The life of Joseph, Jacob’s eleventh son, gives us insight into the journey a believer takes to find the victorious life in Christ. It is best demonstrated by Joseph’s three coats or garments. These three coats represent three different critical times in the life of a believer in his pursuit of getting to know God and experience His blessings. New Testament believers can benefit greatly from a close look at Joseph’s life.
The first coat to consider is found in Genesis 37 and Jacob’s gift to his son of a coat of many colors. In verses 3-4, it says, “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic [coat]. His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms”. The Hebrew word passim means richly ornamented and made with many colors, a highly esteemed garment. The fact that Jacob gave it only to Joseph created all kinds of jealousy among his brothers and caused a severe reaction that would affect Joseph’s entire future.
Coat of Salvation
What is the significance of this magnificent coat? The coat of many colors signifies the salvation of an individual and the ramifications of that choice. In Zechariah 3:1-5, we have the account of Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord (most likely an appearance of Jesus) with Satan accusing him, “clothed with filthy garments”. Jesus says, “Remove the filthy garments from him”. Jesus then says, “I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes”. This is a clear reference to the gospel of salvation available to believers in the New Covenant.
In Revelation 3:18, Jesus’s letter to the church at Laodicea advises them to “buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments [garments of salvation] so that you may clothe yourself”. The fact that Joseph was rejected by his brothers on account of his coat is also the way the world can treat new believers in Christ. In Joseph’s case, his brothers had him sold into slavery.
Coat of Injustice
As a slave, Joseph was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, and brought to his house to be his servant in Genesis 39. Joseph was highly successful as Potiphar’s overseer since “the Lord was with Joseph”, to the point that Potiphar, “left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate” (verse 6). The second coat/garment is found in verse 12, when Joseph tries to get away from Potiphar’s wife, who wants Joseph to “lie with me”. When he refuses, she grabs his garment and then accuses him of trying to lie with her. Joseph spent at least two years in jail because he was falsely accused. The second coat is the coat of injustice.
There are many difficulties one faces in the course of life that can be characterized as unjust and undeserved. Learning how to face these injustices is part of the maturity process. The believer is taught that “’vengeance is mine, I will repay’, says the Lord”; God will deal with it so he should let it ride. This requires real intestinal fortitude, real faith in God. In James 1:12, the Bible says, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him”. Spiritual maturity requires coming to accept injustices in life as a part of a larger master plan by the God in Whom “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). This dynamic may also be referred to as His sovereignty. In Psalm 115:3, God does whatever He pleases. Are we willing to accept that?
Coat of the Overcomer
The account of Joseph’s third coat is found in Genesis 41:38-44. It comes about as a result of Joseph’s perseverance with injustice. He has spent many years in jail, but does not by all accounts react, but accepts it and is able to find peace in the midst of the greatest trials. As a result, God uses him greatly. He is able to get out of jail when God gives him the interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dream when none of his reliable leaders could provide the answer. In verse 38, “Then Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?’” Pharaoh concluded that since Joseph accomplished this, he was discerning and wise and Pharaoh would elevate Joseph to be his second in command. In verse 42, “Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck”.
To the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:21, Jesus says, “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne”. Just like Joseph would assist Pharaoh in reigning over Egypt, so the overcomer sits down with the Father on His throne. Those present at the marriage supper of the lamb will be clothed with fine linen which speaks about the righteous acts of the saints (Revelation 19:7-8). Ultimately, God wants those who endure to reign with Him.
Reigning in Life
“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” Romans 5:17. The ones who endure are the ones who receive, accept, “the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness”.