Mar 7-13 (Genesis 37-41) Come Follow Me Insights with Taylor and Tyler – powered by Happy Scribe
And I’m Tyler.
This is Book of Mormon Central’s. Come Follow Me insights today Genesis, chapters 37 to 41.
So today’s story is going to be following a couple of different characters. Specifically, the emphasis is on Joseph and watching his story unfold the ups and the downs. It’s a fascinating map that we’re going to lay out on the board. So you’re going to see that today’s lesson is extremely symbolic. There are so many different metaphorical lenses that we can put on to read these chapters, and they’re all instructive and one isn’t better than the other, and none of them is the end all be all way to read this story. That’s why it’s important as we go through Come Follow Me lessons as an individual or as a family, or as a couple, or as a class that we try to avoid this idea of no. This is the only way to read this, but leave people free and encourage them to go heavenward, to find revelation, to connect with them in that story, to help it be instructive and applicable and relevant to their life as they move forward. So here are a couple of lenses to consider with the story of Joseph. These similes metaphors symbols that would point us to the fact that we’re not just reading about Joseph in Egypt or Joseph with his family before that, but we’re using Joseph as a lens through which we can look at a couple of different angles on the life of Christ.
He’s one of the beautiful Christ’s characters symbolically in the Scriptures. So again, lots of ways to look at his life. Here’s just one. You get his life, which seems to follow this pattern, and you’ll notice just when he’s risen to the top of success, then boom, he ends up in the depth, and then wherever he gets located, he climbs to the very top of that and then down, and he just keeps doing this. A linear progression is probably not accurate. It would be better if you could, in your mind, just tilt the board so that it’s an upward progression as his connection and his Covenant of loyalty to God in the face of more and more and more adversity keeps increasing so that he isn’t ending up at the same point. He’s improving throughout the story. So if you want to look at a quick overview of his life, he rises to the top as a son. Then he’s going to rise to the top as a slave or a servant. Then he’s going to rise to the top of the ranks as a prisoner thrown in jail. And then he’s going to rise to the top as royalty.
Are you noticing something here? Look at the labels as a son, a beloved son of his father who becomes the birthright son through whom the promises and the blessings and the means whereby he can help provide for the whole rest of the family are given something very Christlike about that, and then becoming a servant of all, and yet rising to the very highest level that a servant could rise to, and then becoming a prisoner, being rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. There’s something very Christlike about Joseph’s story becoming a prisoner. We end the story here in today’s scripture with royalty and him rising in power in Egypt. And you’ll notice what each of these downfalls is caused by in the stories that comes to us from Genesis. It’s never because of Joseph’s foolishness or weakness or something that he did wrong. Now, within this motif, there are a couple of additional aspects that we can look at, one being clothing that’s mentioned throughout the story, another being the role of dreams and revelation and inspiration and prophecy and how it plays in you’ll notice, as the favored son, he gets a coat.
And in our King James version, it says, it’s a coat of many colors. We’ll talk about that when we get to that verse as a servant. So he loses that coat, it gets ripped and torn and dipped in blood. And there’s all kinds of atonement symbolism that are tied in to that part of the story. Then he sold as a slave wearing servants clothing in Egypt. And you’ll notice in the story with Potiphar’s wife that we’ll get to a little later on that she refers to it in our biblical text as she grabs his garment as he runs and she holds on to his garment. And that is the piece of evidence that she uses to try to condemn him. And so he’s willing to keep his virtue and his loyalty to God and leaves the garment, so to speak, with her that cloak. Then as a prisoner, he’s going to wear prisoners clothes. And isn’t it fascinating when Pharaoh is going to call Joseph out of prison to come and interpret his dreams because nobody else can do it? The narrator in this story, this Moses account, tells us that they shaved Joseph in prison and they changed his garment.
They put on new, fresh clothes. So you get this new clothing to bring him into the Pharaoh’s presence, and he comes into that court as the lowliest person in the court, having freshly come out of prison, and it doesn’t take long for him to rise to the very top. And as he rises to the top, what does Pharaoh give him? He gives him these very kingly garments. He has raiment that is worthy of the very finest in all of Egypt. So you’re seeing that motif come through, you’re seeing dreams at various phases, how God is working with him and giving him hope. And by the way, this happens from age 17 to age 30. So there’s a lot of this going on in a fairly compressed 13 year period of his life. So you’re noticing again that the number 30 is kind of a significant number when you’re talking about Jesus, because that’s how old he is when he begins his Ministry, which is how old Joseph is when he begins his Ministry in Egypt. And what is his Ministry? It’s to be a savior of the people, because God knows that there is seven years of famine that are going to come and it will bring with it great destruction if there isn’t the proper preparation that takes place beforehand.
