For the longest time, I’ve contemplated how to preach Genesis 39 while staying faithful to the authorial intention of the text (what the author meant by what he said). I’ve heard countless sermons on “The Joseph Principle” and how to flee sexuality immorality like he did in this passage. However, I was always skeptical because these sermons never addressed the greater context of Genesis or the Torah.
In my experience, preachers typically do not deal with the authorial intent of the passage and what Moses was trying to teach when they tackle Genesis 39. Others have said to me that this is still a permissible way to teach the passage, because the cross-referencing of Proverbs and its teaching on sexual purity can shed light upon the passage. But this still did not seem sufficient enough to solve the problem.
Though fleeing immorality may be a true biblical concept, it still does not address the issue at hand (it’s like a “right truth but wrong text” kind of notion). Did Moses, when he wrote this, truly intend for Israel to merely receive a lesson on sexual purity? Notice how I said merely! I’m sure there are plenty of “implication-applications” that we can draw from the text (skilled preachers have done so). But the issue is about what Moses intended behind what he wrote down. What did he want his readers/hearers to see?
To my surprise, I came across this sermon by Art Azurdia. At first, I thought it was your typical sermon on Genesis 39 purity. But I was delighted to hear how he ended his sermon with an insightful connection to the greater context of the book and to the entire Scripture (you’ll have to listen to it yourself!). Maybe I’m late to the party, but this is the first time I’ve heard a sermon use the application of Genesis 39 to preach on sexual purity while still maintaining its fidelity to the context. He didn’t merely moralize a narrative, as some do; but did well to explain God’s orchestration behind Joseph’s obedience and how that led to where He wanted Israel to be in human history (which also set the stage for the Messiah).
I highly recommend this sermon. If you know young men (or women) who struggle in the area of purity, this may be very beneficial for them.