There Will Be Consequences
Ezekiel 44:10 But the Levites who went far from me, going astray from me after their idols when Israel went astray, shall bear their punishment. 11 They shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having oversight at the gates of the temple, and serving in the temple; they shall slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall attend on them and serve them. 12 Because they ministered to them before their idols and made the house of Israel stumble into iniquity, therefore I have sworn concerning them, says the Lord GOD, that they shall bear their punishment. 13 They shall not come near to me, to serve me as priest, nor come near any of my sacred offerings, the things that are most sacred; but they shall bear their shame, and the consequences of the abominations that they have committed. 14 Yet I will appoint them to keep charge of the temple, to do all its chores, all that is to be done in it.
Ezek. 44:15 But the levitical priests, the descendants of Zadok, who kept the charge of my sanctuary when the people of Israel went astray from me, shall come near to me to minister to me; and they shall attend me to offer me the fat and the blood, says the Lord GOD. 16 It is they who shall enter my sanctuary, it is they who shall approach my table, to minister to me, and they shall keep my charge.
Sadly, even the priests had wandered far from God and the people had suffered as a result. Now they were returning from exile, but there would be consequences as a result of the decisions that had been made by those who had been entrusted with the spiritual care of the people. They could minister, but only from a bit of a distance. They could not approach God. That responsibility was left to those who had been faithful.
I actually find it quite amazing that God was willing to restore a priesthood that had led people astray! The repercussions of those in leadership who wander are great. They not only hurt themselves but they take down a whole lot of people with them. There is a great responsibility which is laid on their shoulders and therefore the consequences of their behavior has far reach.
This scripture has to lead us to an honest conversation. I hear far too many people these days who believe that they can wander off into sin but when they return to God everything ought to be restored in their lives. Unfortunately there are consequences to sin and even when a priest is restored — there remain the wounds and damaged individuals from the previous behavior. The Israelites had suffered in captivity as a result of spiritual infidelity. The people of God suffer as when there is spiritual infidelity and wounds and scarring result.
The priests were restored, but not to the full status they had previously experienced. Only the descendants of Zadok would be allowed to minister to the LORD.
When you choose to walk in sin, you can’t have it all back! But the good news is that there is restoration. The priests, even after leading the people astray were allowed to serve again. The people, even after serving other gods were welcomed back home. After so much infidelity — the bridegroom graciously and lovingly embraced his people. Yes, there will be wounds, but the greater healer and physician will be constantly reaching out and lovingly inviting us back into a relationship with him.
Lord, may we live in the peace of your presence every moment of every day and lead us into faithful service before you. Amen.
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