Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.
Okay, what gives, they casted lots? That’s a pretty important coin flip! Yikes.
I think I would be more comfortable with this whole lot casting business if it were just the unbelievers who did it. If it were just the dudes who split up Jesus’ clothes and these guys on a boat headed for Tarshish it might be easier to swallow, but that’s not the case. Biblically we see folks casting lots to apparently discern the will of God.
Which goat is the scapegoat? Cast lots – Leviticus 16:8-10
Which tribe received which portion of the land from God? Cast lots – Joshua 18:6-10
Who will be the Apostle to take the place of Judas? Cast lots – Acts 1:26
The list goes on and on, priests, apostles, and kings all casts lots in the scripture and it is not often pictured as a negative event. So again, the question is: huh?
Why, how come this could be okay? What gives? Is it still okay today? Now, this is one of those places that I need to just be honest with and say, I’ve no idea what the right answer is here. Christians today differ on the practice of “casting lots.” As a Nazarene, I can roll the dice in my daughters Monopoly game but a lottery ticket could get me in some trouble!
Here’s the argument that I usually find today when it comes to avoiding casting the lot.
They did it then because they didn’t have the Holy Spirit the way that we do today and the church is not seen casting lots after the day of Pentecost. – True. Not the strongest argument (Why would Joshua have to cast lots, he seemed to have a direct link to the Father at times?) but true. Can you imagine?
Joshua, be strong and courageous. Meditate on my word…but when you’re confused cast lots—yes, I’ll knock down walls for you, stop rivers, defeat enemies, send angels and the like but you keep that coin close because you’ll never know when you may need to flip it.
Like I said there’s no easy answer. Here’s something that helps me. My friend wrote a line of poetry and if I’m remembering it right it goes like this:
There are so many avenues but only one pair of shoes. – Amon
Sometimes for whatever reason we don’t know what is ahead. Maybe we aren’t supposed to know. Sure we can and should pray and yes we are particularly blessed to enjoy the indwelling of the Holy Spirit whom we should lean on, but what about when discernment isn’t clear? I don’t mean when we haven’t taken the time to put it before God…wait on the Lord…etc, I mean when we’ve done that and there are still multiple options left. What if it appears that my Jesus would be happy with me if I did “A” or “B”?
Check out Acts 1:23-26
Matthias? or Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus)?
Do you decide that it takes too long to write Joseph called Barabbas (also know as Justus) and pick Matt instead? Or do you think wow, it really looks like both options are great and God can/will use either, we prayed about it. Now what? Flip a coin. How many times in our lives do we need to decide something and miss out because we are afraid to make a decision?
We feel God calling us to something but it seems risky…we wait.
We sense God’s prompting us to hit the mission field…maybe after we retire?
We know we should serve/sacrifice/give but it’ll hurt…we stall.
Our problem isn’t casting lots. We never cast them! Do something good in the name of our King. Pray first. Then? Heads, tails, short straw, snake eyes, magic eight ball, conch shell, whatever, if casting a lot gets you moving in obedience for God I say get on with it.
Casting lots at very least brings about a decision and gets you on a path. What if the proverb is right?
The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. Proverbs 16:33
When we clothe our feet in the Good News I think there are multiple paths that we can choose to walk out. The important thing is that we’re walking.
Heads…I tell new folks about Jesus today.
Tails…I equip the saints.
Or I could avoid the flip all together? I’m sure there are other important things to do.