In the Bible the casting of lots goes back to ancient times. It was an established belief that the lot was decided by divine intervention (Proverbs 16:33). In the Old Testament, the Jews used lots on several occasions to make a decision:
- choosing the goats in the ceremonies of the Hebrew Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:5–10)
- allotting land in Canaan to the tribes when they first entered the promised land (Numbers 26:55; Joshua 18:10), and upon the return from exile (Nehemiah 10:34; 11:1)
- settling criminal cases where there was uncertainty (Joshua 7:14, 18; 1 Samuel 14:41, 42)
- choosing forces for battle (Judges 20:8–10)
- appointing to high office (1 Samuel 10:19–21)
- allotting the cities of the priests and Levites (1 Chronicles 6:54–65)
The eleven apostles cast lots to know God’s will on who would replace Judas so that there would be 12 disciples (Acts 1:26). The choice of Matthias by lot is the only recorded incident among Christians in the New Testament. After Pentecost, the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit made the casting of lots unnecessary (Acts 5:3; 11:15–18; 13:2; 16:6–9).
Today, many Christians try to receive divine guidance by methods not approved of God—methods which are in their essential nature similar to ancient methods of divination (Ezekiel 21:21) such as tossing up a coin; or asking the Lord to answer Yes or No by writing the words on either side of the card, and then dropping it, to find the answer. Others allow the Bible to fall open at random and accept the message they first read…etc..
It is true that the Lord at ancient times has given guidance by casting lots, but this method should not be used today to find God’s will. If, in every decision of life, a person received a direct answer from God by casting lots, he would become a mere machine. After the Pentecost, Christians can find the will of God through His clear Word that is a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105) and the guidance of the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised (John 16:13).
In His service,