Joseph’s Troublesome Coat, Part 2
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Dear friends, last month we introduced a new feature called Keep The Faith for Kids. We hope that your children or grandchildren enjoyed it. Perhaps you enjoyed it too. Please write or email us with your comments. Keep The Faith for Kids is designed to encourage our most precious heritage, our children, to walk with God. Nothing is more important to their salvation than to love Jesus and live for Him. My good friend Michelle Chai has created these very interesting programs, so that your families will have something to encourage our children. We may have an episode every other month for now. Eventually, we may be able to offer this as a separate program for those who subscribe.
Also last month we introduced some new music. Last month’s song was by Christian Berdahl who is a personal friend of mine. I hope you enjoyed his message in music. We will try to provide a variety of music and introduce you to some of the best music available today. This month you will hear a special item by Melissa Collett, a young woman who often deeply moves those who listen to her music. May the Lord bless you as you listen to her message in song.
Thank God for the holy scriptures. It is wonderful to think that we are near the end of time. Yet it is very sobering. God has a plan for your life and mine specifically for these last days. Troublous times are coming upon us and we need to know how to deal with them by faith. The life of Joseph gives us great encouragement and practical instruction in what to do when we are faced with great difficulties. We need the story of Joseph to help us find our way through the dark times of our lives, and through the darkest period of earth’s history. Listen now as we continue this powerful story of God’s hidden hand in the life of one who trusted in His promises.
Let us pray. Our Father in Heaven, Thank You for Your wonderful love for us. Thank You for giving us the lessons we need in stories of Your dealings with our spiritual forefathers. As we approach the end of time and the coming crisis, please help us clearly understand how we too can trust You. It doesn’t come easy. We are often afraid to trust Your providence, and we try to depend on human resources for our needs instead of upon You. But a time is coming when we will be stripped of all human support and have nothing but Your promises to sustain us. Oh Father, help us to understand this, and learn from the life of Joseph the principles that will help us overcome by faith. In Jesus’ name Amen.
Turn with me in your bibles to the book of John 1:6. It reads, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” While this is about the prophet John, it is also what God did with Joseph. Remember Joseph’s words to his brothers in Genesis 45:8. “So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God,” he said. In reality we are all “sent from God.” This gives us a sense of purpose, a sense of conviction, a destiny. There is a definite plan for your life, a definite place in God’s work. And if you are faithful to do what He gives you no matter how humble, you will be rewarded.
Often we never think of our life mission ourselves. God has to show it to us, and He often does this through difficult experiences. If you think that you are not important enough for God to have something specific for you to do, think again. He has been planning your place for a long time. You may not even know it, but you may be in that place right now. If you claim God’s promises, you also claim your destiny, your purpose, your divinely appointed work. Make no mistake about it. You are called to be part of God’s great overarching plan. If we accept this, we can then understand that anything that happens to us is part of that plan, and that God is working out the providence of His will. We can rest assured that all things work together for good to them that love God.
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, and sold to their rivals for the price of a slave, 20 pieces of silver. Right when Joseph was exalted in his father’s house he was cut down. Why do you think God cut him down? To humble him, but also through affliction t0 strengthen his character, build his spiritual power, and give him tools to make him successful. There could be no better training for Joseph. This is a curriculum that no earthly school can give or even think of. God’s training is often mysterious. He was working for Joseph’s brothers too. While Joseph was to enter the life of a slave in the spiritual wilderness of Egypt, his brothers, on the other hand, were going to experience a spiritual wilderness of guilt.
As we learned in our first episode, the Ishmaelites were descendents of Abraham too, and therefore they were half-cousins of Jacob’s sons. They were not part of the chosen family of God, they had been sent out of the home. Hence they were outcasts and were still bitter about it. They became rivals to Jacob’s family. And they are still struggling with that, even today. What an insult to Joseph and to Jacob their father to sell Joseph to these adversarial relatives. Imagine the hypocrisy in trying to comfort their father’s anguish after they had caused it by lying to him. They had to live with the gnawing guilt for more than 20 years as they kept their secret. Imagine the guilty feelings every time they saw him. They couldn’t even think about him without remembering their lying charade.
It is the same with us. When we sin, the Holy Spirit keeps it before us until we confess and forsake it. That is part of overcoming. Even if we forget the details, we cannot escape the guilt continually gnawing at our hearts.
As Joseph trudged along, chained to other slaves to prevent escape, he no doubt secretly hoped that a miracle would happen, his father would hear of the treason and send his men to rescue him. Would it have been good if there would have been a rescue? There would have been great rejoicing in Hebron, but great frustration in Heaven. God’s purpose would have been thwarted. Certainly God would have found another way, but Joseph might not have been part of it. And Joseph might never have become the man he was destined to be.
As hope of rescue faded with the distant hills near Hebron, Joseph faced the prospect of never seeing his family again. Tears of agony filled his eyes. Yet he sensed God’s presence as he looked at the stars at night and thought about the promises that God had given to his fathers. How could all this misfortune fit into those promises? It just didn’t seem to make sense. But as Joseph searched his memory, he remembered what God told his great grandfather Abraham.
