and pharaoh said to joseph, “see, i have set you over all the land of egypt.” then pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. and he made him ride in his second chariot. and they called out before him, “bow the knee!” thus he set him over all the land of egypt. moreover, pharaoh said to joseph, “i am pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of egypt.” and pharaoh called joseph’s name zaphenath-paneah. and he gave him in marriage asenath, the daughter of potiphera priest of on. so joseph went out over the land of egypt. [genesis 41:41-45]
it’s incredible… definitely not the way we would normally expect, but God’s redemptive plan is extraordinary.
joseph was given freedom post-imprisonment.
he was given fine linen after his father’s robe was stripped off of him.
he was given a signet ring after being falsely told he would be remembered by the cupbearer. the signet ring was the symbol of a promise of authority that could not be broken (in an earthly way).
he was given authority over egypt after his authority was falsely taken from him in potiphar’s house.
there are a few parallels from this passage to the parable of the prodigal son, found in luke 15. the son approaches his father and cruelly demands his inheritance. he was looking for the father’s gift, but did not want a relationship with the father. ouch.
the father gives the son his inheritance, and quickly the son squanders it. he finds himself in the middle of a nationwide famine, starving and alone. he gets a job feeding pigs, and is desperate enough to eat the pig slop. his sin leaves him destitute.
the son comes home to beg his father to repent and ask if his father will allow him to be a mere slave. just being in the father’s house will be rich compared to the destitution of his lonely sin.
“…but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him…the father said to his servants, ‘bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. and bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ and they began to celebrate.” [luke 15:20, 22-24]
while joseph was faithful, the prodigal son was most certainly unfaithful. and yet, the outcome of each story was still similar. both were clothed with fine clothing. both were given a ring. both were allowed to return to freedom in the land.
the only common denominator can be God’s faithfulness. God’s faithfulness never changes, regardless of whether we are faithful or not.
does this give us permission to be unfaithful to God? by no means. why would we want to hurt the one who always remains faithful to us? this does, however, give us permission to rejoice in repentance. as we unfaithfully follow God (similarly to the prodigal son), we see the compassion of our heavenly Father running to us as we walk to him in repentance over our disobedience. we do not need to hide away in our shame. we can run to the Father, knowing that his perfect, faithful, obedient Son paid the price for our unfaithfulness!
we look forward to the day when the bride (the church) will be purified and clothed in “fine linens” as well. rejoice in this passage from revelation 19:6-8…
“then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
for the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure’—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”