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  • Writer's pictureWayne Shelton

True Success

Genesis 39:14-23

What an astounding turn of events! Joseph had gone from ‘the pit in Shechem up to the penthouse of Potiphar’s estate and now down to the prison-house of Egypt’ (Hughes). Few situations could be worse than an Egyptian prison in 1500 BC – especially the lot of a confined prisoner. Psalm 105 describes Joseph’s incarceration: “Joseph… was sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what he had said came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him” (vv17b-19).

But what a towering figure he had become. Never once, whether in prosperity or adversity, had Joseph doubted God. this is amazing. Ripped out of his house at seventeen years of age, hauled all the way down to Egypt, one thing after another happening to him, the emotional massage of all the ups and downs – and yet he believed God was with him. He had sensed and appropriated God’s presence in every circumstance. And never had Joseph been more of a success than now. He dwarfed the monuments of the Nile.

God was “with” Joseph. Again, Joseph did not hear the narrator’s words that three times declare that God was with him and that he was a success (see 39:21-23). Here we find the themes that opened the story in verses 1-6 repeated, but at a new level. Here again we see phenomenal, astonishing, empirically verifiable success. Everyone could see that God was with Joseph. And Joseph had never stopped seeing this reality. ‘He saw it in the pit, he saw it in the penthouse, he saw it amidst Mrs. Potiphar’s lies, and he now saw it in the prison-house’ – and that is why he was and would be such an astonishing success.

How does Joseph’s story intersect the lives of God’s children today? Kent Hughes responds, ‘powerfully and substantially.’ He then explains his response:

“Upon the conception of Christ the Messiah in the womb of the virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel explained to another Joseph, “That which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20b, 21). Jesus’ divinely given name is the combination of two words – ‘Jehovah’ and salvation – so that his name means “Jehovah saves” or “the Lord saves.” In respect to the patriarch Joseph, Jesus is Jehovah [God], the one who was with Joseph and gave him great success in Egypt. Now consider the verses that follow in Matthew 1:

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (vv22, 23)”

Our Messiah, Jesus, is God and bears the name Immanuel, “God with us.” As believers, then, God is always with us, in all of life. In fact, when Jesus left this earth he said, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20b).

My friends, the key to our day-to-day success in this life is living in the reality that God is with us. The reality that we are called to embrace would have astonished Joseph. That God became one of us and now, ascended, remains “God with us” is the most sublime truth. May we own it with all our souls!

I hope you can join us this week as we come to understand true success through Joseph’s life.

Don’t forget that next Sunday, October 23, is our church fellowship immediately following our service. The church will provide the meat and drinks, please bring some side dishes you like and a dessert. By the way, this would be a great Sunday to invite a friend to come along and experience what the Lord is doing at Redeemer. You can sign up HERE.

Toward the end of our fellowship time together we will enter into a family meeting in which we vote to petition the Presbytery for particularization, elect our officers, and call our pastor. This will be moderated by our church planting network director, Rev. Jeph Guinan.

For Christ and His Kingdom,

Pastor Wayne


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