Serving - Sleeping - Singing

 •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 6
You will notice the difference between Joseph in Gen. 39:11And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. (Genesis 39:1) who was brought down to Egypt, and Abram in Gen. 12:1010And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. (Genesis 12:10) who went down into Egypt. Abram in the time of famine lost confidence in God and went down to Egypt to escape the famine. Abram did not have the mind of God in this. It was very different with Joseph who was brought down to Egypt. We see in this God working out His counsels and purposes. This is what God is doing today.
In many ways Joseph is a most beautiful type of the Lord Jesus. In this 39th chapter of Genesis he is in prison and is thus a type of the Lord Jesus. (See Isa. 53:88He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. (Isaiah 53:8).) "He was taken from prison and from judgment." There is something very instructive for us here. It makes all the difference how the people of God get into their circumstances. Here Joseph could not help being brought down into Egypt. But in Gen. 12:1010And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. (Genesis 12:10), Abram went down of his own will. "And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there." Egypt is a type of this world out of which the people of God have been delivered.
Prosperity
"And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian." Gen. 39:22And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. (Genesis 39:2). He was not prosperous in the things of this world. There are two kinds of prosperity spoken of in the Word of God: one is worldly prosperity, and the other is spiritual prosperity. I believe we have the two kinds of prosperity brought out in connection with Joseph and Abram.
Gen. 13 shows that Abram got back to the place which he left. He was rich in cattle, silver and gold, but all the time Abram spent in Egypt was lost time as far as communion with God was concerned. We do not read of the tent or the altar in Egypt. You may say Abram got on well in Egypt, and he was very rich in cattle, silver and gold, but that was worldly prosperity. Egypt can give a Christian that. If a Christian gets away from the Lord and gets into the world, the world can give him prosperity but it cannot give him Christ.
Spiritual Prosperity
But the prosperity Joseph enjoyed in the house of Potiphar and in the prison was of a different kind. It was prosperity of soul with Joseph. What do we desire as Christians, the prosperity of the world or spiritual prosperity? Twice we read in Gen. 39, "The Lord was with Joseph." It does not say that the Lord was with Abram in Egypt, although doubtless He was because Abram was a man of God. The Lord did not forsake Abram because he went down to Egypt, but the time Abram spent in Egypt was lost time as far as communion with God was concerned.
All the time we are out of communion with the Lord is wasted time. If you turn to Ex. 12:1, 21And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. (Exodus 12:1‑2), you will find the same principle in regard to the sinner. The Israelites had been in Egypt about 430 years, yet the Lord says, "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you." All the time we are in our sins, not saved and out of Christ, is lost time as far as God is concerned. Our history Godward begins from the time we are born again, from the time we are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ. It is so with the child of God if he is going on with the world, making his nest here, grasping after the things of this poor world. This is lost time as far as communion with God is concerned. A Christian cannot have the world in one hand and Christ in the other. It must be Christ or the world.
Fear God
Joseph was a prosperous man. He was upright, honest, and had great integrity of heart. A few words in Gen. 42:1818And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God: (Genesis 42:18) show us what characterized Joseph all the way through: "For I fear God." This was the holy fear of offending God which comes out very beautifully in the 39th chapter. The temptation must have been very strong which was presented to Joseph by his master's wife, but it was the fear of God which prevented him from falling into this awful sin. The fear of God possessed Joseph's soul and kept and preserved him in the hour of temptation. He ever desired to inculcate this fear into the hearts of his brethren. He succeeded in doing this and it resulted in their repentance and blessing.
Joseph was brought into circumstances over which he had no control. What a comfort this is to the people of God in a day like today. Sometimes we are brought into circumstances which we cannot help and from which we cannot extricate ourselves.
Potiphar bought Joseph from the Ishmaelites and found when he got this poor slave that the Lord was with him. It is a beautiful thing when the people round about us can see that the Lord is with us. It is said about Peter and John in Acts 4:1313Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13): "They took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."
Serving in Prison
Whether in the house of Potiphar or in the prison, Joseph served others. What should characterize us as the children of God? It should be happy, holy service. We are not to live down here to please ourselves, but to please the Lord. We read in Rev. 22, "And His servants shall serve Him." What a blessing Joseph was in the house of Potiphar. Because he was there, God blessed his house for Joseph's sake. We see the same in 1 Chron. 13:1414And the ark of God remained with the family of Obed-edom in his house three months. And the Lord blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that he had. (1 Chronicles 13:14), "The Lord blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that he had." It is very easy for the Lord to bless His people because of any service done for Him or His people. (See Matt. 25:35-4035For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:35‑40).)
