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The Cloud of Witnesses

Former title Lessons From the People of the Bible



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Lesson 4: Joseph – The Privileged Prisoner


Genesis 40:1-23.

The Privileged Prisoner

Chapter 39 ends with Joseph in prison. How would you like to be put into prison for doing what is right? That’s what happened to Joseph. He stood up to a woman who wanted him to commit adultery and so ended up in jail.

But the Bible says the Lord was with him. Joseph may be in prison but the warden recognised him as a person of integrity and so put him in the privileged position of looking after everything. The warden didn’t need to worry about anything under Joseph’s care.

The honesty of his life in Canaan was the same honesty in Potiphar’s house whilst he was a slave. It was the same honesty that caused him to be thrown in prison, and the same honesty would support him in that place.

Students often think that certificates impress employers. They are more impressed by integrity, dependability, punctuality, loyalty, honesty and trustworthiness. You may not get certificates for these attributes but promotion usually follows.

Joseph’s life reveals how a person with the right attitudes can handle conflicts and struggles with composure and resolve. We can only get the right attitudes from integrity because guilt permeates every aspect of our lives. No matter where he was, in Potiphar’s home, in prison or, as we shall see later, in Pharaoh’s palace – his character was the same. In the pit or on the mountaintop, he was genuine and consistent.

It’s a challenge for us all. We don’t become honest through promotion. We don’t become trustworthy when we are in a responsible position. We first prove our honesty and trustworthiness in the small things and in the hidden areas before we can ever have our true characters exposed in a more visible arena.

People don’t lose integrity in a moment of haste or indiscretion – they already lost it because it was not given the priority it should have been given. The decisions we make are based upon the foundation of our character – if that is suspect so will our decisions be.

While in prison, Joseph’s special ability was revealed once more. The cupbearer and baker arrived under suspicion. Both had dreams they didn’t understand and shared them with Joseph. He interpreted them, and true to the interpretation, the cupbearer was restored and the baker executed.

However, in his relief the cupbearer forgot all about Joseph who had to continue his life as a prisoner. Albeit a privileged prisoner.

Joseph would say to us today...

No matter where you are, remember God is watching over you for good.


Father, thank You for reminding me that I am not alone. You do know where I am and what I am going through each day. Help me live today as if You are there right beside me and keep me trusting that I shall experience Your good sometime soon. Amen.

Additional readings

Psalm 139; Daniel 1:3-20; Romans 8:28-39.


What are the good things God has done in your life?

Why is it important for us to have a gratitude attitude?

What things can you thank God for this week?

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Sold Out For Jesus and Ring of Truth – daily devotionals by John White
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