HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? Genesis 39:9
My message today is: A reverent fear of God in all areas of life is the key to a life of integrity.
The life of Joseph has always fascinated me. Few lives were as eventful as his. He went from being a boy in a shepherding family to being sold into slavery; then from becoming the household servant of an Egyptian official into prison; then, in just one day, from being a prisoner to becoming the Prime Minister of the then world-empire—second in authority only to Pharaoh himself.
What’s more, throughout it all, he remained confident in his trust in—and usefulness to—the God of Israel. While still in his youth—still labouring away for his father in the sheep-folds—God had revealed to him that his father and mother and eleven brothers would one day bow down to him (Genesis 37:5-11). It was his declaration of that dream, you’ll remember, that moved his brothers to sell him away into slavery. But their cruel act toward him was exactly what God used to get him to the place where he could keep his family alive during a time of famine and to thus preserve the people from whom our Saviour Jesus Christ would be born.
When he was in a position of great authority over the land of Egypt—and when he could very easily have punished his brothers for their cruelty to him—Joseph was confident enough in his trust in God to tell them,
“Now, therefore, be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:5-8).
One of the great lessons we can learn from Joseph was his great confidence in the sovereignty of God’s hand in his life. I believe that the high point of that confidence was when he was able to comfort his brothers and tell them,
“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:20).
Joseph was the kind of man that God could entrust great authority and responsibility to—knowing that Joseph would use what was given to him for good. And that leads me to a particular characteristic of this great man that I’d like to point out to you this morning. You can see this characteristic hinted-at throughout the story of his life.
You find a hint of it, first, in the early part of his story—back when he was labouring for his father in the sheepfolds. We’re told that when his father Jacob sent his eleven other sons out to tend the sheep, he told Joseph, “Are not your brothers feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, I will send you to them” (Genesis 37:13). Joseph reported for duty; and Jacob told him, “Please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks, and bring back word to me” (verse 14). Joseph was the youngest of the brothers; and yet, I believe Jacob detected the kind of trustworthiness in his young son that moved him to place the boy in a position over the others.
That, of course, led those brothers to respond in jealousy. They devised a plan to rid themselves of Joseph by selling him into slavery to a travelling band of Midianite traders. Those traders, in turn, took Joseph to Egypt and sold him to an officer of Pharaoh—the captain of the guard—named Potiphar.
It’s there that we again see a hint of this particular character quality in Joseph. We’re told that
2 And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand.4 And 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.5 And 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.6 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. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured. (Genesis 39:2-6).
Now, you know the story. He was unjustly accused of wrong-doing; and was rashly cast into prison by Potiphar. But Joseph’s faithfulness to God remained unshaken. And so, even in prison, we see again this great quality of Joseph put on display. We’re told;
21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.22 And 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.23 The keeper of the prison looked not to anything that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper. (Genesis 39:21-23).
What an amazing demonstration of his character! Joseph was a prisoner; and yet, in time, the jailer was able, with total confidence, to hand the keys over to him and trusted him to take care of the other prisoners!
And as you know, it was from that prison that he was eventually called forth to interpret the Pharaoh’s dream. Pharaoh, in response, said, “And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?” (Genesis 41:38); and told Joseph,
“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.” (verse 40).
During that twelve-year period of Joseph’s life, he went from the faithful service of his father in the sheepfolds, to the faithful stewardship of an Egyptian official’s household, to the faithful stewardship of the prison he was cast into, to—finally—the faithful stewardship of the governing empire over the known world at the right hand of Pharaoh! And in each step along the way, we find Joseph proving himself to be someone to whom those in power could confidently hand the keys, and entrust with the management of everything. No one had to check-up on him. Those in authority were able to trust him completely.
Even to those who did not know the God of Israel, Joseph was a godly man of manifest integrity.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW ….