The Levites were sinful men. Some of them had done things that resulted in God’s taking away their positions as priests. In this life, they had to bear their shame for the sins they committed. Yet God gave them other responsibilities in the care of the temple and the temple services.
All of us bear the marks of the sins we have committed. Some of us publicly bear the shame and embarrassment of past choices. Broken marriages, addictions, abortions, and the like never go away. We remember. Others remember.
And sometimes those sins can exclude us from certain parts of ministry. But I am thankful that God doesn’t just write us off.
God has things for us to do in service to Him. He forgives every sin we bring to Him and dresses us with Jesus’ righteousness before the Father. So if that particular sin we’ve committed excludes us from serving as a deacon, we can serve as a grounds keeper. We can visit the sick, or care for widows. If our past prevents us from being a pastor, we might help with the food outreach or keep track of the church finances.
I know there will be some who disagree with me on this. Doesn’t God forgive and wash us clean? Absolutely! We are whiter than snow before our Holy God when He sees us through the blood of His Son. I think of Matthew, a dishonest tax collector, or Paul, a killer of Christians, both of whom served God in incredible ways after they met Jesus. I am forever thankful for that fact.
A murderer still faces the consequence for that murder, even if he or she comes to the Savior while behind bars. They are free from the law of sin and death. But they are not free to walk out of that prison. A child who was aborted does’t automatically come to life when the parent confesses that sin. People hurt by the actions of an addict don’t automatically heal just because the addict asked God to forgive him or her. Sometimes we just have to live with consequences for sin.
But that’s not an excuse to quit serving. Ezekiel tells us the former priests took on other responsibilities to keep the ministry of the temple running. They could no longer serve as priests because of the sins they had committed, so they got busy serving in other ways.
I guess I’m just suggesting that, if your church fellowship feels led to take away a ministry you’ve participated in, don’t get mad and walk away. Find some other way to serve. Serving God is not about you, anyway.