And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD, and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.
1 Kings 13:1.
We do not know the name of this man, but he bears the significant title: “man of God”. Through him God sent a message to Jeroboam, the king of the northern kingdom of Israel. For political reasons Jeroboam wished to prevent his subjects from worshipping God in Jerusalem, because the city was situated in the southern kingdom of Judah. Ignoring God’s commandment he had therefore erected golden calves in Bethel and Dan, so that God could be honoured through them.
The man of God was prepared to pass the message on, although it involved danger. He himself came from Judah where the terms of the law were adhered to in the service of God. The man of God arrived in Bethel at precisely the right time, at the moment when Jeroboam was about to offer incense at a feast of his own devising. God’s messenger was aware that the LORD had sent him, and he obeyed His word. From this we learn that when God has a task for us, it is important to carry it out at the right time.
What is interesting is that there was an aged prophet in Bethel at the time. Why didn’t God send the message by him? Had he adopted a neutral position, or was he waiting to see how things developed? His sons were present at Jeroboam’s feast (cf.v.11). If anyone has a message from God to pass on, readiness to serve, obedience to the Lord and separation from evil are pre-requisites. Only then can one be a “vessel for honour, sanctified and useful for the master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).
Image: By Gerard Hoet (1648-1733) – , Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9390680