And so Joseph is the one who prepares the way for that deliverance, not just of the people of Egypt, but ultimately for all of the house of Israel, for all of those other tribes, the very brothers who sold him into captivity, who nearly killed killed him. Salvation is prepared for them to come down into Egypt. And there’s a beautiful flow through that part of the story. So before we jumped into any one of the particular or specific verses, we wanted to kind of give you this overarching narrative flow and encourage you to get out symbolic lenses and put them on. And this is just a handful of them. And there are others. As we’re going through this or as you’re going through it on your own, you may see other elements that cause you to think of the life, the mission, the infinite atonement the mercy and the Grace of Jesus Christ. And that’s great. I think if Joseph and Egypt were here, I don’t think he would say, I want this to be all about me. I think he would want his life to reflect the Lord Jesus Christ and his mission. And Joseph would be much more happy if he could be a lens through which we see the savior than if he becomes an end unto himself.
So with that Foundation, Taylor, let’s jump in to chapter 37 at the beginning of the story where again, Jacob name changed to Israel. He loved Rachel. She wasn’t able to have any children until the very end. Now you get Joseph, who was born, and he’s kind of become the preferred as we pick up the story in chapter 37.
Yeah, the favorite child, verse three. Now, Israel or Jacob loved Joseph more than all his children because he was the son of his old age and he made him a coat of many colors. And when his brother and saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him and could not speak peaceably unto him.
It reminds me of some of the confrontations that Jesus is going to have with the Pharisees and the scribes and little later on, the Sadducees in his life, where they can’t abide the fact that Jesus is the beloved son and he’s making claims and it’s making them angry. And by the way, Joseph isn’t the only type of Christ in this. As you look at some of these similar things on the board in the Book of Mormon, we’ve got another, at least one really good example of this.
Oh, it’s interesting in some ways. Nepha’s life where he has the youngest son until Jacob and Joseph are born to Lehigh. And Sorayah he also seems to be the favorite son. He’s the guy who is always being righteous and always finding a way to fulfill God’s will and to solve problems. And the older brothers hate him and conspire to kill him. And we have these similar things where Nephi essentially serves as a servant to the family, building a boat and doing other things like making a bow. And eventually Me five becomes the King. Although he rejects the title, he acts like a King once they get into the new world appointed by God. But it follows the same pattern like we have at Joseph. And I can imagine Nephi in his own life, probably love the story of Joseph because it gave him Nephi perspective in his own suffering, that if people are persistent on God’s covenants, that God will find a way to lift us up and help us in whatever circumstance we’re in so that we can find joy and peace in our life. So the Nephi and Joseph literary connection is a fun one to consider.
It’s beautiful. And you add to that the idea of the dreams in the Nephi account, dreams and visions and very clear messages from heaven, shared, not always loved and appreciated by the people with whom you’re sharing them.
Actually the clothing, too. He takes on layman’s clothing and so all sorts of interesting connections.
So if you go to chapter 37, verse five through eight, you get his first dream where they’re binding sheaths of green. Well then he follows it up with another dream in verse nine through eleven, where he includes the stars and the sun and the moon. Included in this dream is his father. And that starts to make Israel or Jacob wander and his brothers envied him. And then we pick up the story where they’re off feeding the sheep, feeding the flocks. Isn’t that interesting? Jesus will use that same metaphor with some of the leaders of the people, the rulers of the Jews, where I would refer to them as the shepherds in Israel, who really haven’t been watching over the flock. Well, they’ve been in it for them, not for the flock. And then Jesus will use that analogy of I am the good shepherd because the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. He doesn’t just watch over the sheep, he actually is willing to die in order to save the sheep, in contrast to what the shepherds in Israel at his time were doing. So as he goes, sent by his father to go and be with his brothers, take them food, find out how things were going, they see him while he’s yet a long ways off.
And verse 19, they said one to another, behold this master of dreams, this dreamer, he comes, let’s do him in, basically. So they conspire. And isn’t it fascinating who it is that comes to his defense? Originally, Joseph hasn’t even arrived there. It’s Reuben, the oldest son, who they say, let’s kill him. But verse 21 says, and Reuben heard it and he delivered him out of their hands and said, Let us not kill him. And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness and lay no hand upon him that he might rid him of their hands to deliver him to his father again. So Reuben says, we’re not going to do this. And then it seems that Reuben somehow leaves, probably goes off with the flock or something because he’s not part of this next conversation. So you get in verse 25, the Ishmaelites, don’t be confused by that name, because most of the time if you hear that Ishmaelites, you would think, oh, these are the children of Ishmael. These are relatives through grandfather Abraham up the line. And the answer is, they’re ish mealites.
