Ezk 44:12 Because they ministered to them before their idols and became a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn concerning them, declares the Lord God, and they shall bear their punishment.
This is a puzzling chapter. Ultimately it is about the holiness of God. In that context God twice makes a statement about the Levites bearing their punishment. Both times he is apparently talking about restoration because he says that they will be "ministers in my sanctuary," and yet he says they "are not to come near me to serve as priest nor come near any of my holy things." Apparently there will be some restoration to ministry, but not full restoration.
When we talk about forgiveness we love to focus on the idea of being made "white as snow," being declared acceptable, righteous, holy and just by God, and being invited to come boldly before His throne of grace. All of that is true, but when those who are the people of God violate that trust there are consequences. Will God forgive? Absolutely! When we agree with God (that is the essence of the word confess) that our actions and attitudes are sin then he is willing to forgive them. But that does not mean that everything goes back to the way it was.
A minister who has been caught up in immorality may be forgiven, but that does not mean that he is immediately ready to step back into the pulpit. This is just one example, but when God entrusts his people with a ministry and they violate that trust there are consequences. Evidently there are times, if this chapter in Ezekiel has any bearing on it, when certain roles, responsibilities and ministries are lost permanently.
Why is this? Doesn't God forgive? I thought forgive and forget was God's practice, so why should he hold this against me if I've confessed? At this point we need to remember that it is the holiness of God that is at stake. These principles are built upon that seminal truth. The God we serve, the God who called us and declared us holy by the blood of his Son, the unapproachable, holy God is the God we serve. When we take his name our actions reflect on his holiness. Sin is not just about me, or God and me, or God, the person I offended and me. My actions reflect upon the very nature and character of the God I serve. Sin offends that deeply and there are sometimes long standing consequences.
Father, forgive me for how often I begin to think of my faith as just about you and me. Forgive me for how often I forget how my words and actions reflect on you. Today may people see Christ in me. May I never reflect poorly on you.
By His grace,