Are you familiar with the saying – “In the pits” ? Of course you are. I’m sure that at some time in life – you’ve been there! There’s nothing fun about being in the pits, yet being in the pits can be very beneficial. Let me explain…
So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it. (Gen 37:23-24)
Joseph’s time in the pit was no doubt some of the darkest days of his life. Yet it was in the pit that the Lord taught Joseph some great lessons that would better equip him for the days ahead.
First of all, I would say that it was in the pit that Joseph became aware of the awfulness of sin. As many of you know, later in Joseph’s life he is going to face a time of tremendous temptation; yet, somehow he will be able resist. How? Why? Scripture says that in his moment of temptation, Joseph asked this very important question – “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” I believe that it was while Joseph was in the pit that he got a good look at the awfulness of sin. No doubt he saw the awfulness of his brothers’ sin and perhaps he also saw some sin in his own life. Sin in all of its ugliness was revealed to Joseph while he was in the pit and it left an image in his mind the he would never forget.
Secondly, I believe that in the pit, Joseph was made aware of his accountability to God.
When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man, and Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully. “Come and sleep with me,” she demanded. But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.” (Gen 39:1-2, 6-9)
Joseph saw himself as accountable to his master, but even more so – accountable to God. He knew that although no one else might see him sin with his master’s wife, God would. Perhaps there were moments when Joseph was tempted to give in, but with the thoughts of satisfying himself, came also the thoughts about the pit.
Thirdly, I believe that in the pit Joseph was given the assurance of God’s help. The Bible says that while he served in the house of Potiphar, ‘the LORD was with Joseph, so that he succeeded in everything he did.’ The same will be said throughout his time in Egypt. I’m not sure when Joseph first realized that the LORD was with him, but perhaps it was while he was in the pit. Scripture says that the pit was empty and that there was no water in it. Though there was nothing natural in the pit to help sustain Joseph, perhaps there was something supernatural. Whether Joseph realized it or not, God was with him as his brothers seized him and threw him into the pit. God was with him as he was sold to the band of Ishmaelite traders. God was with him along the long journey from Canaan to Egypt. And God was with him the day he was sold to an Egyptian captain, Potiphar. God was with him throughout his entire pit experience.
Pit experiences are not meant for our harm, but for our good. It is in the pit that we are made to see life in a much deeper and real way. I will even go as far as to say that no one truly understands God, life or themselves until they have spent some at least some time in the pit.