There’s a double EE there. It’s a different, different group of people, Midionites. And they’re coming from Gilliard, their traders going down to Egypt. And notice in verse 26 which brother it is that steps forward now. And Judah said unto his brother, what profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites. It’s fascinating to me that in the Hebrew, the name Judah becomes a pretty familiar name if you translate it to Greek and you read it in the New Testament, his name shifts from Judah to Judas, who sells Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Here it’s for 20 pieces of silver. It seems to be the cost of a common servant or slave at their time.
And actually, it’s really significant because even far more ancient than when these guys were alive, it was a common phrase to say something’s worth 20 or 30 shekels. It was a way to say it was of no worth. And so even sometimes we talk about 20 or 30 shekels might be worth something metaphorically in their culture. 30 shekels or 20 shekels literally was the phrase you would use to say, this is of no worth to us. It’s of no value. And that’s actually how Judas felt about Jesus and how Judah’s brothers felt about Joseph.
So they negotiate that with the Midianites. These Ishmaelites, they sell him and then they’ve got this issue of, well, what are we going to tell dad? How are we going to cover this up, what we’ve done? Because keep in mind, from their perspective, they have just given Joseph a death sentence, but the blood is not going to be on their hands, so to speak, as a slave down in Egypt, what are the chances of his life expectancy being won at all?
More than 30, not much. And what we see going on here is that the Suns are now going to practice the Sedat against Jacob. And we remember the word Jacob. The Hebrew word means supplanter or maybe even deceiver. And so we’ve seen that in Jacob’s life story. He sometimes appears to be or deceiving people, and he’s being deceived. And we might look at this and say, oh, there’s a bit of dysfunctionality going on here in the family. And part of what I find here is that these are real people. And I look at my own life and I say, wow, if God can find a way to create good out of the chaos of people’s lives in the past, he can do it in my life again. You’ve got this play going on of the deceit going on, that even Jacob in his old age is still being confronted with deceit from people who are close to him. And I do love how the story eventually plays out. I know I get ahead of myself that Jacob spends years, at least 13 years, probably longer, not knowing the reality and the truth of what happened to Joseph.
I ache to think about the pain that Jacob felt thinking that he lost his beloved son Joseph, only to get him back.
So they take this coat back. In 37, verse three, it was again referred to as the coat of many colors. You’ll notice if you look at the footnote that it refers to the Septuagint word. Those of you who don’t know what Septuagent is, that’s simply the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible that is being written, that Septuagen is being written at the time of Christ. They’re writing it into Greek because most of the educated people in the first century could read Greek. Not everybody could read Hebrew and understand Hebrew.
It’s like today for many of the Englishspeaking world, the King James Version translation is how we encounter the Bible. Most of us don’t go to the Hebrew. For the Jews living the time of Jesus, many of them only spoke Greek, like most of us speak English in the Englishspeaking world. And so they needed a way to build access to Bible. And so they got it through the Greek translation.
Which is called the two agents. When they would speak, they’re speaking Aramaic, and the Targum is the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible. And they’re just developing the written form of the Aramaic at the time of Jesus Christ. So that’s not fully developed at that time. So Septuagint is kind of a big deal. So the Septuagent word indicates many colors, but the Hebrew term it says may indicate simply a long coat with sleeves and not be associated with bright colors of cloth woven together, which is a fascinating thing. We don’t have any more detail, but it’s this idea of a cloak, a covering, a garment, something to signify covenantal preference given by a father to a child. I don’t know about you, but for me, it takes me back in my mind clear back to the beginning in Eden, where Adam and Eve were found naked in the garden. And what did God the Father have provided for them? Coats of skins to cover their nakedness. So I don’t know if it’s similar to the garment given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to cover their nakedness. But at least the metaphorical connection is strong enough to say, wow, this is something where we can tie it into that Greek word.
Again, we’ll be covering this more next year in the New Testament. But the Greek word and duo is translated in our Bible is put on it’s an item of clothing that you put on Enduro. Some of you might look at that and say, wait, that looks a little bit like the word endow. That’s what the word endowment is. It’s to put on sacred clothing. It’s to be clothed in the robe of righteousness, to use that phrase from the Book of Mormon and from Isaiah, it’s God covering us, covering our nakedness and our exposure. And in this covenantal context text, Jacob is giving this coat to Joseph, and now his brothers have taken it off of him and ripped it and stained it and dipped it in blood. The symbolism is remarkable as we think again of Jesus in the future and what’s going to go on through that infinite atoning sacrifice.
So it’s interesting, Tyler, you talk about this clothing, particularly this code of many colors. We have reference to this again in the Book of Mormon. It’s interesting. This code of many colors is essentially not talked about, again, anywhere in the Bible, as far as I can recall. And yet you get some really significant, few significant passages in the Book of Warmth that give us some more insight.
