Verses 23-26: 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. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites.”
I pondered the age requirements for work as a Levite, 25-50. Twenty-five was older than the age for battle. I wondered about this age. Is God requiring a bit more maturity to work in support of His house?
Then I thought about the retirement age of 50. Why? Well, the text is silent and I don’t know any cultural reason, maybe there is one but I don’t know it. So I pondered…
It is not as if the 50+ age Levites were set out to pasture. They could assist as long as they didn’t do the work. Sounds a bit like sharing their wisdom and experience without actually doing the work. And that got me thinking. The Tabernacle and its furnishings are sacred. Maybe God is honoring the men who labored a ‘lifetime’ in care of the things of God. Another reason might be that the work is hard and the items sacred and God didn’t want older men, maybe weakened from life, handling the items of the Tabernacle to help prevent accidents due to weakened physical ability. We have to remember 50 was OLD back then. This certainly fits with the idea of sharing wisdom without the manual labor part. God is only restricting the labor part, not the wisdom sharing part.
With this law God is honoring both the aging Levites and the care of His Tabernacle and its possessions. Hmmm, very interesting.
Maybe there is a precedent in Scripture for ‘retirement’, the stopping of the strenuous aspect of work but without being put out to pasture and being told, ‘you are no good anymore’.
A fascinating thought…
How might we honor the older people in the faith community while at the same time relieving them of the heavy lifting?
I have a particular church leader who is about to go through a ‘retirement’ of sorts. I wonder if there is something from this text that might be appropriate.
This is good stuff… God really does care for people!!!
Lord, help me to know if there is practical wisdom in this text to my church situation. And if so, Lord… show me how the spirit of this text might be incorporated into the life of my church.
Also, Lord, when it comes time for me to ‘retire’, show me how to release the heavy lifting and yet, still offer my wisdom and experience. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.