Due to the wonderful nature of Hebrew and Greek, there are many interpretations as to exactly what kind of coat Jacob placed on his favored son; but for so many of us the classic description we all picture is a beautiful tunic with all the colors of the rainbow -- especially since the debut of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (One of my faves.) So there he is, young Joseph, favored by his father, hated by his brothers, and covered in the shining colors of the rainbow -- which brings me, of course, to the idea of Joseph being ROY G BIV.
Who is ROY G BIV? Well actually, ROY G BIV isn't a who, it's a what. ROY G BIV is a mnemonic device for remembering the colors of the rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo & Violet (ROY G BIV.)
To me, though, ROY G BIV also describes the character that Joseph both had and developed as the last few Torah portions of Genesis progress. See, Jacob put a covering of his choosing on his son in order to elevate him in status over his brothers. This caused a lot of issues and dysfunction. However, when Joseph humbly focused on the LORD through the issues and dysfunction, his heavenly Father covered him in the beautiful colors of the rainbow of the character we see him embody by the close of the first book of the Bible. What were the colors of his character? Let's take a look at what turned Joseph into ROY G BIV:
R - RED
So what does the color red make you think of? Perhaps blood, like the blood Joseph's brothers spattered all over the ripped and torn tunic they presented to their father to show that his beloved son was dead and gone? What about the idea of a heart, which gives us the picture of love? Put blood and love together, and we get a picture of forgiveness, Redemption and Restoration. Because Joseph loved God, he was able to trust Him through the trials of the pit, Potiphar's and prison, and through the triumph of the palace. His love for the Father also gave him the wherewithal to withstand the temptation of Potiphar's wife. And because of Joseph's love for others and his family, he became a Deliverer.
["You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." Deuteronomy 6:5 (ESV)]
O - ORANGE
To me, the color orange makes me think of the fruit of the same name -- a fruit that has a soft, sweet inside that is protected by a somewhat harder (and orange) covering. Joseph developed humility -- a humility that allowed him to serve others as an act of praise to YHWH. It turns out that orange is the color of praise and joy -- not the boisterous kind, but the steady and strong kind that strengthens and protects your spirit through any situation, no matter how hard. It's the kind of praise that we see with Silas and Paul in the prison, and the joy with which Joseph stayed and served strong. With this aspect of his character, he Overcame!
["Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." Psalms 42:11 (ESV]
Y - YELLOW
To be thought of as "yellow" means to be thought of as a coward -- someone filled with fear. Joseph certainly did have reason to be filled with fear, but for him, yellow took on a different meaning. For Joseph, yellow meant glory, brightness, and shining joy. It also meant the perseverance that comes from Yearning. He yearned for home and for freedom, and so he pressed on to the glory of God.
["Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you are involved in various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance." James 1:2-3 (ISV)]
G - GREEN
The color green combined with the letter "G" makes most of the kids I've taught this to think of Giving and Growth (things like money, grass, trees, nature and such.) Joseph experienced the one and therefore became the other. In the animated film, "Joseph: King of Dreams," there is an amazing metaphor for the growth that Joseph experiences while going through his trials. He plants a tree while in prison, and cultivates it as the years go by. The movie uses it primarily to show the passage of time, because of its size by the time of his release from prison, but it also mirrors his growth as a person. Because of this growth, he develops the wonderful giving spirit that enables him to be such a Good steward.
["Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?" Luke 12:42 (KJV)]
B - BLUE
The color blue invokes the idea of sadness and tears. It also invokes the ideas of sky and water and warmth. It's the color of our planet--our home. The interesting thing about feeling blue, or listening to the "blues," is that it often makes us feel Better. Blue is the color of healing -- healing that comes from Believing and trusting in the Healer of our souls Who dwells in the heavens. Picture tears being wiped away for all of eternity, of wounds Bound up -- of the warmth and joy of being home again. Joseph was healed, and became a healer -- especially a healer of the hurts of a splintered family and grieving father.
["He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." Revelation 21:4 (ESV)]
Yes, I know that I'm out of sequence, but there are a couple of reasons for that, so hold on. Anyway, what is the first idea that comes across when you think of violet, or purple? For most kids and adults, it's royalty! Purple is the color of kings and priests. Certainly if purple appeared on Joseph's robe, the brother's definitely would have cause to think that he would lord over them. Which eventually, he did, so it certainly didn't help that Joseph had dreams, or visions, that he would. That's right, Joseph was a man of Vision. Not only did he have visions, but he expressed God's interpretations of the visions of others. He was also a man of vision in terms looking ahead and understanding what it would take to deliver a nation and his family. And that visionary ability allowed to become like a king.
["Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law." Proverbs 29:18 (ESV)]
I - INDIGO
Which brings us back to indigo. What is indigo? It is a deep blue--almost a violet. It's the rich deep transitional color between blue and violet that is quite visible on the rainbows you see in the sky that remind us of the promises of God. In fact, it is very specifically seen in those rainbows only. Notice that it is missing from the rainbow that has been appropriated by the world and its ways. That's one of the reasons I put indigo out of sequence. Without indigo, you have a six-colored rainbow (the number of man) that falls short of the perfection of the promises of God -- promises that were kept by God and saw Joseph through his trials and triumphs.
Another interesting idea of indigo is that it is a mix of colors, but a mix that deepens and strengthens the colors around it and the rainbow itself -- so indigo represents great Integrity. Joseph was a man of integrity with a deep, abiding love of the Father and His promises. He was also a man of such integrity that he strengthened, brightened and brought together those around him.
And not only does indigo transition us from blue to violet, it combines blue and violet. The integrity of indigo combines the healing and restoration of blue with the vision and royal bearing of violet to become the color of a servant-leader! That is the other reason I put indigo out of sequence -- in order to really emphasize the point that blue and violet are what they are because of the indigo -- and the rainbow is what it is because of what indigo is. Indigo -- servant leadership -- is why the rainbow of God stands apart from the rainbow of the world. It is also why Joseph truly stood apart from his brothers and the world around him. It is why he could become their Deliverer!
["But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all." Mark 10:43b-44 (ESV)]
So, there it is: Joseph was a ROY G BIV. He was a man of restoration, overcoming adversity while yearning for God and home. He grew in his faith, brought healing, and lead with integrity and vision. He lived according to the promise of God. Is it no surprise then that our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) could take the mantle of what the scribes and rabbis would call Messiah ben Yosef? The messiah that would be a suffering servant leader? Joseph was the perfect picture of our Lord and Savior when he walked this earth and suffered and died for our sins. Joseph is the perfect picture of the leadership of Yeshua over the Kingdom of God. Yeshua is the ultimate ROY G BIV.
And because Christ is, and we are to be in Christ, then we too can be like Joseph. We too can take on the mantle of servant leadership -- a robe of the many colors and attributes found in Joseph, Yeshua and the promises of YHWH. In Christ we are covered in a love that restores, a praise that overcomes, a yearning for glory of God, growth that gives, belief that heals, integrity that leads, and vision that bears witness to the words and works of our King. We are covered in the promise of an eternal life in the family of God. In Yeshua Messiah, we are Joseph. We are ROY G BIV.
And so we are, #unhindered.