Yeah. There are a couple of places in the Book of Warm where this comes up. This part of the story, my favorite, is in Alma 46, verse 24. This is the section of the story where Captain Moroni is establishing that title of Liberty and trying to rally the knee fights to the cause of Christ and to fight for truth and to defend their God, their freedoms, their liberties, their families. Listen to what he says here, verse 24. Yea let us preserve our Liberty as a remnant of Joseph. Yea, let us remember the words of Jacob before his death. For behold, he saw that a part of the remnant of the coat of Joseph was preserved and had not decayed. And he said, Even as this remnant of garment of my son hath been preserved, so shall a remnant of the seed of my son be preserved by the hand of God and be taken unto himself, while the remainder of the seed of Joseph shall perish, even as the remnant of his garment. So using these parts of the coat, most of which have decayed. But there’s one part that didn’t decay, and it stayed true.
I love that idea that Captain Moroni is pulling that back into people’s memories to say, We’ve got to be the ones to fulfill this prophecy. We’ve got to stay true. We’ve got to stay strong and faithful to God in defending our Liberty. It’s a powerful image in the minds of those people in the Book of Mormon. Now we go back when you have those Suns, bring home the shredded and the ripped up cloak stained with blood presented to Jacob. And they say, we didn’t see Joseph, but we found this and he sees it and he recognizes it. Yes. This is the coat that I had given to him. Then Jacob does what every ancient father seems to do in that time period. He instantly goes into mourning, and the first thing he does is rips his own coat and sits down in sackcloth. Look at verse 34. Jacob rent his coat, clothes and put sackcloth upon his loins and mourn for his son many days. And everybody’s trying to comfort him, everybody’s trying to make him happy. But he’s lost Joseph. No parent ever, ever wants to bury a child. And isn’t it fascinating that when Jesus is going to be crucified on the cross?
One of the things that we learn in Matthew’s account is that the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom, ripped the covering, the thing that made it so that people couldn’t see into the bosom of God, they couldn’t come into the presence of God. It gets ripped open. Among all of the many interpretations of the veil, rending that are all valid from different angles, symbolically, I love looking at least one of those many angles, being that it’s a symbol of God ripping that veil from top to bottom, very similar to what ancient patriarchs did at the death of their children. So we follow Joseph down into Egypt. And in verse 36, the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaohs and captain of the guard. So he’s in great power in Egypt. Potiphar is, and Joseph is now a servant or a slave. So we go from this height of favor with his father to now being the brand new fresh servant in the mix in the household of Potiphar after being one of the fresh batch of servants brought to Egypt, and thus begins this long journey yet again.
And how is it that he rises? We’ll get to that story in another chapter.
But first, there’s an interruption.
There is an interruption. So in this storytelling techniques that you find in the scriptures, you’ll see that narrators or Editors will try to teach lessons because it’s not about you just knowing the story. It’s about learning the gospel so that you can apply those principles of the gospel so you can become more like Christ. That’s ultimately what the scriptures are here for. So you have often contrasts that get put side by side on purpose to highlight the contrast the difference between two stories. And in my mind, that’s exactly what’s going on here with chapter 38, this interjected story of Judah that doesn’t even seem to fit the timing. And it’s covering a lot of years. And it’s just stuck right in here in chapter 38, between this incredible journey of Joseph.
It seems like a total interruption. We’re talking about Joseph, and out of nowhere, we get this long story about Judah. And Tyler is right that the inspired writers of the scriptures don’t always tell us structurally why they’re putting things together. And sometimes they do. Even Mormon sometimes says, oh, I found these really great records and putting them in. But the Bible writers don’t tell us, like, hey, by the way, we’re inserting chapter 38 right before chapter 39. So you can compare and contrast the story of Judah against Joseph and how two different men from the same family chose very differently with different consequences. And just as a reminder, you’ll see this putting together in, say, Genesis eleven verses, Genesis twelve. You can compare those two stories. How about the New Testament? We have John three, where you have Nicodemus going, this wealthy man going to Jesus at night. And in John four, you have Jesus going to a woman in full noon day son and talking to her about who he is. Nicodemus doesn’t know who Jesus is. The woman immediately, who’s not even a Jew. She’s a Samaritan, figures it out. All right. These two stories are put back to back to help us to see the comparison and the contrast.
So there’s often instructive value in the structure of the scriptures. Actually, it’s interesting. The word structure and instruction all come from the same word. So let’s explore some of what we can get from this.
So if you remember back to our genealogy chart of the Suns, the twelve tribes you had. Reuben is the oldest. Well, a few chapters before this, you get Reuben, who commits adultery with Bila, one of his father’s handmaids concubines. So the oldest son clearly has defiled the birthright. And then you also get the story of Dinah being defiled by a certain man, Prince of Shekham, Prince of Sheckham, and then the next two sons, Simeon and Lehi, going in and foolishly, they massacre, killing many people. And that makes Jacob pretty upset. So it’s as if the story is being laid out to show how fell short of the birthright number two and three fell short of the birthright. Now, chapter 38 shows us how Judah child number four kind of falls short of the birthright. But I think one of the messages for little old Tyler today is that God can still do miracles and can still do wonders. Even when we mess up God’s work and purposes and Kingdom will continue to roll forth in spite of our imperfections is one of the many lessons I think we could gain from this story.
