THE FOUR GARMENT CHANGE
Psalms 105:16-22 (RSV)
V16- When he summoned a famine on the land, and broke every staff of bread,
V17- he sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
V18- His feet were hurt with fetters, his neck was put in a collar of iron;
V19- until what he had said came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.
V20- The king sent and released him, the ruler of the peoples set him free;
V21- he made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his possessions,
V23- to instruct his princes at his pleasure, and to teach his elders wisdom.
Changing garments is part of our life.
The day we are born, we change from our birthday suit to infant-garment; from infant-garment we change to baby-garment; from baby garment to tots-garment; from tots-garment to little-kids garment; from that to tween-garment; from tween- garment to teen- garment; from teen-garment to young adult-garment; from that to working/professional garment; then to wedding garment; from wedding garment to maternity garment; from maternity garment to mother’s garment; from that to middle-aged garment; from middle-aged garment to aged garment and lastly from aged garment to the barong garment in the casket.
Notice each change of garment speaks of a shift in our role, experience and in our maturity.
The Bible uses the word “garment” many times. There is the garment of mourning and fasting called the sack cloth. There is also the garment of widowhood. There is also the garment for prisoner which Jeremiah wore when he was imprisoned by the princes of his time. Next we see the garment of the High Priest, painstakingly described in the book of Exodus. Also we are all familiar with the garment of praise that God exhorts us to put on in Isaiah 61:3 in place of the garment of mourning. Also the Prophets and the Book of Revelations talks a lot about the garment of righteousness that Christ wants to clothe us with in place of our dirty garment or in place of our nakedness. And who can ignore the garment of royalty each time a pagan king wants to clothe God’s people with, like Joseph. “Behold, 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 arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck” (Genesis 41:41-42).
This morning, I would like to share about garment and more specifically on THE FOUR GARMENT CHANGE.
The word “garment” according to the dictionary means “clothing.”
And clothing is part of us. We are no more in the age of Garden of Eden where we run around in our birthday suits. Today, if you see anyone running around the streets of Iloilo naked, you can be sure he is from Pototan.
The Bible also uses the imagery of a garment, a clothing to connotate our covering, our ministry and our role.
A king has his own kingly garment to perform his kingly role. A priest has his own priestly garment to perform his priestly role. A prophet has his own prophet garment, normally in sack cloth to cry in brokenness for the backsliden nation of Israel. There was even one time, God commanded Isaiah to walk the streets naked, to symbolize the nation of Israel’s nakedness before Him.
One of the imageries I love in the Bible is how naked we are in the book of Revelation 3 and how Christ counsels us to ask him to clothe us with His white garment, symbolizing His purity and holiness. Another account of garment that always ministers to me is how Joshua the High Priest in Zechariah 3 stands before the Lord in his defiled garment with the accuser accusing him and how God commands the angel to remove Joshua’s dirty garment and replace it with rich apparel. It talks about the work of redemption that Christ has already paid for us and all He wants us to do is to come to Him to make that exchange – we give him our dirty garment (that means our sinful and stained life) and in place, He will give us His righteousness and forgiveness.
But the thing I want to focus about the garment today is the change of the garment. We don’t wear the same garment from the day we are born till now. We change our garment not only daily but also generationally.
Daily, we change into our PJ in the night to prepare for the role of sleeping; then when we awake, we change into our working clothes to prepare for the role of working and when we arrive home from work, we change into our casual clothes to prepare for the time of relaxing.
Generationally, the fad of the garments changes, depicting the culture of that decade. We have retro garments, rock garments, disco garments, hippie garments, all flowing with the spirit of that era.
No season remains the same. When the season changes, the garment changes. There is a garment for autumn and winter; a garment for spring and a garment for summer.
This morning, I want to tell you that each garment change symbolizes a specific season of our life that we have to undergo and to mature before we can move to the next change of garment. There is a role shift in our life with the change of garment.
(II) JOSEPH AND HIS FOUR GARMENTS
This morning, I would like to study on the life of Joseph, especially the four garments that he has to wear in four stages of his life and each garment represents a particular role and calling that God wants him to fulfill. And each change of garment symbolizes a new season God wants to usher him into.
As we journey this life as a believer of Christ, you must know and understand that like Joseph, we are all called to be a deliverer. The reason Christ came to this earth is that He can be the Deliverer of sinful men. So when He saved us, He expects us to be a Deliverer like Him, saving souls from sin and the devil. To fulfill that calling as a Deliverer, there is a prophetic journey we have to take that entails us to put on four kinds of garment in four seasons of life. Each change of the garment will shift us to another season; another realm of experience and blessings.
So let’s look at the four garment change in Joseph’s life.
