No one is good—except God alone.

It’s worth reminding ourselves of these words of Jesus on a regular basis. We tend to live in a kind of bipolar mindset when it comes to this statement. On the one hand we have no trouble affirming Paul’s similar sentiment in Romans 3:10 ESV,

None is righteous—no, not one,’

but then we retell episodes from the lives of Scriptural characters as if their actions are all divinely approved. We are blind to their faults and flaws and, sometimes we even invert their wrongdoing into virtue.

Take Joseph of the coat-of-many-colours, as an example. He was Jacob’s favourite son and was given a coat usually described as multi-coloured but more accurately one with a long trailing hem and sleeves. Now straightaway we know from this that Joseph was exempt from manual work. You don’t mind livestock wearing a luxury garment. His ten older brothers are putting in the hard yards but are not recognised or acknowledged. All Joseph has to do to be rewarded is stay home with dad. Their jealousy is, in part, based on the blatant unfairness Jacob demonstrates. And it’s exacerbated by Joseph’s dreams of one day having them bow down before him.

And those dreams, of course, do come to pass. Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers but, in an almost-fairytale rags-to-riches outcome, he rises to become a ruler in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. All because he interprets Pharaoh’s dreams about a coming famine and advises him how to prepare for it.

Yet in the midst of all Joseph’s marvellous stewardship of resources that not only saves Egypt, along with own family and many of the neighbouring nations, right in amongst his gracious provision and his heartfelt forgiveness of his brothers, there’s a blot on his character that overshadows the whole.

It’s not until we see Jesus overturning that stain that we can appreciate its impact on history.

Joseph was the one who, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has indicated, set up the very political mechanism that was later used to enslave his own people. In the third year of the famine, after the Egyptians had used all their money and sold off their cattle, Joseph acquired all their land as well as their labour. But Joseph gave them no way out of their slavery and no way to buy back their inheritance. God Himself would later put restrictions on such acquisitions—stating that, in the Year of Jubilee, all land had to be returned to its original owner. But Joseph put permanent famine measures in place and never revoked them. Moreover, he invented the concept of forced resettlement to break people’s ties to their ancestral land.

His legacy is a complex mixture of light and dark—of wise stewardship, careful provisioning, prudent supply and utterly ruthless disinheritance.  

In the necessary mending of any faithline descending from Joseph, political dispossession is the foremost arena needing forgiveness.

This is Grace Drops and I’m Anne Hamilton. May Yeshua cleanse your faithline of unrighteous judgment today.

Thank you to Lorna Skinner of for the background music.

For more on Joseph’s mantle, see The Summoning of Time: John 2 and 20: Mystery, Majesty and Mathematics in John’s Gospel #2. Please get in touch through the contact form at Armour Books if you are in the US, UK or Australia and there are availability/price issues at the retailer.