”Know for a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I Judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.” That’s genesis 1:13, 14. Could it be that he was the beginning of the affliction spoken of to Abraham? Could it be that Joseph was to lead the way to a “land that is not theirs.” Could it be that this terrible event was part of that divine purpose? What cheer this brought to Joseph! Imagine having the sense that you are part of God’s great plan. We can have that sense you know. God will give it to you if you ask Him to. We all have a significant part to play, even if it doesn’t seem significant.
Could it be that the God of heaven, the friend of Abraham, Isaac and of his father Jacob was putting Joseph in a position so that He could become his God too, in a more personal way than Joseph could have ever imagined? Perhaps he too would have a special destiny, and this horrible experience would somehow become a blessing.
Though Joseph was forcefully separated from his family and his church, he could still worship God faithfully. When we are cut off from our friends, family or church; when we are alienated from those we know, from the familiar and secure, from the comfortable and easy; could it be that God is calling us to a personal, free-standing experience with Him that we could not otherwise have? Could it be that God is speaking to us in the dark shadows, calling us to Himself as a special possession? I believe it, don’t you? More than anything else, God longs to enter a holy, personal, connected experience with you and me. Injustice, trials, difficulties, pain, hardship, and mistreatment are God’s way of entering into fellowship with us and for us to enter into His sufferings. He ordains difficult times so that we can let go of human support. Do we need that? You bet we do. Does it hurt us? Not really. Instead, it opens opportunities to have a new and much deeper experience with God. We should not look upon trials as negative. They give us a new perspective. They take the “scales” off of our eyes. They help us wake up. They should not discourage us. They should energize our faith in the one who ordained them. God often puts us in circumstances where we learn to trust God independently. This is a great lesson we all must learn. You can’t even depend on your connection even with godly people for your experience with God. You have to love and worship God yourself. Even if you are pushed out of fellowship with God’s people, you don’t have to become bitter or angry. You can use the experience to go deeper with God. He will provide alternatives for you. So long as you nurse your wounds, you will never develop that deepness.
Joseph accepted what he could not change as from God and he determined that no matter what happened, he would be faithful and let God deal with the consequences. Perhaps there was something hidden in this dark moment. Perhaps God was working in the shadows in a way that Joseph could not comprehend at that time, and that he needed to have faith, and trust that God knew what He was doing. Joseph took courage in the promises and determined in his heart that he would always trust the God of his fathers. God had now become his God. Joseph was stripped of his princely coat, but he was not stripped of his princely character. He determined to do the right thing no matter the consequences.
Joseph overcame his discouragement through faith in God’s promises which he now accepted as being made to him. Do you think those promises were made to you as well? Sure they were! God offers them to you just as He offered them to Joseph. And often He brings you through dark times so that you too can look at the stars and accept these same promises as your own, and most importantly, accept the same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as your own personal friend. Moreover God had given Joseph dreams too. He could not forget that. God had spoken to him directly through them. Perhaps God has spoken to you too. Perhaps He has given you a vision or a dream of how you can work for Him. This is not by chance. Now we need to let God work out those purposes in His way and time.
God promises to be with us in test and trial just like He was with our spiritual fathers in their tests and trials. He will walk by your side, just as He did with Joseph. Imagine that! The same God that was with Joseph is still with us. It is so comforting to know that there is a God who is bigger than all our troubles, and who has been there long before us and will be there long after us, and that He has a particular plan and place for us. In all our afflictions He will stand with us to give us hope and a destiny that we could never have if it weren’t for the betrayal, injustice and mistreatment. It is His providence that gives both the trial and the strength to go through it.
Let us go one step further. In Matthew 24:10 Jesus tell us that when the crisis comes upon God’s people “many shall be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” The life of Joseph is a lesson for those living at the end of time. Jesus warned us that we shall be betrayed. What is betrayal? It is the abuse of trust and confidence. You can’t be betrayed by someone you don’t know, or someone who is your enemy. You can be attacked or assaulted, but you can’t be betrayed. You can only be betrayed by someone whom you thought was a friend, a close confidant. A family member can betray you too. But it must be someone whom you know well and who knows you well. You can only be betrayed by one in whom you trust with your secrets. That is betrayal. Jesus tells us that you are likely to be betrayed. Those who have been your close companions may well be those who will be instrumental in putting you in prison or some other pit, like a set of trying circumstances. Perhaps you know already how that feels. The temptation is to retaliate, become bitter and lose your peace. Have you ever had that happen? I have. It happens to all of us. We need betrayal, injustice and affliction. They are for our good.
But let us go yet one step further. Jesus was cast into the pit of the universe, this sin plagued world. He was betrayed by His brethren. He too was sold for the price of a slave, 30 pieces if silver. But He trusted in His father’s promises and overcame through faith. Joseph is a type of Christ and an example for us in the last days.
