Before we get into today’s message, let’s chew on the last cud for a bit:
The whole idea of retirement defeats the heart of who we are and what we do before God.
In ancient Israel, there lay a variety of professions: Shepherds, blacksmiths, wine pressers, soldiers, maidservants, embroiders, carpenters, etc. As long as humans had needs, anyone with a bit of natural talent and a determined hard working spirit could take up one of those professions and be great at it.
However, there was an exception to this rule of work, a particular kind of role one couldn’t choose, one could only be born or called there: the office of the King & the office of the High priest/Prophet.
These vocations were especially important; God literally handpicked people a number of times for these positions. They share many commonalities, the oddest one being that none of them ever retired. They literally went to their graves as kings, priests, and prophets. A new king was installed after the previous king had passed on, a new high priest came on the scene after the death of the previous high priest, a prophet was still a prophet into his old age (the dry bones of one such prophet even brought back to life a corpse).
Like wine they became sweeter in their old age, time was given to make the prophet even more prophetic, the great king even greater, the serving high priest to serve, even more, this was a general function, though some abused it.
Would you like to know why these people retire or work to retire somehow? Good; because they are labourers and labour isn’t funny. There’s another reason: they have been worn out by the noise of the labour market. And would you have me tell you what the labour market is? It is the rat race. Priests/Prophets and Kings need not retire because they don’t play by the same rules on which regular people play.
If we take a peek into the life of priests, we see how God designed the rules by which they played: They didn’t have to keep jobs because every single thing that was brought to the house of God was theirs to keep. The meat of God’s house was primarily for them. They didn’t leave where ordinary people lived; they lived in the God Reserved Area of the land. They wore a special kind of cloth, beautiful not being word enough for it.
Don’t you find these priests a perfect representation of the birds that don’t sow, don’t reap and never gather into barns? From the details of the Aaronic priestly dressing in Exodus 39, you would immediately be reminded of the flowers of the field which don’t toil and don’t spin. In the same vein, Prophets such as Elijah and Elisha received provisions from God in ways too wonderful to behold.
On the other hand, if we look into the life of Kings especially David from whom Christ was to be revealed, we see something interesting: priesthood, kingship, prophecy all revealed. David went into the temple and fed himself food meant for priests, priesthood; he made deep utterances by the Spirit of God of the Christ, prophecy and he ruled his kingdom as a great king, kingship.
Do you see why jobs like these cannot be retired from? They’re a lifetime thing. You can’t retire because that would mean dying, right?
I hope you enjoyed all that we have shared on retirement. The final installment in this series will be rolling out next week.