In three stories in a row, clothing is waved in our faces.
The coat of many colors of Joseph, stained with blood by his brothers – false evidence of his death. The cord and staff and signet of Judah, left behind with Tamar – positive evidence of his sexual escapade. And then the garment of Joseph, held up by Potiphar’s wife – false evidence of his guilt.
What are we to do with this?
All three of these garments were detached from the people to whom they belonged. Someone else had them – after obtaining them in a rather unseemly way. That’s one thing they have in common. The brothers betrayed Joseph. Tamar had sex with her father-in-law while disguised. Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph.
And then Joseph’s brothers, Tamar, and Potiphar’s wife – suddenly in possession of a garment – began to wave those garments in the air, saying in essence, “Look what I/we have! This tells the story!”
And when these garments appear, they do tell a story, either true or false. It is evidence.
Interestingly, only one of the people left holding the garment was telling the truth. Perhaps we ought to re-think our ideas about Tamar. She was telling the truth, and Judah’s belongings told the tale about his character – and Tamar’s.
Meanwhile, Joseph’s brothers were lying, and Jacob’s bloodied coat told the tale about them and their treachery. The same was the case with Potiphar’s wife. She, too, was treacherous.
In both cases, Joseph’s garments were stripped from him. He was an unwilling participant. Something was taken from him.
Not so with Judah. He gave part of his garments away – payment for sin.
This is a picture of human interaction. Sometimes things are taken from us by others. We get hurt. Other times, we give valuable things away – things we ought to keep.
In all of it, we find pain. So much hurt is bound up human interaction.
But again, God can use all of this for his glory. The schemes of humanity do not prevail. The tug and pull of people fighting against each other, plotting against one another, is not too much for God.
When we’re stripped of something that belongs to us, God can bring us restoration. When we give something away that we should have kept, God even can use that for his glory and our good.
The question we must continually ask ourselves is whether we believe this.