Casting Lots | The Institute for Creation Research
Casting Lots

“And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:26).

This is the only instance in the New Testament where Christians are said to have “cast lots” in order to make a choice. This particular choice involved a very important question: Which of two apparently equally qualified men should be selected to take Judas’ place among the twelve apostles? It is significant that before the lots were cast, they all prayed and asked the Lord to indicate His choice (Acts 1:24), “and the lot fell upon Matthias” (text).

Casting lots apparently was very common in ancient nations among both Israelites and Gentiles. The practice is mentioned at least 88 times in the Old Testament and eight other times in the New Testament (six of which refer to the casting of lots by the Roman soldiers for Jesus’ vesture as He was being crucified). The first mention of the practice is found in connection with the offering of two goats on the Day of Atonement, the one to be sacrificed; the other to carry away, as it were, the sins of the people into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:8). On the pagan use of the practice, see, for example, Jonah 1:7 and Esther 3:7.

The “lot” could have been any object used to make a choice. In recent centuries in Europe, small balls of different colors began to be used, and this practice came to be known as “casting ballots.” The latter term eventually came to be practically synonymous with voting—whatever method was used to “cast” one’s vote.

In any case, it is important to note that the Bible’s single mention of this practice by Christians indicates that it was preceded by earnest prayer for the Lord to reveal His will, not merely the preference of the one voting. We also always should seek earnestly the Lord’s leading in any choice we are called on to make in any election. HMM

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