So let’s turn to Genesis 39. And let’s see a comparison story of what happens when Joseph is given an opportunity to like no one’s around. He’s in a foreign country. Who do you have to report to?
He’s been forsaken by his family. He could very easily say, Where is God? Why didn’t he protect me from this happening? I’ll show him he could have at any phase broken his Covenant loyalty to God. And yet you see chapter 39. What happens instead? I love the way it starts. Look at verse one. And Joseph was brought down to Egypt. Now I realize geographically we’re going down into Egypt, but I love the fact that there’s this symbolism of being brought down to begin chapter 39. And he bought by Potiphar. And look at verse two. And the Lord was with Joseph and he was a prosperous man.
This is important.
If you like marking your scriptures, there’s a phrase that’s going to keep coming up, a concept that’s going to repeat that you may consider at least noting in some way in your scriptures. And you found it there in the first line of verse two, the Lord was with Joseph. Turn it over. Look at verse three. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all that he did to Prosper in his hand. Are you seeing the couplet? The Lord is with him. Everything that he’s doing is prospering. And then in verse three, Potipher recognizes that. Now look at verse 21. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy. This is when, after the Potiphar’s wife experience that we’re going to talk about later, we’re doing a quick overview. At this point, the Lord was with him as he goes into prison and showed him mercy and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. Now look at verse 23. You can Mark it again. The keeper of the prison. Look not to anything that was under his hand. Why? Because the Lord was with him and all that which he did.
The Lord made it to Prosper. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have pled with God for the gift of Joseph. I don’t even know what else to call it. It’s this ability that Joseph is showing, this Christlike capacity to always have God with you. You hear this in the Sacrament prayer every Sunday, that if we’ll take his name upon us, always remember Him, keep his Commandments, which he has given us, that will always have his spirit to be with us. I don’t think it’s rocket science. I think that’s the formula right there that God himself has given us to always have God with us. And then whatever our situation, whether we’re in the middle of a climb or in the middle of a decline in the narrative arc of our own life, as long as God is with us and as long as we’re letting him prevail. It’s going to be okay. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be fun, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be short. It just means God is going to prosper us ultimately. And in the end, those promises are sure.
So this is a really important lesson that when you have the spirit of God, when God is with you, that is what it means to prosper. And I love how you tie this into the Sacrament because every week we promise that we want to remember God and thereby we get to have his spirit to be with us. It’s what allows us to prosper. You get in the Book of Mormon, if you keep my Commandments, Ye shall prosper in the land. Really, what it comes down to is if you keep God’s Commandments, you get his spirit with you. We have other places in the Old Testament where it talks about God’s spirit rushing down upon somebody and prospering them. So sometimes in our day we think prosperity is about the material blessings. It is true God wants to give the good things of life to all of us. But first and foremost, and I’d say that secondary is to have all those material blessings. First and foremost, he wants us to have his spirit. To be with us is exactly what we’re seeing with Joseph. He wasn’t materially prospering in these places. In fact, he continuously he had a pretty big drop.
He lost a lot. He lost even more going to prison. But yet he was being prospered by having God’s spirit. So wherever you are in your life, life is hard. And sometimes we don’t have all the material things that we want. But you can always have God’s spirit if you remember Him. That is the beautiful and pervasive promise that we have every week at Sacrament that we will always prosper with God’s presence.
Love that. So let’s jump back to the beginning part of the story. We’ve just come into Egypt, just been bought by Potiphar, made a servant. And it doesn’t seem to take very long for Potiphar to recognize that the Lord is with Joseph and he prospered all this in his hand. So look at verse four, and Joseph found Grace in Potipher sight and he served him, and he made him Overseer over his house and all that he had he put into his hand. So he had made him Overseer in his house and over all that he had. And then the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake. I wonder, Taylor, if there’s any small micro fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant promise that through your seed shall all Peoples in the Earth be blessed. If we stay true to God, if we just do what we’re covenantly obligated to fulfill, then God will magnify our very deeds, our actions, our words, in whatever setting we find ourselves to the point where everyone that we associate with is going to be blessed by their association with us if we’re on the Lord’s errand, if we’re following the same pattern that Joseph is following here and we can be a blessing to all the world in our little world.
