So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it. (Genesis 37:23-24)
By stripping Joseph of his multi-colored tunic, his brothers were, in essence, denying him his identity as the favored son and the designated ruler of the family. In short, they removed what, outwardly at least, set him apart from the rest of the family and did so because they were provoked by jealousy.
In an apples and oranges way, it is reminiscent of what the Greeks under Antiochus IV did to the Jews. He forbade them from observing Shabbat, eating kosher and other practices that identified them as God’s people, Israel. His objective was to force them into assimilating with the nations and their pantheistic world view. Joseph was also forced into the outside world and would eventually resemble an Egyptian although he would retain an allegiance to the God of his fathers.
If you really think about it, in today’s world you and I are being asked — in some situations, compelled — to do the same thing. We are being coerced into assimilating into the tolerant, co-existent culture by abandoning the mindset and lifestyle of a set apart people. This we can not and must not do. First of all, those who scream the loudest for tolerance will tolerate most all views and opinions except the one that says that God is supreme and His Word is the final authority on any matter. We must be bold in our beliefs and continue proclaiming His sovereignty and, as His people, make it known that we are His. Do not let those around you strip you of your identity. Be the salt and light you’ve been called to be.
Blessings and Shalom,