Sunday, June 3, 2007

Discerning God's Will by Rolling Dice?

To what extent can we use chance to discern the will of God? At first blush, the idea of it sounds very, well, superstitious. Can we say that since God is in control of everything, and everything that occurs happens according to His will, that His will can be found even in randomness? Take for instance the Apostles choosing a replacement for Judas:

So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place." Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.

Acts 1:23-26

Hmmm. I looked up a few things this weekend, and I was surprised to find how often this idea is found in the Bible. I found that the Old Testament uses the Hebrew word for lot, “gowral”, 77 times. And the New Testament uses the Greek word, “kleros”, 13 times. Not all the verses are positive, some are neutral and others negative, but the idea that casting lots to determine God’s will was found in about half of the verses.

Look at Proverbs 16:33 for example:
The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is the Lord’s alone.
For the skeptics, here are a few passages you can look up: Lev 16:8, Jos 18:6-10, 1 Sam 14:42, 1Ch 24:31, and 1Ch 26:13-14.

Interesting stuff, but I don't think I'll be using a coin or dice to make any life guiding decisions in the near future.

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