It’s powerful. We don’t have to go out and do these things globally. God’s doing his work through these individual efforts. I love that perspective. Now, he is so prosperous and doing so well. He’s caught the attention of Potiphar’s wife, his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph and she said, Lie with me. Now, in contrast to Judas story in chapter 38, and we’ve already talked about this. But in this context, how easy would it have been for Joseph to rationalize that behavior and to justify breaking those covenantal obligations that he has with God? Those Commandments to stay true and faithful? Nobody would have known. Right? And she’s the one who’s instigating this right. And you could come up with a long list of rationalizations. But I love his response. Look at verse nine. There is none greater in this house than I. Neither is 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? And it came to pass as she spoke to Joseph day by day that he hearkened not unto her to lie with her or to be with her.
Isn’t that fascinating?
Not just once.
She has been trying over time. And how the devil does this to us? If you don’t fall to the temptation today, that’s okay. He seems to be pretty patient. He’ll try again tomorrow and then the next day and then the next day and next week. And he’s going to keep trying different angles until he can find that weak spot or that weak moment. And so then on this particular day, he’s in the house, and none of the men of the house were within verse twelve. She caught him by his garment. Now, we use that word today differently than they did back then. It would just be his item of clothing here, his outer cloak, probably she caught him by his garment, and she said, Lie with me. And he left his garment in her hand and fled and got him out. I love this idea that he runs away. He fled. Sometimes the greatest victories are won by retreating, by running away. That’s the greatest victory that we can have. And that’s what’s happening here in this story. So she holds on to that. Then her husband comes home and she tells him, verse 17, she speaks unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant which thou hast brought unto us came in unto me to mock me.
And she lifted up her voice and said, See? And here’s the proof. I’ve got his garment. Now I could be completely wrong. And it won’t bother me in the least if some day in the future I find out that I was totally wrong on this. But here’s my own thinking, my own assumption. I’m assuming that if you have a slave, a servant, and he’s accused of what Joseph is accused of, that in that time in Egypt, you wouldn’t throw him in prison, you’d kill him, you’d be done with him. He doesn’t deserve to live if he’s really tried to do this. So my own belief is that Joseph has so much integrity, so much goodness, not to mention so much divine protection, that he can’t be killed because his mission is not fulfilled. But I think in my own mind that Potiphar has recognized Joseph’s integrity and goodness. And maybe Potipher knows his wife’s tendencies and maybe to save face in the public, he has to do something. So he sends Joseph to prison. But in my mind, again, I could be wrong. But I think Potipher knows that Joseph is not guilty of what he’s being commanded or what he’s being charged with.
Not terribly unlike Pilate at the time of Christ, who Pilate recognizes I find no fault in this man. He’s innocent, but the people are crying for Jesus to be crucified. And so to save face and to prevent an insurrection, he allows terrible things to be done to Jesus. I wonder if there’s some symbolic crossover there. So he’s thrown into prison. And then in verse 20, it says, Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the King’s prisoners were bound and he was there in the prison, but the Lord was with Joseph. Did you notice the first word in verse 21? He was thrown into prison for doing the right thing. He had chosen the best part, and because of the world in which we live, he is now going to be punished. So if you’ve ever done something really good and had bad consequences occur to you for having done the right, you’re in pretty good company in those situations. Look at verse 21. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. So once again, he’s living his life in such a way that it’s getting the attention of the people in charge where they’re recognizing this is different.
This guy is not like all the other prisoners or all the other servants, something’s different about him. And look at verse 23. The keeper of the prison looked not to anything that was under his hand because the Lord was with him, meaning Joseph, and that which he did. The Lord made it to Prosper. So the keeper of the prison is like, I want things to run smoothly here. You just take charge of everything, Joseph, cause it’s going to go better if you run it, because Lord’s with you. Now you get into chapter 40 and you get this introduction of two new characters in the story of the Butler and the Baker of Pharaoh. And we’re talking the chief Butler and the chief Baker who gets thrown into this same prison. And they’re pretty downtrodden, downcast. So look at verse five. They dreamed a dream, both of them, each man in his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream. And look of verse six, Joseph came in unto them in the morning and looked upon them and behold, they were sad. Now what is the temptation for Joseph? What would the temptation be for you and me as mortals in this situation?
Once again, you get these decision points, these pivotal moments of eternity where Joseph could sit there in that setting and say they had a rough night. They look really sad. Well, welcome to prison. That’s what you expect down here. Or you can take the Christ like approach and that is to turn outward and recognize they’re hurting, they’re struggling with something and then try to help the situation get better, which is exactly what Joseph does. So he asks them some questions and they give the answer, well, we’ve dreamed these dreams. We don’t know what they mean. And notice his response at the bottom of verse eight. Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me them, I pray you notice he didn’t say, oh, you dream dreams. I’m a dreamer myself and I know how to interpret them and I will interpret your dreams for you notice Joseph is going to be the one to interpret the dreams. But he acknowledges the source of the interpretation. He doesn’t recognize the gifts that God has given him as being selfgenerated. He’s not saying, oh, I’m actually really good at this. He says God can interpret them. Tell me your dreams and they tell the dreams.
