To what extent can Christians practice the cast lot?

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Reading the Bible I discovered something interesting about the casting of lots. See Numbers 26:52-55, 33:50-54, Joshua 14:2, 18:10-11, Psalm 16:5-6, 22:18; Mark 15:24; Acts 1:24,26, etc. How much can I use this in my life in making important decisions according to God’s will? Thank you for your attention.

In the Old Testament the cast lot was used in two situations

The first was when they wanted to know the specific will of God, because

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.(Proverbs 16:33)(NASB)

An example might be the case of Acan, who took from the things that had to be destroyed when they conquered the city of Ai. God discovered Acan’s sin by casting lots.

The second application of the cast lot was to end or prevent conflicts. Thus, to prevent conflicts among the nine and a half tribes of Israel who sat on the east side of Jordan, Joshua sent captains to make a plan to split the country and then cast lots to see what inheritance God gave whom. Thus conflicts were prevented then and for the future, as the Bible says:

The cast lot puts an end to strife and decides between the mighty ones. (Proverbs 18:18)(NASB)

The cast lot in the New Testament

The cast lot is also mentioned in the New Testament when the soldiers cast lots for the shirt of the Lord Jesus Christ, and so the prophecy made in the Old Testament was fulfilled.

We can see a single application of the cast lot by Christians in the following case:

At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO ONE DWELL IN IT’; and, ‘LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE HIS OFFICE.’ “Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us– beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us–one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:15-26)(NASB)

The fact is that Peter has not received a commandment from God to do so, as he was told in the vision in Iope to go and tell the gospel to the house of Cornelius in Caesarea. And then, how could they know by casting of lots if God wanted neither Matthias nor Justus to take Judah’s office?

We do not see in the New Testament another time when Peter or other apostles practiced the casting of lots, but they were guided by the Holy Spirit specifically what and how to do. Here’s a case of Paul’s missionary journey:

They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (Acts 16:6-10)(NASB)

Even if he was stopped by the Holy Spirit, Apostle Paul did not appeal to the practice of casting lots, but waited until the Holy Spirit gave him the direction he should follow. Even so at the choice of servants, they did not use the cast lot practice as Peter and the Apostles did the first time in Jerusalem, but they were guided by the Holy Spirit:

Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. (Acts 13:1-3)(NASB)

At the same time, it should be mentioned that we do not find any prohibition in the New Testament to use the practice of casting lots if someone thinks it is an appropriate solution in a given situation.

Translated by Felicia Rotaru