Casting Lots

Today we hear little of this but in former days it was quite common. The matter was not treated lightly, but only after solemn prayer and exercise (and perhaps fasting) was the lot cast. In this matter appeal was made to the casting of lots in Scripture as the authority for it.

But God has given no commandment. True it is that in the Bible there were occasions when lots were cast, but these were occasions of peculiar solemnity. (e.g. the scapegoat on the day of atonement – Leviticus 16:8, and the choosing of an apostle to take the place of Judas Iscariot – Acts 1:26).

We have no warrant for following this practice in seeking to know God’s will.

Perhaps the person most renowned for casting lots to discern God’s will was John Wesley. He even had an apparatus to use which he carried round with him. But what a sorry position it brought him into. When George Whitefield nobly stood forth in defence of the doctrines of grace, and especially election, John Wesley cast lots whether to take up his pen and oppose him. And the lot said, “Yes.”

B.A. Ramsbottom

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