And Joseph perfectly interprets them with the number three coming into both of them with the Butler, three days, you’re going to be reinstated, the Baker, three days, the King is going to hang you, you’re going to be executed. And both of these dreams and their interpretation play out exactly like Joseph told them it would. But then the Butler forgets him. And so we think, okay, well, that was quick. He’s going to quickly get out of prison. But the Butler completely forgets him when he’s reinstated. And keep in mind, this is the chief Butler, a guy who’s serving and right there by Pharaoh and could put in a good word for Joseph. And he forgets Joseph forsaken overlooked. We hid, as it were, our faces from him, so to speak. You’re seeing symbols of Christ coming back into this story over and over and over again in various ways. And some are stronger than others, but it never seems to be easy for Joseph. Look how long. And it came to pass at the end of two full years. You like that word? Full years. So it’s two more years and we don’t have any of those stories.
What’s going on down in prison for two years? How wasted do you feel like your life is becoming at that point as you’re, Joseph, you’re 28 years old and 29 years old. You’re in the prime of your physical, cognitive, mental capacities of life. And you’re wasting away in prison is what you could very easily conclude if you want to have your life feel more like a tragedy. But not Joseph. He’s holding on to that faith. He’s trusting God.
I find significant that many of us sometimes act like the Butler where good things are done for us. People open doors for us. They bless our lives and we get these blessings or opportunities and we forget to acknowledge or to uplift those who have lifted us up. It may not be Thanksgiving season right now, but I find it powerful if we take the time on a regular basis to reflect on those who have opened doors for us, who have saved us in some way and helped us in some way. And write a note of thank you and specifically tell them, here’s what you’ve done for me in my life. Here’s how you have blessed my life. And it makes such a big difference. It’s such a small little thing to do to express gratitude. It turns out appreciation is one of the cheapest and most powerful ways to bless somebody else’s life. Really simple thing to do. Eventually the Butler comes around and he realizes, oh, yeah, maybe he had a dream telling him, if you don’t do this, your head is going to be about that. But finally it comes around again. Two years is a long time to wait to be released from suffering.
So the impetus for him remembering was the fact that Pharaoh has two dreams that are very troubling to him. In the morning, his spirit was trouble, and he called for the magicians of Egypt and all the wise men thereof. And Pharaoh told them his dream, but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.
You also don’t want to give an interpretation is wrong because you might find yourself as the chief Baker and hanging from a tree.
Yeah. So it’s at that point that the chief Butler remembered, and he said, Wait a minute, there was a prisoner, a Hebrew slave, who was a prisoner who interpreted the dream for me and the Butler, or the Baker, rather. And his interpretation happened exactly the way he told us it would. And so notice what happens in 14. Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon. And he shaved and changed his raiment and came in unto Pharaoh. So he shaves, changes his raiment, puts on new clothes, and then comes in unto Pharaoh. And Pharaoh told him the dreams. And look at the humility of Joseph from moment number one. It’s this moment of I can deliver myself from bondage. If I get this right, if I get him to like me, I’m going to be free. And he could say, I am one of the finest interpreters of dreams in the history of the world. But notice what he does instead. Verse 16, Joseph answered Pharaoh saying, It is not in me. God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace. Isn’t that beautiful? Even in that moment, with everything available to Joseph, if he builds himself up, he chooses to glorify God.
There’s something Christ about that. At any time when people try to give Jesus any credit or any praise, what is his instinctive response? Why callest thou me good? There is but one good, and that’s my Father, which is in heaven. Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, he’s always glorifying God. I love that principle. And Joseph is following up beautifully here. So then Pharaoh gives him recounts the two dreams. And Joseph said in verse 25, the dream of Pharaoh is one. And God hath shown Pharaoh what he is about to do, that these dreams are showing you a scenario. This is what’s going to happen now. You don’t have to wait in regret at the end of that terrible experience of seven years of famine to say, Man, I wish I had done something differently. God is giving you the answer in advance so you can prepare. And there’s something beautifully Christ like about that, about what Joseph is doing here, preparing the way for God on high to save his people from appending death, and not just his people, but all the nations of that region of the world at that time, which to them was the whole world from their perspective, from their view.
Right. So notice after he gives the interpretation of you’re going to have seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. So it’s really simple. You just make huge food stores during the years of plenty and you’re going to survive those years of famine. At which point Pharaoh says, we need to find one to oversee this effort. And look at verse 39. And Pharaoh said unto, for as much as God has shown thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art, thou shalt be over my house. And according under thy word shall all my people be ruled. Only in the throne will I be greater than thou.
