Joseph And The Coat Of Many Colors
To all good Christians who find themselves, through no fault of their own, plagued with all manner of affliction, pain,trials and tribulations; to all those humble Christians who may be prone to ask “do I have the strength to go on?”, “can I continue to fight?”, and “will anything work out?”. To all of you, I want to share one of my favorite stories from the Bible. This is the story of Joseph, known for his coat of many colors.
All we need to do is look to this great historical figure found in the Bible to find the answers to these questions which will also give a great deal of hope and peace for your inner conflicts and outward struggles.
This is a story of bad things happening to a good person. This story shows that Jesus can be with you always. It is amazing what can be learned in a story where a seventeen year old can be kidnaped, sold into slavery and be falsely accused of a felonious act which results in imprisonment only to rise to prominence in the King of Egypt’s court.
The story of Joseph of Egypt is a story of hope, faith and perseverance. It’s the perfect story to illustrate the doctrine of Romans 8:28 where it says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Joseph was around seventeen years old when his father Jacob sent him after his brothers who were tending their father’s sheep.
Joseph had numerous siblings, eleven of which were brothers. These eleven brothers hated Joseph. Every one of those brothers had sinned and some grievously. Their animosity toward Joseph was unfounded and based on sinful desires and unrighteous behavior, pride and jealousy.
These twelve brothers are the twelve tribes of Israel. Eleven of the tribes (or brothers) were gathered at their base camp keeping watch over their large flock of sheep when they saw Joseph approach from a long way off.
As they saw Joseph making his way to camp, they talked among themselves expressing a desire to kill him. Reuben voiced his opinion not to kill him.
As Joseph walked into camp most of the brothers over powered him and through Joseph into the pit.
They tore off his coat of many colors that father Jacob had made for Joseph and tore it into pieces dipping a piece of the coat into goats’ blood. They would show their father Jacob the coat and tell him that Joseph was killed and devoured by a wild animal.
Rather than kill Joseph, Judah suggested that they sell him to Middionites going towards Egypt.
These slave traders and merchantmen paid twenty pieces of silver for Joseph, the common price for a slave of Joseph’s age. Joseph was taken against his will to Egypt and sold to Potiphar the Captain of The Guard and an officer in Pharaohs court.
Joseph was now a slave to Potiphar. He was almost the victim of murder, he was beaten by his brothers whom he loved and he was kidnaped and sold into slavery by his brethren. Now he had to start his life over again as a slave.
God was with Joseph at all points in his life. All that Joseph did was favored of the Lord and everything he touched was blessed by the Lord and well favored. Potiphar didn’t take long to see that Joseph was very industrious and successful. The Captain of The Guards saw Joseph’s success and knew he was well favored of his God.
Joseph was promoted and eventually served as the head of the house hold of Potiphar. The evil seductress that was Potiphar’s wife was attracted to Joseph and tried to seduce Joseph. Being a just and virtuous man, Joseph refused to sleep with his master’s wife. Not only did he turn her down, he ran from the house as fast as he could to avoid any further temptation. Joseph also refuses the temptress’s advances out of loyalty to Potiphar.
Sadly, Potiphar’s wife grabbed a hold of his tunic as Joseph was running out of the house. She started making all kinds of noise and had Joseph’s tunic in her hands and showed Potiphar the shirt. She told Potiphar that Joseph and tried to rape her and while she was busy beating Joseph off, she managed to grab his tunic in the struggle. Needless to say, Potiphar was very upset and put Joseph in prison, the same prison where the Kings prisoners were held.
Now after all that Joseph had been through, and being unjustly accused of rape and being thrown in prison. Joseph didn’t get mad at the Lord, he accepted the will of the Lord and as a result found mercy from Him.
Part of that mercy was that the keeper of the prison started to favor Joseph and treated him kindly. After a time, the prison keeper entrusted Joseph with the responsibility of running the prison. The Lord was with Joseph again, and everything that Joseph did while serving the prison keeper as a prisoner was prosperous and efficient.
It is important to note that after every trial and every trouble, Joseph was blessed. This is a testimony to us that God is with us always if we continue to be faithful to Him.
While Joseph was in prison serving out his sentence, he came across the Kings Butler and Baker. These two men had been sent to prison by the Pharaoh.
After a period of time they both had dreams that they did not understand. The content of the dream vexed the Butler and the Baker and they couldn’t understand what the dream meant. Joseph was making his rounds through the prison and he came across the Butler and asks him why he looked so upset?
