Casting lots – What was that?

We don't know, really, what the lots were that were cast to guide decision-making at times in the Bible. Some researchers believe sticks of different lengths were used, or flat stones flipped like coins. While the Bible does not give specifics about the actual lots, the practice of casting lots seems akin to the modern day flipping a coin.

The Old Testament references casting lots seventy times, the New Testament seven. Casting lots is mentioned most during the time when the Hebrews were taking the Promised Land and were deciding which tribes would occupy what portions of land (Joshua 14—21). God told the Israelites to use the casting of lots for land division elsewhere (Numbers 26:55; 33:54; 34:13; 36:2), to discover His will for a certain situation (Joshua 18:6–10; 1 Chronicles 24:5, 31), and to decide who would have what responsibility in the temple (1 Chronicles 24:5, 31; 25:8–9; 26:13–14). In the New Testament, the disciples cast lots to decide who would replace Judas as a disciple. Mathias was chosen (Acts 1:26).

Non-followers of God also used the practice of casting lots. For example, when the boat Jonah voyaged upon was beset by storms, the sailors cast lots to find out who was responsible (Jonah 1:7). The Roman soldiers at Jesus' crucifixion cast lots for His clothing (Matthew 27:35).

It appears the practice of casting lots, at least among believers as a way to hear God's guidance, was halted after God sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Nowhere else are Christians instructed to cast lots. The Word of God, the Bible, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit are sufficient to know God's will and to make decisions.

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name," Jesus said in John 14:26, "he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."

Related Truth:

What is the key to knowing the will of God?

How can I tell what God's plan is?

How can I recognize the voice of God?

How can I tell if I'm really hearing God or if it's just my own thoughts, or even Satan?

What is an omen?

Return to:
Truth about Everything Else

Subscribe to the Newsletter:

Preferred Bible Version: is part of Got Questions Ministries

For answers to your Bible questions, please visit