Joseph was about to experience even more hardship. God had ordained that he should be a slave in Egypt for a time. Joseph didn’t know what was going to happen to him, yet he trusted God and believed that the promises were for him personally. So his attitude was very improved by the time he arrived in Egypt. He determined to make the best of circumstances and see what God would do with him. God was about to train him for his great work in life, that would actually fulfill his dreams and become his life work.
Joseph would not have naturally chosen this pathway. That is impossible. But God knew that it was exactly what he needed. What he had learned at his grandfather’s knee had given him enough preparation so he could comprehend much larger and more difficult lessons. His early training, and his faith in God’s personal promises to him held him steady and confident through the rapidly unfolding and terrifying events. Now God was going to change his heart, and expand his capacity to love and forgive. It is through being mistreated that we learn how to forgive. Forgiveness is a very important lesson, and in giving Joseph this experience God was teaching him about Himself and how to forgive like God forgives. God was now teaching Joseph how to walk with God, and think like God thinks. Do you think that God does that to us? Does God give us affliction so that we can understand how God thinks and how He forgives?
God’s plan was to rapidly increase the family of Jacob into a nation. It was important that Joseph, the future patriarch, understand human heartache so he could be compassionate and gentle. Joseph’s experience was hard, but it was productive. The harder the experience, my friends, the more God has in store for you. When you go through difficulties, think of them as training for a greater and more comprehensive work.
But there is more. We need to realize that no one can thwart the plans of God. If we oppose God’s work, we only strengthen it. And we do it quite unintentionally and unconsciously. Those who mistreat you or betray you, are only being used by God to accomplish the very purpose in you that they wish to prevent. Carlyle B. Haynes in his book God Sent a Man, makes this comment. “Joseph’s brothers were sure that when they sold him into slavery they had made the fulfillment of his dreams impossible, and they gleefully congratulated one another. But that is not at all what they had done. Rather, what they had done was to push their brother one step onward toward his elevation. But they did not know it. They only came to learn it nearly a quarter of a century later.”
Joseph’s brothers thought that they were going to teach Joseph a lesson once and for all. But God took Joseph off by himself, away from His brothers for a while, so that He could teach him a few lessons of His own. And then God planned to bring Joseph’s brothers down to Egypt so that they could see what God had done with Joseph, and so that He could teach them a few lessons too. God turns everything around doesn’t He? Injustice is a small, but important piece of the picture God is painting with your life.
Joseph’s brothers had their own plans. Rueben thought he was going to save Joseph from being killed and free him to go home. Judah thought that he was going to send Joseph into the oblivion of slavery. Their anger, malevolence, hatred, envy, cruelty were their own. But God’s plan took all their evil, complicated mess, their conflicting plans and turned them around for their own benefit. Isn’t that incredible?! God plans to use the hard times in your life to benefit the very ones who inflicted them on you. If they will repent, He will save them too. What shocked his brothers more than anything was what God did with Joseph. They never expected that God would take Joseph beyond their reach and then use him to save them. They never expected to meet him again. But God rescued Joseph from his brothers so He could prepare him to be their savior. Had Joseph remained at home, their issues might never have been resolved.
The same thing happened to Jesus. He became the savior of the world, because He was abused and crucified by His own people. The shock will come when they see him on the throne of the universe. Their malevolent actions have become the very means by which millions are saved for eternity. Their injustice became the remedy for sin, and in it, He drew all men to Himself, the very thing they were trying to prevent.
When Joseph arrived in Egypt, the bustling life no doubt, captured his attention. It was quite different from his quiet home life as a shepherd. Egypt was the most developed nation of the day. The Egyptians had already developed the great pyramids. Their engineering, architecture, language, laws and agriculture were highly developed. The great cities were thronging with people. Could God have some purpose for Joseph in this place as the lowest of all people, a slave?
Joseph was taken to the slave market where like all the other slaves he was placed in a position where he could be seen. There was something different about Joseph though. He stood erect and confident, yet his eyes had the look of humility. He must have greatly impressed the auctioneer.
As the crowd milled around waiting for the slaves to be offered for sale, suddenly the crowd parted and opened a path to the front. There came a man of obvious wealth and princely authority. His body guards carefully scanned the crowd for any threats to his security. As he came to the platform where the slaves were standing, the auctioneer hurried to meet him. He knew who he was. Today was going to be a good day with a good sale. He had a good looking slave to offer him. And He knew he could exact a high price to keep the slave from the open market.
Potiphar had come to the market to find a new slave. No doubt his ever expanding wealth meant that he had need of new slaves to help him care for his properties and possessions. Potiphar sees the strong, handsome young man standing on the block. He is impressed, but can’t put his finger on why. It is a little mysterious. But he senses that he must have that slave. No doubt the Holy Spirit impressed him that here was a good bargain at any price. Little does he realize how good a deal he has gotten.
