the power of religious principle. He would not betray the confi-dence 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 wickedness, and sin against God?’ he said.” P.P. 217.

Satan's plan had a two-fold strategy. He knew that if Joseph sinned he would dishonor God and be separated, at least partially, from God's protection. On the other hand if Joseph refused to sin Satan would have him cast into prison.

Let us return to the Biblical account in TEV.

“But one day when Joseph went into the house to do
his work, none of the house servants was there. She caught him by his robe and said, ‘come to bed with me.’ But he escaped and ran outside, leaving his robe in her hand. When she saw that he had left his robe and had run out of the house, she called to her house servants and said ‘Look at this! This Hebrew that my husband brought to the house is in-sulting us. He came into my room and tried to rape me, but I screamed as loud as I could. When he heard me scream he ran outside, leaving his robe beside me.” Gen. 39:11-15.

She repeated this false charge to her husband when he came home and Potiphar had Joseph ar-rested and imprisoned in the prison where the King's prisoners were kept.

But little did Satan know that by imprisoning Joseph he (Satan) was but in fact accelerating God's eternal purpose! Romans 8:28; 2 Cor. 13:8.

The New Covenant In Prison

The Old Covenant “gendereth to bondage” but the New Covenant liberates! Hallelujah! So the New Covenant in jail meant trouble for Satan! The account in Genesis 39 does not give all the de-tails for we are simply told there that:

“The LORD JEHOVAH was with Joseph and blessed him, so that the jailer was pleased with him.” Gen. 39:21.

But over in Psalm 105:18, 19 we are informed that Joseph was initially treated with great severity by his jailers. Yet he remained kind, patient and submissive. He did not brood upon his own hardships but tried to help others. This is New Covenant character! What about us? Do we for-get our hardships by trying to help others? Or are we always focused on self? In other words are we Old Covenant or New Covenant believers?

God was preparing Joseph in the school of affliction for greater usefulness, and he did not refuse the needful discipline. In the prison, witnessing the results of oppression, tyranny, and sin and the consequences of crime, he learned lessons of justice, sympathy and mercy, that prepared him for the Prime Ministerial post to which he would soon be elevated.

Dreams Again?

The chief baker and chief butler of Pharoah were imprisoned and were put under Joseph's charge. Joseph by now had won such favour that the Superintendent of prisons put him in charge! You can’t keep down a New-Covenant believer! Oh praise the Lord!

The baker and butler had dreams. Dreams again? Joseph's dreams had made his brothers jealous and caused him to be sold into slavery. Now his interpretation of these dreams would eventually lead to his elevation to supreme executive power in the world's number one kingdom! Satan's at-tack on the New Covenant would be signally defeated!

The dreams are described in Genesis 40. In three days the butler was to be reinstated into his po-sition but the chief baker would be put to death. In both cases the event occurred as foretold!

The butler forgot all about Joseph who therefore spent two more years in jail amidst increasing trials.

The New Covenant God Opens The Prison Doors

But a divine hand was about to open the prison gates. The Pharoah had two dreams in one night. The dreams troubled him so much he could have no peace of mind. Some great calamity seemed to be foretold. Egypt's experts could not help the king. At last the chief butler remembered Jo-seph and informed the king. Joseph was sent for. A whole chapter in Genesis, Genesis 41, is de-voted to the account. There were going to be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of ex-treme famine. Egypt needed a man! A man who would so manage the affairs of the nation as to prevent the collapse of the government and the death of the people. Pharoah could find no such man among the Eqyptians, but God had a man!

The New Covenant In Control Of Egypt

After much deliberation. Pharoah and his governmental officials and advisers decided to appoint Joseph to the highest position (under the King) in all Egypt.

“The interpretation was so reasonable and consistent, and the policy which it recom-mended was so sound and shrewd, that its correctness could not be doubted. But who was to be entrusted with the execution of the plan? Upon the wisdom of this choice depended the nation’s preservation. The king was troubled. For some time the matter of the ap-pointment was under consideration. Through the chief butler the monarch had learned of the wisdom and prudence displayed by Joseph in the management of the prison; it was evi-dent that he possessed administrative ability in a pre-eminent degree. The cupbearer, now filled with self-reproach, endeavored to atone for his former ingratitude, by the warmest praise of his benefactor; and further inquiry by the king proved the correctness of his re-port. In all the realm Joseph was the only man gifted with wisdom to point out the danger that threatened the kingdom and the preparation necessary to meet it; and the king was convinced that he was the one best qualified to execute the plans which he had proposed. It was evident that a divine power was with him, and that there were none among the king’s officers of state so well qualified to conduct the affairs of the nation at this crisis. The fact that he was a Hebrew and a slave was of little moment when weighed against his evident wisdom and sound judgment. ‘Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?’ said the king to his counselors.