1. THE GARMENT OF MULTI-COLORS
Genesis 37:3 (KJV)- Now 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 colors.
V4-And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
V5- And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.
The Bible text here tells us that as a young man, Joseph was greatly favored by his father and was given a beautiful multi-colored coat.
What does this multi-colored coat mean?
This coat is really a REFLECTION OF THE REVELATION OF THE MUTI-FACETED GIFTING THAT WAS ON JOSEPH’S LIFE.
Joseph was a dreamer. He was also a prophet. He dreamed and literally saw his destiny. But then, when he was given this coat and was so loved by his father, it made his brothers jealous.
When you have great giftings, when you start to have dreams and visions, when you start to get your head a little above everyone else, the “brothers” and “sisters” will get jealous. Many times, it comes from those in the house of the Lord! All of a sudden, they see this special anointing and gifting that is on you and they get jealous.
V6-7- And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright, and behold, your sheaves stood around about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
Joseph shared this dream of how all of his brothers would bow down before him, including his father.
Have you ever shared something that was not the right timing? You certainly learn after a while not to do that. Why? Because it stirs jealousy and jealousy results in murder.
We know the story of Joseph very well. The brothers tore the garment, the robe of multifaceted giftings that was given to him by his father and they threw him into a pit and sold him into slavery.
2. THE GARMENT OF SLAVERY
The coat of multi-color is gone and Joseph is now clothed with a garment for slaves.
This is part of the prophetic journey of a deliverer. A king can be put into place in one day but the deliverer goes through decades of the fires of God to be trained in this prophetic journey.
This happens so that when you are exalted and put into place, it will not only be the beautiful colored “robe” that you will wear, but that you will also wear the GARMENT OF HUMILITY AND MEEKNESS with all the glory going to the Lord!
In Psalm 105, it says that God allowed the famine. In other words, it was God who set the world up for an international crisis. It is just like where we are today. The Lord is setting up the earth for an international crisis like we have never seen before. The US economy is near to its double dip recession; Greece is going to default on their loan repayment and it will cause a collapse to the Eurozone, even though right now they are postponing the collapse; millions will lose their job in this double-digit dipping economy. There will be an economic famine, not mentioning the climatic turmoil of flash floods that send many nations into debts and poverty.
God is going to be the One who is going to stop the rains. He is going to be the One who will bring the earthquakes. He is the One who will bring the shakings of governments like those we see in the Middle East and Thailand today. He is the One who puts evil rulers in place like Muammar Gaddafi.
He is also the One to put godly men and women strategically into place. We are dealing with a huge global chess board with the Lord moving the players in this time.
When Joseph was being taken into slavery, it says that his feet were put into irons. In other words, God allowed him to be hurt! It wasn’t just that his brothers put him into the pit and sold him. THE LORD ALLOWED JOSEPH TO HAVE HIS FEET PUT IN IRONS.
Are you experiencing pain now? Is the pain caused by men who put you into the pit? And these men are from the church, your brothers and sisters in Christ. For a long while, you are haboring bitterness against those Christians but you do not know that actually it was God who allows you to be hurt. It was God who allows you to thrown into the pit and sold to be a slave to your oppressor.
Now Joseph had lost his family and his culture and he was brought into a foreign land.
How many of you have been brought into a “foreign land” where you didn’t geographically want to go? Like Pastor Toh Nee and me. We didn’t want to be shifted from Singapore to be here for 25 years. Like some planters, they didn’t want to be shifted from Mindanao to Antique. Or like some of you G12 workers, you don’t want to be shifted from a safe district to go to the squatter and slums like Lapuz to do evangelism and conduct cell groups. Geographically you want to stay in your safety and comfort zone. Or are you in the midst of being in a “foreign land”? Do you walk a journey, like a marriage where your husband is not following the Lord? Are you still seeking the Lord or are you starting to compromise a little? Are you not as hot, on fire and pressing in for the voice of God for your life?
All of a sudden, the Lord has shifted and changed you! The Lord is in the place right now of His wind coming and moving and shifting the players strategically. The suddenly of God will uproot many of you out of your homes, out of your jobs, and shift you to another city “for such a time as this.”
You see, God said, “I need a deliverer! I need to put him in Egypt and get him before Pharaoh because this deliverer is not only going to save Israel but this famine and world wide crisis is going to hit all the nations of the known earth.”
You cry out, “Lord, I want to be a forerunner! Lord I want to be a deliverer!.” I tell you, there is a prophetic journey in being a deliverer. We know that Joseph went to Portiphar’s house and Genesis 39:2-4- The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian, and his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had.”
Joseph was given a second robe of authority. He was given another robe where the people would do whatever he wanted. In the midst of the pagan culture where he was sold, he still followed God; he still had a secret testimony; he still knew who his Lord was.
