Archive for the ‘Drawing Straws’ Category

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.

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What did prayer have to do with that situation? Did God select the short straw for the one He wanted? Seriously? This is dangerous ground for someone who takes the Word literally. As i’m posting this i know that they actually cast lots. How that was done is sketchy. Regardless whether it’s drawing straws, casting lots, flipping coins, or rolling dice i can’t get away from the idea that it’s still a decision of chance. Sorry today is not very spiritual just inquisitive.

Drawing straws is a selection method that is used by a group to choose one member of the group to perform a task. Exactly what I thought.

Urban Dictionary – If you need to choose somebody for something, here’s what to do. Count out the exact number of people who want to be chosen for something. Get a straw for each person, but cut the bottom inch off of one of the straws. Have the group choose who will hold the straws (you can decide this also by drawing straws, but that will create a straw drawing cycle that can be endless, so I don’t recommend it). The person that holds the straws moves them around in  his/her hands a good deal, being careful to hide the bottom of the straws from view, and carefully mixes them around. Then, everybody grabs a straw, but the ‘straw holder’ has to go last, as it’s possible he/she might be able to feel the length of the straws. After everyone has finished ‘drawing straws’, compare the length of straws, and the person who is discovered to be holding the ‘short straw’ is ‘chosen’.
Get this… in the United Kingdom, if a local or national election has resulted in a tie in which candidates receive exactly the same number of votes after three recounts, the winner can be decided either by drawing straws/lots, coin flipping, or drawing the high card in a pack of cards.
I have reached the conclusion that drawing straws is actually an unfair way of selecting someone for anything. Reason… the first person that draws a straw has a higher chance of drawing a long straw than each successive person. In this case there were only two people so there was a 50/50 chance of winning, so maybe that is a little more fair?

i am still struggling with the action more than the method. It’s time to see what the commentaries or the scholars have to say about this practice of casting lots for divine decisions. If it is the way, it will make life a whole lot easier. Pray first, cast lots, and poof… the answer. No prolonged prayer, no fasting, no seeking, no waiting.

Today someone came in and we were talking about this. They have a vehicle to sell and felt like they should get $1,000.00 for it. My thoughts were that they should get $1,200.00 for it. We determined to cast lots for what “God” would want him to get. After casting lots it turned out to be the $1,000.00 price. i informed him that if the people offer him anything above $1,000.00 he would have to turn it down. He would have to be content with the $1,000.00. Isn’t that how it would have to work? No price haggling here! Oh… i just realized that we didn’t pray first. Bummer, what does that do to the results of our lot casting?

“I have noticed that even those who assert that everything is predestined and that we can change nothing about it still look both ways before they cross the street” ― Stephen Hawking

i don’t know where i have been, but i have never read or heard this scripture before. It’s Acts 1:15-26 At first reading it causes me great pause. This is the description of what took place regarding the replacement of Judas. It comes at the end but i must share the conversation leading up to my reason for pause.

During this time, Peter stood up in the company—there were about 120 of them in the room at the time—and said, “Friends, long ago the Holy Spirit spoke through David regarding Judas, who became the guide to those who arrested Jesus. That Scripture had to be fulfilled, and now has been. Judas was one of us and had his assigned place in this ministry.

No problem to this point.

“As you know, he took the evil bribe money and bought a small farm. There he came to a bad end, rupturing his belly and spilling his guts. Everybody in Jerusalem knows this by now; they call the place Murder Meadow. It’s exactly what we find written in the Psalms: Let his farm become haunted so no one can ever live there.

Not sure i had ever read or heard about Judas buying a farm but no matter. Rupturing his belly and spilling his guts? I had always thought he had hung himself?

“And also what was written later: Let someone else take over his post.”

“Judas must now be replaced. The replacement must come from the company of men who stayed together with us from the time Jesus was baptized by John up to the day of his ascension, designated along with us as a witness to his resurrection.”

Makes perfect sense! The position is not open to just anyone.

They nominated two: Joseph Barsabbas, nicknamed Justus, and Matthias.

Both were known by Jesus. Still good to go.

Then they prayed, “You, O God, know every one of us inside and out. Make plain which of these two men you choose to take the place in this ministry and leadership that Judas threw away in order to go his own way.”

“Then they prayed.” A great example to follow, right? The prayer seems to be on track as well, right? “God You make plain.” But then what do they do and i’m not asking that as to condemn them, i just don’t get it!

They then drew straws.

They drew straws? Surely you gest! They drew straws! Where was the praying, fasting and waiting for God to make plain? It seems to me these… disciples didn’t learn or forgot all that Jesus taught, or… i am missing something here. Maybe i am just over reacting?

Matthias won and was counted in with the eleven apostles.

More to come on this!