Scripture: “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.” Numbers 8:24-26a ESV
Observation: Having instructed Moses regarding the Nazirite vow and the priests’ blessing over the people, the Lord turns Moses’ attention to the Levites in preparation for the consecration of the tabernacle. Over twelve consecutive days, each clan leader took turns presenting gifts to the Levites for future servicing of tabernacle worship (chapter 7). God then spoke to Moses about setting up the seven lamps in the Holy of Holies (8:1-4) and the protocol for ceremonially cleansing the Levites (8:5-22). Lastly, as cited in the above verses, Yahweh spelled out the Levites’ retirement plan to Moses.
With all the heavy lifting of the tents, cabinetry, ceremonial basins, and other acoutrements, the Lord graciously limited this aspect of strenuous service to those Levites between twenty-five and fifty years of age. Still, retirement did not mean ceasing from all work for the Lord. The retired Levites would continue to “minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard”—similar to our modern-day law-enforcement retirees who take on part-time jobs as security guards.
Takeaway: Three years ago, as I turned 60 and my mind and body were telling me to slow the pace, I began to earnestly consider the next phase of ministry best suited for my limitations and advantages—yes, advantages. With the aging process, if we continue to grow in our knowledge of the Lord and his wisdom and grace, there is plenty of meaningful work for us in his kingdom. And we will find much joy in our work when we align with his will. Thankfully, as most of you know, I successfully launched this reconciliation and restoration ministry in January of 2021, and I love it! (Thank you for being so supportive!)
So what over-arching principle may all of us glean from this brief passage? As we age, it will become necessary to step aside from jobs that demand hard labor or a strenuous mental pace. Still, our extensive life experiences, coupled with godly wisdom and patience, is of great value to kingdom work. And like the retired Levites, it might just entail coming alongside the younger generation, guarding them against the devil’s temptations and machinations.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for the opportunity to work, whether in the church community, home, or a secular vocation. And thank you for guiding us toward retirement assignments that account for our limitations and advantages. Whether paid or self-supported, it all comes from you, who supplies all our needs. So would you grant us discernment to know the next steps and the courage to take them? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling
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