God’s Spirit has always been calling mankind to himself—to holiness, purity of heart, a separated life—and in every generation a remnant answers this call. Joseph responded to God’s call at a very early age; his ten older brothers received the same call to surrender and walk righteously, but they chose to remain in the world.
On at least two occasions all of Jacob’s sons received the Spirit’s call very clearly. The first was when Jacob built an altar to the God of Israel (Genesis 33:18-20). Jacob called his sons to the altar to worship with him, to kneel before the Lord and follow him, but Joseph’s brothers turned to revenge and bloodshed, instead.
The second time God clearly called out to the ten was at Bethel. Jacob knew his sons were bound with idolatry and were rejecting God’s call to purity and righteousness, so he warned them: “Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: and let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and 1 will make there an altar unto God” (Genesis 35:2-3).
This is one of the clearest calls in all of God’s Word! The phrase “change your garments” in Hebrew means a moral and spiritual purification of the mind and heart. Outwardly, Jacob’s sons surrendered: “And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings” (verse 4). But their repentance was only on the surface—they never had a true heart-change. They went right back to their rebellion, hate, envy and strife!
Joseph was different from his brothers: his repentance had been from the heart. He had responded to the Spirit’s call and was wholly set on following the Lord. In the midst of a wicked, evil environment, Joseph maintained clean hands and a pure heart.
Joseph was sent out to the fields to help his brothers care for the family’s flocks. But he was soon grieved because his brothers spoke and lived like the heathen! His pure heart was crushed by the wickedness in his own family.
“And Joseph brought unto his father their evil report” (37:2), Joseph unburdened his heart to his father: “You wouldn’t believe the way they live, Father. They speak against your God. They’re grieving him!”
A mark of the Joseph Company is that they grieve over sin! They have forsaken all idols and are in love with Jesus, their hearts aflame with his holiness! They see the sin in the land, but they are grieved most of all by the sin in the church. They cry out from their souls, “Oh, Father, look at what is happening among your children!” If you are a part of this last-day company, you can’t overlook sin. Rather, something has to rise up in you that says, “Oh, God, I can’t stand what they’re doing to your name!” You begin to pray—not against people, but against the inroads of demonic powers into the church of Jesus Christ!