Scripture tells us in Genesis 39:1 that Potiphar was captain of the guard of Pharaoh. He was an officer, and a very powerful one. This was perhaps one of the most important positions in Egypt. Potiphar was in charge of palace security and it was his responsibility to keep Pharaoh from being assassinated. It was also his responsibility to carry out the wishes of the king concerning the palace. Therefore the captain of the guard must not be discontented with anything. So Potiphar was paid very well and was richly rewarded for his services in other ways. He had an enormous palace, chariots and other amenities to make life comfortable and pleasant. He was probably brought into the inner counsel of the government and often consulted by Pharaoh personally. Pharaoh needed him to participate in decision making so as to keep him on side. He stood close to pharaoh in the general counsel and was respected and honored by all. There could be no better estate than Potiphar’s for Joseph to get a close hand understanding of what it meant to run a sophisticated nation like Egypt. God placed him in the palace of Potiphar to put him in close proximity to Pharaoh where he could watch and learn the ways and means of Egypt. No doubt once Joseph became governor of Potiphar’s estates, he had plenty of opportunity to be around the palace of Pharaoh, and observe the proceedings and discussions.
With the haggling completed, Potiphar has paid plenty. Joseph was taken to Potiphar’s palace and given his first tasks. They may have been very humble, but Joseph did them with such care and efficiency that Potiphar was impressed that here was a slave that he could entrust with larger responsibilities. He saw things that needed to be done and respectfully made suggestions to Potiphar. He was industrious. Potiphar had the impression that Joseph was determined to help him. Other slaves only did what they were told, but Joseph went way beyond and did the tasks better and more complete than anyone else had ever done them. Joseph wanted to win his confidence and then if possible tell him about his God.
Verse two says that “The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man.” What a testimony! Wouldn’t you like to have that testimony about you? What does it mean to have the Lord with you? Joseph lived two lives. One was on the surface that every one could see. The other was a secret life. It was a mysterious life. Something that made him different. His secret life was a life of communion with the God of his fathers. Here is a big lesson. No matter what our outward circumstances, we can be free in our hearts. No matter how troubled the difficulties we face, the secret inner life is what helps us navigate through them.
What does it mean to prosper? Prosperity is not an outward sign or a visible symbol or badge. It is not a cross of gold or a genuflection. It is not in money, houses, lands, cars, or other assets. There are many ways that the Lord prospers his servants. He prospers them by impressions of the mind, suggestions of thought, prompting of choices leading to decisions. He prospers them by giving them resolution of the will, and a high and noble heavenly feeling. But He prospers them most by direction of their steps, their selection of words, the right answer at the right time. Some times it means He will prompt them to silence when silence is better than words, and prompt their choice of words when to speak is better than silence. He influences their body language, the glance of the eye, the small courtesies. Those around them feel better for having been in their presence. They feel blessed. Have you ever had these kinds of things happen? That’s what God did with Joseph. And Joseph prospered in the house of Potiphar.
Those who live in external things, have no real prosperity, even though they may have large bank account. If a man must total up assets to determine prosperity, he really doesn’t have it. He has no true conception of what real prosperity is. Prosperity cannot be gained in any institution of learning. God trains for prosperity by mysterious methods and processes that human schools never think of, and which human beings don’t often recognize as from God.
The hidden religious life cannot really be completely hidden. On the surface there is something noticed by those nearby. It can only be explained on the grounds of an experience with God, a walk with God, a calmness and serenity when all around is chaos, a demeanor that pervades all the circumstances of life. Joseph was a slave, but the Bible says he was prosperous. No circumstance is outside the possible blessing of God in prosperity. No circumstance can prevent prosperity.
Pretend you are a man or woman without any spiritual discernment. Joseph was a slave. Where is his prosperity? He is chattel property, there is no prosperity there according to human thinking. He is in bondage and has no time to himself, no liberty of action or choice. He was cut off from his father and home. But Joseph was living in the realm of the Spirit. He was being sustained by the Spirit of God. When you aren’t living in the realm of the Spirit you aren’t really living at all. When you aren’t being sustained by the Spirit, you can’t really live. You become the plaything of circumstances. Joseph was not living externally. If he had been, his days would have been full of sorrow, anxiety, fear, tears and despair. Not Joseph. He lived in God. His expectation was in God, not in man. He learned to give up on expectations from man.
Verse three says that “his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.” Even Potiphar could see that his own prosperity was in part dependant on Joseph’s wise use of resources. Potiphar’s confidence grew so strong that he “made him overseer of his house.” Chapter 39:6 says, that he had so much confidence that “he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat.”
Don’t fear the lowly tasks. Heaven doesn’t count prosperity by class, stature, or income. When you are faithful in the little things, God will see to it that you are given more responsibility. He will increase your influence and strengthen the confidence of others in your work.
Joseph is better off than his brothers. He is a slave, but his soul is free. His brothers are free, but slaves to guilt, a far more galling taskmaster.
