Genesis 39: 1-3.—Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him at the hands of the Ishmaelites, which had brought him down thither. And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian, and his master saw that the Lord was with him.
We have in this passage an object lesson which teaches us what Christ is to us. Note: Joseph was a slave, but God was with him so distinctly that his master could see it. “And his master saw the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did prosper in his hands; and Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him,”—that is to say, he was his slave about his person,—“and he made him overseer over his house,”—that was something new. Joseph had been a slave, but now he becomes a master. “And he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hands. And it came to pass, from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake, and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not all he had, save the bread which he did eat.”
We find Joseph in two characters in the house of Potiphar: first as a servant and a slave, one who is trusted and loved, but still entirely a servant; second, as master. Potiphar made him overseer over his house and his lands, and all that he had, so that we read afterward that he left everything in his hands, and he knew of nothing except the bread that came upon his table. I want to call your attention to Joseph as a type of Christ. We sometimes speak in the Christian life, of entire surrender, and rightly, and here we have a beautiful illustration of what it is. First, Joseph was in Potiphar's house to serve him and to help him, and he did that, and Potiphar learned to trust him, so that he said, “All that I have I will give into his hands.” Now, that is exactly what is to take place with a great many Christians. They know Christ, they trust Him, they love Him, but He is not Master, He is a sort of helper. When there is trouble they come to Him, when they sin they ask Him for pardon in His precious blood, when they are in darkness they cry to Him; but often and often they live according to their own will, and they seek help from themselves. But how blessed is the man who comes and, like Potiphar, says, “I will give up everything to Jesus!” There are many who have accepted Christ as their Lord, but have never yet come to the final, absolute surrender of everything. Christians, if you want perfect rest, abiding joy, strength to work for God, oh, come and learn from that poor heathen Egyptian what you ought to do. He saw that God was with Joseph and he said, “I will give up my house to him.” Oh, learn you to do that. There are some who have never yet accepted Christ, some who are seeking after Him, thirsting and hungering, but they do not know how to find Him.
Let me direct your attention to four thoughts regarding this surrender to Christ: First, its motives; second, its measures; third, its blessedness; lastly, its duration.
First of all, its motives. What moved Potiphar to do this? I think the answer is very easy: he was a trusted servant of the king and he had the king's work to take care of, and he very likely could not take care of his own house. All his time and attention were required at the court of Pharaoh. He had his duty there; he was in high honor; but his own house got neglected. Very likely he had had other overseers, one slave appointed to rule the others, and perhaps that one had been unfaithful, or dishonest, and somehow his house was not as he would have it. So he buys another slave, just as he had formerly done, but in this case he sees what he had never seen before. There is something unusual about the man. He walks so humbly, he serves so faithfully and so lovingly, and withal so successfully. Potiphar begins to look into the reason for this, and finally concludes that God is with him.
It is a grand thing to have a man with whom God is, to entrust one's business to. The heathen realized this, and between the need of his own house and what he saw in Joseph, he decided to make him overseer. I ask you, do not these two motives plead most urgently that you should say: “I will make Jesus master over my whole being?” Your house, Christian, your spiritual life, the dwelling, the temple of God in your heart,—in what state is that? Is it not often like the temple of old, in Jerusalem, that had been defiled and made a house of merchandise, and afterwards a den of thieves? Your heart, meant to be the home of Jesus, is it not often full of sin and darkness, full of sadness, full of vexation? You have done your very best to get it changed, and you have called in the help of man, and the help of means; you have used every method you could think of for getting it put right; but it will not come right until He whose it is, comes in to take charge.
If there is any trouble in your heart, if you are in darkness, or in the power of sin, I bring to you the Son of God, with the promise that He will come in and take charge. As Potiphar took Joseph, will you not take Jesus? Has He not proven Himself worthy to be trusted? Come and say, “Jesus shall have entire charge; He is worthy.” Think not only of His Divine power, but think of His wonderful love; think of His coming from heaven to save you; think of His dying on Calvary and shedding His blood out of intense love for you. Oh, think of it; Christ in heaven loves every one who is given to Him, and whom He has made a child of God. “Having loved His own that were in the world, He loved them unto the end.”
Must I plead in the name of the love of the crucified Jesus; must I plead with you Christians, and say, Look at Jesus, the Son of God, your Redeemer, and ask you to make Him overseer over all? Give Him charge of your temper, your heart's affections, your thoughts, your whole being, and He will prove Himself worthy of it. Joseph had been for a time just a common slave, and with the other slaves had served Pharaoh. Alas! many a Christian has used Christ for his own advancement and comfort, just as he uses everything in the world. He uses father and mother, minister, money, and all else the world will give, to comfort and make him happy; there is danger of his using Christ Jesus in the same way. But oh, brethren, this is not right. You are His house, and He has a right to dwell therein. Will you not come and surrender all, and say, “Lord Jesus, I have made Thee overseer over all?”
