Retirement Is a Non-Biblical Concept

Deuteronomy 34:5, So Moses… died. Even at age 120, Moses never retired; he died with his boots on continuing in the spiritual mission that YHVH had given him. Retirement, as in sitting around doing little or nothing productive once one has reached a certain age, is not a biblical concept. Yeshua instructed his saints were to occupy until he returns (Luke 19:13). Elsewhere, Paul tells the followers of Yeshua to stand (not sit) as they battle against the forces of darkness (Eph 6:14). Moreover, the Bible characterizes the spiritual journey heavenward of the child of Elohim as a walk, not sit and do little or nothing. The concept of retirement as it is commonly meant in our modern culture is a recent one, and not a biblical one as I discuss in the article below.

Where is retirement mentioned in the Bible?

Here is a challenge. Show me in the Bible where the word retirement or the concept is even mentioned? Retirement as it is commonly understood to mean ceasing to work and doing little or nothing after a certain age is not to be found from one end of the Bible to the other. What the word of Elohim teaches, however, it that we are to work six days each week and to rest on the seventh day (the Sabbath or Shabbat, Exod 20:8–11). Moreover, it is clearly evident that because of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, the Creator told us that the “free lunch” had ended and we had to get to work (Gen 3:17–19). What does this mean for you and me if we claim to be Bible followers—especially after we reach the age where due to health and age regular physical work may be a challenge?

Only in our overindulgent, materialistic and wealthy western society is retirement an option.

For many who are lacking in a spiritual faith and who have no concept of biblical truth, retirement has become their “heaven on earth.” Retirement, in fact, is a sort of humanists’ heaven on earth until one dies and goes back into the soil.

Admittedly, as one becomes elderly, the body doesn’t function as it once did. But that doesn’t mean one has to resort to a life of inert, non-productive inactivity. For example, in ancient Israel, when the Levites reached the age of fifty, they presumably took on more of an advisory role in helping to train the next generation of Levites (Num 8:25). This rule didn’t, however, apply to those in the priesthood who served until death. The kings and prophets and prophets of Israel served until their death as well. Moses never retired and served YHVH and the Israelites until age 120! Neither did Joshua, David or the apostles retire from the ministry. As they grew older, they likely slowed down, but they never retired to life on a golf course, or sitting in front of the television watching old re-runs of Western movies or the daytime soap operas and game shows. No! They all died with their boots on doing YHVH’s work. 

Once we reach a certain age where hard physical labor becomes impractical or even impossible, we are faced with two choices: we can rust out or burn out. Like an automobile or piece of equipment, it can sit there rust away inactively, or it can be used until the engine wears out. Wouldn’t you rather burn out then rust out? Similarly, Yeshua commended the wise servants in the Parable of the Talents for being profitable with the talents the master had given them while he was away in a far country. Conversely, the master sternly rebuked the servant who did nothing but bury his talents in the soil (Luke 19:11–27).

Moreover, the elders (wise and older people) were to serve as leaders of the congregational assembly in the New Testament era. To be sure, the older generation was busy during their so-called retirement years.

These things being the case, why is it that so many Bible followers and even supposedly Torah-obedient individuals don’t work six days a week, but stop working when they reach a certain age and acquiesce to the concept of what our humanistic society calls “retirement age”? Similarly, why do so many woman support their husbands, who proudly laud their new status as “house husbands”? Why are there so many men on welfare feigning a disability, so they can collect a check from the government, when, for many of them, there is something they could do to help support their families, but instead, they proudly live off the labors of others? In reality they’re lazy  bums—thieves! This is hardly a godly virtue. Unless is bed-ridden due to severe health issues, there is something everyone can do to be a profitable servant rather than a lazy couch potato bum.

Even those who have worked hard and have the financial resources to be able to “retire” at a certain age, is it biblical to resort to a life of laziness and self-indulgent ease? Hardly! The biblical model is for the older folks to be using their resources including their time, knowledge and wisdom to help others—especially the younger generation. Kudos to those who are doing so. Shame on those who aren’t!

Sadly, we have become a society of lazy bums all too often living off of the labor of and resources of others. Is this something to be proud of? If this is our lifestyle, do we really think we will hear YHVH’s words on the day of judgment, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”?