How do you determine whether you should take that job? Or marry that individual? Or buy that house? What about the bigger decisions, like going to war or making a mistake that costs others’ lives? Can Christians make decisions with confidence in God’s blessing?
PAGANS CASTING LOTS
The Bible speaks of lots being cast to make decisions in a wide variety of settings. In 3 cases, the casting of the lot was performed by pagans. (1) The sailors on Jonah’s escape vessel attempted to determine who was responsible for their plight (Jonah 1:7). (2) Ill-intentioned Haman selected a day for the extermination of the Jews in the Persian Empire (Esther 3:7; 9:24). (3) The Roman soldiers at the foot of Jesus’s cross…casting lots to determine which of them would get his clothing (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:24; see also Psalm 22:18).The Baker Illustrated Guide to Everyday Life in Bible Times
WHEN DID THE RELIGIOUS ISRAELITE LEADERSHIP CAST LOTS?
The high priest cast lots to determine which goat would die as a sin offering and which would be driven into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:8-10). The lot was also used to determine…which clergy would be given the privilege of serving in the temple, and who would be a leader in the early church (Nehemiah 11:1; Luke 1:9; Acts 1:26).The Baker Illustrated Guide to Everyday Life in Bible Times
SETTLING DISPUTES, URIM AND THUMMIM
What was the Urim and Thummim in Exodus 28:30 and Leviticus 8:8?
The Bible mentions…the lot that was often used to solicit God’s direction regarding an important decision: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33).The Baker Illustrated Guide to Everyday Life in Bible Times
When we combine the biblical descriptions…with the archaeological evidence, it appears that the word lot refers to a category of devices that could take a variety of forms and could be manipulated in a variety of ways. The lot always consisted of more than one piece…Urim and Thummim consisted of 2 pieces—one designed to give a yes answer and another to provide no answer…. The Bible also speaks of casting lots where up to 7 pieces appeared sequentially… Joshua 18:11; 19:1, 10, 17, 24, 32, 40…because the distribution of the land was such an important part of God’s plan…because the process of fairly distributing the land proved to be contentious…. Numbers 26:55-56; 33:54; 34:13; 36:2-3; Joshua 14:2; 16:1; 18:6, 8, 10-11; 18:4-6; 19:1, 10, 17, 24, 32, 40, 51; 21:4-6, 8, 10…. “Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart” (Proverbs 18:18).
THE FLEECE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Moisture and cold are necessary for the formation of dew. In moist areas, there is less dew because of the uniformity of the temperature night and day. Because of limited moisture in the atmosphere, there is little dew in the desert…. Palestine, being located near the Mediterranean Sea, always had a large percentage of water vapor in the atmosphere. The clear skies contribute to rapid radiation of ground heat, immediately following the sunset…moisture in the air condenses….Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia
Since April through October is a dry season…dew is imperative to revive vegetation. Dews are so heavy that the plants and trees are literally soaked with water. In Judges 6:38, the wetting of Gideon’s fleece is indicative of the dew’s heaviness…
If you’re wise, you’ll seriously keep in mind Gideon was young in his faith and didn’t stay true to it (cp. Judges 8:23-27). God is understanding when we are young in our faith, but expects more as we grow in the Lord (Hebrews 5:12-13; Ephesians 4:13-15). Gideon asked for a small miracle. Casting lots isn’t a small miracle, but there are better ways to make decisions that honor God.
LIVING WITH MY DECISION
For the biggest decision of my life (besides getting saved), I prayed to God for direction many times, faithfully, for years. When the time came, I was extremely deceived (long stories). After being so deceived, I was wrongly accused of being a self-deceiver by a person I thought was my friend and concerned about my spiritual well being. I was a long time recovering, not just from being so deceived, but particularly from facing that God allowed all of it. I still avoid thinking about some of my painful memories as much as possible. But thankfully I’m mostly recovered and seeing now how God can eventually make it all feel worthwhile.
GAMLA IN ISRAEL
Zealots refused to pay taxes. Among other places, they lived alongside the hill called Gamla so they could defend themselves against the Romans easier. As they lost their final battle, they chose to leap off the cliff, killing themselves. It was better (they thought) than to pay taxes (see my 2 documentary links for more).
TRUSTING GOD, TRUE HUMILITY AND DECISIONS
How often does pride delude us from the best decisions possible? From the decisions that will make us eternally the happiest? If we make the most God-honoring decision(s) that we know how to make, how can we rest knowing God cares even when the results are devastating?
Praise God, the more we learn and grow, the more our confidence grows that he does care.
The above picture is from Gamla.