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The Prison Experiences Of The Bible
Series Introduction: One of the striking things about the Law of
the Lord is the fact that God authorized no prisons among His people. When a person committed a crime in
Even though God did not order His people to build any prisons, He did allow some of His most choice servants to spend time in the dungeons of their day. In fact, a few of God’s men met their deaths in prison cells. When God allowed one of His servants to go into prison, it wasn’t because they were criminals. God sent each of those special prisoners to their prison because He wanted to teach them some lessons they could learn nowhere else.
I believe that it is worth our time to consider these prison experiences, because they have much to teach us about our God. With that in mind, let’s look at Joseph and his prison experience.
THE PRISON OF HIS PROMOTIONS
Sermon Introduction: Our text tells us that one of the greatest characters in the Old Testament had his own prison experience. Joseph, who pictures the Lord Jesus in at least 100 ways, pulled a long, hard stretch in Pharaoh’s prison.
Now, I am interested in Joseph’s prison experience, because I find that God will often do the same thing in your life and mine. He will have a plan to promote us to a greater level of service, but that path will often lead through some prison experience or the other. God’s path for us will lead us through a time when we are shut off; shut down; shut away and shut up.
It is in these prison experiences of life that God prepares us for greater service and responsibility. Let’s take a few minutes to join Joseph in The Prison Of His Promotions. There are a few truths in this passage that we need to understand today.
I. THE PROBLEMS OF THIS PRISON
A. This Is A Painful Prison – In verse 20, we are told that Joseph was “put” into prison. There is no mention of torture of abusive treatment. However, Gen. 40:3 tells us that Joseph was “bound” in this prison. Psalm 105:18 adds even more detail. When all this is considered, it becomes clear that this was a painful time in Joseph’s life.
It is never easy when the Lord sends you into a prison experience in your life. Of course, God never promised His children
that serving Him would be a painless affair.
Some of God’s most choice servants have been shaped on the harsh anvil
of pain, Ill. Job –
It has been said that “those God would use greatly, He firsts hurts deeply.” So, we should not be surprised when we find ourselves locked away in one of the prisons of life. We are not the first ones to inhabit the cell of affliction and we will not be the last.)
Is A Perplexing Prison – Nowhere are we ever told that Joseph
questioned anything that happened to him during his young life. But, surely there had to be questions in his
mind. He must have wondered why his
brothers hated him so. He must have
wondered why he should end up as a slave in
(Note: One of the problems of this prison is that is can be so perplexing in nature. I mean, you try to do your best and live your life for the Lord and still trouble comes your way. That is a troubling truth for many people. And, some are blown off course by the trials they are forced to endure. They throw up their hands and say, “What’s the use?” That is the wrong attitude to take with the trials of life! We may not understand all that is happening, but we can be sure that our Lord is in control of the situation.
When we take that attitude, we are
mistaken. You see, even though the
prisons of life are disturbing and distracting, they are part of a plan that we
know nothing about. God is using the
hard, harsh events of our lives to shape us and move us to where He wants
us. We must trust the Lord, even when we
can’t figure out what He is doing. We
need to remember that He has a plan. It
is a good plan; it is the best plan, Rom.
8:28. Our duty is to serve the Lord
even when we don’t understand Him. Who would want a God they could figure out
Regardless of what life bring our way, we
must submit to His will and trust Him to do right. That is what Joseph did. That is what Paul did,
Is A Prolonged Prison – We do not know how long Joseph spent in his
prison. It was at least two years, Gen. 41:1, but it may have been as long
as 13 years, Gen. 41:46! We do know for sure that from the time Joseph
was thrown into that pit by his brothers until the day he became the second
(Note: Sometimes our trials are over in a short time; at other times they may last for years. God may spend many years shaping your life for a relatively short period of service. He may send you into a prison experience in your life to prepare you for greater service.
Regardless of how long or how short our prison experiences may be, our duty is to submit to God and to His will for our lives.)
II. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS PRISON
A. The Provision Of God’s Presence – We are told in Gen. 39:21 that “the Lord was with Joseph.” That young man went into a prison experience, but he did not go into it or through it alone! The God Who sent him there went with him into that awful place.
