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Wednesday Lent 3B (Genesis 39 / Sixth Commandment)

March 14, 2012

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Wednesday of Lent 3

14 March 2012

 

Sixth Commandment:  You Shall Not Commit Adultery

Bible Narrative: 

 

Genesis 39

 

Joseph.  Coat of many colors Joseph.  Favored by his father Jacob.  Who had dreams about the future with his brothers bowing down to him Joseph.  Who, without regard for the consequences, naively shared the dreams’ content with his family Joseph.  Envied and despised by his brothers Joseph.  Hated him so much they wanted to kill him Joseph.  Instead, they serendipitously sell him to Ishmaelite traders.  Eventually, insufferable Joseph ends up in Egypt.  Sold into Egyptian slavery.  Slavery!  Bought by captain of the guard Potiphar.  Can you imagine?  The heartache?  The pain?  The despair?  Forcibly betrayed!  Devastatingly separated from father Jacob and from the God of his fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!

 

And yet there is the current refrain no matter what happened to Joseph.  No matter what the circumstances:  “The LORD was with Joseph.”[1]  Not just in Canaan.  The LORD crosses the border!  Joseph is not alone.  The LORD is with him even in this foreign land of pagans and idol worshipers!  Even in his darkest hours.    

 

The LORD’s gracious presence garners results.  “The LORD gave him [Joseph] success in everything he did.”  Joseph’s master notices this.  Consequently, Potiphar gives Joseph control of his entire estate!  “Joseph you’re in charge of everything!  It’s all in your hands!  I trust you!  You’re like a son to me!”   Potiphar has nothing to worry about with Joseph in charge.

 

Then Moses adds quite a line in this history.  One that might surprise you.  One that you might have missed.  “Now Joseph was well built and handsome.”  You fill in the blanks.  Six pack abs.  Perfect pects.  Broad shoulders.  Chiseled physique.  Sandy blonde hair. Big blue eyes.

 

A-list bod and heart-throb Joseph hasn’t escaped Potiphar’s wife’s eyes!  She’s taken notice.  Pronto!  She’s scoped him out! 

 

Did I mention that this is Potiphar’s wife?  Oh, yes, I did, didn’t I?  Joseph will soon learn the meaning of the phrase:  Real Housewives of the Egyptian Nile!  She’s a cougar on the prowl!  We aren’t told her name so let’s call her Victoria or Vicki for short.  In America Vicki could have her own prime time reality TV show on TV Land!  Do a couple of slutty one-night stand cameos on How I Met Your Mother and Three and A Half Men!  Get a gig on Dancing with the Stars!  Go on the interview circuit with Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly, and Barbara Walters!  Make millions writing steamy tell-all books!  And then receive a number of one-on-one party invitations from Ashton Kutcher and Charlie Scheen!  Why?  Because she loves to sleep around!  Especially with hot, Brad Pitt or Matthew McConaughey types! 

 

“And after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’”

 

“Come to bed with me.  I’ll show you a good time!”  The more things change the more they stay the same.  Did I mention that Vicki’s married?  Oh, yes, I did, didn’t I?  Vicki is wife to Potiphar! 

 

Fear, love, and trust in God above all things?  Not even on her radar screen!  Remain faithful to her husband?  Totally irrelevant!  Leading a sexually pure and decent life?  Downright laughable!  Honor and love only her husband?  How incredibly Victorian!  So prudish!  So 1950s-ish!  So Ozzie and Harriet!  So Leave It To Beaver!  Even in ancient Egypt! 

 

The woman has needs.  And she wants to fulfill them.  Not with her husband!  But with the new young hunk, Joseph!  If any of you ladies (young or middle aged) need the worst kind of role model for the modern or post-modern liberated woman – here you have it! 

 

Joseph could pull an Ashton Kutcher and no one would know!  It could be a one-night stand or an extended relationship.  And who would even care?  Everyone does it!  Everyone hooks up!  What one does in the privacy of one’s own bedroom is nobody else’s business anyway!  It would be his and Victoria’s secret!  So what if Potiphar finds out?  He’ll get over it! 

 

So she applies her sultry Egyptian Mary Kay makeup. Straps on her crocodile high heels.  Slips into her sexiest see through Nile Cotton nightgown.  Saddles right up to Joseph in her most seductive Walk Like An Egyptian moves. Puts on her bedroom eyes.  Twirls her fingers through his curly hair.  Blows into his ear and whispers: “Come to bed with me.”  What an enticing temptation!  What a thrill!  What an amazingly opportunity for a young male slave! 

