Joseph’s Three Coats

In our last lesson, we looked at some individuals whose lives took some unexpected turns, and one of those individuals was Joseph. God’s dealing with Joseph and the experiences he had could have an impact on the way we live our lives. Joseph’s life is filled with events and themes that seem to repeat themselves, and we can take lessons out of those themes and events.

The Trials of Joseph

In Genesis 37, we meet Joseph as one of twelve sons of Jacob. He serves his father faithfully and prospers as a result – he becomes a favorite of his father’s. He is bestowed distinction in his many-colored coat, but verses 3-4 reveal envy in his brother’s minds. These hateful feelings lead them to conspire against Joseph, planing to kill him. However, Reuben talks them out of murder, and the brothers sell him as a slave instead, and the brothers deceive Jacob into believing Joseph is dead after stripping Joseph’s coat from him.

In chapter 39, Joseph serves Potiphar, and, again, Joseph finds favor with this master. He serves his master well. He becomes a favorite, and he is granted honor by Potiphar. Joseph is put in a position of overseer within the household. However, Potiphar’s wife is angered when Joseph rejects her constant advances. Again, his coat is stripped from him when he flees from her, but she accuses him of being the aggressor and turned Potiphar against him. As a result, Joseph is imprisoned.

In Genesis 40:15, Joseph sees that he is thrown into a pit again for no good reason. Twice now he has been betrayed by those close to him after being honored and given distinction. His own garments have twice been used to deceive others, and twice he has been cast out from his household into captivity.

However, events begin to turn in Genesis 41:37, and Pharaoh honors Joseph, giving him a third coat of honor. He is brought into Pharaoh’s inner circle, and Joseph ends up where he needs to be to save his family and be a part of God’s plan for the lineage of the Messiah.

Lessons from Joseph

Joseph recognized God’s providence in his life. When his family comes to him for help – not initially knowing who he is – he sees God’s hand in the events of his life. It’s not easy to see God’s plan when we are in the middle of it, but Joseph could not have worn his third coat had he not worn and had been stripped of the first two. There are personal tragedies that we may wonder at the reason while we are going through them, but God might be preparing us to be in a better position to help others or further His cause later.

Humility also played a role in Joseph’s life. What would any of us do if Pharaoh had bestowed such honor on ourselves? Would we have wanted revenge on any of the individuals who we felt had wronged us prior this? Would we have gloated over those who had set us up for failure? We do not read about any of this with Joseph. Instead, he simply serves Pharaoh as he should have, and he helps those traitorous brothers when he has the opportunity.

Finally, we can learn trust through Joseph’s relationship with God. Again, in Genesis 45:5-8 acknowledges God’s role in his life. He realizes that God has delivered him and preserved him through those trials that could have consumed him. Things may not have gone how Joseph would have wanted at the time, but, at the end of the journey, he could look at how God brought him to this point. Likewise, we may not understand God’s plan for our own lives, but we can maintain that relationship and lean on Him through whatever troubles we encounter.

lesson by Tim Smelser