The appointment was decided upon, and to Joseph the astonishing announcement was made, ‘Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.’ The king proceeded to invest Joseph with the insignia of his high office. ‘And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; and he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried be-fore him, Bow the knee.’

‘He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance: to bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom.’ Psalm 105:21, 22. From the dungeon Joseph was exalted to be ruler over all the land of Egypt. It was a position of high honor, yet it was be-set with difficulty and peril. One cannot stand upon a lofty height without danger. As the tempest leaves unharmed the lowly flower of the valley, while it uproots the stately tree upon the mountaintop, so those who have maintained their integrity in humble life may be dragged down to the pit by the temptations that assail worldly success and honor. But Jo-seph’s character bore the test alike of adversity and prosperity. The same fidelity to God was manifest when he stood in the palace of the Pharaohs as when in a prisoner’s cell. He was still a stranger in a heathen land, separated from his kindred, the worshipers of God; but he fully believed that the divine hand had directed his steps, and in constant reliance upon God he faithfully discharged the duties of his position. Through Joseph the attention of the king and great men of Egypt was directed to the true God; and though they adhered to their idolatry, they learned to respect the principles revealed in the life and character of the worshiper of Jehovah.

How was Joseph enabled to make such a record of firmness of character, uprightness, and wisdom?–In his early years he had consulted duty rather than inclination; and the integrity, the simple trust, the noble nature, of the youth bore fruit in the deeds of the man. A pure and simple life had favored the vigorous development of both physical and intellectual powers. Communion with God through His works and the contemplation of the grand truths entrusted to the inheritors of faith had elevated and ennobled his spiritual nature, broadening and strengthening the mind as no other study could do. Faithful attention to duty in every station, from the lowliest to the most exalted, had been training every power for its highest service. He who lives in accordance with the Creator’s will is securing to him-self the truest and noblest development of character. ‘The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.’ Job 28:28.

There are few who realize the influence of the little things of life upon the development of character. Nothing with which we have to do is really small. The varied circumstances that we meet day by day are designed to test our faithfulness and to qualify us for greater trusts. By adherence to principle in the transactions of ordinary life, the mind becomes accus-tomed to hold the claims of duty above those of pleasure and inclination. Minds thus disci-plined are not wavering between right and wrong, like the reed trembling in the wind; they are loyal to duty because they have trained themselves to habits of fidelity and truth. By faithfulness in that which is least they acquire strength to be faithful in greater matters.

An upright character is of greater worth than the gold of Ophir. Without it none can rise to an honorable eminence. But character is not inherited. It cannot be bought. Moral excel-lence and fine mental qualities are not the result of accident. The most precious gifts are of no value unless they are improved. The formation of a noble character is the work of a life-time and must be the result of diligent and persevering effort. God gives opportunities; suc-cess depends upon the use made of them.” PP. 221 – 223.

Appeal

“In no other way can Christ’s disciples be cleansed but by obedience to the truth. The rsquotle Paul writes: ‘Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.’ And Peter writes: ‘Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently; being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.’ ‘Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.’

As the branch derives its nourishment from the vine, so all who are truly converted draw spiritual vitality from Christ. ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you,’ he declared, ‘Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the
last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drin-keth my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever. . . .

’Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.‘

Thus Christ presents the false union with himself in contrast with the true. Those who have not a living connection with Christ may to outward appearance be in fellowship with him. Their names may be enrolled on the church books, but they are not members of his body. They do not bear fruit to the glory of God. ’Ye shall know them by their fruits,‘ Christ said. ’Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree can not bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.‘

Christ has provided means whereby our whole life may be an unbroken communion with himself; but the sense of Christ’s abiding presence can come only through living faith. There must be a personal consecration to him. Self must be hid with Christ in God; then the grace received will be constantly imparted as a grateful offering to God. In this union Christ identifies himself with man before God and the heavenly universe. ’But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.‘ Our sins are reckoned to Christ. His righteousness is imputed to us, and we are made the righteousness of God in him. Because of his atoning sacrifice, our prayers go up to the Father, laden with the fragrance of Christ’s character, and, one with Christ, we are accepted in the Beloved.

Christ’s connection with his believing people is illustrated by this parable as by no other. We should study the lesson, that we may know what the parent stock is to the branch, and in what light the Lord regards those who believe and abide in Christ. Let all contemplate the completeness it is their privilege to have, and ask themselves the ques-tion, Is my will submerged in Christ’s will? Is the fullness and richness of the Living Vine–his goodness, his mercy, his compassion and love–seen in my life and character?” R.H. September. 18, 1900.