There is no doubt that God blesses the unconverted down here in this world because of their kindness to the people of God. Joseph is now in prison, falsely accused, and one would naturally suppose his days were done. He was accused of the most dreadful crime and put into the dungeon. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
Suffering
We see in Psa. 105:17-2017He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: 18Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: 19Until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord tried him. 20The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free. (Psalm 105:17‑20) what the Lord had to say about Joseph: "He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron." We would not have known how much Joseph suffered were it not for this Psalm. God wants us to know that Joseph was a sufferer. Few men have submitted to a more severe test than; Joseph, but he stood the test. It is in a time of prosperity that Satan tries people most. Joseph's trust was in the Lord. "The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall preserve thy soul." Psa. 121:55The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. (Psalm 121:5).7. There are very many Scriptures which show how the Lord takes care of His own. May we enter into the truth of the little hymn:
Keep us Lord, O keep us cleaving,
To Thyself, and still believing;
Till the hour of our receiving,
Promised joys with Thee.
In times of trial and difficulty we can always cry to the Lord. "Lord, help me. Hold me up and I shall be safe." We cannot keep ourselves.
Sleeping in Prison
In Acts 12:6 we have another man in prison, Peter, who is not serving like Joseph, but sleeping. Matt. 26:4040And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? (Matthew 26:40) says. "He cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with Me one hour?" Peter had failed to watch with His beloved Master in His hour of sorrow. Through sleeping, Peter lost that precious privilege. In Acts 12, Peter is asleep again, but under different circumstances. Here he is the beloved servant of the Lord and is tired and weary in service for his Master. He is sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains.
It is nice to turn away from ourselves and our failures to the One who never fails. Here we have the blessed Master watching so lovingly and tenderly over His beloved servant. Peter, lying chained between two soldiers was casting all his care upon the Lord. We like to read about Peter because he is so much like ourselves. This is the very thing that Peter exhorts believers to do in his first epistle: "Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you." It is very encouraging to read the letters of Peter and Paul who carried out the truth practically and also taught others so to do. May we all learn in time of trouble to cast all our care upon the Lord, knowing He cares for us.
Praying and Singing in Prison
"At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them" Acts 16:2525And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. (Acts 16:25). Here we have the third man in prison, Paul, praying and singing praises to God at the midnight hour. A most unusual event took place in that prison. The jailor had never seen such a thing take place before. They had been severely beaten and their feet made fast in the stocks, yet they were singing. In the most trying circumstances what a wonderful thing it is to be a Christian, to be saved. Paul was saved on his way to Damascus where he was going to persecute the Church (Acts 9:1-91And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. (Acts 9:1‑9)).
Paul and Silas, two dear children of God in the prison, two real believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, endured great suffering, yet it did not hinder the divine life from flowing out. They had been imprisoned wrongfully. It was an effort of the devil to get rid of the truth.
Conversion
In Acts 16 there are three characters are brought before us. In Lydia we sec an honest seeker; in the young girl with the spirit of Python, we have the false professor; in the jailor, we recognize the hardened sinner. The jailor is about the most hardened man one could find. It was through Paul and Silas's being put in prison that this jailor was converted. Perhaps he would not have heard the gospel had they not been put into prison. God had His eye upon the jailor. He caused the jailor to see that Paul and Silas had something that he did not possess. The Spirit of Christ was manifested beautifully in these servants of the Lord. They do not complain of their treatment, but they can pray for those who put them there.
“And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed." v. 26. It was a wonderful earthquake; no damage was done. It accomplished one thing: it awoke the jailor from his sleep! The bands were loosed; the prisoners were all free and could have gone out but not one prisoner stirred. The jailer heard from the inner prison, "Do thyself no harm: for we are all here." He had drawn his sword and was about to kill himself supposing that the prisoners had fled.
It was the same spirit manifested by the Lord Jesus when He was on the cross. Jesus prayed for His enemies saying, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." If Paul and Silas had not been born again, they could not have acted as they did. They knew the Lord Jesus Christ as their own personal Savior.
Priesthood
Paul and Silas were carrying out the two aspects of the priesthood as given us in 1 Peter 2:5-95Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:5‑9): the holy priesthood and the royal priesthood. The holy priesthood offers up spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. The royal priest shows forth the character of Christ to others. We are not only left here to give God something, the worship and thanksgiving of our hearts, but we are here to show forth the virtues of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Are we doing this as Christians? Are we acting like Paul and Silas in the prison: something going up and something of Christ manifested in our daily lives? It is only the salvation of God possessed and enjoyed in our souls that can enable us to do this. W. Willis