As with the usual trepidation, I opened my new Presbyterian Outlook to find everybody’s favorite editor Jack Haberer had written his usual “Editor’s Outlook”, his commentary on the major article of the paper. This month’s issue happens to be concerning “retirement” and the Christian Pastor. Rev. Haberer chooses an obscure passage from the Book of Numbers to highlight that, yes, the word “Retire” does appear in Scripture. Specifically the Scripture is Numbers 8:23-26 which says:
Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
“This is what applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall enter to perform service in the work of the tent of meeting.
“But at the age of fifty years they shall retire from service in the work and not work any more. “They may, however, assist their brothers in the tent of meeting, to keep an obligation, but they themselves shall do no work. Thus you shall deal with the Levites concerning their obligations.”
Now we may be wondering why when Jack seems to dismiss the sexual codes of Leviticus almost completely as being out-of-date and not applicable to today’s Christian he delves into a passage that not only refers to LEVITES (which I know of no Pastor who is one) and if you look at the greater context, which is usually not helpful when conducting eisegesis, of the passage it sets up the setting apart of the Levites from the rest of the Nation of Israel so that Israel may have a clean and pure class of priests. Also mentioned in this passage is that the new class of Levite priests should be shaved from Head-to-Toe (Num. 8:7). (Insert hairy man joke here). Now not only does Rev. Haberer’s “exegesis” fail the sniff test but he then goes on to cite the establishment of the Sabbath as a reason for otherwise reasonably healthy Sexagenarians and Septuagenarians to retire from the mission field of Christ because as Jack quoting from Jack Stotts’ book,Aging Well: Theological Reflections on the Call and Retirement, “We [should] move from glorifying God to enjoying God forever, from usefulness to enjoyment”. What exactly do Levites retiring have to do with the Modern Pastor? Well as we know with the history of the Levites in Israel Jack may be more right in selecting them as an example of the Modern Pastor than he realizes.
What this signifies to me is the full movement of the modern Pastor from a person CALLED to ministry for the purpose of spreading the Gospel to the visible Church and saving souls to a person who sees ministry as a nice job option that seeks for them to raise Church attendance, move the budget to the Black, be a good CEO, try not to ruffle too many feathers, and has a pretty good pension plan for later use in playing 18-Holes at The Villages, Florida’s Friendliest Hometown(tm). Of course as my generation of Pastors graduates from Seminaries have our Seminaries done enough to guarantee we will serving Pastorates and saving souls into our 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, ad infinitum? I think we all know the answer to that.