Protestant Christian tend to believe that participation in lotteries and other games of chance is wrong. One argument is that lotteries are an attempt to get something for nothing, which is morally wrong. The other argument is that lotteries and pokies take advantage of people who cannot afford to participate. When Israel was going into the Promised Land, God told Moses to distribute the land by Lot.
I take a different view. For a Christian, participation in a lottery is illogical, because we do not live in a world of chance.
A lottery is a form of gambling which involves the drawing of lots for a prize. Various processes are used to select random winners: throwing dice or drawing ball from a barrel. Modern lotteries use electronic processes to randomly select winners. These processes appear to be random, but they ignore the spiritual dimension to life. God can intervene in a random process to get the results he wants.
In Old Testament times, the high priest used the Urim and Thummim to make decisions.
Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the LORD. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the LORD (Ex 28:30).We do not know how they worked, but the Urim and the Thummim were a portable tool for drawing lots. In the Old Testament age, the Holy Spirit had not been given to all people, so they found it hard to hear God speak, so deciding what is right was difficult. To make quick decisions, they would draw lots in a process they could not control This allowed God to determine the outcome. This required a high level of faith. They believed that God would control the lot to ensure that they made the right decision.
Many Christians will not be familiar with the Urim and Thummim, but they know the story of Achan’s sin. He took gold, silver and a beautiful robe from Jericho and hid them in his tent. His sin was the cause of the Israelite defeat in the battle for Ai. Joshua used the Urim and Thummim to identify the culprit (Num 27:21).
In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the LORD chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the LORD chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the LORD chooses shall come forward man by man….Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was chosen. The clans of Judah came forward, and the Zerahites were chosen. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was chosen. 18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was chosen (Jos 8:14,16-18).God controlled the outcome of the Urim and Thummim to point to Achan as the sinner. This was a fulfilment of Proverbs 16:33.
The lot is cast into the lap,Drawing lots appears to be a random process, but the outcome is determined by the Lord.
but its every decision is from the LORD.
Lots were used throughout the Old Testament to discover God’s will.
Distribute the land by lot, according to your clans. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one. Whatever falls to them by lot will be theirs. Distribute it according to your ancestral tribes (Num 33:54).This process led to the land being distributed according to God’s plan.
When Israel was going into the Promised Land, God told Moses to distribute the land by Lot.
Gideon’s fleece was a type of lot (Jud 6:37-40).
Judah decided how to go into battle as the lot directed (Jud 20:9.
Saul drew lots to discover that his son Jonathon had broken his vow by eating honey (1 Sam 14:40-43). If a prophet walking in the Spirit had been present, they would not have had to use lots.
Officials were appointed by drawing lots (1 Chron 24:5).
So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs. Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles (Acts 1 23-26).This event seems odd to modern eyes. Some commentators believe that they got it wrong, but the disciple’s actions made perfect sense. They had not yet received the fullness of the Spirit, meaning they were not sure that they could hear God speak, so they used an Old Testament method to select the right person. They trusted God to determine the outcome of the lot (Prov 16:33).
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost changed everything. People who walk in the Spirit can make decisions by listening to his voice. Making decisions by lot or by Urim and Thummin has been made redundant. Now that we have the gift of the Spirit, Christians should have no need for lots. Listening to his voice is a better way, because it builds our relationship with him. However, the power of God has not been diminished. He can still determine the outcome of lot and other apparently random selections.
Nothing is random for God. He knows in advance the way the way that random numbers will fall. That means that he could tell me the winning number for a lotto draw, if he wanted to. He never has and he never will, because he knows that all that money would be bad for me. He has far better ways to bless me. I do not buy a lotto tickets, not because it is morally wrong, but because I know that God controls the process and he will not let me win. I have no need to test him, to see if he will change his mind.
We also need to understand that when ungodly people control a random process, they devil is able to achieve his purposes. The balls seem to fall out of the lotto barrel in a random way, but if God is shut out of the process, the forces of evil can intervene in the process to advance evil. That explains why people trying a lottery for the first time often seem to do well. The forces of evil make sure they do well to suck them in. We call this beginners luck, but it is really sucker’s curse.
I know that if I did win a lottery prize, it would be because the enemy has intervened to up my life. I do not want that, so I do not give him the chance.