Even when our multi-color coat of favor is removed and we are now wearing the garment of slavery, we can still rule in our realm. We can still be head of all the other slaves. We can still experience the favor of God and our oppressor like Portiphar will notice it too.
3. THE GARMENT OF A PRISONER
Joseph was once again betrayed but the Lord allowed it. Strategically, Portiphar’s house wasn’t the right place for where God needed Joseph. His garment was literally torn and ripped off. “But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and she fled and got out of the house. And when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and had fled out of the house, she called to the men of the household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to insult us; he came in to me to lie with me and I cried out with a loud voice” (Genesis 39:11-14). He was accused of being a rapist by Portiphar’s wife.
How many of you have had your enemies accusing you or you have been unjustly betrayed or misunderstood and your character has been assassinated? The Lord has even allowed that to test your heart. Are you going to be bitter or sweet?
Psalm 105 says the word tested Joseph. This third garment is the garment that IDENTIFIES US WITH THE DEATH AND SUFFERING OF JESUS CHRIST. Jesus was killed as a result of betrayal and for us, God will allow betrayals to happen to us. We will go through the city gates –being marred beyond recognition, looking just like the suffering Servant, Jesus and glowing the resurrection anointing from the Cross of the Lamb. Part of the divine strategy of the Lord is to kill us so that we look more like Him. The only problem is that it is a custom-designed death for each one of us. We don’t get to choose how we get to die! We think it would be easier if we could choose our “deaths” but the Lord strategically sets it up for each of us to deal with the motives of our heart, so that we love Him, so that we will be desperate for Him and press into Him- no matter what!
Joseph was betrayed more than once. His feet not only were fettered as a slave. Now, thrown into the prison and forgotten by people whom he had helped, the word of the Lord really tested him. I believe in prison, Joseph died to all his human pride and abilities. His only reliance was the Word of God. It was in the dungeon where he was locked up for many years, with His faith still intact that finally the Holy Spirit said to Him, “Open up the gates! Open up the gate! You have suffered enough like Jesus! You look just like Jesus! Open up the gates for the king of glory!
Joseph was thrown into the royal dungeon and once again the favor of the Lord was with him (v20 and 21). Once again, he was strategically placed in the royal dungeon, even though it took years to be brought out and put before Pharaoh.
4. THE GARMENT OF RULERSHIP
Pharaoh had a dream that none of the magicians could solve. Suddenly they remembered Joseph, who had interpreted their dreams, and he was brought before Pharaoh. He interpreted his dream and was given a robe of rulership.
Genesis 41:41-43-And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Behold, 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 arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; and he made him to ride in his second chariot; and they cried before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him OVER ALL THE LAND OF EGYPT.
After three garment changes, Joseph was finally given the garment of rulership, where the Pharaoh set him to rule over all the land of Egypt.
I am talking about a garment change. I am talking about a shifting governmentally where many times you lose your title, you lose your place of authority. God shifts you and you don’t understand why you are being led away in irons.
Or suddenly you are wrongly accused. You have done a good job to the best of your ability and suddenly you are put in the dungeon where you are forgotten for years. But the Lord has set this up strategically because if you are called as a deliverer and a forerunner, the Lord has to work His heart of humility in you.
There are two seats in heaven. There is the Judgment Seat, and there is the Mercy Seat. When you have been wrongly accused, whipped beyond recognition and you are bleeding from betrayal and assassination with false accusation coming against you, if you go to the judgment seat, the accuser will be there waiting. He will give you PARTIAL TRUTH, and you will start to move in bitterness and anger. Your wounds will become infected and you could be disqualified until you deal with your unforgiveness.
If you go to the Mercy Seat and you cry out and throw yourself between the horns of the altar and onto the precious splattered blood of the Lord, then your wounds will begin to heal and the scars will begin to glow with the resurrection anointing of Jesus. It is as though you pray, “Lord, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” This brings PROMOTION IN THE SPIRIT.
(III) HOW TO WEATHER THESE 4 GARMENT CHANGES
Genesis 49:22-25 (NIV)- Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him, they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained safely, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God, who helps you….who blesses you…..
1. CLING TO GOD LIKE A VINE
That is where you will get the favor of God in all seasons of life.
2. STAY NEAR THE SPRING
Be close to the Holy Spirit, the Spring of Life.
3. BE STEADY
Hold up the bow of God, which is the word of God and let God uphold your right hand when you feel you are falling.
Be not like Ephraim whose love for God “is like a morning cloud, like a dew that goes early away.”(Hosea 6:4).
You must understand that God “desires steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offering.” (Hosea 6:6).
