The story of Joseph and his coat is a story of God’s good providence. Today, R.C. Sproul shows how the life of Joseph reminds us that the Lord is at work in every detail of our lives to accomplish His redemptive purposes.
Now, you remember the story of Joseph, who was most beloved of his father, Jacob. He was the son of Jacob’s old age. And there was a certain favoritism that Jacob bestowed upon Joseph, which the rest of his brothers resented. And it culminated when Jacob provided the technicolor coat, the multicolored tunic that he gave to his son Joseph. And that incensed the brothers in terms of their jealousy, and then when Joseph would talk about his dreams that he interpreted, where somehow in the future his brothers would be bowing down before him, that was more than they could take. And so, you remember the story; they plotted together to get rid of their hated and despised brother.
What was the result of that many-colored coat? Suppose Jacob had been more sensitive to his sons and decided not to give that coat to Joseph. And so, the brothers’ jealousy is not stirred up. And because their jealousy was not stirred up, they didn’t decide to do away with Joseph. And if they didn’t decide to do away with Joseph, they never would have met this caravan group coming from the Midianites or the Ishmaelites. No caravan to Egypt, Joseph’s never sent down to the slave block there. He never comes to the slave block; he’s never bought by Potiphar. He’s not bought by Potiphar; he never gets in trouble with Potiphar’s unscrupulous wife, who blames and accuses Joseph of attempted rape. And if that had never happened, Joseph isn’t thrown into the prison. If he doesn’t get thrown in the prison, he never meets the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker. And if he never meets the butcher and the baker and the candlestick maker, he never interprets anybody’s dreams and Pharaoh never hears of him. He never becomes prime minister and never was put into place to make provisions for his family and invite them all to relocate in Egypt.
But through the fickle finger of fate, they did move down to Egypt. And wouldn’t you know, by chance, a pharaoh comes along who didn’t know Joseph, and he takes these guests that are inhabited in the land of Goshen and he enslaves them as the biggest slave labor force in history. But as fate would have it, a baby is born to a woman and escaped the decree of killing the males of the Hebrews. She sets him adrift in a little ark made out of reeds and pitch. And it just happens that this baby cries at the wrong time. Well, the daughter of Pharaoh is down there by the riverside washing her clothes. She says, “Isn’t he cute?” Picks him up, takes him back, and adopts him, and it just so happens that the boy is raised in the court of Pharaoh with all the arts and all the knowledge of the Egyptians and becomes the prince, who’s going to be the next pharaoh, probably. Until that fateful day when by accident, he comes along and he sees one of his countrymen being abused by a guard, an Egyptian guard. Moses steps in and punches the guard. He falls down. He hits his head; a stone happened to be there instead of the soft earth; killed him. He shovels up the grave but somebody saw him. He has to run out to the Midianite wilderness, where he languishes for decades until he’s an old man. He starts hearing voices coming out of bushes that are burning and not being consumed. But that was his lucky day. Because that’s the day he met God. And God sent him back to Pharaoh and told him to “let My people go.” And from that came the exodus, and from the exodus the law, the law and the covenant; and from them the prophets, the kings, the exile, the return from exile, the birth of a baby, the death of that baby on a cross.
Do you ever think of that? No coat, no prison, no Potiphar, no prime minister of Egypt, no exodus, no law, no prophets, no Jesus, no salvation, all because of one lousy coat. But that’s God, and that’s how God works. They say it’s the devil that’s in the details. No, no, no, no, no. It’s God who is in the details. Sovereign over every one of them, working to bring His work to pass.