The Butler said he had received a dream the night before and he was perplexed about the dream and frustrated by it. The Butler felt like it was important to understand this dream but couldn’t figure out the meaning of it. The Butler told Joseph the dream and Joseph was able to interpret it.
Joseph told the Butler that in three days he would be released from prison and Pharaoh would restore him to his position as Butler. Needless to say, the Butler was very happy about the dream he had received. Joseph told the Butler when you find favor in the king’s eyes please tell him about me so that he might set me free. The Butler willingly agreed.
Joseph then interprets the Bakers dream. He told the Baker that in three days Pharaoh would take him out of prison, remove his head and place it in the tree where the birds would eat his head.
Three days later there was a birthday party for the king of Egypt. The Butler was taken out of prison and restored to his job and the Baker was taken out of prison, killed and his head was placed in a tree for the birds.
The Butler for whatever reason did not tell Pharaoh about Joseph in the prison. So Joseph continued to languish in prison serving the prison keeper and doing his time.
Sometime later, the Pharaoh had a dream and no one in his court could interpret his dream. The Pharaoh was troubled, wanting to know the meaning of his dream. The Butler then realized that he had forgot to tell the Pharaoh about Joseph who was in prison and who had interpreted his dream and the late Baker’s dream. After telling the King about Joseph in prison, Pharaoh called Joseph out of prison and told him his dream.
Joseph interpreted the dream saying that there would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Joseph suggested a few things that the Pharaoh should do to take advantage of the seven years of plenty to prepare for the seven years of famine.
The Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of this program to store a portion of each year’s harvest for seven years. The king of Egypt made Joseph the ruler over all of Egypt. The only person higher than Joseph throughout the land was the Pharaoh, himself.
After the seven years of plenty there was a great famine, not only in Egypt but over all the face of the earth. People from all over the country would come to Joseph to buy grain. Eventually people from other countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph.
This is the quintessential story that illustrates that bad things happen to good people. Never once did Joseph complain or murmur. Never once did Joseph blame God for all his misfortune. Joseph could’ve given up. But just the opposite happened, Joseph loved God with his whole soul and refused to sleep with Potiphar’s wife to honor Gods commandments of chastity and keep his virtue. He is then rewarded by imprisonment.
Joseph is not bitter. Joseph loves God and wants to serve him and stay true to all of God’s commandments. Joseph was a four-time victim of wrongdoing and false accusations. Did Joseph ever play the role of the victim? Emphatically no! Every time Joseph’s life took a turn for the worse he was true and faithful to his Lord and each time the Lord blessed him.
The tribulation that is Joseph’s life is not yet over with. He is then faced with a very great challenge to choose to forgive or not to forgive his eleven brothers.
This last test almost seems harder than actually being kidnaped or sold into slavery or falsely accused. Joseph knows his God, and he knows the teachings of his Lord and he knows that he is required to forgive all men. To the credit of Joseph, he forgives his brothers and sends them back to bring his father and the rest of their family to live with him in Egypt.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Can God work with broken people, and surely Joseph was broken more than once, at least physically and mentally but not spiritually? God does work with broken people, he heals them or strengthens them and uses them for his own good.
Joseph didn’t know the end game to his life. But he did know that he was to be diligent, and to keep on serving the Lord in any way he could, always keeping the commandments of God and striving to be the best he could be.
For Joseph, the end game was to not only save his father’s house, the twelve tribes of Israel, and all of Egypt, but to save the whole world from famine and starvation. Joseph played a huge part in God’s dealings with his children during that time on earth.
Every one of us is broken, in one way or another. Each of us has been victimized in one way or another. Each of us have had trials and tribulations in our lives. And in some ways, we are like Joseph. Things have happened to us through no fault of our own, whether they are poor health, chronic pain, rape, or the victim of some other terrible crime or life-threatening illness. All of us have had or will have many difficult or trying episodes in our lives..
Because of Jesus suffering in the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross on Calgary, he has felt our pain and carried our sorrow and paid the price of our sins. Through Jesus Christ, the parts of us that are broken can be fixed. We can be healed.
If we strive to understand God’s will for us and humbly submit ourselves to whatever the Lord wants us to do, we can be healed and given the strength to live out the rest of our life in peace.
Throughout all of Joseph’s tumultuous life he lived in peace. He had troubles, trials and tribulations which he always meet with grace and peace because he was always devoted to his Lord. So as we try to live out the rest of our life in peace, keep in mind that does not mean we won’t still have trials and tribulations, but we will have peace throughout our days on earth.
Understanding these principles taught by the story of Joseph in Egypt, we can truly understand the following verse: ” And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
By Troy Wagstaff