Blamed but innocent ∙
Now his master Potiphar saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. – Genesis 39:3
1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
Since 2002, the occupants of the Taylor farm in Kansas have been treated like criminals. They are routinely blamed for doing things that they did not do. They have been accused of committing fraud, being identity thieves, spammers, and scammers. They routinely get visits from FBI agents, federal marshals, IRS collectors, and police officers.
Why is this happening? It is a technological horror story involving IP mapping. An IP is an Internet Protocol address. IP addresses are analogous to street addresses. They uniquely identify a device (or location where it is found) to establish communication. Fixed IPs are tied to geographical locations. The Internet is a web of IP addresses. A Massachusetts-based digital mapping company called MaxMind decided to provide “IP intelligence” to identify the geographic location of computing devices. MaxMind created default locations for cities and states. But IP mapping is very imprecise. Some addresses are mapped only to a country.
When IP addresses have no specificity more than being in the United States, the IP locator points them to the center of the United States. The center of the United States is in northern Kansas near the Nebraska border. For simplicity, it was defined by a nearby latitude and longitude, 38°N, 97°W, which happens to be in the front yard of Joyce Taylor’s house. And it escalated from there.
When law enforcement agencies ask companies like Google and Facebook for the IP addresses used by suspected criminals, the MaxMind locator points to the front yard of Taylor’s house. Because of this horrific Internet mapping glitch, the Taylor Ranch is trapped in digital hell.
One of the more well-known stories in the Old Testament regards the life of Joseph, the great-grandson of Abraham. Because of the jealousy and animosity of his brothers, they wanted to do away with him. Joseph was ambushed, thrown into a pit, and eventually sold into slavery in Egypt. There, his life was marked by early triumphs, then tragedies. Remarkably, he became Egypt’s prime minister and was finally reconciled with his brothers.
REFLECT & PRAY
“Joseph is a prime illustration of the truth that adversity is a setback from which we take our greatest leaps forward” (Stanley).
Father I do not ask for an easy path; I only ask that You be with me wherever You take me.
Joseph exemplifies a child of the King who trusted the Father and triumphed over the most challenging circumstances (Wiersbe). What was the secret of Joseph’s success in both good and bad times? The Father was with him (Genesis 39:2,21,23).
Genesis 39:3 The LORD was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.
Joseph became a slave in Potiphar’s house. Because the Father was with him as he served Potiphar, he had good success in all he attempted. Soon Potiphar realized that Joseph’s God was with him. Potiphar took full advantage of the blessings the Father poured out on Joseph. They trickled down to Potiphar and his entire household (Genesis 39:1-6). There was just one problem. Potiphar’s wife was attracted to Joseph and tried to seduce him. This was not a one-time event but a daily, repeated occurrence.
10 She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he kept out of her way as much as possible.
11 One day, however, no one else was around when he went in to do his work.
12 She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house.
That could have been the end of the story right there. But we have all heard the well-worn, old stereotype, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” If she could not have Joseph, she would ruin his life once and for all.
13 When she saw that she was holding his cloak and he had fled,
14 she called out to her servants. Soon all the men came running. “Look!” she said. “My husband has brought this Hebrew slave here to make fools of us! He came into my room to rape me, but I screamed.
15 When he heard me scream, he ran outside and got away, but he left his cloak behind with me.”
The plot thickens. Potiphar’s wife had “evidence” of a crime not committed.
16 She kept the cloak with her until her husband came home.
17 Then she told him her story. . ..
19 Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her.
20 So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained.
That could have been the end of Joseph’s life. But the Father was only getting started.
Genesis 39:21 The LORD was with Joseph in prison and showed him his faithful love. And the LORD gave Joseph favor in the sight of the prison warden.
As a result, he was successful and became a great blessing to others. While in prison, he became a trustee and eventually the warden’s right-hand man. He used his gift as an interpreter of dreams to foretell the future of fellow inmates.
Then Pharaoh himself had a dream that no one could interpret. One of Joseph’s fellow prisoners, the Pharaoh’s cupbearer, who had been found innocent, was released from prison and returned to the Pharaoh’s service. The cupbearer told the Pharaoh about Joseph. Joseph was brought before Pharaoh. Pharaoh told Joseph his dreams. Joseph quickly interpreted them (Genesis 41:16-32).
Joseph recommended steps of action, beginning with finding the right man for the job.
Genesis 41:33 Therefore, Pharaoh should find an intelligent and wise man and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt.
Pharaoh was amazed and impressed. He realized that there was only one man for the job.
38 So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?”
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are.
40 You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.”
41 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.”
42 Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in fine linen clothing and hung a gold chain around his neck.
Proverbs 16:7 When people’s lives please the LORD, even their enemies are at peace with them.
Any child of the King can be blamed for doing something when they are innocent. So it was with Joseph and . . ..