A Coat of Many Colors

Preached at FBC Toulon, IL, April 29, 2001 by Albert Harmon

Genesis 37:1-4

Now Jacob dwelt in the land where his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.2 This is the history of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers. And the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father.3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors.4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him. (1982). The Holy Bible, New King James Version.


This will be the final message in our Genesis Series.

This morning we take up the final character of the book of Genesis. If you haven't seen this as we went through, have you noticed that the book is not so much an account of history as it is the personal biographies of line of the descendants of Seth.

First Noah then Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And finally in chapters 37 & 39-50 the story of Joseph.

Joseph's story is about the same length as that of Abraham and provides the conclusion to the book of Genesis. The account is filled with family struggles, jealousy, envy, hatred, deception and even murder. But it is also a account of God's providence, His faithfulness, and a sense of His justice of sowing and reaping. For Joseph it is a story of faith, hard work, faithfulness, and forgiveness as he portrays a type of Jesus Christ.

We cannot comment on all of these and so we will reserve Joseph for further study later. This morning we want to get a general overview of Joseph and primarily see how God worked in his life.

  1. The Story of Joseph
    1. He was the oldest son of the favorite wife.
      1. Although Jacob loved Rachel the most, God saw fit to make her barren until all the sons of the other wives are born.
      2. He was the son of Jacob's old age.
    2. He was the favorite son.
      1. Jacob had not learned very much from a father who had chosen his brother as the favorite son.
      2. But to make things worse Jacob let everyone know by making for Joseph a special coat.
      3. I think we can presume that he also got special treatment.
      4. It was enough to make the brother jealous.
    3. He used the closeness of his father to alienated his brothers.
      1. We notice in the text that Joseph became sort of a tattle-tell.
      2. We do not know the circumstances but we do know that it angered his brothers even more.
    4. He was chosen by God for special service and privileges.
      1. To make matters worse, God had chosen Joseph as his favorite also.
      2. He will receive the double portion through his two son's being adopted into Jacob's family to make the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim.
      3. But he was also chosen to be their deliver and to give the favor in the sight of Pharaoh.
      4. God gave him dreams to let him know this, but his family only become discussed with him.
    5. He was hated and betrayed by his brothers.
      1. Sent by his father to check on his brothers he is taken and they first determine to kill him.
      2. Ruben intercedes and convinces them to cast him in a pit to die.
      3. After Ruben is gone, Judah, either trying to make buck or to save the young brother's life convinces them to sell Joseph to a caravan that is on the way to Egypt.
      4. Later Ruben and Judah seem to be the most remorseful for what they did but all too late.
    6. He was framed for a crime he did not commit.
      1. Sold to the captain of the guard of Pharaoh he excels and become chief over all that the man owns.
      2. But the wife of Potiphar had a loose life and an eye for Joseph.
      3. After days and weeks of rejection, she turns on him and cries rape.
      4. His master cast him into the prison where the prisoners of Pharaoh are kept.
      5. But once again Joseph is blessed by God even in the prison and is given great authority in the prison.
    7. He was forgotten in prison by the chief butler.
      1. Later the chief butler and the chief baker do something that displeases Pharaoh and are thrown into prison.
      2. They are given dreams by God, which Joseph interprets and God fulfills.
      3. But the butler forgets about Joseph in prison.
    8. He was suddenly brought to second in power in the greatest kingdom in the world.
      1. On day Pharaoh has a dream and asks his advisors to tell the meaning of it.
      2. When they cannot, the butler remembers Joseph.
      3. Joseph interprets the dream.
      4. Joseph is promoted by Pharaoh to second in all of Egypt.
      5. For the next seven years Joseph taxes the people in the years of plenty 20% and stores it away.
      6. By the end of the seven good years, they cannot even measure the amount of grain that has been stored.
    9. He tests his brothers.
      1. But after the seven good years comes the seven bad years.
      2. All the other nations around have squandered the seven year surplus.
      3. Now they open the store houses and begin to sell the grain.
      4. In Canaan, Joseph's family is feeling the famine.
      5. They come to Egypt, hearing that there is plenty there.
      6. When they arrive the must deal with Joseph.
        1. Joseph accuses them of being spies.
        2. He uses this to determine the condition of his father and brother.
        3. He then locks Simeon in prison until they should being Benjamin to Egypt.
        4. Simeon was the second oldest and was responsible when Ruben was not present when the sold him as a slave.
        5. Later when they bring Benjamin he puts his own cup into Benjamin's sack with the intention of keeping him in Egypt and letting the others go back to Canaan.
        6. But Judah offers to take Benjamin's place.
        7. This offer along with their confessions of their wrong doing in selling Joseph into slavery cause Joseph to reveal himself to them.
    10. He brings his family to Egypt as foretold to Abraham.
      1. There are yet 5 years in the famine.
      2. They are given the land of Goshen, the best land for shepherds.
      3. Here God takes 75 people and multiplies them to about 2.5 million.
  2. The providence of God
    1. In the days of Abraham
      1. The sign given him was that his descendants would spent 400 years as strangers in a foreign land.
      2. The iniquity of the Ammonites was not yet full.
    2. God would show Joseph what God had planned for him and God would use the jealousy of his brothers to bring it all to pass.
      1. He had two dreams.
      2. God made him aware that there was a special task for him.
    3. God uses Ruben and Judah, in the time of betrayal to preserve his life and to fulfill God's plan.
      1. Had not Ruben intervened they might have killed Joseph.
      2. Judah also tried to preserve his life by selling him to the Ishmaelites.
    4. He just happens to be sold into a household of a seductress.
      1. He must be in the place to tell the meaning of Pharaoh's dream.
      2. I am sure that to Joseph this seemed to be just going from bad to worse.
      3. But God was positioning Joseph for the next big break.
    5. He just happens to interpret the dreams of the butler and baker.
      1. God gives the dreams and the interpretation of the dreams.
    6. God gives him the interpretation of the dream.
    7. God puts it in Pharaoh's heart to make him second ruler in Egypt.
  3. Lessons for us
    1. How we deal with our children will come back to haunt us in later years.
    2. Every child is special in their own way.
    3. God has a plan for our lives but we must also do all that we can do.
    4. We must always depend upon the Lord, even when we think things could not get any worse.
    5. God will never forsake us and will work all things toward our good.
    6. No matter how bad family relations become, with forgiveness and allowing God to work, God can restore broken relationships.
    7. God has a wonderful plan for His people if they will yield to His leading.  

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com