Seasons of life

Dr. Charles H. Hennekens of Harvard Medical School says that retirement may increase a man’s risk of dying of heart attack. His statement - “We found an 80 percent higher rate of death from coronary disease among those in a study who had retired compared with those who had n … More

Retirement

The Levites were  gifts to Aaron and his sons to serve at the sacred tent (vv. 19-20). They were held responsible for what happened to anyone who got too close to the sacred tent. They were dedicated to the Lord and did just as He commanded (vv. 21-22). The LORD told Moses that the Levites who were between the ages of 25 and 50 could work at His sacred tent (vv. 23-24). But once they turned 50, they must retire (vv. 25-26). A question we might ask: Why were the Levites supposed to retire at age 50? The reasons were probably more practical than theological:

  1. Moving the tabernacle and its furniture through the wilderness required strength. The younger men were more suited for the work of lifting the heavy articles.
  2. They were allowed to assist with various light duties. This helped the younger men assume more responsibilities and it allowed the older men to be in a position to advise and counsel them.

The listing of the age limits for service as a Levite seems to teach a truth that active service for God demands the utmost and the best in strength and wisdom. The age span was given as twenty-five to fifty years. The twenty-fifth to thirtieth year probably was a term of internship  or probation. Before beginning the formal years of service, the Levites underwent many years of training; after completing active duty, a term of lighter service was maintained. The service of God, whether in the training, probationary, active or semi-retired stage, was vital for the success of God’s people on their journey.

Application

I don’t believe there is any place in Scripture that suggests we should retire from doing the Lord’s work. However, there are definitely different seasons of life and we should prepare for the different changes that take place in this process. For us to quit altogether is bad, but to hang on to something that we are no longer able to do is also not good. Lord, help me to be active for You as long as my health will permit, but keep me from trying to do something that I am no longer capable of doing.

Numbers 8:19-26 (English Standard Version)

"And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the people of Israel, to do the service for the people of Israel at the tent of meeting and to make atonement for the people of Israel, that there may be no plague among the people of Israel when the people of Israel come near the sanctuary." Thus did Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the people of Israel to the Levites. According to all that the LORD commanded Moses concerning the Levites, the people of Israel did to them. And the Levites purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes, and Aaron offered them as a wave offering before the LORD, and Aaron made atonement for them to cleanse them. And after that the Levites went in to do their service in the tent of meeting before Aaron and his sons; as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so they did to them. And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties."

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