“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).
Man often chooses leaders by outward appearances and bearing. Even the prophet Samuel was swayed by this selection method when surveying the sons of Jesse as potential candidates to become the next king in Israel: “And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him” (1 Sam. 16:6).
But God answered Samuel: “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
Even David’s own father could not see the inner potential within David to become a king: “And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him…” (1 Sam. 16:11).
Only God can see the inner person. Only a God who lives in a timeless existence can see the future as well as the past and present (Isa. 46:9-10, 48:3).
Chapter 37 of Genesis tells the story of Joseph starting at age 17. We do not have any additional backstory to Joseph’s childhood up to this point, but the picture here is sadly of a dysfunctional family. Joseph’s father Jacob is guilty of favoritism among his children (Gen. 37:3), the half-brothers of Joseph hate him (verse 8), and there is some unspecified evil report about his half-brothers that Joseph passes on to his father (verse 2).
The point at the beginning of this story is that no matter how much hidden potential Joseph has…he is going nowhere within this very negative, un-nurturing, and unsupportive family environment. It takes the insight of God to turn all this around…to look upon the heart…and to implement a life-script that is amazingly brilliant, complex, and sophisticated in any age…even today.
God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts lift us out of the current, worldly soap-opera environment (Jn. 8:36)…unsolvable and unfixable by human means…and sets our feet upon an ascending path upward into a new life having purpose and meaning…far above anything we could pre-imagine or contrive on our own.