But now, secondly, the measure of that surrender. We read in the 4th verse: “All that he had he put into his hands.” Then in verse 5: “And it came to pass from the time that he made him overseer over all that he had”—there you have it the second time—“the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house, and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had”—there the third time. Then in verse 6: “And he left all that he had”—there you have the words the fourth time—“in Joseph's hand, and he knew not all he had, save the bread which he did eat.” What do I see here? That Potiphar actually gave everything into Joseph's hands. He made him master over his slaves. All the money was put into Joseph's hands, for we read that Potiphar had care of nothing. When dinner was brought upon the table, he ate of it, and that was all he knew of what was going on in his house. Is not this entire surrender?—he gives up everything into the hands of Joseph. Ah, beloved Christians, I want you to ask yourselves: “Have I done that?” You have offered more than one consecration prayer, and you have more than once said: “Jesus, all I have I give to Thee.” You have said it, and meant it; but very probably you did not realize fully what it meant.
With the word surrender there seems always to be a larger and more comprehensive meaning. We do not succeed in carrying out our intentions, and afterward we take back one thing and another until we have lost sight of our original intention. Beloved Christians, let Christ Jesus have all. Let Him have your whole heart, with its affections; He Himself loves, with more than the love of Jonathan. Let Him have your whole heart, saying, “Jesus, every fiber of my being, ever power of my soul, shall be devoted to Thee.” He will accept that surrender. He spoke a solemn word: “You must hate father and mother.” Say you to-day: “Lord Jesus, the love to father and mother, to wife and child, to brother and sister, I give up to Thee. Teach Thou me how to love Thee. I have only one desire, which is to love Thee. I want to give my whole heart to be full of Thy love.”
But when you have given your heart, there is yet more to give. There is the head—the brain with its thoughts. I believe Christians do not know how much they rob Christ of in reading so much of the literature of the world. They are often so occupied with their newspapers that the Bible gets a very small place. Oh, friends, I beseech you bring this noble power which God has given you, the power of a mind that can think heavenly, eternal, and infinite things, and lay it at the feet of Jesus, saying, “Lord Jesus, every faculty of my being I want to surrender to Thee, that Thou shouldst teach me what to think, and how to think, for Thee and Thy Kingdom.” Bless God, there are men who have given their intellect to Jesus, and it has been accepted by Him. And in this connection there is my whole outer life. There is my relation to society, my position among men, my intercourse in my own home, with friends and family; there is my money, my time, my business; all these should be put in the hands of Jesus. One cannot know beforehand the blessedness of this surrender, but blessed it surely is. Come, because He is worthy; come because you know you can not keep things right yourself, and make Christ master over all you have. Give father and mother, wife and child, house and land, and money, all to Jesus, and you will find that in giving all you receive it back an hundred fold.
Thirdly, look at the blessing of the entire surrender. You have here the remarkable words: “And it came to pass from the time that Potiphar made Joseph overseer over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake, and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.” I ask you Christians, If God did this to that heathen man, because he honored Joseph; if God, for Joseph's sake, blessed that Egyptian in this wonderful way, may a Christian not venture to say: “If I put my life into the hands of Jesus, I am sure God will bless all that I have?” Oh, dare to say it. Potiphar trusted Joseph implicitly and absolutely, and there was prosperity everywhere, because God was with Joseph. Beloved friends, if you but surrender everything, depend upon it, the blessing from that time will be yours. There will be a blessing within your own inner life, and a blessing in your outer life. He blessed Potiphar in the house, in the field, everywhere.
Oh, Christian, what is that blessing you will get? I can not tell all, but I can tell you this: if you will come to Christ Jesus and surrender all, the blessing of God will be on all that you have. There will be a blessing for your own soul. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.” Try that; trust Jesus for everything, and trust everything to Him, and the blessing of God will come upon you—the sweet rest, the rest of faith. It is all in the hands of Jesus; He will guide you; He will teach you; He will work in you; He will keep you; He will be everything to you. What a blessed rest and freedom from responsibility and from care, because it is all in the hands of Jesus! I do not say trouble and trial will never come; but in the midst of trial and trouble you will have the all-sufficiency of the presence of Jesus to be your comfort, your help, and your guide. Joseph was sold by his brethren, but he saw God in it, and he was quite content. Christ was betrayed by Judas, condemned by Caiaphas, and given over to execution by Pilate; but in all that, Christ saw God, and He was content. Give over your life, in all its phases, into the hands of Jesus; remembering that the very hairs of your head are numbered, and not a sparrow falls to earth without the Father's notice. Consent now and say: “I will give up everything into the hands of Jesus. Whatever happens is His will regarding me. Whether He comes in the light or in the dark, in the storm or on the troubled sea, I will rest in that blessed assurance. I give up my whole life entirely to Him.”