(Note: Regardless of the nature of the prison experiences you may face in life, remember that God will go with you through them all, Heb. 13:5; Isa. 43:2, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”
When it came time for Noah to enter the ark, God did not say “Go into the ark”; He said “Come into the ark”, Gen. 7:1. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace, they found the Lord was already there, Dan. 3:24-25.)
B. The Provision Of God’s Peace – We are told that God “showed him mercy”, Gen. 39:20. This word is translated “lovingkindness” in other places in the Old Testament. It carries the same idea as the New Testament word “Grace”. In other words, God gave Joseph the power and strength he needed to endure the prison he was forced to face.
(Note: He will do the same for
Provision Of God’s Promotion – Gen.
39:21-41:14 tell us that even in prison, God was busy using Joseph for His
glory. In that horrible dungeon; locked
away with the vilest criminals in
(Note: God does not send us into the prison to bury us there. He sends us to prepare us for even greater things in His work. When He allows you to suffer a time of being shut up; shut off and shut it; He does it to grow you so that His image can be more clearly seen in your life.
God sends you into His furnace so that He might use you more greatly for His glory.)
III. THE PRIVILEGES OF THIS PRISON
Privilege Of God’s Plan – What kept Joseph going through the dark days
of betrayal; deceit and suffering? It
was the sure knowledge that God was working out a wonderful plan on Joseph’s
Than the day came! They called him out of prison and brought him before Pharaoh, Gen. 41:14. Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, 41:15-36, and was made the second ruler in the kingdom, 41:37-43. Joseph had suffered greatly while God worked out His plan; but he remained faithful and he saw God’s plan fulfilled in his life.
(Note: We may not understand this, but when God puts us through a prison experience in our lives, He has honored us. It is an honor to be counted part of God’s plan. To know that I, as insignificant and as meaningless as I am, am a part of God’s plans is an amazing truth. To think that He would take the time to develop me so that He might use me for His glory is a truth too wonderful for words. But, that is one of the things that makes His grace so amazing. He does not just save us to keep us out of Hell. He saves us to make us because we are a part of His eternal plan. He saves us because He intends to use us for His glory, Eph. 2:10.
The fact that I am saved today tells me that I am important to God. He loves me and He has a plan for my life. So, when my path becomes difficult, it is because He is working out that plan in me and through me. My sole duty is to submit to Him.)
Privilege Of God’s Praise – Joseph is careful to give all the glory to
the Lord, 40:8; 41:16, 25. Joseph knows that God has been working in his
life so that God could get glory to His name.
God did the things He did in Joseph’s life so that He might develop
Joseph and so that He might use Joseph to show others the greatness and glory
of the God of Heaven. (
(Note: That is what the Lord is
doing in our lives when He sends us into a prison experience. He is growing us, but He is also using us to
bring more glory to His name. Since that
is true, and since our heart’s desire ought to be for His glory,
Privilege Of God’s Providence – In the end, Joseph saw every promise of
the Lord fulfilled and he came to understand that all the pain he was forced to
endure served to glorify God; grow Joseph and that it all worked for good in
his life, Gen. 50:20, and in the
lives of others. Because of Joseph’s
obedience and submission, God was able to save the nation of
(Note: in our lives, God is going to send us into some places when faith is going to have to swim where reason cannot even wade. During those times, we are going to have to trust God. You see, when all Joseph could see was the pit, Potiphar’s house and the prison; God could see the palace!
He knows what He is doing in my life. He knows where He is taking me. He knows all about the plans He has for me. He knows what He is preparing me for in this life. I do not! Sometimes all I can see is the prison; during those times, I must trust that He sees the palace. Let me give you two great “Prison Promises”. These two verses will sustain you when all you can see is the prison.
2. Psalm 138:8, “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.”)
Conc: Many years ago, Martin Luther made this statement, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my little apple tree and pay my debts.” That simple statement says a lot about Luther. He was saying, “No matter what comes my way, I am going to do the right things and keep on serving the Lord.”
You see, those who won’t serve God in the prisons of life are not fit to serve Him the palaces of life either.
Does this message find you looking at some kind of a prison experience in your life? What are you doing in that prison? Are you rebelling against it, or submitting to it? God has you there for one reason: He is using that prison as a tool of preparation for a future promotion.
Has He spoken to your heart through this message? If so, then come and get before Him and deal with the word He sent to your heart today.