Solomon addresses the form of ‘chance’ that God used to speak to Israel. Was it chance, or not, the answers they received.
We have come to the last verse of Chapter 16. I had to look and see if the next chapter picked up the theme of this final verse. It doesn’t so we will take this one on its own too. The theme of this verse is that GOD rules, even in ‘chance’ situations.
I was curious how often God referred to the lot in the bible. Of course, I Googled it. GotQuestions.org provided my first answer. Seventy times in the Old Testament and seven times in the New Testament the lot is cast or mentioned regarding Israel. But Israel isn’t the only one to cast lots. Jonah’s shipmates cast lots to see who caused their trouble. The Roman soldiers cast lots for Jesus garments. This last example was probably more of a game of chance that the other references. ICR.org provided a slightly different answer numerically but I have a feeling it may be because my first source looked for instances with Israel while the second looked outside too. It may also be that a repeated mention of the same event in another book was counted as another instance. According to my second source, six times the event of casting lots for Jesus garments is mentioned between the gospels. Whatever the count, this was a common practice, even in the New Testament. Service in the Temple was assigned this way too.
The last time the lot was mentioned in the bible was when the disciples looked for a replacement for Judas after Jesus’ return to Heaven. This was also before the Holy Spirit was given. I don’t know personally if God still answers in the lot but I know His Spirit answers those who seek Him. Both sources say that the Christian shouldn’t rely on “games of chance” to determine God’s will now.
Personally, I have used the practice Gideon used to verify answers from God. I’m not always certain that my own agenda doesn’t have me ‘provide’ God’s direction in my life. When I am in doubt I “lay a fleece” for confirmation. It isn’t an actual fleece but a request for a specific sign that will settle my uncertainty. Sometimes it is as simple and straight forward as asking that there be no obstacles in my path as proof. Other times it is receiving a phone call or confirmation from someone I trust that He speaks through. And other times it is a specific act that I ask Him to perform. My most memorable was when I asked for a check in my mailbox when I got home that day. He provided it and sealed my decision. I look back on that event and recognize the fact that God had to know I was going to need confirmation before I even spoke it. Mail doesn’t get delivered from sender to receiver in a matter of minutes! He KNEW and He ANSWERED BEFORE I EVEN ASKED!
As for the casting of lots, my most memorable story is after Israel went into the Promised Land. They had fought the glorious battle of Jericho but their next battle had ended in defeat. Joshua sought the Lord’s answer for this change in fortune. He learned that one man had taken some of the spoils for himself. God worked His way all the way down to the offending party through the casting of lots. Not once did the lot bring a confusing or false answer. I shared this story from Joshua 7 in “first person” fashion. I will link to the two stories: Hidden Sin and Uncovered Sin. If I was the man God was working His way down to there is NO WAY I could have stood silent. I would have cracked.
I KNOW God is just as able to control the outcome of ANYTHING as He was in Joshua and Solomon’s day but He hasn’t called us to use this method. Instead, He speaks to us through His Holy Spirit. This in NO WAY diminishes His power here on earth but gives us a clearer and direct access to Him. The Israelites under the Law didn’t have this direct access. Yes, God spoke clearly to some of them but most had to go through the priest to hear His answers. Even David used intermediaries to speak with God. Occasionally he heard directly but usually his answers came through the priest’s prayers using the ephod.
One thing to take from this verse is that when we ask God to give us sure answers, He DOES. He will not leave us guessing. Sometimes He directs us to a passage in His word. Sometimes He sends someone to confirm the answer we already received. Sometimes He provides a definite sign. And sometimes He speaks so clearly to our hearts that we KNOW that it was Him. He IS able to direct our paths as surely as He was able to direct Israel’s. Don’t limit how He speaks BUT make SURE you are NOT going through Satan to find those answers. Saul made that mistake when he consulted the medium at Endor. God did NOT approve this channel!
Father God, thank You that I can trust You to make Your directions for my life known to me. Thank You for all the times You directed my path and answered my uncertainty. THANK YOU for never getting mad at me when I asked for clarification! I felt like Gideon when he begged Your pardon for asking for ‘just one more sign’ before committing to the plan. Help me to learn Your voice even clearer Father so I don’t have so many needs for a ‘recheck’. I want to willingly follow wherever You lead.