COLOUR ME BEAUTIFUL. READING: Genesis 37: 1 - 10
I struggled with this heading because colours can be misleading. As I researched this study I became very unsettled and uneasy as I realised that colours are used in mystical religions. Why would God ask me to do a study on colour when it’s linked to so many other religions and cults? After much prayer I soon realised that this was precisely why God wanted us to look at colours.
As Christian women we could so easily be led astray into superstition and into believing that by using certain colours it will help us feel better, but I want to put out a warning here. In this age of contemporary living it is so easy for us to be swayed by mystic religions. Many religions use colour to make sure you have a long and happy life, and lead you to your destiny. Magazines have horoscopes which give you your favourite colour, and predict your future from that.
I want to make it very clear that there is no way that Christian women should be involved in such things. You may be a person who picks up a paper and reads your horoscope without thinking there’s any harm in it. You may have been duped into thinking that if you place your furniture a certain way, or introduce a specific colour in the house it will bring you contentment and happiness.
1 Kings 18:21 (NIV) 21Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. I’m going to be very blunt here and say that we can’t call ourselves Christians if we allow ourselves to be influenced by the practice of other religions. We need to have our feet firmly placed in God’s camp and follow Him. There is nothing special in colours that would foretell our future or make us feel content – only God can do that.
God doesn’t see colours as some magical ingredient to be used against Him. The enemy might, but God certainly doesn’t, and that’s why it’s so important for us to study this subject. God created colour for His pleasure, and we receive our pleasure from God. Colours play an important part in the Bible, and are mentioned time and time again. I want us in these studies to look positively and spiritually at colours, and perhaps we might just be surprised!
When I was in Cyprus at the beginning of the year I purposely didn’t take any work with me, no books – nothing. I only had a small notebook as I didn’t intend to think about work at all – but God had other ideas! Cyprus is very like Malta, it’s quite barren and rocky. You can walk for miles through this dry barren land, then all of a sudden you turn a corner and find yourself waking through an orange or lemon grove. Further on the vibrant colours of the flowers and trees are breathtaking against the colour of the Mediterranean sea, and almost at once it’s not difficult to understand why God created colour. I couldn’t help but praise God for this beautiful display of colour. Colour enhances the natural world, and in a similar way colour enhances the spiritual world. Colours illustrate the beauty and creativity of God, and God wants us to reflect that beauty in our lives. He wants to colour us beautiful!
Many stories in the bible reflect on colour and the one that we’ll all be familiar with is Joseph’s coat of many colour’s, and that is where we’ll begin this series of studies on colour, looking at Joseph’s coat.
Joseph is favoured by his Father
Genesis 37:3 (NIV) 3Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him.
Genesis 37:3 (KJV) 3Now 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 colours.
Jacob definitely has a soft spot for Joseph and you can understand why. Here is an old man who probably thought his chances of fathering a child again are pretty slim. He must have been on cloud nine when Rachel told him she was pregnant. He was delighted as this was a child conceived in true love, so it's not surprising that Jacob showed favour to Joseph as a child, he loved him and he wanted everyone to know it!
Jacob's outward expression of favour on Joseph was to present him with this coat of many colours, and by giving Joseph this coat Jacob is starting to show the other sons that there was favouritism here. Jacob is clearly making a statement here - not only to the family but to those around Him. In Bedouin custom the eldest son wears a distinctive garment to show others who has the rights of the firstborn, and Jacob was giving Joseph the privilege of being selected as head of the family. This is very much an act of a proud father, and only the best would do. This coat represented much more than a beautiful garment, it represented a Fathers love and favour.
Our Father in heaven is proud of us too, and only wants the best for us. He wants to give us a spiritual coat of many colours to show we are favoured by Him. So what is God’s favour and what does it mean for us?
Isaiah 61:1 - 3 (NIV) 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.
The Hebrew word for favour in this passage means delight, goodwill, or approval. God looks on us with delight and approval, in other words He’s saying that we’re special to Him and He wants to give the best to his favoured children. He promises to “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
GOD GIVES US THREE PROMISES HERE
The first promise is to give us beauty instead of ashes, but what are the ashes? Are they ashes of regret for mistakes we’ve made, or even the wrong choices we’ve made that we’ve seen our hopes and dreams go up in smoke, and leave us with disappointment and ashes. Yet God in this verse is saying you will be okay, He just wants you to give them to Him so He can turn them into something beautiful for you.
The second promise is to give us the oil of joy when we are mourning. Grief is horrible, the feeling of loneliness and abandonment, but this verse doesn’t necessarily mean the death of a loved one, we can mourn over other things. Sorrow over family members that have left us, broken relationships, and unemployment. God promises here to take all your sorrow, wipe your tears, and give you the oil of gladness to moisturise your soul.