Joseph rose very quickly to become governor of Potiphar’s house. But he was not to stay there. God was about to change his circumstances again. He was about to be cut down again. When someone is prosperous in the Lord, Satan is busy to destroy them. Do you think Satan wanted to foil the plans of God for Israel? He would if he could.
Egypt was a wicked, godless place with much immorality. But Joseph wasn’t stained by it. The court was full of intrigue and there were plenty of such things going on. Rumors were always going around.
Mrs. Potiphar was also of little moral foundation. She was used to getting her way, and wanted Joseph. One day, she found Joseph and offered him something she thought he would want. “Lie with me,” she said in verse 7. Her temptation was not really an appeal to his flesh, but to his station as a slave and his desire for freedom. Her suggestion was weighted with the idea that he would be able to throw off slavery, and perhaps take over his master’s position; maybe he could become a man of honor. This was the real temptation for Joseph. Yes, he was a youth with all his hormones. But though his flesh was a temptation, it wasn’t the worst or most difficult temptation.
Mrs. Potiphar must have been a beautiful woman. No man of rank or station such as Potiphar would be without a beautiful woman at his side. Mrs. Potiphar pressed him day after day the scriptures say. No doubt she dressed so as to attract Joseph’s carnal humanity. Patriarchs and Prophets page 217 says “With inexpressible anxiety, angels looked upon the scene.” Would he be true to God? Would he stand the test?
Joseph tried to argue with Mrs. Potiphar. Verse 8 and 9 says, “he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
She wouldn’t let up. So Joseph avoided the house. But Mrs. Potiphar bided her time, knowing that Joseph had to come into the house sooner or later. She also thought about what to do if he refused her proposition again.
One day he came in to do his business out of necessity. Verse 12 says that Mrs. Potiphar “caught him by his garment,” his coat. He left it and fled and “got him out.” Joseph’s loyalty to God was reflexive. He turned and fled immediately. Shouldn’t our loyalty to God be reflexive too?
Spurned, Mrs. Potiphar thought of revenge. So she screamed. She told the men that came running, that Joseph had tried to rape her. She lied about what had happened so that a good strong rumor would spread around the palace before Potiphar came home. She determined to destroy him if he wouldn’t yield. A slave could easily be executed for the most trivial crime.
Meanwhile, Joseph left the house with his mind full of confusion. What would happen now? Would he be executed? Should he run? Should he hide? What should he do? This was a serious moment of reflection. But again, Joseph remembered the promises of God and decided to trust Him and not take matters into his own hands. God had delivered him before.
Verse 16, says that she laid up Joseph’s coat until Potiphar came home. Again he is threatened with death by his coat. Ironic isn’t it? Joseph’s coat always seems to get him into trouble.
Potiphar no doubt suspected something amiss. Things just didn’t add up. He couldn’t reconcile this report with Joseph’s past record. It just wasn’t like Joseph to do something like that. He also knew the manipulative character of his wife, and he probably suspected something, but didn’t want to confront it and create marriage problems, or worse, a court scandal. But in any case, he wasn’t going to have Joseph killed. Maybe he thought he would have the opportunity to restore his best asset to his honor and position again. Besides he loved Joseph as his own son.
How did Joseph respond to Potiphar? Strangely we have no record. Joseph must have remained silent about the truth of the matter. Why? Joseph knew that he could not justify himself without making Mrs. Potiphar look bad and cause a lot of pain for Potiphar himself. This he could not do. Potiphar was the one man in Egypt that had really shown him kindness. It would bring Potiphar dishonor and probably only make matters worse. Again he was trapped by circumstances. He would be the scapegoat.
He also knew that Potiphar would naturally be disposed to accept his wife’s version so as not to create scandal or jeopardize his household, but deep down in his heart he wouldn’t trust her because he knew and loved the character of Joseph. So if he told him what really happened, Potiphar was likely to accept his own story, and that would be too painful for Potiphar.
Joseph’s silence was long-term; through at least three long years in prison. He took ignominy and punishment for his master’s sake and ultimately the salvation of Egypt and his own family. Likewise, Christ also took ignominy and punishment for his father’s sake and for the salvation of souls.
Potiphar sent him to the place where the king’s prisoners were kept. Being Captain of the Guard of Pharaoh, this prison was where the royal prisoners were kept, and probably built underground on his own premises, directly under Potiphar’s control.
Joseph is again innocent, but again he suffers. He did the right thing and “got him out.” But he was punished. How discouraging to his nature! But did Joseph lose confidence in God? Did he complain about his troubles? Did he grow bitter? No. Bewildered maybe, confused maybe, cast down maybe, but he did not lose his confidence in his God. He had been delivered before; the Lord would see to it again. So he held to his principles.
Somehow in the darkness Joseph knew he was part of a larger plan. God was indeed at work. So he laid it all in God’s hands. Can you do that? Is that hard for you? It is for me. Why was everything so wrong? Just when he has come out of difficulty, and is governor of Potiphar’s house, he is back in trouble again. Does your life seem like that some times?
