Summary: Joseph’s coat of many colors could have been a symbol of so many things that his father Israel tried to teach him. The different colors in the Bible speak of so many significant things for our lives today as well.
A Coat of Many Colors
By Pastor Jim May
All of you probably remember the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. This morning, being Father’s Day, I want to speak to you about that coat and what it could signify to every father in the church today.
Genesis 37:1-3, "And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan. These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report. Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors."
There is no doubt that we could preach today on any number of subjects that could easily pertain to fathers on this day. We could preach about Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel after he wrestled with the angel all night long and experienced a one-on-one encounter with God that forever changed his life and his heart, and made him a better father as a result. That would be a good sermon, especially in a day when there are so many “dead-beat dads” and fathers who don’t even know who their children are. But that’s not where I feel that God wants us to go this morning.
Then we could very easily preach on the fact that Jacob and his sons dwelt in a land wherein they were strangers and pilgrims. That would preach too considering the fact that, as modern day Christian fathers, we are attempting to raise our children as pilgrims and strangers in the earth too. But that’s not where I feel led to go either.
We could also preach about the favoritism that Israel now showed so openly toward Joseph, the favored son of his old age. That would make a good sermon too. I hope that most of us would know by now that to show favoritism to one child over another is to invite disaster and trouble into the home. But it would make a good sermon nevertheless. However, that’s not the message that I need to give you this morning so you can take a breath now.
There are other sermons that can be gleaned from the this passage of scripture as well but I want to get to the point now and begin to minister what the Lord has laid on my heart for each of you fathers in this church, indeed, this message could be for every father in the worldwide church as well.
The fact is that Jacob, now called Israel, loved all of his children. He had 12 sons and in all, and in time, each of these sons was to be the father of one of the tribes of the nation of Israel. He raised all of them and taught them to be respected citizens. Israel taught them the ways of God and never forgot to keep telling the story of his personal encounter with God at Bethel. Israel was a father who really cared. He provided for his children, and spent time with each of his sons and his daughter, training them to be successful in life.
Israel had two wives, Rachel and Leah, and two concubines named Bilhah and Zilpah. Things were quite different in those days and men were allowed to have multiple wives and concubines. It was actually his two wives who convinced Israel to have the two concubines. All four of these women bore children for Israel and all of their children combined make up the 12 tribes of Israel.
Israel’s favorite wife was Rachel but Rachel died giving birth to Israel’s youngest son, Benjamin. Joseph was a little older than Benjamin, and had been born without much trouble. Since Benjamin had been born under such terrible circumstances and because Israel loved Rachel more than the other women, it would be easy to understand why he loved Joseph more than the other children.
The point that I want you to understand, more than anything else, for the purpose of this message today is this – Israel loved Joseph and the love he had for his son began to show in the things that Israel did. Israel had big dreams for Joseph. His hopes and concerns for his Joseph was manifested in the special coat that he made for Joseph. Even though that coat became a focal point of the hatred that Joseph’s brothers had for him, that coat still presented a message to Joseph, to Israel and in turn to every one of the brothers of Joseph.
A coat of many colors carries a special meaning. It was more than just a gift to show a love that a father has for his son. It was more than just an ordinary coat.