The old prophet
After Solomon died his kingdom was split in two. Ten tribes seceded and made Jeroboam their king; two accepted Solomon’s son Rehoboam as their king. God’s temple was part of Rehoboam’s kingdom and Jeroboam was afraid that if his subjects continued to go there to worship they might not remain loyal to him.
And Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David. If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.”
So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”
And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.
1 Kings 12:26-29
God sent a prophet to Jeroboam to warn him of the consequences of his sin.
And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the LORD to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. And the man cried against the altar by the word of the LORD and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’”
1 Kings 13:1-2
The prophet God sent came from Judah. Immediately after this incident we find out that there was a prophet who already lived in Bethel.
Now an old prophet lived in Bethel. And his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel. They also told to their father the words that he had spoken to the king.
1 Kings 13:11
If God had a message for Jeroboam why didn’t he use the prophet who lived in Bethel to deliver it rather than having someone travel all the way from Judah? The answer is obvious when we look at how the prophet found out what had happened. His sons told him. That means they must have been worshipping the calf. The prophet had failed to teach his own family to be faithful to God; how could he be trusted to deliver a message to a whole kingdom?
If you study the lives of the people God chose to accomplish great things you will usually find that he first tested their faithfulness by giving them less important jobs. For example, consider what Moses was doing when God called him to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
Moses spent 40 years taking care of his father-in-law’s sheep. If he hadn’t done this job faithfully it seems unlikely that God would have chosen him to take care of his sheep, the Israelites.
If the work God has given you doesn’t seem very important, resist the temptation to slack off and not put all your energy into doing it well. God might be testing you to prepare you for something more important.