Casting Lots: A Useful Way of Making Decisions?


Day 19 of #write28days brings us the word lottery. Most of us draw from scripture in our writing, so at first thought it seemed like an odd word to choose. Yet, you might be surprised as we look into the word’s definition and use. We see how lottery and casting lots are related.

Probably the first thing that comes to mind for most of us are the lotteries that states or organizations use as financial resources. Here is the definition according to Rhymezone:


  • noun:   players buy (or are given) chances and prizes are ditributed according to the drawing of lots

Chance is the key word here. Each time you purchase a ticket, you have a chance to win, but you are also taking a chance with your money. One ticket may not cost much, but it adds up, depending on how many you buy and how many times you participate.

The drawing (or casting) of lots sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Rhymezone has the same definition for drawing lots and casting lots:

Casting lots:

  • noun:   making a chance decision by using lots (straws or pebbles etc.) that are thrown or drawn


As I did a Bible Gateway search, I was surprised to see how many mentions there are of casting lots. You can check out the search if you’re interested in learning more. Here are a few I found:

In Leviticus 16:8-9, we find Aaron casting lots to decide between two goats – which to sacrifice to the Lord and which to use as a scapegoat.

In Joshua 18, we read how Joshua used lots to divide the land into portions.

Several others, including Nehemiah, Job, Joel, Micah, Jonah, talk of casting lots.

Jonah was running away from God. In Jonah 1, we read that God caused such a big storm that all on the boat he was on were in danger. All the sailors were afraid and didn’t know who to blame.

“Come on!” the sailors said to each other. “Let’s cast lots. Then we’ll know who is to blame for this trouble we’re in.” So they cast lots, and the lot singled out Jonah.

Jonah 1:7


Another instance that is familiar to me is found as a prophecy in Psalms and the fulfillment of it recorded in all four gospels.

They divided my garments among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing.

Psalm 22:18

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, a part for each soldier. They also took the tunic, which was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it, to see who gets it.” This happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled that says: They divided my clothes among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing. This is what the soldiers did.

John 19:23-25

Because of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, the 11 disciples needed someone to take his place. As they cast lots, they also prayed for God’s choice.

So they proposed two: Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, Lord, know everyone’s hearts; show which of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry that Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Acts 1:23-26


Today, when we need to make an important decision, we aren’t in the habit of casting lots. Sometimes we may randomly decide something when one choice seems as good as another. Usually, we look at pros and cons, and then we carefully make the decision based on what we’ve learned.

Sometimes we forget that the most important step in making decisions is seeking wisdom from God. I am learning and making progress in remembering to pray first instead of trying to figure things out on my own or with help from others. It’s not bad to get help from others. In fact, Proverbs 15:22 tells us that plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

What do you think? Lottery, casting lots, seeking guidance – first from God and then from others – or randomly making decisions?

I’m linking up with #InspireMeMonday

10 thoughts on “Casting Lots: A Useful Way of Making Decisions?

  1. I’ve never thought much of it before, but lot casting among the Israelites seems to be more about a way for God to indicate his will. During the Old Testament, God communicated through priests and prophets; now we can communicate directly with him.

    1. Yes, you’re right. That was pretty much how they discerned His will. I’m so thankful that now, because of Christ, we can go directly to the “throne of grace.” Blessings to you!

  2. It can be hard to understand why Israel made so many important decisions by casting lots and even that the Urim and Thummim used by the high priest were basically dice – until we remember that while humans may roll the dice, God determines how they fall, and those examples were at God’s instruction. I’m glad we can go directly to God for wisdom in decision-making!

  3. I’m glad today we have the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I agree, it’s good to get godly counsel, first from praying and asking the Holy Spirit’s direction, and from reading the Word (often you will find an answer in scripture) and then asking godly friends to advise and pray with you.

    Sure glad we don’t have to depend on casting lots anymore. I feel I would end up short!

  4. I’m all for drawing a straw (casting lots) when my children had disputes over things they wanted, i.e. cookies over cake; which movie to watch, game to play, etc. However, we seek The Lord for guidance because of Jesus.

    1. Yes, Mitzy, we often had to do similar things as drawing straws (casting lots). It sure saved a fuss, most of the time. LOL And yes, we seek His guidance for our lives. Blessings to you!

  5. I’m so thankful that we can depend on God’s guidance through His Word and Holy Spirit! What a gift we’ve been given. I don’t think I can fully comprehend the depth of what that means, but I am so glad He has come to dwell within us! May I rejoice even more in His will in my life! Thank you for sharing these thought-provoking words, dear Gayl.

    1. Yes, I’m with you, so thankful! I don’t think we will comprehend the depth but we can trust Him and lean on Him, knowing that He will never leave us. Blessings and love to you, my dear sister! xoxo

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