The Casting of Lots


     In explaining the sovereignty of God with people I sometimes use an analogy of Mt. Everest. I want people to understand that while I can indeed proclaim the absolute sovereignty of God from the Bible, I myself still remain in awe of it. God remains far beyond my imagination in every way. I will ask someone if they’ve ever been to the top of Mt. Everest. Everyone I’ve asked says, “no.” I then ask if they’ve ever seen pictures from the summit. They’ve all said, “yes.” Next I ask, “Well, then why not say you’ve been there?” In this reasoning I want them to understand that it’s the same when I speak of the unassailable and eternal sovereignty of God over this universe. I’ve never been in His place, but He has shown me very clear pictures of His vantage in Scripture.

     The casting of lots is something that always fascinated me. God has shown me His awesome control with them. Somehow, a random set of sticks, potsherd pieces or pebbles were used to either discover truth or to determine the will of God concerning a certain matter. The modern equivalent to this would be like rolling dice. God used this primitive practice some fifty times in the Old Testament. Seems random, right? Maybe there are odds to play in it like 50/50 or something? Starting with the New Testament, I wish to cite two examples with you (one with believers and one with non-believers) and make an application of it to marvel with you in the exhaustive providence of God.

     1)    Matthias was chosen over a man named Joseph to replace Judas Iscariot’s vacant Apostolic office in Acts 1:26. This is a very important decision. I find it very interesting to see these men still doing this just prior to the coming of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. (Lots disappear entirely as a method of determining the will of the Lord after Pentecost). They wanted to know who God wanted to replace Judas so they cast lots to see.

     2)    Jonah was singled out as the reason for the raging of the sea by the casting of lots of the pagans on board the vessel that sailed from Joppa in Jonah 1:7. How amazing that God would do this! God had a large fish following the silhouette of the boat from perhaps a hundred meters below just waiting to fulfill its merciful purpose.

     3)    Now, listen to this from the wisdom of God: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord,” Proverbs 16:33. The original Hebrew speaks of God’s ordering of the disposition of the lot. The Amplified Bible reads: “The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly of the Lord [even the events that seem accidental are really ordered by Him].” 

     God is in control. Blows my mind! Even the death of a sparrow is under His providence, “…not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will,” Matthew 10:29. It may seem random when Fabio hits a bird on a roller coaster, but nope. That bird was accounted for. Abraham had such faith in the promises of God that he concluded that God could even raise his son from the dead if that was the case (Hebrews 11:17-19); why do I doubt His hand now over those who fear Him? How dare I? Oh, Lord, forgive me for the sin of doubting! Please pardon my haughty assumptions that I’m in control. What hope this brings you is between you and God. I pray it brings you great hope.  

     “God reigns and, in His providence, orders all things. He is as much God at the crucifixion as He is at the Resurrection. Whether we’re speaking of Israel’s kings, America’s presidents, Joseph’s sale, the canon of Scripture, Mary’s pregnancy, the widow’s jar, the serpent in Eden, Simeon’s gift, Lucifer’s rebellion, the arrows on battlefields, Paul’s beheading, Jonah’s fish, gold in the mouths of other fish, a lying spirit in Ahab’s advisors, Peter’s restoration, David’s son’s death, the birth of Isaac, the lot to Matthias, the brimstone in Sodom, the ram on Moriah, languages at Pentecost, Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity, the number of rooms at the Inn, the Exodus from Egypt, the flood, smooth stones flying towards the foreheads of giants, Job’s suffering, Job’s recovery, Dagon’s prostration, Israel’s repatriation, Jesus’ crucifixion, or, dare I say it, my faith, God is the commander over it all.” Citation.


     I have never been sovereign, but I flip through pictures of sovereignty on page after page of the Holy Scriptures.


Let not your heart be troubled,
His tender word I hear,
and resting on His goodness,
I lose my doubts and fears;
though by the path He leadeth
but one step I may see:
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me.
               –     C.D. Martin. (1905).


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