Casting Lots… Perspective!

Posted: June 21, 2013 in Drawing Straws
Tags: , , , , ,

To be more spiritual today i went to several commentaries and here are some thoughts. Let me say that my conclusion is open-ended as i will never know what the disciples were thinking at the time but i am sure they did what they thought was right. For me casting lots at this time is unacceptable as i believe i have a more sure word and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit so i don’t need to cast a lot to make a determination of Gods will. This topic is not critical to my personal relationship with God. As it is with many topics it does not add nor detract from the salvation He so freely gave to me. Healing, no healing – tongues, no tongues – laying on of hands, no laying on of hands – once saved always saved, or not once saved always saved, these are all debatable issues and many scholars have argued their point of view with no absolute conclusion which is why we have over 41,000 denominations which care for just over 2 billion Christians which is one-third of the world’s population. i see something peculiar about having 41,000 denominations?

They ask God to indicate which of the two candidates He had chosen to fill the position vacated by Judas. In their prayer, the wording followed Jesus’ initial calling of the twelve. This showed that they intend for this new apostle to be chosen by Christ just as the other eleven were.

There are different accounts as to what the actual procedure was. Each candidate’s name was written on a stone, which was placed in a container. The container is shaken and turned upside down until one of the stones springs or falls out. Wouldn’t they both fall out if the container is turned upside down? This method for discerning divine choice had a long history in Israel.

The actual method is not what caused me pause. Whether a straw, drawing a cards, a stone, or dice as one translation says, makes no difference to me. It’s that act. It just seems to be chance?

Chance: the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled. Isn’t that a fitting definition of what happened?

The eleven apostles put two men forward. The name of one was Justus. More is said about him, so he may have been the man that they really wanted. The other was Matthias. They prayed. Then they ‘cast lots’ – and they added Matthias to make the eleven up to 12 again.

The main fact of this story for me is most likely supposed to be that they prayed first, and it was easy to pray because they had already been praying (These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.)

They were doing what Jesus did by praying first. (It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles.)

At the moment it would appear that casting lots has taken precedence over prayer. Then… they cast their lots. There are questions by many about the method for choosing one of the two men – all these great spiritual steps, and they end up casting lots to pick the winner.

They were not yet filled with the Holy Spirit, as they would be, but they wanted to choose a method that would make them rely on God. Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD. This only makes matters worse for me. Casting lots… it’s every decision is from the Lord? To me casting lots to discern God’s will, is not much better than the methods many Christians use today, relying on emotions, circumstances, feelings, carnal desires and so forth.

One possible way to accept this idea of casting lots is from Gill’s Exposition which says, “This is to be ascribed, not to blind chance and fortune, to the influence of the stars, or to any invisible created being, angel or devil, but to the Lord only; there is no such thing as chance, or events by chance; those events which seem most fortuitous or contingent are all disposed, ordered, and governed, by the sovereign will of God.” That could be a whole series in and of itself.

In closing i find it important for me to note that once the Holy Spirit came casting lots in this manner is never mentioned again.

  1. We were carrying this size Bible around and casting lots in the usual way, but we were running into a problem. The amount of text on a given page was much higher than in a Bible printed on bound-book size pages. Lots were much harder to discern because there was so much more text on a given page.

  2. Law in Amos 2:4 refers to instruction, not legislation and its enforcement. From a verb that means “to throw,” its root describes casting lots or throwing dice. When lots or dice were cast, God revealed His will in the way they landed ( Proverbs 16:33 ; see Leviticus 16:8-10 ; Acts 1:26 ). At times lots were used in making judgments in criminal cases in which God’s will needed to be ascertained ( Joshua 7:13-25 ). Thus, by setting a legal precedent, the casting of lots served to give instruction in other cases in which the same basic principles of behavior were involved. God’s will—His law—was taught to His people through the casting of lots.

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