 

And what does well-built and handsome slave boy Joseph do?  Are you ready for this?  You won’t believe it!  The text says:  “BUT HE REFUSED!”   REFUSED HER I TELL YOU!  No adultery for Joseph!  Ever!  He will not adulterate holy marriage in any way!  “Here’s the deal Vicki!  I’ve got a secret for you!  With me in charge,” he says, “my master does not have to worry about a thing.  He trusts me.  I suppose I could do anything I wanted.  I suppose I could have you.  But I won’t.  So here’s the 411!  You’re a married woman!  I will not commit adultery with you!” 

 

Cougars usually don’t take No for an answer.  Vicki tries to wear Joseph down.  Men are weak!  They’re all matrixed a certain way.  There’s always one thing on their mind.  So day after day she offers herself to him!

 

And day after day Joseph refused.  He even looked for ways to avoid her.  After all, to commit adultery – to have sexual relations with a woman you’re not married to – is a “wicked thing and [a] sin against God.”

 

Joseph has learned from God’s Word that a sexual relationship is a gift from God.  However, he also knew and believed that sexual activities in the bedroom are to be used properly – in the way that God intends it. 

 

Now I hope you’re not rolling your eyes and turning the preacher off right now.  Why?  Well, because Joseph offers you and I a wonderful God-pleasing example to follow.  To fear, love and trust in God even in our sexuality.  A man and a woman are supposed to have a sexual relationship.  That’s God’s intent.  A one-flesh union.  To be fruitful and multiply.  But only after they are married. 

 

Marriage first.  Then the honeymoon!  The way it was from the beginning.  In Genesis when God brought Eve to Adam and married them.  Adam and Eve were both naked together and they were not ashamed.  Why?  Because they were married!  Because they were husband and wife! 

 

Here we all have loads to repent of!  And it’s time we had a serious talk.   

 

But I fear that some of us, including myself, do not want to talk.  Don’t want to hear God’s Word on this matter.  We would rather ignore the Sixth Commandment and God’s will for our life on this matter.  We would rather sin against God and continue to live wicked lives on purpose!  After all, everyone else does it.  And it’s legal!  I’m afraid we talk like this:  “Joseph did what he did.  That was his choice.  That’s fine for him!  But don’t expect me to be like Joseph!  It’s my life and no one can tell me how to live it.”     

 

But God has!  And it is clear.  The Sixth Commandment.  Addressed specifically to each one of us:  “YOU shall not commit adultery.” 

 

Now you can shift the blame or spin it this way:  “Pastor Kuhlman is such an SOB!”  Or “Mom and Dad don’t approve but they’ve gotten used to it.”  Or, “I’ve been married before!  It was such a disaster – so painful — that I promised myself that I’d never marry again!”  But the facts are the facts.  Sin against God is sin against God. Instead of holy living, I fear that we entrench ourselves in the most wicked of all living.   

 

To disregard God’s Word here on this is very dangerous.  Eternal life or death dangerous!  When any sin is held outside of forgiveness, then there isn’t any forgiveness for any other sins.  Forgiveness comes entire or not at all!  No fractions!  Would you purposely hold on to your sin?  Would you dare to take back your sin from Jesus and say:  “I’ll keep them thank you!  I’ll deal with them!”  If that’s the way you want it, then sadly, you will!  Impenitence will end hellaciously! 

 

So tonight it is time to repent.  Time to hear God’s Word and to confess our sin that adulterates marriage in any way.  Time to repent of how we have failed in whatever way to lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do.  

 

Why?  Because Jesus has come for sinners.  All sinners.  He was always going after Sixth Commandment sinners.  In order to … forgive them! In order to purify and cleanse Sixth Commandment sinners with His holy word of absolution! 

 

Jesus is the friend of sinners!  He does not avoid you.  He wants to be seen with you as His forgiven brother or sister.  He willingly and completely obeys the Sixth Commandment for the entire world – for you – and every sinner!  His perfect obedience annuls our disobedience.  Jesus flawlessly does what God expects in the Sixth Commandment.  And He does it for you!  What He did counts for you! 

 

At the same time, Jesus does not shrink from taking all your sin and dying for it on the cross! He eagerly and categorically announces:  “I’ve got your sin!  It’s mine.  I died with it all soaked up in My body!  I buried it in the black hole of my tomb!  I forgive you!  Entirely and completely!”

 

The Lord’s forgiveness for all your sin is the forgiveness that counts.  So that you can begin to fear, love and trust in Him above all things.  So that you begin to fear and love in Him in order to lead a sexually pure and decent life in what you say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other. 

 

Faith in Jesus the Sin-Bearer, the Sin-Forgiver.  Love for those in your life. 

 

In the name of Jesus.       


     [1]Genesis 39:3, 21, 23, Acts 7:9.

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