Summary: How is your hospitality? The story of Joseph and the coat of many colors teaches us to have an attitude of five times the welcome.
“Five Times the Welcome”
“The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. 34 When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else's. So they feasted and drank freely with him.” Genesis 43:33-34 NIV
Intro: Joseph was the great-grandson of Abraham. God had promised Abraham to be the father of many nations. Joseph was the son of Jacob and Rachel. Even though Joseph only had one whole brother, Benjamin. He had ten half brothers (and one half sister Genesis 34) and later Joseph’s had two sons of his own and together with the others are known as the patriarchs or head of the family of the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob. Joseph’s mother Rachel made him a coat of many colors. Imagine having all those older brothers and you the one with the special robe. The words jealous, envious, resentful, covetous quickly come to mind. The bible reads as though Joseph didn’t mind to show off his colorful robe and letting his brothers know that he was the favorite. One day when Joseph saw his brothers Dan and Nate and Gad and Asher, in Genesis 37 are goofing off while they were supposed to be feeding and watching the flock of sheep in the field he told on them. When I was young and told on my older brothers they got a whipping. But the lesson that I learned was that no matter how hard the whipping they got from dad I got one from them later when dad wasn’t around.
So it was that Joseph goes to the field to deliver a message to his brothers Joseph’s brothers hated him for all the things he had said and done. Joseph was wearing his special gift, the beautiful coat of many colors to the field where he shows off his best robe to his brothers who are watching the herds and flocks out in the field working. Joseph did not help himself when he taunted them by telling about how he dreamed that someday all the stalks of wheat would bow down to him. That even the sun, moon, and eleven stars (Joseph’s eleven brothers) would bow down to Joseph. His brothers became so angry they wanted to kill Joseph and so they threw him in a pit. But the oldest brother Reuben, knowing that he would be held responsible, because he was the oldest said instead of killing him, let’s sell Joseph to the band of Ishmaelite traders who were passing by.
So they take Joseph’s coat of many colors. They kill a young lamb and dip the robe in blood and agree to tell their father that they found the coat of many colors in the field. We need to stop a moment and understand how the plan of God is working here. God has a plan to take care of and deliver Josephs’ whole family. God is going to use this to save and preserve the twelve sons of Jacob who will become the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel and use this to fulfill the covenant promise to Abraham to become the father of a many nations.
These Ishmaelite traders who are passing by are on their way to Egypt. It is no accident that Joseph ends up in Egypt. What happens next is a better story than any soap opera on t.v. There is drama, and deceit and sex and narrow escapes and lies and chilling twists and all the things that make an adventure story plot. Through a series of even more complex turns of events Joseph ends up being made an adviser and ruler, and manager of this entire land of Egypt. It is this turn of events that bring God’s plans and provisions to bring the child of Israel together and make them a great nation. There is a period of 7 years of plenty and abundant crops and harvest followed by 7 years of drought and plague and famine. At least 9-10 years have past of not seeing his family when Josephs’ brothers show up in Egypt trying to buy food.
There were two men going to the same church. One had been going there a long time but he kept mostly to himself and had never really made friends. The other was new in town and had just started coming to church and had not yet made friends. If you had asked people in the church if they were are friendly church they would have said yes. If you had asked them if they were warm and welcoming they would say yes. If you had asked them if they practice hospitality they would say yes, but other than the passing of the peace and the occasional potluck most of them never spoke either inside or outside the church. After one service the long time member thought to himself that he did not like this “no speak situation.”So he said to himself that next Sunday if no one spoke to him he would never go back again. The next Sunday these two men, one a long time member the other the new stranger sat on opposite ends of the pew. Once more nobody spoke and as the long time member was getting up to leave for good. The new newcomer broke the ice and reached out his hand and said, “I am glad to see you here today.” Both men became good friends and continued to attend and worship together. I want to be part of a church where the newcomer doesn’t have to be the one to break the ice. I want to be a part of a congregation where the longtime members are the ones who initiate the welcome and the greeting and extend the hospitality.