4. RECOGNISE THAT EACH GARMENT CHANGE IS A STRATEGIC SHIFT OF GOVERNMENT BY THE HAND OF GOD.
E.g. When I was in Haarlem, Holland, I visited the Ten Boom Museum that shows where Corrie Ten Boom’s family hid the Jews during Hitler’s time. Because of harboring the Jews, the Ten Boom’s family was arrested and put into Concentration Camp. The father of Corrie died two weeks after he was arrested and Corrie’s sister, Betsie, died in the concentration camp, after being brutally beaten by the guards. Corrie was released by the Nazis by mistake. It was a strategic mistake which God orchestrated. In the museum today, Corrie had recorded a cassette tape which she wanted all the visitors to hear: “Was it a mistake of God that He allowed the arrest to happen? No it was not. I can already see it more or less from God’s point of view. God never makes a mistake. My sister Betsie’s death, Father’s death, was that a mistake of God? Their suffering and then their passing away in that terrible prison and Ravensbruck concentration camp? I will tell you something: people who have seen the movie or read the book have heard the message “That when the worst happens, in the life of a child of God, the best remains.” Betsie’s knowing and being conscious of the presence of the Lord Jesus wherever she was, her faith and trust in Him, her ability to love her enemies because Jesus had brought into her heart God’s love through the Holy Spirit, has been a blessing for perhaps millions of people. How the Lord used her as a channel of love and peace in surroundings of chaos and hatred! Had Betsie remained in the Beje, happy and well cared for, she would never have been such a blessing for so many people all over the world.
God strategically shifted Betsie and Corrie out of their safe house in Haarlem to a concentration prison so that they both can be a deliverer to people today trapped in the prison of unforgiveness.
5. KNOW THE ULTIMATE GARMENT YOU ARE GOING TO PUT ON
It is the garment of rulership. It is the garment of a king – having dominion over all places of Egypt, even to the realm of the heavenly places.
Towards the end of our tour at the Ten Boom Museum, the tour guide brought us to the dining room of Corrie and there he showed us a portrait of the back side of a piece of embroidery work done by Corrie. It was a bright blue cloth with hundreds of tangled threads hanging from it. It was said that when Corrie showed that piece of embroidery to her audience in the States, many thought she was showing the wrong side by mistake.
PIC OF THE WRONG SIDE OF EMBROIDERY
As Corrie continued to hold up the messy side of the embroidery, she asked an important question:
“Does God always grant us what we ask for in prayer? Not always. Sometimes He says, ‘No.” That is because God knows what we do not know. God knows all. Look at this piece of embroidery. The wrong side is chaos. But look at the beautiful picture on the other side – the right side.”
PIC OF THE RIGHT SIDE OF EMBROIDERY
This is how Corrie helped her audience gain perspective on the problems and suffering that may come in their lives. As we look at the right side of the embroidery, the cloth revealed an elaborately embroidered CROWN –symbolizing not only our crown of eternal life but the crown of rulership that the Lord is preparing us for our generation now.
You can see that the crown was intricately stitched. It had threads of many colors, including gold and silver overlaid with pearls. Then Corrie recited one of her favorite poems:
“My life is like a weaving, between my God and me,
I do not choose the colors, He works so steadily,
Oft times He weaves in sorrow, and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside.
Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas, and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the Weavers skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.”
Just now, I showed you the video clip of Song Bong Chui, a young Korean man who was orphaned since 3, lived on his own in the streets selling gums and energy drinks since 5; went through dire suffering but then he didn’t let his suffering deter him from his dream. He signed up for Korean’s Got Talent and he melted the hearts of the judges and the audience with his golden operatic voice. He captures the world’s attention. “Truly it is in the quiet crucible of your personal private suffering that your noblest dreams are born and God’s greatest gifts are given in compensation for all you’ve been through.”
Joseph’s dream was fulfilled. In compensation for his 13 years of suffering, God gave him the greatest gift of all –THE GARMENT OF RULERSHIP!
James 1:12- Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.
God has called all of us to be a deliverer like Him. He has strategically embark us on this prophetic journey where we have to change our garments four times- the garment of multi-color, the garment of slavery, the garment of a prisoner and the garment of rulership. Which garment has God clothed you with now? If it is the multicolor garment, praise God, use your muti-faceted gift but also be prepared for the next shift in your journey – the journey to the pit and to the prison, where your feet will be shackled and you will be betrayed. In the midst of it, cling on to Jesus, stay near the spring, be steady in your faith and love, know that it is God who strategically allows this suffering to happen but look forward to the day after you have suffered for a little while for God to remove your prison clothes and then clothe you with this garment of rulership. In that position, you will be able to be a deliverer to multitudes of people
Sermon of Pas Lily
PREACHED AT EFC IC 1ST SV
ON 16 OCT 2011