In reading the Book of Jonah, we find God's hand in each step of Jonah's experience. It was God who sent the storm when Jonah went aboard the ship, who appointed a whale to swallow him, who ordered the whale to cast him out; and then afterwards it was God who caused the hot wind to blow when the sun was sending down its scorching rays, until the soul of Jonah was grieved, and made the gourd to grow, and sent the worm to kill the gourd, and set a sea-wind to dry the gourd up quickly. Do we not thus see that every circumstance of our living, every comfort and every trial, comes from God in Christ? There is nothing can touch a hair of my head. Not a sharp word comes against me; not an unexpected flurry surrounds me, but it is all Jesus. With my life in His hands, I need care for nothing. I can be content with what Jesus gives.
God blessed Potiphar in the field; in the visible life outside of his house; and God will bless you, that, in your intercourse with men, you may be a blessing; that by your holy, humble, respectful, quiet walk, you may carry comfort; that by your loving readiness to be a servant and a helper to all, you may prove what the Spirit of God has done within you. Oh, my brother, my sister, you have no conception of it,—I have not—how God is willing to bless the soul utterly given up to Jesus. God can delight in nothing but Jesus. God delights infinitely in Jesus. God longs to see nothing in us but Jesus, and if I give up my heart and life to Jesus, and say, “My God, I want that Thou shouldst see in me nothing but Jesus,” then I bring to the Father the sacrifice that is the most acceptable of all. Oh, believers, come to-day; come out of all your troubles, and all your self-efforts and your self-confidence, and let the blessed Son of God take possession.
Let me direct your thoughts, lastly, to the duration of this surrender. I want to emphasize this—because in many cases the surrender does not last. Some go away, and for a time have much gladness and joy, but it soon begins to decrease, and in a few weeks or perhaps months is all gone. Others who do not lose it entirely, complain sadly at times, that it goes away and comes again. They say: “My life has been very much blessed since that surrender I made to God, but it has not always been on the same level.” What did Potiphar do? We read in the 4th verse: “He made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he left in Joseph's hands.” What a simple word! He left it there.
And oh, children of God, if you will only get to that point and say, “For all eternity I leave it in the hands of Jesus,” you will find what a blessing it is. Potiphar found now that he could do the king's business with two hands and an undivided heart. I might try to rescue a drowning man by holding fast somewhere with one hand, while I reached out the other hand to the man, but it is a grand thing for a person to be able to stretch out both hands, and that person is the one who has left all with Jesus—all his inner life, all his cares and troubles, and has given himself up entirely to do the will of God. Will you leave it there? I must press this, because I know temptations will come. One temptation will be that the feelings you had in your act of surrender will pass away; they will not be so bright; another, that circumstances will tempt you. Beloved, temptations will come; God means it for your good. Every temptation brings you a blessing. Do understand that. Learn the lesson of giving up everything to Jesus, and letting Jesus take charge of everything. Leave all with Jesus. Do not think that by a surrender to-day or on any day, however powerful, however mighty, things will keep right themselves. You need every morning afresh, when God wakes you up out of sleep, to put your heart, and your life, and your house, and your business, into the hands of Jesus. Wait on Him, if need be, in silence, or in prayer, until He gives you the assurance, “My child, for to-day all is safe; I take charge.” And morning by morning He will renew to you the blessing, and morning by morning you will go out from your quiet time in the consciousness, “To-day I have had fellowship with my King, and it is all right.” Jesus has taken charge. And so, day by day, you can have grace to leave all in the hands of Jesus.
In conclusion let me speak to two classes. There are times when your heart is restless; there are times when you are afraid to die.
There are some true believers who have perhaps never yet understood that it was their duty to give up everything to Christ. Beloved fellow Christians, I come with a message from your Father, to come and to-day take that word into your hearts and upon your lips, even though you do not understand it. “Jesus, I make Thee Master of everything and I will wait at Thy feet, that Thou wilt show me what Thou wouldst have me be and do.” Do it now. And let me say to believers who have done it before, and who long with an unutterable longing to do it fully and perfectly,—Child of God, you can do it, for the Holy Spirit has been sent down from Heaven for this one purpose, to glorify Jesus; to glorify Jesus in your heart, by letting you see how perfectly Jesus can take possession of the whole heart; to glorify Jesus by bringing Him into your very life, that your whole life may shine out with the glory of Jesus. Depend upon it, the Father will give it to you by the Holy Spirit, if you are ready. Oh, come, and let your intercourse with God be summed up in a simple prayer and answer—“My God, as much as Thou wilt have of me to fill with Christ, Thou shalt have to-day.” “My child, as much of Christ as thy heart longeth to have, thou shalt have; for it is My delight that My Son be in the hearts of My children.”