Sooner or later most working Christians ask the question, “What does the Bible say about retirement?”
The answer is found in Numbers 8:23–26, which is the only Bible passage referring specifically to this topic. In these verses God is telling Moses that the Levite priests in the Tent of Meeting must retire. The passage reads:
The Lord said to Moses, “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the Tent of Meeting, but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the Tent of Meeting, but they themselves must not do the work.”
We are New Testament Christians and are no longer under the law (we don’t have to retire “at the age of fifty”), but the wisdom of God’s message regarding the cessation of regular work is still valuable and can be helpful to our lives today.
God is saying “they must retire from their regular service and work no longer.”
God created work, and your work is his divine calling, but there will come a point in your life when you stop doing regular, full-time work.
The word “work” in this Numbers 8 passage, as in “work no longer,” is the same word used to describe mankind’s daily labor in Genesis 2:15 which declares, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
In the context of Genesis 2:15, the work is Adam and Eve’s tilling of the ground in the Garden, and by extension all the various types of labor that will follow. It is these and all occupations (e.g., tilling the ground, serving in the Tent of Meeting, and the daily work of your own career) from which God’s people can someday retire.
The retired Levites “may assist their brothers in performing their duties.”
To “assist” means to help, to guard, or to attend to others. To retire from regular work opens the door to new and different ways to serve God and others.
As a retiree you can assist, help, guard, and attend to the next generation. This can include your family members, neighbors, or society in general. Whatever form this assistance and help will take in your latter years is between you and God. Remain active, bless others, share, and give.
Also, Psalm 71:18 speaks of the “old and gray,” and the “next generation” when it says, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” Do not forsake the Lord when you are “old and gray.” Attend to the “next generation.”
Finally, Paul defines the character of older believers in Titus 2:2–3: “Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live.”
Help others during your retirement years.