Casting Lots (Acts 1:24-26)

24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know the hearts of all. Show us which one of these two you have chosen 25 to assume the task of this service and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 Then they cast lots for them, and the one chosen was Matthias; so he was counted with the eleven apostles.

Acts 1:24-26 NET

One of the issues addressed in the upper room was the void the death of Judas created. The apostles needed a new 12th man and they cast lots after praying for God’s guidance. Matthias received the lot. Good for him.

My mind went back to the process of Jesus’ finished work. Roman soldiers cast lots to decide who would take Jesus’ belongings. But how did this turn into gambling? If you grew up in church like I did, and a red-letter one at that, then you heard the connection made to the Roman soldiers casting lots being the support for why gambling is a sin. If you grew up in church like I did, then maybe you believed this was the only reference to casting lots. It is not. So, what is the difference in the practice of casting lots?

According to bible dictionaries, none. Up to Pentecost, God sanctioned the casting of lots to facilitate decisions with weight or standing.

  • Priests did it (Lev. 16:8)
  • Inheritances were decided by it (1 Sam. 10:20-21)
  • The Temple service schedule was decided by it; young and old had to cast lots to know their time to serve (1 Chron. 25:8)

What made the difference in the book of Acts was the access to the Holy Ghost or the desire to seek God’s direction. With the arrival of the Comforter to live in us, we had a way to seek God directly. Less outer reach, more inner reach, and faith. More trust in the connection to God via the Holy Ghost.

“Draw straws” is a modern way to think about casting lots. Photo credit: Thoa Ngo on Unsplash

This is a major reveal. What over time becomes a pagan or dated practice without God’s approval, may have had a sanctioned or ordained beginning. There is a subtext here for origin stories and first mentions in the bible, as well as cultural context, to help us in securing a living faith. Today though, does it make sense to cast lots? We have more scripture and explanatory resources, free access to God through His finished work, His law written on our hearts, and if born again, His Spirit living in us as comforter and guide to all truth. I say no, we do not need to cast lots.

Living by faith and depending on God in reality is different. Do our horoscopes seem more appealing? Or baseline prophetic utterances that massage our anxiety? We may be tempted on all sides to cast modern-day lots for God’s guidance in tough and hard to read situations. I find no fault in our desperation. What I will say is that the longer we walk with Jesus in relationship by His Spirit, the more we realize that our “how” matters. How we make decisions matters. If the root is corrupt, then so will be the fruit. If we begin with a skewed perspective, then how balanced will the decision be?

This is something to consider in our days. Casting lots, though at one time was the best method for decisions, does not seem wise with all of the ways God speaks to us today. Selah.

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Scot Loyd


Angel Jones

Educator - Advocate - Writer

Watchman Prophet

"In the darkness of night, I wait expectantly for understanding and knowledge for your people."

ladies loving god by Tonika Breeden

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