Posted by: arieliondotcom | January 13, 2013

Stressed for Service

Did you ever realize that if you didn’t have stress in your life you’d be useless? GOD uses the circumstances of life, both the ones that thrill and even scare you and those that seem unconquerable (and are, without Him) to make us useful. And Joseph was going to be very useful, because GOD was putting him through a lot of stress.

Hated by his brothers, sold into slavery by them, and then sexually harassed by the boss’s wife. All because Joseph had been given dreams from GOD about how great he would be. Yet it is that very gift of dreams which caused all the trouble that GOD uses again and again to bless Joseph, all for the purposes of glorifying GOD’s Name.

First, phase 1 of Joseph’s slavery has him sold into the service of Potiphar by the merchants who had paid his brothers 20 pieces of silver for him. Less than Judas would get for JESUS much later. Potiphar was a member of the staff of Pharaoh, King of Egypt. Today, he would be the chief bodyguard for the president. He was a very important man with the most responsible job in the kingdom, keeping Pharaoh alive. The word for officer, however, also implies eunuch. Guards were often castrated to keep their minds on their duties and not sex. So there is a possibility Potiphar couldn’t have sex and his wife was only given to him as part of his rank. This would emphasize the forcefulness of his wife’s attention to Joseph, who had grown into a handsome young man. Not to mention wanting children. It would also explain why Potiphar, who had trusted Joseph with everything and knew he was being blessed for Joseph’s sake, felt so shamed that anyone but he could pleasure his wife, that he assumes the worst and imprisons Joseph. Castrated physically or only emotionally by his wife (who probably did this regularly with other servants) Potiphar orders and into prison Joseph goes.

This prison we know from the readings is a pit, probably under Potiphar’s house, a dungeon. This is phase 2 of Joseph’s slavery. So see the irony! Joseph, probably still seventeen, is betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, brought to a strange country, had the trust and perks of being the best treated of all the servants ripped away from him, tempted to have sex after all that when still a virgin and yet strong enough to resist, thrown into another pit for doing the right thing…this kid is asking two fellow prisoners why THEY look sad! We’re tempted to think he said it like “What do YOU guys have to complain about? Listen to what happened to ME!” But he didn’t. In fact, in a way, he is still doing his duty because he’s looking after the affairs of those Potiphar is responsible for.

And responsibility is the key word in interpreting the dreams of Pharaoh’s chief baker and cup bearer. Someone had tried to poison Pharaoh. Or at least he and Potiphar his bodyguard suspected they had. And the baker in charge of keeping anyone from poisoning Pharaoh’s bread and the cupbearer responsible for keeping anyone from poisoning Pharaoh’s wine were the suspects. You can tell from their dreams why the cupbearer was freed and the baker was killed. The cupbearer has responsibility for the wine from the growth of the vine to the bearing of the grapes to the processing of the wine to the giving of the wine to Pharoah’s hand. As his dream shows, he has done his duty. But not so for the baker. The bread’s already in the basket on his head. He doesn’t know where it came from or if anyone tampered with it. His dream showed he was irresponsible at best and complicit at worst. So he is found guilty when freed and executed with birds feasting off the head that took its responsibility so lightly. But the cupbearer is freed back to his position in Pharaoh’s service. But it will be years before he remembers his promise to Joseph. Joseph will continue undergoing stressful service in prison before being fit for the next service GOD has for him.

GOD used prison service to Pharaoh’s servants to bring Joseph to the place he could be used and Joseph used it to bless others. As it was with Joseph so it is with us. GOD is using your circumstances to bring you to Himself and to be fit for your next opportunity. You may be doing everything right and not knowing why you’re suffering. But they’re healthy growing pains to get you fit to get and be and give a blessing. Genesis 39-41

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