The Prison Test

Genesis 39:13 – And so it was when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and fled outside, (Verse 14) that she called to the men of her house and spoke to them saying, “See, he has brought in to us a Hebrew to mock us. He came in to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. 

(Verse 15) “And it happened when he heard that I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me, and fled and went outside.” (Verse 16) So she kept his garment with her until his master came home. (Verse 17) Then she spoke to him with words like these saying, “The Hebrew servant whom you brought to us came in to me to mock me;

(Verse 18) “So it happened, as I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me and fled outside.” (Verse 19) So it was when his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him, saying, “Your servant did to me after this manner,” that his anger was aroused. (Verse 20) Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. and he was there in the prison. (Verse 21) But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

(Verse 22) And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. (Verse 23) The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s hand, whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.

Every character test has to do with “stewardship.” People will not fulfill their destiny that God has for them if they are not a good steward. The prison test, in particular, is the test of perseverance. God develops character in things that we go through in our lives as we persevere in those things. Look at this formula for character found in Romans, Chapter 5:

Romans 5:3 – And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; (Verse 5) and perseverance, character, and character, hope. (Verse 6) Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

It says, “We glory in tribulation.” There are two Greek words for glory: One means to the “out shinning,” what you see. The word used for glory in this verse means “Rejoice!” So Paul wrote, “We rejoice in tribulation.” The root word of this means “we wish” or “pray” for tribulation because it’s going to cause us to rejoice. Why in the world would tribulation cause anyone to rejoice?

Tribulation Produces Perseverance

First of all, we don’t have to wish for or pray for tribulation, it will come! John 16:33 – “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

James 1:2 – My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, (Verse 3) knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

Trials produce patience, tribulation produces perseverance. Patience is waiting with contentment. Patience is waiting while we keep our hearts right, while we wait for something. Perseverance is fighting the battle while waiting with contentment. Perseverance involves a war, a battle, it involves something difficult. A trial is brief, tribulations are a long period. Perseverance is a long and difficult trial.

This doesn’t sound good to most of us, but the Bible says it’s the only way to produce character! For Joseph, perseverance was 13 years, a long trial. David was anointed king, but for 13 years he ran from Saul before he was actually king. Paul was at the church in Antioch for 13 years before he went on his first missionary journey. It’s very possible that our response to the circumstances determines how long the trials last.

Perseverance Produces Character

So if a person wants to have a good character, they are going to have to go through a long trial of tribulation. The worse thing a person can do for someone is to promote them before they are ready or deliver them out of a trial that God is taking them through to put character in their life!

Joseph was first the number two man in Potipher’s house. Then he goes to prison and is the number two man in prison. Was it Joseph’s ability or was it God’s favor that produced this? Did Joseph prolong his stay in prison?

While in prison, the chief baker to the king and the chief butler displeased the king and were thrown in prison where Joseph was. While there, the baker and the butler have a dream and Joseph interprets their dreams and says to the butler: Genesis 40:14 – “But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house.” (Verse 23) Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph but forgot him.

Two years later the Pharaoh has a dream and the butler remembers that Joseph can interpret dreams. Who gave Pharaoh the dream? God did! Why didn’t God give Pharaoh the dream two days later, after the butler was released from prison instead of waiting about two years?

Could it be because Joseph “dropped a hint” for the butler to put in a good word for him to the Pharaoh? If God would have brought Joseph out of prison then, promoting him, Joseph might think that the way to “get ahead” is to find favor with someone other than God! God never rewards manipulation. It is by God’s grace that He doesn’t put us in our destiny before we are ready because then we would fall! He’s waiting on our character to be big enough to support the destiny.

Character Produces Hope

Character is not only how we act, but it’s also how we react. Joseph did the right thing when he fled from Potiphar’s wife, but suffered the wrong consequences. Satan has no new tricks.

What was the evidence Satan used to convince Jacob that Joseph was dead? Joseph’s coat. Then what was the evidence Satan used to support the lie that Joseph had tried to rape Potiphar’s wife? His coat! Can you think of something that Satan keeps tricking you with? Whatever it is, get rid of it! Whatever Satan has used to capture you in the past, he will use it again!

Proverbs 13:12 – Hope deferred makes the heart sick. When Joseph interpreted the dreams of the baker and the butler, it shows that he didn’t have a sick heart because he was still concerned about others. Joseph never had a pity-party. He was ministering to others. Joseph kept his heart right before God. Hope is not that God will deliver us from our circumstances, hope is that God will help us walk through our circumstance! Our hope is in God, not in our circumstances changing. If our hope is in our circumstances changing, and the longer they last, the more our hearts will grow sick.

Hope Produces Appointments

Romans 5:5 – Now hope does not disappoint. Hope appoints! The tribulation will produce perseverance in our lives and that perseverance, if we respond correctly will produce character and that character will produce hope and hope will produce a divine appointment for us to step into our destiny!

Genesis 40:6 – Joseph came in to them (the butler and the baker) in the morning and looked at them, and saw that they were sad. (Verse 7) So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in the custody of his lord’s house, saying, “Why do you look so sad today?” Because Joseph still had hope in God, it produced a divine appointment. A divine appointment is an appointment God has for us. Disappointment means we missed an appointment.

By Joseph keeping his heart right, it produced a divine appointment, and that divine appointment led him to step into his destiny.

So depending on how we respond to difficult circumstances will determine how long we stay in those circumstances and step into our destiny.

Even if people forget and don’t keep their word to you, Jesus will never forget and will always keep His word to you and deliver you!



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