The other day I saw one of those ridiculous Facebook posts that makes you wonder about the sanity of your Facebook friends. ‘Pick the nearest book to you’ it said, ‘Turn to page 45.The first sentence describes your sex life in 2012’. As I was in the middle of writing a sermon, I turned bible to page 45 and to my amusement, read ‘carried off from the land of the Hebrews and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.’
Here in Genesis 40, Joseph finds himself thrown into prison for having had the integrity to resist the sexual advances of his slave master’s wife. The bible puts it bluntly. Joseph is well-built and handsome. Potiphar’s wife says, “Come to bed with me.” But Joseph’s replies “How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”
What character. I wonder if after two years of festering in prison on her false accusation, this wealthy wife of one Pharaoh’s officials had time to contrast her emptiness and desire for instant gratification with the patient hope and trust that Hebrew slave had placed in his God?
“Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God” wrote G.K.Chesterton. As Mrs Potiphar discovered, misplaced sexual desires are only made lonelier by the unfulfilled yearning to be known and loved. By contrast, Joseph’s desires were governed by the God who’d loved and guided Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through life’s twists and who now gave him patience and hope in slavery and prison.
Lord Jesus, you said “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”. So give us integrity in our relationships and breathe through the heats of our desire thy coolness and thy balm, speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire, O still, small voice of calm! Amen.