The dictionary defines retirement as “withdrawal from an occupation, retreat from an active life.” Our culture promotes the goal of retirement and ceasing all labor to live a life filled with leisure. Is this a biblical goal?
Numbers 8:24-26—the only reference to retirement in Scripture—applied specifically to the Levites working in the tabernacle. “But at the age of fifty, they [the Levites] 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.”
While people are physically and mentally capable, there is no scriptural basis for retiring and becoming unproductive—the concept of putting an older but able person “out to pasture.” Don’t let age stop you from finishing the work God has called you to accomplish. He will provide you with the necessary strength. For example, Moses was 80 years old when he began his 40-year adventure of leading the children of Israel.
The Bible does imply, however, that the type or intensity of work may change as we grow older—shifting gears to a less demanding pace to become more of an “elder seated at the gate.” During this season of life we can use the experience and wisdom gained over a lifetime. If we have sufficient income to meet our needs apart from our jobs, we may choose to leave work to invest more time in serving others as God directs.