This reminds me of Ammon in the Book of Mormon, where the King wants to give away half his Kingdom, essentially making Ammon second in power. If you go back to verse 38, Pharaoh said unto his servants, can we find such a one as this is a man in whom the spirit of God is? Because Pharaohs like, well, Joseph told us we need to find a really wise person, execute the plan. And Pharaoh is like, all right, everybody, can you find anybody better than this guy right here who God is with him and will prosper him. So if we want to be prospered, well, why don’t we hang out more with Joseph, who hangs out with God? Then we’ll be prospered. That’s essentially what’s going on here in this verse. So the Pharaoh is somewhat smart. He knows how to make good decisions.
41 and 42 says, and Pharaoh said unto Joseph Sea, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. 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. Did you notice the various articles of clothing that Joseph has found himself dressed in through these chapters? And now the King is putting on him fine clothing and a gold chain. It’s the ultimate end duo that the world has to offer. The very finest clothing. Joseph is now arrayed in the best of the best that the world has to offer. And I think that’s simply a placeholding, metaphor or symbol for what happens every time we go to the temple of our God for this experience to be endowed, to put on the robe of righteousness, the very finest that is representative of the eternities of God, promising someday that he will put a ring on our finger, a gold chain around our neck, and the finest clothing, those images, it’s powerful. As you’ve watched Joseph, and you know where he’s come from and you know what he’s been through and you know every point.
Any one of these could have been exit ramp off of the Covenant path.
It could have been a tragedy.
It could have become a tragedy, but he keeps it on this constant upward flow. So he gives him a chariot. Verse 46 tells you that Joseph was 30 years old when he stood before Pharaoh, King of Egypt. So remember, that story began at age 17 again, now we’re at 30. So in the seven Twentiest years, the Earth brought forth by handfuls. And Joseph is in charge of all of Egypt, and he’s going around and he’s gathering it in. And it’s not just fruit that the Earth is producing, but God is magnifying. And now multiplying Joseph himself, he is given a wife in verse 45, Asanath, the daughter of Portafera, priest of on. And through her, the firstborn son is born in verse 51 named Manasseh. And then the second born is in 52 named Ephraim. And we’ll talk more about their stories in a coming episode, as they are going to be adopted in to the house of Israel directly.
Yeah. By the way, there’s a word play here. Ephraim’s name is based on the same root word that you hear God uses to Adam and Eve be fruitful and multiply. And so Ephraim literally means to be fruitful. In fact, there is a possibility that the word for fruitful in Hebrew comes down into our language as the word fruit. You actually can see that the PHR sound is related to our word for fruit. May not be a connection. There may be, but it’s just significant that many of God’s promises are about fructifying and bringing increase to the world. That is the God that we worship. He is a God of increase, and this is what we see. God will increase us over time. And as Tyler had said earlier, if we kind of twist the board this way, God will increase us over time. You will see setbacks. You will see that you’ve taken a step back at some time in your life, and you might feel frustrated that things haven’t worked out the way you want. God is always faithful. That’s the whole point of these stories, that God will always be with his servants. And when we choose to be faithful to him at all points, he eventually will clothe us with the power of the atonement and to put us on the Royal throne, which is his throne, to be like him.
So as we close today’s scripture story, as I was preparing some thoughts and getting ready to talk through this story of Joseph, I don’t know why, but a particular song came to my mind and it just kept echoing in my mind. And I looked up the lyric because I didn’t even know the song that well. It’s just one of those I’ve heard it a few times. The Tabernacle Choir has sung it before. It’s a pretty song. But listen to these words in context of Joseph’s story and more importantly, in the context of your story of whatever phase you may be in in your own life, either climbing or falling or trying to get up off of the ground and dust yourself off, listen to these words. When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark. At the end of a storm there’s a Golden Sky and the sweet silver song of a Lark? Walk on through the wind? Walk on through the rain? Though your dreams be tossed and blown? Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart? And you’ll never walk alone. You’ll never walk alone.
Rogers and Hammerstein, I think, nailed it all those decades ago when they wrote this song. Brothers and sisters, that is the message of the Covenant path. The glorious gospel of Jesus Christ is you really will never walk alone. As long as you stick with God, as long as you continually say, I will be your people and I want you to be my God. You’ll never walk alone. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have setbacks. It doesn’t mean you won’t experience loss. It doesn’t mean you won’t have major questions and at times even doubts and darkness. But you’ll never, ever walk alone through those storms and those difficulties. So as we conclude today, just know that the same God who delivered Joseph and all of the house of Israel and all of those Egyptians and all those other nations of the world at that time, it’s the same God in heaven today who’s watching over us and will guide us along that same path that we happen to be walking now. And we leave that with you in the sacred name of Jesus Christ Amen know that you’re loved.