Why did God put Joseph in prison? Wasn’t there a better way? God knows what he is doing. This was Joseph’s final exam. If God had left Joseph as governor of Potiphar’s house, he might never have been in a position to be prime minister of Egypt. Pharaoh’s attention might never have been drawn to Joseph. But more than that, God wanted to be sure that Joseph didn’t get the credit for what God was about to do. If Joseph had gone from Potiphar’s house to prime minister, he might have been tempted to think that it was by his own qualifications that he arose to that height. But even more, Joseph needed to have some finishing off in his training for prime minister. God knows everything. He doesn’t make mistakes. Every move is a controlled move. Do you trust God like that in your life?
Verses 21-23 tells us that “the Lord was with Joseph.” Isn’t that wonderful? God can be with you no matter what your circumstances and can make you prosper. The Keeper of the prison saw that he had a different spirit and was actually more concerned about the other prisoners than himself. Soon Joseph arose to be the governor of all in the prison. Verse 23 says that 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.” The Keeper must have gone on holiday, while Joseph prospered.
Well there is more to come. But Joseph’s experience is something we all need to understand because it happens to us too. We don’t have to be discouraged. We don’t have to be despondent. We can claim the promises of God in any circumstance and He will fulfill them in His own time and in His own way. But we must trust Him. We can trust Him. He is trustworthy.
Let us pray. Our Father in Heaven. Thank You for the testimony of Joseph. He is a great encouragement to us in our times of trouble. May we adopt the same attitude as he did and learn to let You work out Your will in Your own way. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
For those of you receiving the CD version of this message, the following is a current events update of interest to those that love the appearing of Jesus Christ and are watching the fulfilling prophecies. This part of the program is only available on CD and on our website. We can see the signs of the times telling us that we are nearing the world’s great crisis. May the Lord find us faithful.
The Netherlands Hits a New Low.
Civil Unions have become the rage among gays and lesbians. But here is one that may well catch you by surprise, then again, perhaps not, considering the age in which we live. The first trio has gotten married in the Netherlands. According to the Brussels Journal, for Tuesday September 27, “In the Netherlands polygamy has been legalized in all but name. Last Friday” the paper said, “the first civil union of three partners was registered. Victor de Bruijn from Roosendaal “married” both Bianca (31) and Mirjam (35) in a ceremony before a notary who duly registered their civil union. ‘I love both Bianca and Mirjam, so I’m marrying them both,’ Victor said. He had previously been married to Bianca. Two and a half years ago they met Mirjam Geven through an Internet chatbox. Eight weeks later Mirjam deserted her husband and came to live with Victor and Bianca. After Mirjam’s divorce the threesome decided to marry.”
“Asked by journalists to tell the secret of their peculiar relationship, Victor explained that there is no jealousy between them. ‘But this is because Mirjam and Bianca are bisexual. I think that with two heterosexual women it would be more difficult,’ he said.
This is Pathetic. The Dutch leaders are not planning to prevent polygamy. It seems very interesting that Victor tries to present this whole idea as if it is just natural and has an explanation that should not surprise anyone, or alarm them. Expect to see more of this in these last days as the world becomes more and more sinful and wicked in the eyes of God.
Tunisia Summit on the Internet
Our next item concerns the Internet summit in Tunisia which ended without much progress toward consolidation of Internet control under the UN. But the pressure is on the United States to let go of some of its control anyway. Presently the Internet is controlled by a private corporation that is controlled by the U.S. government. This corporation assigns web addresses and domain names for email accounts around the world. Presently it is a relatively freewheeling and open system which allows access to all and does not regulate content. This would surely become more narrowly defined and controlled should the UN gain the authority to control these functions.
The delegates to the Tunis summit, the Washington Post reported, argued that “unilateral U.S. control over these domain names reflects no more than the historical accident of the Internet’s origins. Why should the United States continue to control the registration of French and Chinese Internet addresses? It doesn’t control the registration of French and Chinese cars, whatever Henry Ford’s historic role in democratizing travel was.”
This argument is “attractive in theory and dangerous in practice,” said the Post editorial. “Unilateral solutions that run efficiently can be better than multilateral ones that don’t,” the Post said. “Whoever controls this function can decide to keep certain types of individuals or organizations offline,” such as dissidents or opposition political groups, or religious groups for example.
“The ponderous International Telecommunications Union, [which is] the UN body that would be a leading candidate to take over the domain registry, has a record of resisting innovation — including the advent of the Internet,” said the Post. Imagine trying to keep on the cutting edge of technology in that kind of environment. It would quickly get bogged down in bureaucracy or other political considerations.
But there is yet another problem with UN control of the Internet. Control would become very political. Imagine what it would be like to have conflict between the differing agendas of autocratic regimes such as China, or some Islamic governments that want to restrict access to the Internet, while on the other hand the more open societies that promote unrestricted access to everyone.
