Retirement Isn’t Biblical

Nancy B. Alston

The only biblical reference is in the Old Testament, Numbers 8:23-26, referring to Levites who worked in the Tent of Meeting. This retirement provision ended when Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 8) replaced the temporary Tent of Meeting.

So, should a Christian retire? Although there are no biblical bases for retirement today, the Bible shows matured folks who moved from their main jobs and careers to other tasks God prepared for them. The Bible shows too, sometimes God tells us to prepare others to replace us to do His call. This succession planning recognizes two essential ingredients. First, although you might not retire at a set age, sometimes, because of physical or other demands you must leave certain jobs. Second, before you move to the new position, often, you need to get ready–take courses, learn a skill–for the later task God prepared for you.

We see God’s hand in succession planning in Joshua replacing Moses (Numbers 27:18-23; Deuteronomy 31:7-23; Joshua 1:1-9), and Solomon succeeding King David (1 Kings 2:3). Besides, Apostle Paul’s instructions to Timothy in Titus 2:1-8 points to the broader coaching need not widespread in today’s society: older folks teaching proper traits to younger folks so the younger ones might mimic and pass on right attitudes at home, in business, and in society generally.

What can we learn from Joshua’s replacement of Moses? Although Moses did not retire to today’s promised Utopian life on earth, he knew God was preparing him to move on and he needed to bless his successor, Joshua, under God’s direction; and he did. We can take three messages from God’s succession plan to replace Moses:

Moses accepted God’s decisions when God told him to pass leadership to Joshua. How unlike many folks today who want to cling to power!

God provided everything Moses and Joshua needed, including timing the leadership change. Moses didn’t get in the way!

Moses trained Joshua on the job.

Today, you might be thinking of retiring, but God wants you to train your successor, and leave your future to Him! He might be trying to get you to stop planning your next career move and devote your attention at work fully to current tasks, and to finding your successor; essentially, to becoming redundant as He prepares you for your next assignment. Can you hear Him? Are you willing to hear Him? Ready to obey? You can’t do it in your own strength, but with a sincere, surrendered heart, you will see His hand guiding your path to His path–that’s His promise to His followers (Proverbs 3:5-6). Do you believe?

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