The third promise is to give us the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. A garment is a piece of clothing you put on to cover yourself, and it will take on the shape of whatever is underneath. Praise is a garment we put on to cover our spirit, a designer outfit for our soul! In times of anxiety and despair we need to reach for this garment, but it’s important to note here that although God gives us this garment – we have to put it on! In other words, we have the choice.
God promises us many things, but we have the choice whether to receive and accept them. These promises are ordained by God, they are God’s divine favour for you, and He wants you to enjoy them. Divine favour is like Joseph’s coat of many colours, it has many facets. There are many different ways that God shows His favour and blessing on our lives. The devil can try all he wants to take this favour away from you, but he can’t because it’s God’s gift to you because He loves you.
Joseph’s coat not only represents his paternal father’s favour, it also represents His Heavenly Father’s divine favour. God’s hand was on Joseph from the time of conception, right through all his struggles with life, and then into a time of blessing when he was re-united with his family.
God wants us to be clothed in His divine coat of many colours to represent His favour on our lives. God’s hand was on us from time of conception Psalm 139:13 - 14 (NIV) 13 for you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God loved you before you were born, He loves you now, and that love will continue after you die. God’s hand will bring us through even the most darkest times. Joseph’s brothers were jealous and threw him into the pit, yet God had a bigger plan for Joseph and brought him out of that pit. When we’re blessed with divine favour – we will be so committed to God that people will notice it. Some people will be jealous and perhaps ask why these blessings happen to you and not to them?
If we find ourselves in a pit like Joseph, then take heart, it’s a sign of better things to come. Pray for those people who don’t understand your relationship with God, pray that they too would be touched by His grace and favour. Divine favour will cause you to forgive others, we can’t hold on to grudges, or refuse to forgive those who have hurt us. Joseph forgave His brothers as they stood before him in the palace. Genesis 42:24 (NIV) 24He turned away from them and began to weep, but then turned back and spoke to them again. It doesn’t say why He wept, but can I suggest it was because he was struggling with the forgiveness issue. Joseph knew that he had to forgive his brothers, even after the way they treated him.
We need to do the same, we need to forgive, and move away from the past if we want to serve the King of Kings, and in serving God, we need to recognise His purpose for us, in other words, God’s agenda. You may feel God is asking you to do something special for Him, calling you into a specific form of service. God will give you vision, and He will equip you for that service, and it may be that like Joseph, you’ll find yourself doing things you never imagined you’d be doing! God’s hand will be upon you right through your life until you are reunited with your heavenly family. When we meet Him face to face, when we join Him in heaven. How exciting will that be!
Revelation 3:5 (NIV) 5He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. This is God’s promise to us that we will be clothed in white when we eventually reach His kingdom, but until that time comes God wants us all to be clothed in His coat of many colours. God’s coat of many colours is the preparation in this life to equip us for our next life, perhaps a taste of what is to come! One day we’ll exchange our coloured garment for a white one, but in the meantime God is asking you to allow Him to ‘Colour you Beautiful’, because He loves you so much, and wants you to accept His divine favour on your life. So go on, try it on, and I’m sure that you’ll find it fits you perfectly as it was made especially for you by the master designer Himself.
God is saying to you – Let me colour you Beautiful.
Meditation for this week. Isaiah 61:1 - 3 (NIV) 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.
No one can journey through life without being affected by disappointment, sorrow, and anxiety. We’ve all been there, but according to this verse – we don’t have to stay there! God gives us divine favour by promising us beauty, oil of gladness, and a garment of praise to enable us to stand tall and strong like an oak tree showing our roots are planted firmly in the Lord.
As you meditate on this scripture ask yourself if there are ashes of regret, sorrow, or worries that may be holding you back in your relationship with God. As the Spirit reveals these things to you, take them to God in prayer, giving them over to Him, asking that He would bring healing and deliverance enabling you to be free to accept His divine blessing on your life.
1. In society today it is so easy to accept other religious practices as “the norm” as they have been introduced quite cunningly as either items of jewellery, clothing, or used in home design. How can we recognise this before the influences begin to affect us?
2. Many people including some Christians believe that there’s no harm in reading a horoscope in the newspaper every day, that it’s ‘just a bit of fun’! Do you think that this ‘bit of fun’ would affect your relationship with God?
3. Divine favour is similar to Joseph’s coat as it has many facets to it. What are the different ways in which God shows favour and blessing on our lives?
4. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of the favour Jacob showed toward him. Do we long for someone else’s divine favour, and is it right to covet another person’s Spiritual gifts?
5. Joseph had to forgive his brothers for the way they had treated him. Forgiveness is necessary if we want to move on in our Christian life. How can harbouring un-forgiveness in our lives affect our relationship with God?
6. God’s purpose in giving favour to Joseph was to bring a nation out of bondage and famine. Can this mean that when God gives us divine favour we have a mandate to help people out of bondage and spiritual famine, and lead them to Jesus?