Underneath all of this is the issue of religious liberty to proclaim God’s message. Satan would love to limit the opportunities to share the truth through the Internet. The U.N’s religious agenda would not support the distinctive messages God has given to the last generation. Rome would not support them either. Hence there would be a lot of political pressure eventually, to restrict access of those who would teach the final warning. The Internet is a powerful tool to spread the truth. One day it will be restricted. The pressure is on at the moment for the United States to relinquish some of its control through more participative management on the Board of the corporation. But this too will eventually erode the principles upon which the corporation operates with low cost access for anyone and everyone.
Governments already have tools that they can use to limit access to those sites they do not want their citizens to be able to see. But at least those teaching the truth have access to the Internet. Putting control into the hands of the U.N. would establish a world governing body that could and probably would limit access to anyone or any group that does not comply with the overall agenda of the world body. At present the U.S. only controls the functions of efficiency and technology. It does not control content of the Internet overall through the corporation. The U.S. uses its own laws to address abuses and handle illegal content on its own soil. It does not limit content that originates outside the U.S. This could change as well. No matter who controls the Internet, there will be pressure, one day, to limit the ability of God’s people to spread the message. For now it seems that it is wide open and God’s people should take advantage of it.
Bird Flu Still in the Air
Next, we shall look at Avian Flu. The U.S. government recently released a document which explains how a deadly bird flu pandemic should be handled. It includes surveillance of air travelers, rationing of antiviral drugs, imposition of community-wide “snow days” to keep people at home and aggressively control rumors to prevent panic, reported the Washington Post on November 3, 2005. But the plan also counts on public cooperation and common sense. While it does not include the military to quarantine communities, as President Bush suggested might be necessary, that option would likely still be on the table. Methods of handling transportation issues are still being developed too, according to the Post article. Perhaps by now a plan is already in place. The plan also addresses all levels of the health care system including nursing homes, hospital emergency rooms, and even the morale of health care workers should a pandemic last more than a year as is likely. The plan even suggests that individuals stockpile supplies, such as flu vaccines and food for at least 10 days in case of a quarantine. It also recommended that hospitals stock an 8 week supply of masks, gowns and gloves.
What interests me is that the government would ration vaccines. That means some people would not get them. I wonder who? Also I thought it interesting that the government would aggressively control rumors. What does that mean? Could it mean that control of information as well, so that the public won’t know the real facts? I’m sorry if I sound skeptical, but I am. It is just these sorts of crises that have often been the excuse for governments to take more power to control their populations.
Mike Leavitt, Health and Human Services Secretary, defended the government’s investment of $7.1 billion in new funding for pandemic planning. “Some will say this is an overreaction…” he said. “The reality is that if the H5N1 virus doesn’t trigger pandemic flu, there will be another virus that will…” he said.
This world is now facing the fulfillment of the prediction of Jesus that there will be terrible pestilences at the end of time. Should God’s faithful people be frightened? No, but they should be prepared. Follow God’s counsel. Live your life in a way that is pleasing in His sight and you will be under His protection. Live carefully, using common sense as well.
The problem with the deadly strain of bird flu however is very complicated. Countries such as the United States and other nations in the western world have resources that most countries do not have. But even those resources will be hard pressed to prevent disease.
It is in the poor countries of Asia and Africa where the greatest amount of damage is likely to take place. For instance, the New York Times reported on Cambodia where under the Khmer Rouge, the doctors and other educated people were killed or fled the country in the 1970s. Now the country has an illiterate population, doctors with little or no medical training and who can scarcely read or write, and much superstition. This complicates things dramatically, the problem of containing a bird flu pandemic is extremely difficult.
Chickens run freely in and out of houses and apartments in close contact with human beings. Once a human-to-human virus begins to work, it will spread quickly in these kinds of countries because they don’t have the methods, infrastructure or expertise to prevent it.
In Cambodia, reported the Times, if chickens become sick and die, it will be a very tedious task to catch and kill nearby birds to curb the disease. The personnel do not exist to manage such a wide spread culling of birds on the loose.
There is a virology lab that is being outfitted in Cambodia with the latest western equipment. But the samples are taken to a building for processing by researchers who have to work in a room with no air-conditioning. The room has “a fan that blows air out the windows and across an alley. A crowded elementary school with no glass in its windows is just 10 yards away.” Imagine how an actual disease can spread under those uncontrolled and unsanitary conditions.
Without making considerable changes to their societies, which would cause severe upheaval and is nearly impossible, nations such as Cambodia, are going to become a breeding ground for deadly pestilence and pandemics which will kill millions.
Here is a likely scenario as written by Keith Bradsher of the New York Times on November 3, 2005. “If the disease does make the jump from transmission by birds to person-to-person transmission, the crucial question will be whether the first few cases can be isolated quickly. If not, (such as is likely in countries like Cambodia), frightened people nearby could start fleeing, carrying the disease to big cities and then around the world by jet.”
