“But at the age of fifty years they shall retire from service in the work and not work any more. They may, however, assist their brothers in the tent of meeting, to keep an obligation, but they themselves shall do no work. Thus you shall deal with the Levites concerning their obligations.” (Numbers 8:25–26, NASB95)
I often hear well-meaning people say, “There is no such thing as retirement in the Bible.” This is not really a true statement. The Levites clearly had a career that lasted from an apprentice time beginning at age 25 and a full-service from age 30-55. Retirement came at 55. After this point, the Levite could “assist their brothers” but not do the actual work of the Tabernacle.
I am not suggesting a retirement at age 55, but I do believe that the Bible tells us in this example that we cannot forever work as a young man. Somewhere, the “heavy lifting” (which is the kind of work the Levite did) has to be given over to the young men. When this time comes, we should allow it to come with grace, and look forward to the new chapter of ministry, one of assisting others.
Retirement doesn’t mean being “put out to pasture.” I discourage retirement that is escape from service and duty. But retirement should be kept as an option and should be seen by a Christian society as a Biblical, God-honoring way to conclude your “heavy lifting” in the vocation the Lord’s has called you to.
In His Grace;
Dr. Randy White
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