Even though Cambodia’s health ministry is proud of the fact that it has teams of researchers who are ready on an hour’s notice to drive to regions reporting bird deaths, many villages lack phones, doctors, and other basic services. During the rainy season, it may take a day or two before anyone from a remote village can reach a phone. And it may take a day or two for researchers to reach an infected village in poor conditions.
The poorest countries like Cambodia, will likely struggle for many years with pestilences because they don’t have the infrastructure to deal with the problem at the local community.
The CIA’s Secret Prisons
And now, secret prisons run by the CIA. When the Washington Post reported that the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al-Qaida captives at Soviet-era prison compounds in Eastern Europe, it set off a chain reaction of political discomfort and posturing in Eastern European nations. From Romania to Estonia, leaders denied anything to do with secret prisons, trying to distance themselves from allegations made by a human rights group, and prevent unwanted investigations into their relationships with the CIA at least in some cases.
These prisons, reported Comcast.net “would violate the continent’s human rights principles.” At the heart of the issue of secret prisons is the treatment, or mistreatment of prisoners in CIA custody. Further, if they are secret, there is no way that the International Red Cross, which has exclusive rights to monitor the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody, would know about them. If there has been prisoner abuse, those members of the European Union who were involved with the CIA could have their membership in the EU suspended or even revoked. The Red Cross is trying to learn the fate of an unknown number of prisoners that they know are, or were in U.S. custody, but their location is unknown, giving rise to the allegation that these detainees are being kept in these secret prisons or have been liquidated.
The Human Rights Watch, a group that monitors human rights around the world, had obtained flight records and other information concerning CIA executive jets and compared them with reports of released prisoners, making strong connections between certain locations where prisoners were apparently kept, particularly in Eastern Europe. Subsequent reports named Romania and Poland as countries where secret prisons are located. If the allegations of secret prisons are true, Poland could be sanctioned by the EU and Romania could face obstacles in 2007 in its bid to join the European Union. The Czech Republic and Uzbekistan were also implicated in the allegations. But Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, Armenia and other former soviet states all denied that they had any knowledge of prisons in their countries. British Prime minister Tony Blair in London, declined to comment.
The Washington Post article, published November 2, 2005 said there were also secret prisons in Thailand and Afghanistan as well as eastern Europe. It also mentioned a secret facility in Guantanamo Bay’s inner prison. This secret prison was revealed to the public some time ago, but it is part of a network that has been used to interrogate prisoners in the “war on terror.”
The Post reported that “the existence and locations of the facilities — referred to as ‘black sites’ in classified White House, CIA, Justice Department and congressional documents — are known to only a handful of officials in the United States and, usually, only to the President and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.”
While the idea of abusing or torturing prisoners who have been sufficiently villainized rightly or wrongly, is acceptable to many Americans, and other westerners, it is nevertheless a very troubling development. Will secret prisons be used against God’s people one day when they are sufficiently villainized? The fact that the CIA is hiding prisoners suggests that things are happening that would horrify the general public if they knew about it. Reports of secret prisons in the U.S. have circulated in the private press for years. Could these, if they truly exist, be used to detain those upholding the last message to the world? If the government would hold foreigners in secret prisons, what would stop it from holding its own citizens in secret prisons if it could?
Meanwhile, Vice-President Dick Cheney has been aggressively pursuing an unprecedented initiative as an elected official. “He is proposing that Congress legally authorize human rights abuses by Americans…” reported the Washington Post on October 26, 2005, including “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners.”
Dick Cheney has become an open advocate of torture of foreign prisoners, even suggesting that the way to bypass the legal problems this raises, is by “turning captives over to governments willing to act as proxies in doing the torturing, reported the New York Times, October 26, 2005. He even tried to get legislation developed that would authorize cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners as a part of U.S. policy.
This is ominous my friends. While it is very troubling from a human point of view, it is also very troubling from a religious liberty point of view. If prisoners are able to be kept hidden, there is no telling what degrading treatment they will receive. When their usefulness is over, they can be liquidated and never seen again. We are going back to a dark period in world history.
How soon will it be advocated for domestic prisoners? And what other countries will follow suit with their own citizens, such as Australia, Canada, Britain? And when will the torture tactic bridge over to a nation’s own citizens whose activities and ideas, particularly certain religious ideas are no longer acceptable or tolerable. Perhaps your faith will become the focus of some of this new era of old inquisitorial practices.
There is considerable opposition in the U.S. congress to the use of torture. Senator John McCain sponsored a bill that would prevent it and attached it to the military spending bill that President Bush threatened to veto because of the amendment. McCain got a 90 – 9 vote in the senate in support of his amendment, showing President Bush and Vice-President Cheney that they need to rethink their approach to this whole issue. Perhaps the four angels are holding back the winds of strife still.
I’m afraid that is all we have time for this month. God bless and keep you.
Troublous times are coming upon us and we need to know how to deal with them by faith. The life of Joseph gives us great encouragement and practical instruction in what to do when we are faced with great difficulties.
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